ASSIGNMENT No4: Wittmund & DA Defence
Ian Sykes visits the world of contracted Aggressors with DA Defence at Wittmund and takes the first steps into becoming a published author
August 2015 saw my first foray into the world of COAP. When first registering on the site I was impressed at the range of operations and Assignments available but I was drawn to this particular assignment by the fact that it was Germany and the Luftwaffe being my main area of interest.
This was also to be not only a photographic assignment but a magazine feature was to be prepared for future publication and my work was to be published in Aero magazine of Bulgaria! As exciting as it was, I was also nervous but this was the place to make it happen.
Meeting at the airport it always puts you at ease seeing a few familiar faces from previous trips so this should be quite a good sortie, and always good for a catch up and getting more tech advice if you had doubts re certain settings – especially as I was armed with my new D750.
The first day of the visit was a press briefing and we were welcomed by the base commander Lt Col Finke who the introduced the team from DA Defence and an overall picture of the company and their purpose in training was built up, with a Q&A session undertaken by group and gathered local media.
Once the brief was over and copious notes taken, along with photographing each presentation screen it was onto a buffet and then a tour of the base museum. Following this we returned to the hotel and Rich presented his workshop on shooting in an operational environment.
The following day we were out to the hangers and time to view the aircraft. Two A-4 Skyhawks in different colour schemes had been positioned for us to photograph and we were also allowed access to the hangers where further aircraft were being worked on though care had to be taken not to include certain items in the background.
The pilots were interviewed by Rich and more than happy to assist in set-ups with the aircraft. Discovery was also kind enough to allow us use of the mobile steps to get the shots from above. Further examples of these were taken from the top of a huge earth bank as an A-4 was positioned after a flight to get a forest backdrop.
In-between the Skyhawk shooting there was action from the base JG71 EF2000s and also Tornados from AG51 at Jagel dropping in.
In the evening we had arranged a meal with DA Defence employees and also some of the former Phantom pilots in the town of Wittmund.
A short flight back to the UK was followed by a few months of trying to write up the notes into something that seemed to flow and at one point almost giving up completely – becoming a published author it is not an easy thing to do but, one dark morning it all came together and thanks to Rich, it was away to Bulgaria and published in the superb AERO magazine! An excellent trip and thanks to all involved.
“My work was to be published in Aero magazine of Bulgaria! As exciting as it was, I was also nervous but this was the place to make it happen”