Photographs of Aircraft Shot from Directly Below


Jeffrey Milstein has two huge passions: photography and aviation. For his project Aircraft: The Jet as Art, Milstein visited airport runways between 2005 and 2009 and created large-scale photos of various aircraft at the precise moment they passed directly overhead.

Here’s what Milstein has to say about the series:

This work combines passions for form, symmetry, color, and flight. As a typology of aircraft, these photographs open up conversations about the complexity and beauty of modern technology. They are an attempt to share my sense of wonder. Watching a mammoth Boeing 747 gracefully gliding overhead on the way to touch down never ceases to amaze me, but they are also a meditation on how technology can be a double-edged sword when things go wrong.

As a child, Milstein built as many model airplanes as he could afford. Once he got older, he began spending time at the end of airport runways, gazing up at the planes as they flew at low altitudes overhead at close to 200 miles per hour. His favorite location is close to runway 24R at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Wanting to share this perspective that he finds so fascinating, Milstein began bringing a high-resolution medium format camera to the airport to create images. The photos are then turned into massive 6×6-foot square prints.














Milstein’s work was just displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for a year, and will soon be going on display at the Reagan National Airport. You can see more of his work over on his website.

Aircraft by Jeffrey Milstein (via Visual News)

Image credit: Photographs by Jeffrey Milstein and used with permission

  • KPAX

    Wow. Awesome pictures.

  • Andre F. K.

    This is awesome.

  • Frustrated Fan

    Petapixel is messed up for me today. Layout is plain white and horrible text positioning. Using Opera as my browser, but it has worked up until today. IE works okay. Tried to contact via the contact link, but that won’t work from either browser. Has some reference in the url to a pirate party proxy…

  • Richard

    Fantastic work. Interesting that the fighter is the only aircraft with its gear up. I’m guessing most of these were done on landing when the aircraft are lower and slower so the fighter was probably done at an air show during a low fly by.

  • Michael Zhang
  • Anon

    Seems you have a virus.

  • imacdv50

    How did he not get arrested?

  • Wayne Bartsch

    It appears the Twin Beech (black & red) is shot from above.

  • Zach

    Why would he?

  • Felipe Paredes Schulz

    He did it in the USA… there is crazy people there.

  • brandon

    why? have you been living in a cave the last ten years?

  • MB100

    “high resolution medium format camera” and there is color fringing in almost all of the shots, I really like the shots, especially the one where they are all smaller….except now I know there is CA in all of those, get a decent lens please.

  • hfc

    I don’t think that’s CA. If you’re referring to what looks like fringing on the outline of each plane, that might be the reflections from the background/surroundings that were shopped out.

  • M_A

    I saw these in person at the Smithsonian and as a photographer and aviation fan I can say they are extremely well done and extremely sharp. The online pictures really don’t do them justice. No color fringing whatsoever. Only saturation was visibly increased.

  • Jason Tyler Murray

    alot of times military pilots will do low “simulated landing” approaches where they’re @ 50 ft off the deck, gear up, practicing their landings for training hours

  • Bill54494

    Yes, and it also appears to be initiating a left turn.

  • Brent Owens

    Brilliantly simple, but beautiful! I love it!
    Brent – iflyblog dot com

  • andyk

    Search for “Matt Yonkin’s Beech 18″. It was probably upside down in a roll during an air display.

  • Walter

    C’mon Brandon, the whole world is laughing at the USA and its crazies, especially the ones with the guns.

  • Bruce Boaze

    Or a fajor muckup

  • Robert

    Great photos…. It would have been even greater if he had labeled the make/model of each aircraft.

  • Terry Gersdorf

    Explain to us all why would he get arrested…. ????

  • James Powers

    Because anyone with a camera near an airport gets harassed by the 5-0 these days. You know, “terrorists” and all.

  • nearLAX

    …is one of my favorite movies…