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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

2018 National Night Out with the MWAA Police Department

Until only a few years ago I had never even heard of National Night Out.  I still don't know when it is until it is happening as it's not something that's usually on my radar.  That was the case again this year, when I went to DCA to photograph a newly opened store; though I knew the MWAA PD and FD would be participating in National Night Out whenever it was, I didn't realize it was that day until I arrived in the afternoon and they were just getting started... directly in front of the store I was on site to photograph.

After asking a few officers to kindly get the hell outta my shot, I completed the photoshoot I was there for, and then proceeded to stick around and check out the booths MWAA PD had set up.

Why yes that  is  a $10,000 thermal scope.

Why yes that is a $10,000 thermal scope.

20180807 DCA National Night Out 2018 MWAA Police 4.jpg

Leo and Chelsea: The Proposal

Leo and Chelsea have been dating since 2008.  The two met each other through friends at George Mason, and in the early times of their relationship, including their first date, they spent hours standing by the Reston Town Center skating rink talking into the wee hours of morning.  The two have been inseparable since they met and got together.  They graduated together; Leo watched Chelsea start her career with the Fairfax County Park Authority, and Chelsea watched Leo become a Fairfax County Police Officer.

Leo and I have known each other since high school; we had a math class together, and I always admired his car since we parked right by each other.  Incidentally, I met Chelsea in a psychology class at Mason.  So when Leo contacted me and told me he's popping the question, of course I was going to be there for them!

Because their relationship began in the plaza by the skating rink, it's only natural that that's the spot Leo had chosen to drop to one knee and pop the question.  The plan was simple; take Chelsea on a little date before Leo's family's weekly dinner... little did Chelsea know that it was just a ruse to get her back to the spot where it all began.  But that wasn't the biggest surprise Leo had in store for her; he had both their families and friends standing by waiting so they could all be witness to this big moment in their life together.

Leo had been giving me updates all afternoon, and when I spotted them, I hid behind some columns alongside the skating rink, just across from where they'd stopped.  Leo and Chelsea's longtime friends Emily and Ted had positioned themselves just across from me behind a directory to secretly film.  Finally it was time; Leo pointed out their family and friends, and even their dogs Calvin and Ollie, hidden in plain sight across the street, and dropped to one knee.

She said yes!

Some of the skaters had noticed what was going on the instant Leo dropped to one knee, and when he slipped on the ring and the kissed, the entire skating rink cheered for newly engaged Leo and Chelsea along with their family and friends.

Weddings

Coincidentally, while waiting for Leo and Chelsea to arrive, I spotted another couple get engaged; you never know if a couple has a photographer for marriage proposals, so I snapped away when I spotted the gentleman dropping to one knee, and got them my contact information before they walked away.  If you are this couple, please contact me so I can deliver your pictures.

2016 Dulles Day Plane Pull and 5K / 10K on the Runway

Dulles Day 5K / 10K On the Runway

In 1993 Dulles International Airport held the World's very first Plane Pull, a charity event in partnership with Special Olympics, that began a phenomenon of other plane pull charity events worldwide.  In 2013, Dulles added a 5K (and in 2014 a 10K) to Dulles Day.  While technically the 5K / 10K is a separate event from the Plane Pull, it is always held on the morning of as the newest annual part of Dulles Day.  Each year 2,500 participants are able to run on R/W 1R and return to the Start / Finish via T/W K.  It is one of Potomac River Running's most popular runs, both because it offers the unique opportunity to be a pedestrian on an airfield (and run under the wing of a United 777), and there is no other run of that distance which offers a perfectly flat venue other than a track.

In previous years I've been on the ground for photos (thank you to Airport Operations for always providing me with speedy transport anywhere I need to go), but this year I was in the helicopter circling the event to capture new angles and promo photos I haven't gotten for this event before. In contrast to the other photographers at the event who are tasked with capturing each runner's photo, my assignment for the Plane Pull each year is to document the entire day and capture marketing photographs in a photojournalistic manner.

Thanks to an unexpected, last-minute delay of the race start, I was able to capture some great photos and video footage of the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center before the run got underway.

Also visible is Washington Dulles International Airport's Concourses and Terminal, ATCT, VMF, and R/W 12/30.

Huge thanks to Bussman Aviation and all the fine folks in Dulles Airport Operations who make aerial photography and the entire day possible!

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

Dulles Day Plane Pull

The Dulles Day Plane Pull is a Summer festival suitable for all ages, and is great for families and aviation enthusiasts alike.  There are food vendors, games, giveaways, booths and displays, demonstrations, a classic car show, ARFF and Mobile Lounge rides / tours, live music, and ~50 private, vintage, and military aircraft on display, but the main attraction is the Plane Pull itself; ~100 teams compete in pulling a FedEx 757 or a United A320.

The first pull to kick off the day every year is always the Special Olympics team.  This year they had a little help from Superman!

Another notable team is the Fairfax County Police Department.  Dulles's property crosses over between Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, and many of the teams that compete are police and sheriffs offices in the surrounding communities.  The police community is already a tightly knit brotherhood, and that family is brought together every year with this friendly competition amongst neighboring jurisdictions.

Something of my own tradition I've begun since I began documenting the Plane Pull in 2013, every year I capture an aerial portrait of Eero Saarinen's famous Dulles Main Terminal Building.  This year’s Plane Pull was overcast - excellent for pictures of people and scenes, but not the most flattering light for glamour shots of buildings.  The iconic Main Terminal Building is seen here with ongoing construction for the Dulles Metrorail Project entering the bottom of the frame, including excavation and two cranes.

For 10 straight years now eyes have been on the Chesapeake Sheriff's Office; the team with an outright dominant reign as the Dulles Plane Pull's fastest.  They successfully defended their title for the 10th year in a row, with a time of 4.872s; 2016's fastest pull, however just short of setting a new Plane Pull record - a record of 4.753 they set in 2015.

The Dulles Day Plane Pull is also a planespotter's / AVGeek's dream; ATC does their best to route as much international, heavy, and otherwise interesting traffic to the nearby center runway.  Guests are encouraged to bring their cameras, and it's common for folks to come just to grab a lobster roll and planespot alongside the taxilane the entire afternoon in anticipation of spotting a jumbo like Lufthansa's 747-8i or Air France's A380.  This is completely in addition to the static private, vintage, and military aircraft on display.

Once again, I have to thank Bussman Aviation and all the fine folks in Dulles Airport Operations who make aerial photography and the entire day possible!  I rely on these fantastic folks to get me from A to B in speedy fashion, and what I do wouldn't be possible without them!

Video Footage

Here is a collection of the video footage I captured at this year's annual 2016 Dulles Plane Pull benefitting Special Olympics Virginia. Still photographs are my main focus, so this is content I captured between the still photos I captured to document the day.

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.

Selfie.jpg

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.