Does aerial photographer Jason Hawkes have one of the best jobs in the world? Quite possibly. Last month, CR accompanied Hawkes on one of his evening aerial shoots, setting off in an AS3555 ‘Twin Squirrel’ helicopter from Redhill Aerodrome and flying across the Surrey countryside and over London just in time to see the sunset, and the city lights being turned on. Hawkes has been working as an aerial photographer for the last 20 years, starting out taking pictures from a microlight and progressing to helicopters. The journey across London makes for a somewhat hairy ride for the passenger, as Hawkes shoots with one of the helicopter’s side doors open, allowing him to lean out to take his shots.
Everything is carefuly orchestrated between the helicopter pilot and air traffic control, to ensure no two helicopters are occupying the same area and, as night falls, the pilot has to pay special attention to the location of police helicopters, maintaining a distance of at least three miles at all times. Hawkes flies between heights of 500 and 1,200 feet, which allows us to fly close enough to the Shard to see the kitchen fittings in the penthouse suite. All the while, he is constantly working with the pilot to adjust the height and angle that the helicopter hovers at. Before our flight, Hawkes had completed a daylight mission over the Olympic Park, producing the image show here, with the Orbit Tower, designed by Anish Kapoor, in the foreground. The way in which the ‘look’ of the Games (see page 46) has been integrated into the Park can be seen clearly, with the asphalt of the main spectator route around the site picking up the graphic ‘shards’ that are also employed on the seating area of the Olympic Stadium itself.