Sunday, July 21, 2013

MC perspective: Shooting a drone

U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Kevin J. Steinberg/Released

This was a HUGE milestone. 

An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator recently landed on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.  It was a Naval aviation first, the kind of event that people look back and say "yeah I was there for that."  The UCAS has also completed a launch and touch-and-go from the same ship.

 MC3 Kevin Steinberg had a courtside seat, and wrote in to tell us what it was like.


Shooting the UCAS was really the experience of a lifetime. To be there on deck for the first launch, touch-and-go and the first trap is something only a handful can say they've experienced. And it was us who told the story. For the first launch, there was an air of excitement, wonder and some nervous tension.

 Having a living namesake, we've been in high pressure,
 high profile situations before.

Our workcenter supervisor worked out all the positions for where photographers were going to be. I wasn't really too nervous because I had confidence in myself and knowledge of my equipment. The drone did all the work. All we had to do was make sure our settings were right and our equipment was operational. None of us really got nervous because we kept reminding ourselves that this isn't our first rodeo.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis/Released

And we've shot planes landing and launching a hundred times before. It's just simply a different plane this time. The most stressful part was that plans change all the time.

In ten minutes, the whole day's plan can go out the window. But as MC's, an unwritten requirement is to be flexible. 

For the first trap, it was stressful to have the CNO and Secretary of the Navy on board. Also needing to get out our photos as quickly as possible would be a challenge.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Read Castillo/Released
There was a lot of civilian media personnel there, so our photos would have legitimate competition. But having competition sometimes makes us step up to the next level. It was a great and positive experience that I'll be sharing for many years I'm sure.

Photo by MC2 Jennifer L. Jaqua

Kevin with his wife Sarah and son Luke.

Click here for more information on the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System.


Location:  Delray Beach, FL    Miles traveled:  4,209

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