This Photo Of An F-16 High Over Arizona At Sunset Is Mind Blowingingly Stunning

The image is perfect in composition, timing, and exposure, but beyond its technical merits, it just kicks a ton of ass. 

Keith Meachem

We are blessed with a constant flow of great aviation photos in the digital photography age, but once in a while we come across an image that is truly spectacular and totally unique. Case in point, Keith Meachem's photo of a Royal Netherlands Air Force Block 20 F-16A MLU (Mid-Life Upgrade) popping flares high over the Arizona desert at sunset. Not only is the photo striking in its composition and timing, but its exposure in a very challenging lighting situation is absolutely perfect. Simply put, it couldn't be any more marvelous, it truly represents flawless execution. 

The image was taken during a photo shoot organized by our good friend and contributor to The War Zone, Rich Cooper, owner of the Centre Of Aviation Photography. Flying in a Short Skyvan that is usually used as a skydiving platform for Skydive Arizona, Keith pointed his Sony A7R IV DSLR with a Sony 24-70mm F/2.8 GM lens out the open rear ramp as the RNLAF Viper flew in formation behind it, grabbing the iconic fighter at a unique angle just as it popped a flare. The shoot took over the desert expanse southwest of Tucson. 

The 148th Fighter Squadron, which trains RNLAF F-16 pilots, calls Tucson Air National Guard Base at Tucson International Airport home. The unit is far from camera shy, nor is the RNLAF in general. Some of the best F-16 photos around have Dutch Vipers as their subjects. In this case, the whole shoot was closely coordinated with COAP and 148th Fighter Squadron personnel. It's a win-win. They can get some truly incredible photos of their jets in action and do some formation and intercept work behind the slow-flying Skyvan and the photographers get what for many would be a once in a lifetime experience. 

Rich Cooper is a master at setting up such rare encounters and the proof is in the almost too consistent products that result from them. So many incredible photos come from these outings that it is easy to take them for granted, but that is a very good problem to have for Rich and his team. 

Keith Meachem
Keith Meachem
Keith Meachem
Keith Meachem
Keith Meachem

The shoot didn't end in the sky. Rich and his band of photographers also captured the jets and their crews on the ground. Check out some of Rich's best snaps from the terra firma portion of the shoot:

Rich Cooper/COAP
Rich Cooper/COAP

So, if you have caught the photography bug, like what you see here, and have the itch to experience an aviation photoshoot of a lifetime, reach out to the Centre Of Aviation Photography, they will get you dialed in. 

Make sure to follow COAP on Facebook and Rich Cooper on Instagram, you won't be disappointed, trust me. 

We also want to give a huge thanks to Keith Meachem for sharing his amazing photos with us. 

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com