The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

2015 Dulles Day Plane Pull and 5K / 10K on the Runway

Dulles Day 5K / 10K On the Runway

Since 2013, the Plane Pull's 20th Anniversary, Dulles Day has begun with a 5K and 10K "Run on the Runway."  2015 continued this new tradition, with runners arriving at the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum to run along Dulles' R/W 1R / 19L, and adjacent taxiway.  Similarly to last year, United towed the stationary aircraft runners passed on their run to its position in the fog at sunrise.

If you're looking for the video footage, scroll to the bottom of this blog post.

The 5K / 10K sold out with 2,500 people running on one of the most notably flattest surfaces one could find outside of a competitive track.  Some familiar faces took part in the run, including some highschool and college classmates of mine with whom I ran track, as well as Dulles' Airport Manager, who has competed with his daughter in the run every year now.

Dulles Day Plane Pull

The Dulles Day Plane Pull is an annual fundraising event, taking place every year since 1993, which benefits Special Olympics.  Held the third Saturday of every September, this competition for charity draws 10,000 - 15,000 people each year, featuring dozens of display aircraft, games, prizes, concessions, and live entertainment, all in addition to the main event running all day, the Plane Pull itself.

Every year I photograph the car show first, since it is located right next to where I park my car on the apron as I cover this awesome event.  A few of these are regulars to the Dulles Day Car Show, as well as regulars to other car shows I frequent.

Dulles Day is kicked off during the Opening Ceremony, where the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department Honor Guard present our Nation's colors, the National Anthem is sung, and MWAA PD Chaplain Grant delivers an invocation prayer.  Sponsors then formally present Special Olympics with funds raised, and the festivities kick off!

The first team to pull is always the Special Olympics Team.

Kids are also able to pull non-competitively; the 1-2-3 Junk Truck is on hand for kids to get a feel for what it's like pulling an aircraft, on a smaller scale.

Dunk-A-Cop is one of Dulles Day's most popular attractions with the kids.  Dulles Day would be impossible without the cooperation of countless police, fire, and rescue agencies which donate their time and energy to help organize the event and run attractions such as the K9 Demonstration.  In this safe demonstration, officers and their K9 partners search for real explosive material hidden in a suitcase - dogs sit to signal "alarm" indicating which bag the dog detects the smell emanating from.

For the last several years, I have been privileged to fly in the helicopter that covers the "airport's open house" from the air.  Thanks to Steve Settle, a very funny guy I worked with in Engineering, who is also very integral to the planning of Dulles Day each year, for snapping this photo of me before our flight this year.


I do love my job with all my heart.  That's the Main Terminal in the background.

Each year I do this, I not only cover the event, but I make sure to request a flyby of the Main Terminal to grab aerial photos of it.

I also have a bit of video footage from the flight, but video is not my focus.  Scroll to the bottom of this blog post to see the video.

Eero Saarinen's historic Main Terminal Building at Washington Dulles International Airport, from the back and front.  This year, construction of the new Dulles Metrorail Station can be seen in front of Daily Garage 1.

In case you were wondering, this is the view if you look down from ~400AGL.  Depending on the tightness of the turn, you may look straight outward and this will be your view.

Some people think this is scary; I think it's fun.  And don't worry; everyone and every thing is strapped in, including cameras.

If you see just one pull, make it the Chesapeake Sheriff's Office, which are now the 9x defending champions.  This year they pulled a monstrous, record-setting time of 4.753s, once again beating out the Fairfax County Sheriff's time of4.946s.

Chesapeake gets fired up; everything they do is big.  Their heaviest teammate weighs in at over 500lbs.  Because they are the reigning champs, and hands-down the Plane Pull's biggest spectacle, they are always the day's last pull.

Just Plane Mamas is another notable team, defending champs for Most Enthusiastic.  They also won this year's Slowest Pull - yes, the Plane Pull awards everything!  It's about family fun!

After the awards were presented, the airport must return to full operation.  The public departs, and most of the display aircraft "go home."  This year, the President's Osprey was on display, and was quite a sight to see depart - this was my first time seeing an Osprey flight in person.

There is video of some of these aircraft departing at the end of this blog post.

As always, the 2015 Dulles Day 5K / 10K on the Runway and Plane Pull were huge successes, with impeccable weather.  If you missed it this year, you really missed it; but make sure to mark your calendar for September, and I'll see you all there again next year!

Video Footage

Photos are of course my primary focus, however I do usually shoot a bit of video because it is so unique and interesting.  Here is a reel of all my footage from this year's Plane Pull.

Etihad at Children's National: Dream a Little Dream

This past Friday, April 11th, Etihad Airways, alongside several other partners, unveiled the Etihad Airways Room at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC.  Etihad Airways’ Chief People and Performance Officer Ray Gammell was joined by UAE Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s National, Kurt Newman, MD, and Fox News anchor Bret Baier, a member of the Children’s Hospital Foundation Board.

The unveiling took place in Children's National's Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation after a tour of the Cardiac ICU, where Etihad Airways also gave funding for additional hospital rooms.

The Etihad Airways "Flying Nannies" also flew in to Children's National, paying a visit to entertain some of the hospital's young patients.  Each Etihad flight has an onboard "Flying Nanny" available to help entertain children during the flight.  Nannies are specially trained and certified by Norland, and have a busy bag for children.  Kids can enjoy coloring, origami, face paining, and even more with the Etihad Flying Nannies.

Due to patient confidentiality, I am only able to release Etihad's Official Press Release photograph I took of the Flying Nannies.

The events in the morning were only a precursor to Children's National's annual "Dream a Little Dream" Fundraiser Ball at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC, that evening.  Almost 1,000 guests, including National Security Adviser, Susan Rice (D), Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel (D), and the Saudi Ambassador to the US, Adel Al Jubeir, and other congressmen, senators, and celebrities, were welcomed by video introductions from Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and First Lady Michelle Obama.  Speakers included Kurt Newman, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s National, House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R), and His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States.  The glamorous evening began with dinner, personally cooked by Wolfgang Puck himself.

After dinner, the fundraising auction began.  Bret Baier, anchor for Fox News Channel and member of the Children’s Hospital Foundation Board, conducted the auction with the help of Norah O’Donnell, co-anchor of CBS This Morning.

The auction was kicked off with a black labrador puppy - the only description was "AWWWW!!!"  Other auction items included Two Diamond First Class tickets on Etihad Airways, tickets to the Kennedy Center Honors, and tickets to tapings of American Idol and The Voice.

All auction proceeds went directly to Children's National.

Another item auctioned was a Lorraine Schwartz bracelet, necklace, and earrings, designed for and worn by Beyoncé.  The jewelry was co-designed by Jozlyn Miller, a 12 year old patient of Children's, who modeled and was on hand to help Bret Baier conduct the auction.

Upon winning the jewelry, Jho Low surprised Jozlyn by asking her to keep and enjoy the jewelry, and also donated an additional $100,000 to Children's National on top of the jewelry's purchase price.

The evening concluded with a surprise performance by singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, which I was unfortunately unable to photograph due to licensing agreements with Ritz-Carlton.

Overall, the fundraising event raised a record $10.7 million, all of which directly benefits Children's National.

This was the fifth time I have photographed for Etihad Airways, and it is always nice to catch up with some familiar faces I have come to know over the past year.  I have photographed Regina and Jekaterina at every Etihad event I have attended to-date.  It's so great having friends and fans all over the globe!

My photography has been used for press release, and has been featured in several news outlets.  I have been informed that The Washington Diplomat is also writing a story featuring my photography, due out next week.