Aviation has always been in my blood as my father was a navigator on B25 Mitchells during the latter part of WW2. My mother was always interested in aircraft as well, so it was a natural path for me.
I got started in aviation photography in 1978 when I worked at Waterkloof airbase for a private company that repaired Mirage III and Mirage F1CZ radars. Naturally I took photos on open days and at airshows, which were spectacular back then. I can also remember taking photos at Rand and Lanseria airshows and hearing the inimitable Brian Emmenis doing the commentary.
I never wanted to get my PPL, and could never afford it. My first experience of flight was with my uncle, who took me and my sister up in a Tiger Moth, me maybe seven or eight years old, sitting on my sister’s lap!
I used to ride on my bicycle up to Waterkloof Air Base when I was young. I’d sit and watch Sabres flying around. Those were exciting days
Early in my career, I was lucky enough to do several air-to-air sorties with Stu Davidson in the Eastern Cape, and a few from Stellenbosch airport along the Western Cape/Cape Town coastline, which was superb.
My photography became a career in 1999 when I went to Duxford, in the UK for the first time. I then embarked on a career as a photo journalist, which has spanned 20 years, writing for both local and UK magazines.
I have since logged up 13 Flying Legends and Royal International Air Tattoos amongst other overseas airshows, as well as flown in the Blue Angels Fat Albert in Seattle. That was one of my career highlights for sure.
My favourite aircraft? Well, that has to be a Spitfire. My favourite photo has to be the air-to-air sortie I did with Spitfire Mk1 N3200 that was salvaged from the beach near Dunkirk and rebuilt to flying status. The cherry on the top was flying in a Dragon Rapide (WW2 vintage) and taking photos of the iconic N3200 just a few metres away.
In 2007 I was contracted to do aerial photography of the Durban harbour widening project. When that was finished, I continued to do the Durban harbour improvement project for Transnet until 2019. I logged up about 150 hours flying with my expert pilot/friend Neil Southey in his Bell JetRanger 206 helicopter.
My equipment currently is a Canon 5D3 and a Canon 7D2 and my favourite lens is a 300mm F2,8, which I use on my 5D3 with a 1,4x convertor – a great combination.
Contact Pete van der Spek:
Call: 0824416405, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, visit: www.planekrazy.co.za