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 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