Smoke On Go

Gallery: Mick McKean

Australian photographer Mick McKean dived into aviation photography in 2017 after a chance encounter with another photographer in the field.

From Matchbox model kits to the RAAF

Mick’s interest in aviation began when he was a child. “I was keen on aircraft and like many young lads loved making Airfix and Matchbox model kits.

As a kid growing up in the early ’70s for me it was WWII and British Cold War aircraft that were my main interests.”

Joining the RAAF in 1982 as an apprentice Radio Technician and working on the planes day in and day out took a little of the spark away, but the passion never died.

“I’ve found the love of aircraft again many years later – now that I’m not getting my hands dirty working on them,” he says.

For the love of beautiful aircraft…

Asked why he chose to focus so much of his time on aviation photographer, Mick explains that it’s due to a combination of factors. ” I like the technical side of the knowing how to use my camera gear and its settings to capture the image I’m after. Having worked in technical fields my whole life, I’ve found the creative side of photography very enjoyable – creating an artistic portrait of an aircraft is my favourite style.

The challenge of getting a good shot of a plane in flight certainly keeps me striving to improve. The aviation community is supportive and inclusive; those involved certainly have a passion for flying. But most of all it’s the aircraft – the beautiful lines of a classic plane, and getting up close to a warbird at full roar on takeoff definitely gets the blood flowing.

Mick lives in Brisbane, which a great area for plane spotting. Brisbane international airport is10Km from his home, and gets to see a good range of big airliners in normal times.

RAAF base Amberley is less than 50Km from Brisbane.”It’s the RAAF’s largest base with a good range of aircraft with F/A-18F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, KC-30 tankers and C-17A transports based out of there,” says Mick.

“There are several smaller general aviation airports in the Brisbane area, and several small rural strips that I enjoy visiting, with some of them holding regular fly-in events. South-East Queensland also has a good warbird scene. Once we are able to travel again I will try to work some aviation photography into our family holidays,”

Mick’s favourite photo

I think my favourite photo is the one of the orange and white T-28 Trojan taxiing. It was taken at my first airshow. I had too much lens on at the time but thought I’d snap it anyway.

What it means to me is the cool factor of old warbirds – the big thumping radial-engined machine, the nose art, canopy open and pilot with his arm nonchalantly resting on the window sill as he taxies the big girl past the crowd.

North American T-28B Trojan VH-RPX “Miss Stress” taxiing during TAVAS GWFD 2018.
Caboolture Airfield, Caboolture, Queensland, Australia.

Which is your favourite camera?

Currently my favourite camera is the Sony A7RIV. It produces fantastic results, has so many features but like a good sports car it can be a temperamental beast. I’ve owned several classic Nikon DSLRs in the past which were all wonderful too (D300, D700, D7200, D500) – I still have a soft spot for those.

This year Mick hopes to do his first air-to-air photoshoot. “This year is the 100th anniversary of the RAAF and there are several airshows organised for the year. The Avalon Airshow will be their main anniversary show and should be pretty special. I’m looking forward to the small fly-in events at rural airfields being able to happen again.

“The RAAF is in the process of taking delivery of the new F-35A Thunderbolt III fighters so I’m looking forward to seeing them fly for the first time. I also hope that I can get my first photo of our classic F/A-18 Hornets before they are all replaced by the F-35s.”

A gallery of Mick’s favourite photos

Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk Mk IA VH-KTY takes off with undercarriage still retracting at the Lismore Aviation Expo 2018 airshow.
Lismore Airport, Lismore, New South Wales, Australia.
Yakovlev Yak-52s VH-VMI “Vodka Blue” and VH-YYK performing their aerobatic display at Red Thunder 2018 airshow.
Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield, Cressbrook, Queensland, Australia.

CAC CA-16 Wirraway VH-MFW parked at Red Thunder 2018 airshow.
Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield, Cressbrook, Queensland, Australia.
Boeing B-52D 56-0689 in the American Air Museum. Imperial War Museum Duxford,
Cambridge, England.
United States Air Force Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor 07-4135 . RAAF Amberley, Walloon, Queensland, Australia.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1A G-CFGJ. Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridge, England.
North American P-51D Mustang VH-FST at David Hack Classic 2019. Toowoomba City Aerodrome,
Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia.
United States Air Force Boeing E-3B Sentry 71-1408 . RAAF Amberley, Walloon, Queensland, Australia.
Great Lakes Aircraft Company 2T-1A VH-UYB kicks up some dirt on landing at 2020 Clifton fly-in. Clifton Aerodrome, Clifton, Queensland, Australia.
Heli Glenorchy Eurocopter AS350 B2 ZK-HYA landing at Glenorchy Aerodrome (NZGY) with a mountain backdrop. Glenorchy Aerodrome, Glenorchy, Otago Region, New Zealand.

To see more of Mick’s work, you can visit his website, and find him on Facebook and Instagram.




Subscribe to our newsletter for new blog posts, tips and news