Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Aviation Legends in a Bookseller's Window

    ...from a photographer's notebook

A sun-filled afternoon suggesting that spring might just be planning to arrive on time this week saw me in Annapolis Monday for an afternoon of photography.

Just as the sirens on the Lorelei in that treacherous bend in the Rhine were known to do to unwary sailors, you might imagine how this bookseller’s window on Main Street stopped an aviation loving photographer in his tracks to capture an evocative motif that had captivated his all too susceptible gaze.

It was late afternoon, a favorite time for shooting, and by the time I’d set up my shot, the shop had closed. Otherwise these two volumes would now be occupying a prominent spot in my book shelves, and I'd probably be immersed in one of them instead of writing this...

But if you should share that particular passion, may I offer you this still life of adventure, avgas, jet fuel…and pioneering spirit.

And since I’m an old radio guy and lover of a medium that, once upon a time, played to the theater of the mind with “pictures” television just could not come close to matching, I hope the photograph might conjure up the sound of the two radial engines of Earhart’s Lockheed Model 10 Electra as she lifted off the runway…or perhaps the more throaty roar of four huge radials thundering along an Idlewild runway and lifting one of Juan Trippe’s Pan American World Airways Stratocruisers filled with (ahhh…) well dressed, well mannered travelers on their way to London…Paris…Istanbul.

Better still, a swift elevator to the top of the Pan Am Building in midtown Manhattan, boarding a large Pan Am Boeing Vertol helicopter…seeing the rooftop heliport disappear beneath us to be replaced by the twinkling skyline on a winter-clear night, disembarking minutes later at Worldport JFK to board one of Mr Trippe’s magnificent 747s.

See you in the Jet Clipper’s upper deck cocktail lounge, where, while the pianist plays “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” in a rich audio mix of contented conversation, clinking champagne flutes, (genuine) melody, the murmur of the slipstream, and large Pratt and Whitney turbines at cruise power down below, we raise our glasses to what was once the consummate joy and romance of getting there by air.

©2015 Steve Ember

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Saturday, March 7, 2015

A rough few days for my little pal...

Stay tuned, Mewer fans. Story to come.