Terry Diggs was a man of medium height, slight build but possessed the bluest eyes of anyone I have ever seen. Very poised and dignified in his presence, I took a liking to the older man immediately upon our having met. A gentleman to the core but also one that took no flack from anyone, I learned shortly after our meeting that he was a veteran of WWII and a B-17 pilot whose service for our country was cut short after being shot down over Germany and suffered three years in a POW camp therein. Needless to say I felt honored to have Terry as my instructor and drilled him often on the time he spent under the unwanted supervision of Adolph Hitler.
I respected Terry and loved the fact that he treated me possibly like he was treated during his own flight training. Abrupt and quick to point out my short comings in handling the little Cessna, I felt compelled to do my best for Terry and within about four months of training had attained my credentials as a private pilot.
It was not long before I began carrying my camera aloft to photograph the design of the land that slid beneath my wings on so many early morning flights and began collecting a good file of images describing our Texas from on high.
Within a couple of years I was honored with the opportunity to check out in a 1946 Aeronca Champ, a little tail wheel plane that offered even better options for aerial shots as I could remove the door and shoot past the wing strut with little difficulty. For years I shot from this little plane and loved every minute of being aloft in the cool hours of early morning when the atmosphere was so fresh and clean, offering a view of the land below in colors so rich and vivid.
Along with my own flights came many hours aloft with my good friend Knut Mjolhus, a college buddy from our years at Texas Tech and a pilot of unparalleled skills. From a Cessna Caravan, Cessna 206, Hughes 500 helicopter, Bell Jet Ranger and Robinson R 22 and 44, we flew to so many wonderful locations around the state in order that I might document the beauty of our state from this perspective so high.
Today, thanks to my friend Bob Moorhouse, I am still able to enjoy shooting from above while flying Bob’s little 1946 Aerona Chief, the near twin brother of my first tail wheel plane in the Champ. I would like to take a moment and share with you a few of these images that define our state from a perspective seen and appreciated by too few. Put on your googles and imagine the groan of an engine as it strains to gain the altitude that will support a photographic essay of our Texas from the sky!