CA: Do you have any depth-of-field concerns?
PM: I shoot shutter priority, and whatever the camera decides is going to be the depth-of-field, that's what it is. I'm not in control of that. Depth of field is not a factor for me; shutter speed is.
CA: I can remember from my NASA days that reflections were always a problem when shooting through canopies. How do you deal with that problem?
PM: I try not to shoot through canopies. If I am in the tail of a B-25, shooting through Plexiglas, I try to wear dark clothes to avoid reflections, but that's not normally a problem for me; 97% of the time, the canopy's open.
CA: How far have you ranged world-wide in pursuit of vintage aircraft?
PM: Well, I've gotten to New Zealand, that's been spectacular, also Australia, and I go to England every year. England has really become a second home for me in this work, because of Duxford and the people that fly at Duxford, Stephen Grey, and the Hannas, brilliant, brilliant pilots. Also because Duxford is part of the British museum system called the IWM (Imperial War Museum) that has an extraordinary archive in London that I lean very heavily on for my work. Of the sixty-six black-and-whites that are in the book, thirty-eight came from London, the IWM. So England has been very important, because of the ghosts. It's true ground for WW II aviation it's where it happened.
. However, the whole thing began for me in south Texas. My aviation photography grew out of Texas. Even today, I know the Texas people and airplanes better than I know the California people and airplanes.
CA: What percentage of the planes you shoot are owned by individual hobbyists as opposed to collections?
PM: In truth, most of the collections are individual hobbyists; a wealthy individual, with a lot of energy, who has created a collection and a tax shelter by making it into a museum. There are several of those individuals around that have vast collections, twenty, thirty extraordinary airplanes that they fly all the time. So, maybe eighty percent of the planes that I photograph fall under the umbrella of a collection or museum. The other twenty percent are guys that own one or two airplanes.
CA: What are some of the best collections and air shows around the country for vintage plane buffs in the U.S.?
PM: The Confederate Air Force Flying Museum is the biggest, oldest WW II airplane collection. It was created in 1957 by some crop dusters in south Texas, and has grown to be an international organization. Their annual "Airsho" (in October), held at their headquarters in Midland, is a wonderful show. The Ellington "Wings Over Houston" air show is one of the great air shows in the U.S. And the Breckenridge air show in west Texas is a great traditional air show (Memorial Day weekend; also see Breckenridge Aviation Museum) that every year attracts all sorts of private people that gather there to have a fine ol' time dropping sacks of
flour into the other guys' hangars; they make B-25 bomb runs, open the (bomb bay)
doors and try to skip-bomb sacks of flour into the middle of your barbeque.