I only wanted to take pictures of clouds…

It never fails, I get out all the things I need to sit comfortably in my window seat on the plane, usually in seat 22 if I get to choose, and once my seat-belt is fastened and my seat neighbors are comfy, then I remember that I wanted to have my camera. But by then it is too late, my camera is packed safely in my bag that is over our heads and far to inconvenient to get… so I try to remember, to remember that next time I fly, I want to have my camera.

Because I love looking at the world from a plane and think it would be fun start my own plane photo collection.

So this time, on my way back to SFO from my connecting flight in ATL… I remembered… and I got my Rolleiflex out ahead of time with an extra roll of film. I was very proud of myself… and ready to take off and snap away.

As we were just about to take off, the piolot came on and welcomed us, and said that it was a beautiful day for a plane ride.

I perched high in my seat with my big clunky camera perched in the window, ready…

We started rolling, then we lifted, then there was a very loud bang, although bang doesn’t describe it well, but there was a very very loud bad noise, and then we wobbled and went back down to the runway, then wobbled on the runway with flames and smoke coming off my wing on the left side.

Then we stopped and were surrounded by lots of firetrucks.

“An engine blew up,” we were told first, then it was, “Mechanical failure.”

And after the firetrucks gave us the ok, we hobbled back to the gate and got off to wait for our next plane.

I was surprised how quickly they had us back on another plane, but somehow, I wasn’t quite as excited this time… I have to say, the experience definitely stirred my nerves and it served as a good reminder that life is short and not to be taken for granted.

About the author paige green

Paige Green is a documentary and portrait photographer, whose storytelling approach to photography frequently addresses issues involving agriculture, land use, and food. Her work is featured in nine books and has been published in Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Country Living, House Beautiful, and Culture. Paige lives in Petaluma, CA with a house full of boys.

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  1. Great shots, I try to do the same thing. In fact, I did a shoot where I carried my camera with me on all my flights with a 50mm lens to see what I could get.

    It is hard to get the dynamics of the clouds, but if you are traveling late enough and can get just a little bit of color it can change the image a great deal.

    I was pretty happy with the cloud shots I got but edited most of them out of my final collection. I did get one wing shot I love with color going from black at the top to light blue at the bottom.

    Keep going, they look great.


  2. holy cow. i didn’t even know about the scary scary plane ride. glad it happened while you were still on the ground. that is disconcerting.. glad you are ok, too…


  3. I love cloud photos too! I always try to take some, although neither I nor my partner call ourselves a photographer. I find that its only over the ocean that I have seen cool clouds. So its a treat for transcontinental travel.
    I want to frame a collection of them in rounded square aluminum frames on a wall to give the impression of being above it all.


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