Evert Jan van Koningsveld (EJ)

Evert is born in Zeist , Holland on the 24th of January 1958 . He lives in Zeist which is 4 miles away from Soesterberg AFB, he visited the first Airshow there when he was 2 years old (with his dad, who was also a great aviation lover) and already at this age he was crazy about aircraft. At the age of 15 he started to take photo's from planes, he was busier at the Airbase than at school. By the time he was 18 he became his first car and he was mobile.

       

                                         EJ in front of a Red Arrow Hawk                                                                     Together with his Jose and the pilots

He visited many Airbases and Airshows around Europe.In the early 80's his interest was more to operational bases and aircraft but at the end of the 80's this changed into Airshows. Not aircraft on the ground but in the air were they belong, that's why his love for Display Teams became enormous. "That's real flying" he says and ďIím going to fly with these menĒ he said at the age of 15 and everybody though: shure you go, they thought heís crazy. But he did it. Also the other action acts at Airshows became his favourites. So he spend a lot of time at Airshows, mostly in Europe and the USA . In 1979 he met his lovely wife Jose and he took her to the Airshows and you never believe it, she likes planes (lucky basterd), they married in 1990 in Las Vegas , Nevada .

       
                 Jose want's to try it also, hhhhmmm don't think so.                                                               When EJ is flying Jose is watching

In the late 80's he started to publish some of his material, mostly for the British Red Arrows and the Snowbirds (the best of the best he says) and several Airshow programs in the USA. In 1991 he became his first flight with the Snowbirds and did some work for them which they used in there brochures and media kits. In 1993 he did his first flight with the Red Arrows after four years of publishing for them and since then he's doing a lot of there published material (posters, calendars, ect).

          
                                  Canadian Air Force Snowbirds                                                                                  Royal Air Force Red Arrows 

If he gets offers from others to visit a team or base, if its at the same time when the Reds are in the area he's going to the Reds. He is free to do so because it's not his living, he works at the biggest public transportation company in the Netherlands: conneXXion. So he is a free-lance photographer and he takes pics of things he likes. And his free days are limited, so there is not much time left after all these Airshows. He is working for many years with Nikon camera's (Nikon D300 & D200) 

       

                                                 USA Patriots                                                                                              RAF Red Arrows

Since then he flew more than 250 times in militaryplanes and displayteams, and he is going on.  We asked him how it is to fly with these teams, you see a big smile on his face and he started to talk. Itís very heavy, the G-force go up to 7 and sometimes up to 8,5 by the Red Arrows and youíre not allowed to wear a G-suit, in the back-seat you have a stick aswell and itís connected to the one from the pilot. A G-seat inflates so it could hit the stick and thatís very dangerous. So you must pay attention when the G is coming, if youíre looking around for a good shot or changing a film you could end up with a blackout. With 7 G youíre body, camera, arm, head ect, ways 7 times itís normal weight and all your blood is leaving your head. At this moment you must breath hard and tightening all your mussels, if not you get ďtunnel visionĒ (you see trough a small tunnel, less view) or a blackout. Believe me, those men are working very hard up in the air. Think about that when youíre laying in the grass at an airshow and look up in the sky.

       

Republic Singapore Air Force Black Knights F-16 Falcon

He made an official Red Arrow CD-rom with UGA/Media. He also made several other CD's, like an Airshow series and a SkyFlash special, US Air Power I, F-16 special and published many pictures in aviation magazines. He could do more articles but than he must right the articles but he doesn't like writing "I'm a photographer not a writer" he says. My first team ride was a media flight with the Snowbirds over Los Angeles , I felt like a King, finally I got the ride. Worked hard to get it, contacts, letters and give the team some good pictures they can use. Pulled 3 G at the most, strange feeling more like: "what is that"? But the flight was smooth and easy, no loops and rolls. The first one with the Red Arrows in 1993 was different, more like: "that's it, over, last one, what a horrible feeling, can't get my camera up." but this lasted for just one day, the passion won here. The view is so enormous. Never had the idea it was so hard and my respect to the pilots grew with the minute. We had terrible whether so I needed better pictures and we tried it again and from here it was going better and better. And now, no worries, I think the G force is something you have or can stand it or you don't, need a little luck here.

       

                      High G turn in a RSAF Black Knights F-16                                                                                  USA Patriots

A few questions asked to EJ:

Is it hard to concentrate on taking photographs during high-G manoeuvres? Yes very but the will and passion must be there otherwise it wonít work.

Is it bumpy up there? Yes sometimes you move around like a car with 100 m/ph on a rough road, you could break a arm in there. So bumpy can it be.

Did you ever get sick? No, never had the feeling, so Iím very lucky. Itís mixer of feelings, hard and aggressive and the most beautiful view in the world, I love it.

What are the biggest challenges to doing your work? Trying to take pictures never took before in the most weird angles. Not the straight and level shots.

What are the biggest rewards?  Itís my passion and the greatest honour for me is when a team uses my pictures and the Red Arrows are using many of them.  A pictures in a magazine is nice but your photo as protocol poster with a team is a crown on my work. In 2004 I became a Red Arrows Fellowship Award and that is for me the greatest reward ever. In 2007 the RSAF Black Knights asked me to do work for them that was an amazing reward aswell.

What is the most exciting assignment you have participated in?  A few years ago we did a practice for the Jubilee Flight of the Queen. The Red Arrows together in formation with the Concorde, this was amazing.

How do you co-ordinate many planes at once so that you get the shot you want? No co-ordinate, they do the flying and I shoot, we follow the formation during a display with a spare plane flown by ďRed 10Ē and then we take the pictures. Sometimes we do a set-up flight for some photoís and then we do a co-ordination brief before we fly.

Are you a pilot yourself? No, I did a Dutch F-16 test but Iím a little colour blind, so no flying for me, but I flew a Red Arrow Hawk and a Snowbird Tutor and even had my hand on a F-16 stick. So I had some superb moments.

Everybody calls you ďEJĒ? Years ago one Red Arrow pilot found the Dutch name to hard and called me ďEJĒ, so thatís how it started.

Do you have some tips for photographers who have a chance to fly and what about equipment?

Every camera will work, the non professionals could have some problems with the shutter above 3 to 4 G'S also the smaller Nikons and Canons. But on your first flight you won't the camera at 4 or more G's hold it on you leg or on the dash, it will get very heavy. The big heavy ones could interrupt the equipment of the plane. The best lens is specially the first flight a zoom from 35/85 mm, here you have more room to play. At this point that's more important dan superb quality from a standard lens. In a formation, look and look every where are planes. Find the right views for the shot you like.

Can't look through the camera? try with out looking, over the shoulder or so. Never use a high F-stop (above F-8) first most lenses are at the best at F8 and above you could get dirt on the canopy on film aswell. Place camera as close as possible the the glass, so you have less reflections, you biggest nightmare. Don't look to long through the camera, could make you sick. Remove your camera beld , dangerous, could touch the buttons. Don't drop things, film/lens caps ect. Only 1 camera and 1 lens on the first flight.

 

 

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