There aren’t too many people on the planet that wouldn’t know what the words MH370 referred to. The search for flight MH370 was one of the largest aviation searches in history and concluded with the Malaysian government announcing it tragically crashed into the Southern Indian Ocean. It was a herculean task that seemed to get harder as each day passed but there were new technologies that allowed the discovery to finally happen.
One such beast was the Poseidon P-8A aircraft, built by Boeing which only a few weeks ago the Australian government announced it would purchase 8 of. I attended the announcement to take photos and had the opportunity to be the only photographer allowed on board while the U.S. Ambassador and Australia’s Prime Minister toured the facilities. It started out on the ground in front of the aircraft as military personal from both countries introduced each other to the VIP group and media circled to cover it all.
I’ve talked with public relations people from several countries now who each have mentioned how fierce Australia’s media can act in comparison to others. They tell me they’re bossy, abrupt and will do anything to ‘get the shot’. Over the last five years covering similar events I’ve come to the same conclusion. I’ve been lucky enough to cover some pretty amazing things and at each one I’m shocked at the aussie media’s ferocity. When President Obama came to Darwin in 2011 I got to compare the media from all over the planet. We definitely didn’t do ourselves proud.
That was no different on the day as cameras and sound operators circled the group to get the perfect angle. I crawled into spots I needed to be to get my shots and when I got the signal from the media guy that the group were headed up stairs to the plane I bolted. I had to get to the rear stairs and through the belly of the plane before they got to the top of the front stairs. I ran knowing I’d look ridiculous with all my gear and trying not to drop anything at the same time. It was fun though and I got to the doorway seconds before the Prime Minister appeared and started their tour.
They settled in the operators chairs to get a better look at all the amazing technology that went in to something this sophisticated. The U.S. military did a great job of showing exactly what it could do as I snapped away making some images I knew would end up in papers around the country. It’s a great feeling knowing that but also a little intimidating when you know they’re relying on you to get the shot. I love it though. There were also things I wasn’t allowed to get photos of so my angles had to be just right. I’d have every image looked over by a military representative to make sure I didn’t get any wayward shots but there wasn’t any so I didn’t have to hit that dreaded delete button.
The tour of the inside finished and we headed down the back stairs to join the rest of the media scrum to get some final shots before they headed inside for the media conference. Inside it’s a different ballgame all together. Here the photogs looked for reactions as the VIP’s stood at the podium and addressed the media. Throughout the entire event you’re looking for shots that convey the story as you piece together the best pics that show just that.