A couple of years ago I was down in Réunion, a small island outside the coast of Africa, on an assignment working with Air Austral.
It was a lovely sunny, warm and nice island and a great company to work with. Easy going pilots and management, just like it should be.
After a couple of days it was planned to do an Air2Air shoot of their Boeing 777.
The only problem we had was finding a pilot to fly the chase plane, but someone knew someone in the local flight club so we headed over there. We found one guy who said he could fly the plane as we wanted.
Réunion is a French island and everybody speaks French. Luckily this guy also spoke some English so we could communicate really well. My French is enough to survive, but I trust my English for important planning issues like this.
We spent some time in the clubhouse discussing how I wanted to perform the photo shoot, and loads of drawings were done on the big whiteboard on the wall.
The pilot wanted a girl to fly with us and it was determined that I should give all commands to her in English, and she would tell the pilot what I wanted.
Despite my efforts to change it so I could talk directly to the pilot that’s how it was agreed.
We, Myself, the pilot of the chase plane and company management, had a meeting with the Control Tower of Réunion Airport.
As we stood up in the tower we discussed the distance from the Boeing 777 we were about to shoot, and I pointed out to some 747’s on the apron below us and we made comparisons.
We all agreed about a safe distance from the Boeing 777 that would ensure great photos and still be safe from vortex’es.
We met up with the captain of the B777 and went through it all again. The 777 was departing for a short flight to Mauritius and as it came back we would meet it on it’s approach and follow it until touchdown.
So, the directions to the B777 Captain was basically, fly as you normally would do, and we will come up on your starboard side for a couple of shots during your approach. Captain agreed and we started to prepare.