Newport, KY-based photographer Jeremy Kramer never thought he’d experience flying on a tiny two-seater plane, let alone that he’d be photographing vintage planes from the seat of one. When Cincinnati Magazine asked him to get in to cover a story on Red Stewart Airfield, he was quick to say “yes!”
Cincinnati Magazine is one of my oldest clients; I have worked with them for nearly seven years. They are a favorite client of mine because of the variety of subjects we get to work on.
Enthusiasts say that flying in a tailwheel airplane is the closest thing you can get to flying like a bird. The history behind the vintage planes, incredible views, and the fact that you can fly with the doors open attract people all over the world to this small family-owned airport located in Waynesville, Ohio.
The shoot took place last winter at Red Stewart Airfield. Emerson “Red” Stewart established the small family-owned field in 1946 and is now owned by Red’s oldest son, Emerson Jr. “Cub” Stewart, and his wife, Cathy.
Jeremy arrived at the field early in the morning and quickly realized the ground was completely covered in snow. As he began photographing the pilots preparing the planes for flight, the snow promptly started to melt, lending a distinct feel to the images he took before taking his first flight on a vintage aircraft.
The location was terrific. It is fairly rural and has a grass runway. I got to go up in one of the old planes, and there was snow on the runway!
While in the air, Jeremy enjoyed the experience of flying on a tiny, two-seater plane while he captured aerial shots of one of the other planes flying close by. The small plane allowed him to capture scenic views of planes in flight while his assistant stayed with his feet firmly on the ground, preparing for the family portraits they would be taking next.
My assistant was petrified that I was going to make him go up on the flight with me. Luckily for him, the plane only had two seats.
Photographing from a plane was something I had never done. It wasn’t a big challenge for me, but it was a new experience and was fun.
After the flight, Jeremy photographed Emerson “Cub” Stewart and his wife Cathy, the current owners of the airfield carrying on the family legacy. Emerson is a skilled pilot, having done plenty of aerobatic, vintage aircraft, and warbird flying in his career. He is also an Aviation Maintenance Technician and Airworthiness Inspector specializing in older style fabric-covered airplanes. Emerson and his wife Cathy (who is also an aviation maintenance technician) restored two WWII planes currently hanging in the US Air Force Museum.
The Yellow Piper plane featured in many shots is also part of the family legacy, having belonged to Emerson’s father. An authentic piece of history, Red Stewart purchased the Piper Cub brand new from their Lock Haven factory and clocked in an impressive 18,000 hours flying during his time with the plane.
The family legacy continues with Cub and Cathy’s son, Emerson III, and their daughter Sara who also works in the family business. After photographing Emerson and his wife with the plane, Jeremy brought in the entire family for a shot.
I enjoyed getting to meet and photograph the Stewarts. It’s always so cool to get a glimpse into other people’s worlds and hear a bit of how they got there.
Jeremy’s images of the family and the planes showcase an experience like no other and highlight the family’s continued dedication to keeping grassroots aviation alive and preserving history by actively training others to fly these unique aircrafts.
It was undoubtedly the highlight shoot of 2020. The feeling of taking off in a small plane on a grass runway covered in snow like that is something I will never forget!