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I've interviewed & photographed 24 WWII pilots from 6 countries. I want to do more before they are gone. It's a race against time.

Combat Pilots of WWII - then and now photos and their stories

I have photographed and interviewed 24 WWII pilots in six countries.

Major Eric Johnson, shot down over the Sahara and saved by a Bedouin.
Major Eric Johnson, shot down over the Sahara and saved by a Bedouin.

What I want to do next:

1. Photograph More Pilots

Photograph and interview more of them in the same way I have since 2007 - with one exception. Up until now I have funded the project myself and this has meant I photograph pilots when I have the money and consequently there have been long periods between shoots. The problem here is that time is running out as these guys are getting very old and won't be with us for much longer. So I need to fund the process from other sources.

Colonel Art Jeffrey, P51 ace with 16 victories. Image by Mike Schoenholtz.
Colonel Art Jeffrey, P51 ace with 16 victories. Image by Mike Schoenholtz.

2. Print a Book

The second thing I want to do is make a book to showcase the photos and tell the pilots stories.  I have found a printer in Germany who specialises in producing high quality art books and this is the kind of end-product I am looking for in order to do the subject justice and show honour and respect to the pilots featured in the book.

Walter Morison, escaped from a PoW camp and was caught trying to steal a German plane.
Walter Morison, escaped from a PoW camp and was caught trying to steal a German plane.
Johnny Bradley, the author's father, with whom this all started.
Johnny Bradley, the author's father, with whom this all started.
Capt. Eric Brown RN, fighter pilot and test pilot who was one of the first allies into Belsen Concentration Camp. An experience that has haunted him to this day.
Capt. Eric Brown RN, fighter pilot and test pilot who was one of the first allies into Belsen Concentration Camp. An experience that has haunted him to this day.
Col. Gunther Seeger, one of Germany's most successful fighter pilots on the Western Front.
Col. Gunther Seeger, one of Germany's most successful fighter pilots on the Western Front.
Brian Walley, RAF bomber pilot who was the only one of his crew to survive crashing into the North Sea in winter.
Brian Walley, RAF bomber pilot who was the only one of his crew to survive crashing into the North Sea in winter.
Lt. Commander Peter Twiss RN, fighter pilot and first man to fly at 1,000 mph.
Lt. Commander Peter Twiss RN, fighter pilot and first man to fly at 1,000 mph.
Dick Nielsen, USAAF bomber pilot who survived a full tour. Image by Mike Schoenholtz.
Dick Nielsen, USAAF bomber pilot who survived a full tour. Image by Mike Schoenholtz.
Theo Nau, young German fighter pilot who scored three victories before being shot down and badly wounded. The US fighter that shot him down was piloted by a Native American.
Theo Nau, young German fighter pilot who scored three victories before being shot down and badly wounded. The US fighter that shot him down was piloted by a Native American.
Col. Charles McGee. Tuskegee Airman who fought in Italy, Korea and Vietnam. Image by Mike Schoenholtz.
Col. Charles McGee. Tuskegee Airman who fought in Italy, Korea and Vietnam. Image by Mike Schoenholtz.
Commander Bill Hardy. US Navy fighter ace who flew in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Image by Mike Schoenholtz.
Commander Bill Hardy. US Navy fighter ace who flew in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Image by Mike Schoenholtz.
General Gunther Rall. Third highest scoring fighter pilot in history (275 kills). Shot down eight times, he broke his back, was scalped, had a thumb shot off, but each time he went back. Decorated by Hitler three times. His wife smuggled Jews to England.
General Gunther Rall. Third highest scoring fighter pilot in history (275 kills). Shot down eight times, he broke his back, was scalped, had a thumb shot off, but each time he went back. Decorated by Hitler three times. His wife smuggled Jews to England.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Time:
The primary risks and challenges associated with this project relate to the age of the pilots. Many of them are in their late 80s and early 90s and they will not be with us much longer.
To deal with this I propose the following:
1. project manage the process of photographing and interviewing pilots so as to do the largest number possible in the little time available.
2. Consider recruiting other photographers to shoot old pilots according to my style and brief. For example, I worked with Mike Schoenholtz to shoot most of America's surviving WWII fighter aces. However, there are potential quality issues here - as explained in the next paragraph - it is very difficult to find photographers who have the gravitas, skill and tact to get the right kind of images.
The age of the pilots requires a great deal of tact and sensitivity and this is a constraining factor in terms of who can photograph and interview them. So far I have done all the interviews and anticipate this will be the case with other pilots exposed to the project.
Not just anyone can do the photography. They must have the creative and technical ability to execute the photography in a professional manner, often in cramped and difficult circumstances, and they need to be sensitive to the needs of their subjects, who may become tired and frustrated easily. This is especially the case with former high ranking officers like colonels and generals.
I am now an "old hand" at doing all this and I understand the subject so I can have meaningful conversations with old pilots. This has proved useful in establishing a rapport with them.

Copyright and terms of use issues:
The pilots' families may create problems with the usage of the photos. This problem is managed by getting the pilots to sign model release forms.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • Pledge £10 or more
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    9 backers

    Copy of the eBook featuring pilot photos and their stories. The eBook will be updated in instalments until the last pilot featured in the project is photographed and written up. Your name will appear in the eBook (unless you would prefer not to be mentioned) so as to acknowledge your contribution.

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    Copy of the eBook and the hardcopy "coffee table" book signed by the author and posted to you before Christmas 2013. The book will be a high quality book making the most of the images and telling the stories of the pilots. Your name will appear in the eBook and the hardcopy book (unless you would prefer not to be mentioned) so as to acknowledge your contribution.

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    One hour Skype chat with the author talking about the images in the eBook and telling the stories of the pilots. Includes a copy of the eBook. Must be during UK working hours. Your name will appear in the eBook and the hardcopy book (unless you would prefer not to be mentioned) so as to acknowledge your contribution.

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    One hour Skype chat with the author talking about the images in the eBook and telling the stories of the pilots. Includes a copy of the eBook and a signed copy of the hardcover book. Must be during UK working hours. Your name will appear in the eBook and the hardcopy book (unless you would prefer not to be mentioned) so as to acknowledge your contribution.

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    Lunch with the author in Winchester to talk about the pilots in the book. You pay for the lunch and you get a copy of the eBook and, when it is ready, a signed copy of the hardcover book. I can also make it to London or other places within an hour of Winchester that are accessible by train. You will also have to pay for my train fare. Your name will appear in the eBook and the hardcopy book (unless you would prefer not to be mentioned) so as to acknowledge your contribution.

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    Six limited edition signed* and numbered A4 prints of images of your choice from the book. One print may include both one "before" and one "after" photo of a pilot - so notionally you could have six pairs of images printed. Images will include a short description of the image printed on a separate piece of paper that can be cut and mounted with the image (this is not part of the offer - I suggest you get a professional framer to do it). In most cases the most recent images of the pilots are the last professional images taken of these men, so these photos have a very special resonance. In all likelihood only you, me, and the families of the pilot will have these images. You will also receive a copy of the eBook and the hardcover book. The images will be printed on high quality photo paper, but the offer does NOT include mounting or framing. The images will be despatched separately and before the hardcopy book. Your name will appear in the eBook and the hardcopy book (unless you would prefer not to be mentioned) so as to acknowledge your contribution. * I will only sign images made by me. Images appearing in the book that were made by other photographers will not be signed.

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    "After dinner" talk or other talk by the author featuring a Powerpoint presentation of the images in the book, clips from the pilots' interviews and the author relating stories about the pilots. The reward also includes an eBook for each person attending the talk and the option to order the hardcopy book for only £25 (for those who attended the talk). Travel costs may need to be reimbursed as well, depending upon where the venue is located. The name of your group will appear in the eBook and the hardcopy book (unless you would prefer not to be mentioned) so as to acknowledge your contribution.

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    Corporate sponsorship. Your company will receive a signed copy of the hardcopy book, eBooks for key people, twenty signed and numbered prints with descriptions (unmounted and unframed) and prominent acknowledgement in the eBook and hardcopy book. Delivery and personal presentation by the author within the UK (and abroad subject to travel, subsistence and accommodation costs being paid in advance).

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    Russian sub-project. At least 30 million Soviet military personnel died in WWII. At present I have no Soviet pilots in my book. I would like to spend some time in Moscow photographing Soviet-era pilots. There are a number of women pilots in Russia who flew against the Luftwaffe and I would especially like to interview them and photograph them. If you are in a position to fund this for me, then I shall be pleased to acknowledge you accordingly.

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    Make a £5,000 pledge and receive a significant acknowledgement, signed prints and books.

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Funding period

- (30 days)