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America Flying High

With an acknowledged weakness for books, particularly books related to flying and especially ones with great photography, it wasn’t a struggle deciding to purchase Jim Wark’s ‘America Flying High’ when I came across a second hand copy in my local bookstore.

The inscription on the inside front cover caught my eye first of all:

“Nick – Happy Birthday on the occasion of your fifteenth birthday, the world is your oyster”

Aunt Jane and Uncle Mike clearly picked a great book to illustrate their point and I was a little sad to see that Nick had already decided to pass on this photographic tour of the nation. However, his loss was my gain and I spent 15 minutes flicking through the pages and then decided to make the purchase so I could really appreciate its content. In reading the introduction its clear that Jim Wark has a lot of experience in the air as both a navy pilot, airshow performer and more recently as a top notch aerial photographer. In doing a little research online I came across his website, where it mentions that this year Jim was the first recipient of the Epson Aerial Photographer of the Year.

In addition to aviation and photography, he has a background in mining engineering and one of the nice things about the book are the passages of text that he uses introduce each section, describing the social and geological forces at work to shape the landscape. Most photos are annotated with a brief description of the scene and perhaps some historical facts about the buildings or region.

Of course the photography is the main point of the book, all taken from his Aviat Husky high wing which he flies solo, somehow managing the flying and the photography at the same time. The photos are from all over the US, Hawaii and Alaska and do a wonderful job of showcasing the incredible variety of landscapes and cityscapes that this country possesses. Browsing through the book is a great inspiration for flying and will remind all of us of those amazing views we’ve had from the cockpit and the wonderful vantage point that a small aircraft provides. Every once in a while you see something that makes you pause and wish you could capture it for others to see. We’re lucky that Jim has been up there looking for these sights and had a camera along to bring some of them back for everyone to enjoy.

Seeing views like this really fuels that inner frustration with the office life and drives that desire to get out there to see these things for oneself. I’ve been lucky enough to travel US a fair amount and have had the opportunity to spend 6 weeks in the Yukon territory and kayaked the Nepali Coast of Kaua’i on my honeymoon (“There’s 17 miles of open sea to go, what do you mean you forgot the to take the sea sickness pills, honey??”) so some of the sights are familiar. Fresh from strolling around Oshkosh, this book really kicks the daydreams of buying the plane and heading off into the sunset into high gear!

Well, until that happens I’ll have to live vicariously through books like this and the odd trip here and there. At least now I have some great shots of some spectacular places to go and see! if you would like to see the photos you can browse Jim’s entire library on his website. These are the smaller low resolution versions but you’ll get a good feel for his style. The book is available online from all the usual retailers or you can buy it (or one of his other three books) directly from Jim via his website. Take a look, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

If you are interested in Aerial Photography, have a look at the Professional Aerial Photographer’s Association (PAPA) website for more information and links.

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