Sky’s The Limit

Airplane mechanic Matt Sager resides near Georgetown, DE, but he once made his living in the air

Story by Joe Willey    |     Photography by Matt Sager

“As long as I can remember, I’ve always been into airplanes.” That is how Matt Sager describes the beginning of his lifelong love of aviation. His interest in airplanes also intersects with his talent in photography. He uses both to tell the stories of some of the most famed aircraft of the 20th century.

An airplane mechanic by trade, Sager also was a full-time photographer and operated his own business for several years. Eventually, his love for working on planes and keeping them airborne won out in the struggle between business and pleasure. He is back to turning wrenches full-time and now takes photos for enjoyment and special assignments.

Sager has taken countless photos of planes — he will take as many as 6,000 to 8,000 in a weekend photoshoot. He is known for his photos of vintage military aircraft, affectionately called warbirds. His photos show the aircraft in their most photogenic settings. Light, motion, composition — all fundamentals of good photography — are hallmarks of Sager’s work.

A photographer like Matt Sager has had many memorable experiences. Taking photos of famed pilot Bob Hoover’s P-51 Mustang is one that he remembers well. But like anyone who has experienced the white-knuckled thrill of flying in warbirds, he has come to value something intangible. “I have grown to appreciate what the airplanes represent. They are there to tell the story,” Matt said.

The same can be said for his photos.

Matt Sager describes some of his most memorable photography moments in the air.

This was one of my favorite air-to-air photoshoots! I’ve always admired Bob Hoover and having the opportunity to photograph his airplane was a real privilege. Ole Yeller is currently operated by Legacy Flight Museum in Rexburg Idaho.
 
I followed this restoration from the beginning and was thrilled to have the opportunity to photograph this beautiful aircraft over Washington DC for one of its first public appearances!
 
I surprised a friend who went to Stallion 51 in Kissimmee FL for P-51 Mustang training by organizing a photo shoot during one of his flights. I flew in their T-6 Texan and we had perfect weather for a beautiful late afternoon shoot.
 
The B-25 is one of my favorite airplanes! This is Georgie’s Gal and Axis Nightmare as they fly over the Ohio countryside.
 

This Mustang is being flown by Connie Bowlin with actor Gary Sinise as the passenger. Gary was at EAA Airventure to perform with his band, The Lt Dan Band, as a fundraiser for his foundation which serves Veterans and first responders in need. This photo represents some of the more challenging aspects of air-to-air photography for me. I took this on a media flight with four other photographers on board the B-25, Panchito, and I was at the bottom of the pecking order. There are only 3 spots to shoot from on the airplane so I had to get creative if I was going to make a picture. I called for the pilots to open the bomb bay doors on the B-25, radioed Connie to slide her position a little forward until she was directly under Panchito and used the bombs in the bomb bay to frame the shot.four

Jim Tobul and Scott Yoak are some of the best formation pilots in the business and their airshow performance, The Class of 45, honors their fathers and veterans who served in these amazing aircraft.
 
Corsairs over Wisconsin countryside, taken from the back of a B-25.
 
One of the most rewarding aspects of photography is being able to give owners and pilots something they can hang on the wall as a reminder of what these beautiful and amazing machines represent.
 

2 comments

  1. Great article on a man that works extremely hard to provide excellence at everything he pursues. Incredible photography! Great talent!