Aviation photographer's stunning photo of plane taking off shows co-pilot waving to camera

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A photographer was able to capture a stunning photo of a commercial airplane as it took off. The photo, which captured the pilot’s final takeoff, also captured the moment the co-pilot waved to the photographer as the plane ascended.

The photo was taken by Ryan Patterson, a professional aviation photographer, USA Today reports. Patterson was capturing images of the last takeoff for retiring Southwest Airlines pilot Ted Orris, who has served as a mentor for Patterson.

Patterson shared the photos on Twitter, writing, “Close friend Captain Ted Orris departing on his final flight. I drove up to RDU to surprise him in the helicopter on departure. If you look closely, you can see his first officer waiving!”
(Ryan Patterson)

The photographer reportedly sat in a helicopter hovering over Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina to capture the photo. Incredibly, the picture came out clear enough to show the plane’s co-pilot waving to the photographer.

Patterson shared the photos on Twitter, writing, “Close friend Captain Ted Orris departing on his final flight. I drove up to RDU to surprise him in the helicopter on departure. If you look closely, you can see his first officer waiving!”

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Southwest Airlines also shared the images on social media, where it described them as “amazing.”

The airline also shared an image of Captain Orris holding up a printed version of the photo and congratulated him on his career.

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Patterson reportedly surprised Orris with the photo after previously telling his mentor that he wouldn’t be able to be present during the final flight. Orris helped Patterson achieve his goal of becoming a professional aviation photographer after the two met five years ago.

The photographer said that he spent weeks secretly gathering the proper clearances to be in the perfect spot to photograph the moment.

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