Master Aviation Photographer Matt Haskell Got Incredible Photos of Air Force One at the Daytona 500 NASCAR Race.
It was a uniquely American moment: the USAF Boeing VC-25A of the 89th Airlift Wing, Presidential Airlift Group (PAG) from Andrews AFB in Maryland with U.S. President Donald Trump on board and flying as “Air Force One”, the callsign when the President is on board the aircraft, performed a flyover (that was filmed from above) and landed at Daytona Beach International Airport next to Daytona International Speedway in Florida, on Feb. 16, 2020.
The flight delivered the U.S. President and the First Lady to the Speedway racetrack so President Trump could preside over the Daytona 500 NASCAR stock car race as the race’s official Grand Marshall and starter.
Aerospace photographer and journalist Mr. Matt Haskell, 26, of Merritt Island, Florida in the U.S. was on hand in Daytona and captured stunning photos of a uniquely American moment in military aviation yesterday at the annual Daytona 500 NASCAR race in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Haskell, who has photographed spacecraft frequently seen launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida and aircraft all over the U.S. (including onboard aircraft carriers at sea), has been shooting photos for nearly 3 years. He credits growing up next to Edwards AFB with some of the many reasons for his interest and inherent talent.
“It wasn’t until I moved to Florida and saw my first launch up close that I decided to pick up a camera and photograph and write about aviation and space flight”, Haskell says. “It’s taken off from there, working in the capacity professionally and doing all sorts of things from flight ops on board U.S. and British aircraft carriers at sea to being up close to the most powerful rocket in use today.”
Haskell planned his Air Force One arrival photo shoot in advance by networking with friends of his who are also aviation photographers in the area. “For this one the difficulty was scouting the location with a heavy law enforcement presence and the airport and surrounding roads on lockdown for the Presidential visit.” Haskell said he used insights on the arrivals of previous Presidents to predict flight paths and approaches for Saturday’s Presidential arrival.
One of the most remarkable photos Haskell shot on Sunday in Daytona was a dramatic scene of President Trump at the top of the stairway to Air Force One as he departed the race after it had been delayed until Monday due to rain.
“I relocated to a better vantage point for the takeoff on the opposite side of the runway. There wasn’t too much obstruction and once the motorcade arrived back at the jet he (the President) went right up. We were a good distance away but with some cropping in post(processing) it really made the shot happen,” Haskell told TheAviationist.com on Sunday.
Haskell used a Nikon D750 DSLR camera with a Tamron 150-600 G2 lens for his shots on Sunday. “It’s my standard setup for aviation,” he said.
Interestingly, Haskell’s unique photos actually got the jump on the official White House photos when they used an old photo from 2004 of President George W. Bush leaving Daytona Beach International Airport in the VC-25A in a tweet today. The current President’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted the old photo taken in 2004 by photographer Jonathan Ferrey on February 15, 2004 and attempted to make the photo look like it was shot today. Parscale tweeted the old photo from 2004 with the caption, “@realDonaldTrump won the #Daytona500 before the race even started.” News outlet CNN quickly called the Trump campaign out on the shenanigan. Maybe the White House should hire Matt Haskell next time to shoot some real photos of Air Force One.