Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Queen City From the Sky - Aerial Photos from Nov. 8, 2008

- Gabriel (right) and his father (left) at the controls of the Cessna Skyhawk II.

Back in October my friend Gabriel offered to take me flying with him and his father. The plan was to photograph the construction of Kings Island Amusement Park's newest and tallest roller coaster, Diamondback, from the sky for Our friend Bill would also be joining us. I had met both of them through KICentral once I started contributing photographs to it in 2005. Gabriel and his father had been flying ever since Gabriel was little and Gabe had been contributing his aerial photographs of Kings Island to KICentral since 2004. I had gone flying with them before but I was really excited about this time since I had some newer and nicer camera equipment and lenses. Usually after we photograph the park Gabe and his dad are kind enough to take us over downtown Cincinnati and the surrounding area. So on the morning of Nov. 8 I picked up Bill and we met at the Blue Ash airport.

We began heading Northeast to photograph Kings Island. Using I-71 North as a navigational guide, we passed over the miles of suburban homes of Blue Ash, Mason, Sycamore and other East Side communities.

- Suburban sprawl in Blue Ash, Ohio.

- These buildings were still adorned with blue tarps on their roofs after having been damaged when the remnants of Hurricane Ivan blew through Cincinnati back in September, creating a freak wind storm which damaged many homes and left 90% of Duke Energy's customers without power for some time. Photograph by Bill Ware.
After a few short minutes the park's 1/3 scale replica Eifel Tower appeared on the horizon. Circling above we began to photograph and film the park for the KICentral update.

- Bill videotaping Kings Island from thousands of feet above.

In June Kings Island announced that it would debut it's newest coaster, Diamondback, for the 2009 season. The roller coaster will be the tallest (230 ft.) and fastest (8 m.p.h.) at the park and at $22 million is one of the biggest investments in the park's history.

- The 230 ft. lift hill of Diamondback rises next to the park's Eifel Tower replica.
After a few laps around the park we headed out towards Batavia, Ohio. This is about the first time I started to get sick. Now, in a large commuter plane I seem to have no problem, but when I join these guys in their smaller planes and we get tossed about in the wind, take sharp angled turns and they perform a few stunts......I start to get sick. It's totally worth it though. Flying is an amazing feeling and to see things from up there is quite an amazing experience, so is the feeling of weightlessness as Gabe and his dad flew the plane upwards in a sharp climb then downwards in a fast dive, as they do this you start to float....and eventually your stomach catches up to you. In Batavia is Clermont Steel Fabrications, the factory where they are manufacturing the track for Diamondback. As we passed over a few more segments of track could be seen laying around the property, waiting to be shipped to Kings Island. Photographs of the plant and more construction photos can be seen at

- East Fork Lake near Batavia, Ohio to the East of Cincinnati.
We decided to take a break for lunch and land at Clermont County Regional Airport, where on Saturday's pilots and their guests are treated to free hot dogs.

- Gabriel (right) and I (left) enjoy free hot dogs. Me, Bill, and Gabriel with the aircraft (center). Photographs by Bill Ware and Isaac Zelazny.

Once we were on the ground at Clermont my stomach began to feel better, it felt good enough to eat hot dogs, even if it didn't they were FREE hot dogs. So we each had 3 (they were FREE). We still had to fly over Cincinnati, so maybe eating the hot dogs wasn't the best idea since I usually get sick in the plane, however, I had never thrown up during one of these flights, but the hot dogs were free! How could you pass that up?

We took off from Clermont, heading to the West towards downtown and Lunken Airport. Lunken and downtown are considered Class D airspace. Class D airspace is defined as:

Pilots are required to establish and maintain two-way radio communications with the ATC facility providing air traffic control services prior to entering the airspace. No separation services will be provided to pilots of VFR (Visual Flight Rules) aircraft. Pilots operating under VFR must still use "see-and-avoid" for aircraft separation. Airports without operating control towers are uncontrolled airfields. Here pilots are responsible for their own separation and takeoff and landings. From:

Basically what that means is any aircraft entering the airspace is required to stay in constant contact with the local tower, state their intentions and heading, and get approval from the tower before entering the airspace. This is due to the high amounts of air traffic and security rules surrounding aircraft and major urban areas since 9/11/01 (For example: had their been a Red's or Bengals game going on we would not have been permitted to fly over downtown). Lucky for us no major events were taking place. We requested to fly along the river make one loop around the city and then head North back to Blue Ash, our request was granted and we headed towards downtown, approaching from the West.

 - Cincinnati neighborhoods and the Ohio River as we headed towards the center city.

In case you have never seen the Ohio River, it doesn't run in a straight line. So when our aircraft followed it's course we were doing a lot of turning and swaying, my stomach began to bother me and I tried to remember exactly why I ate those hot dogs (did I mention they were free?).

- Passing over Mt. Adams, approaching downtown.

Realizing we only had once chance to loop around the city I grabbed a plastic bag (just in case) and my camera's, only one chance to get the pictures.

- The iconic Cincinnati skyline at approximately 2000 ft.

My stomach settled just long enough for me to enjoy the spectacular view and to take photographs. I alternated between my Canon and Olympus DSLR cameras to use various focal lengths and the sun poked out just long enough for us to see the incredible view.

- Great American Ballpark seen on the bottom right with downtown in the center and suburbs to the North.

- The Taylor Southgate Bridge spanning the Ohio River with Great American Ballpark and skyscrapers in the foreground.

- Construction site for the new Queen City Square. When completed, the building at this site will be the tallest skyscraper in downtown Cincinnati.

- Over-The-Rhine seen at center.

- Clifton row houses dot the hills while the University of Cincinnati sits at the top of the hill.

- Elder High School playing one of their playoff games at UC's Nippert Stadium.

We completed our loop around downtown and headed North back towards Blue Ash, where we took off. My stomach settled as I grabbed some more photographs as the sun peeked through the clouds for just a few seconds at a time. My stomach settled and I began reviewing the photographs on the LCD screens. Despite my stomach, the photographs and experience are completely worth it. Flying is one of the greatest experiences known to man and I am very grateful Gabriel and his father were kind enough to invite Bill and I along.

- The Greater Cincinnati area as we approached the Blue Ash airport.
The above view is a far better site than miles of dark cornfields that I passed on the way back to Athens tonight. Just two more weeks and I get to come home for awhile. It will be a welcome break from what have been a stressful, agrravating, depressing, yet sometimes enjoyable and rewarding past ten weeks.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

-Gordon Bombay


  1. Great as always...keep it going!!

  2. Fantastic stuff. You got some really unique angles in this set.

  3. I see your banner picture must be new as Parker Flats is there in all its glory.

  4. Thanks for the compliments guys! Yes 5chw4r7z, that banner image is from this past weekends flight.

  5. I hope to bring you flying again sometime. Your pictures are amazing!

  6. Hey, this is Jake (tubaman) from KIC. I gotta say that I really enjoy reading all of your articles and am fascinated with the idea of urban exploring. I also like that you take the time to do research on sites where you explore in turn providing the reader with some background information on the site. Just so you know though, your article about Diamondback on here says that it will be "Kings Islands fastest coaster at 8 MPH" So, I was reading the article and thought you would want to know about that to correct the mistake, seeing as from KIC I can tell you don't like bad journalism and you would probably want to correct the error.

    Regardless, great stuff! Thanks