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These Photos of Airplanes From Above Show Their Birth, Life, and Death

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Life Cycles is a new project by photographer Mike Kelley, who documented the creation, use, and destruction of airplanes through top-down photos captured from the sky.

“The series reverses our usual perception of aviation and instead of photographing airplanes from the sky, the airplanes are on the ground, photographed from the air,” Kelley tells PetaPixel. “The vast majority of people are only able to experience aviation through crowded terminals and cramped airplane seats, which is rather unfortunate.

“This elevated perspective both helps the viewer appreciate the complex infrastructure supporting air travel and visualize the aggregate of human knowledge and determination that allows us to effortlessly criss-cross the globe.”

To shoot these three stages of an airplane’s life cycle, Kelley chartered helicopter flights over a number of different locations. He visited the Boeing and Paine fields in Seattle to photograph airplanes being assembled, LAX airport to see active planes, and aircraft boneyards in southwestern deserts to find retired planes.

Birth

Life

Death

You can find more of Kelley’s work on his website.


Image credits: Photographs by Mike Kelley and used with permission

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