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*John Hollenhorst Reporting*Video Courtesy of KAET/Phoenix
You've heard of driving with a hands-free cell phone, but how about flying with a hands-free plane? There is a pilot who flies that way, and his exhibit at the Utah Museum of Natural History shows that he often comes back with a thing of beauty.
Is there anyone who hasn't dreamed of flying like a bird, seeing things the way a bird sees them? If you're a photographer, the dream is to preserve the view for others to see. A museum exhibit proves Adriel Heisey found his own unique way to be a bird.
"The photography grew to become so serious for me that I needed to conquer the limitations that I had," Heisey said.
He does just that in a plane, or more correctly, on a plane he built himself. He sits outside because there's no inside. He steers the thing with his knee strapped to the stick.
Heisey explained, "Having my both hands free allows me to hold my camera."
The exhibit focuses on his pictures of ancient archeology sites and their modern counterparts in the American Southwest. He's a former charter pilot, but now he flies low and slow, shooting on the fly.
"Over time, what I developed was this kind of intuitive body connection to the aircraft where I didn't even have to consciously think about the maneuvers I was making it do," Heisey said. "I mean it's every photographer's dream, to basically be an eye, liberated in three dimensions and able to move wherever the composition takes you."
Basically, he found a way to take his passions into the air and make a living doing something that's a lot of fun and a little bit scary.
"I compare it to riding on the back of a dragon fly," Heisey said. "It's unsettling. It stirs up an animal fear inside of you that tells you, 'You should not be here. And something bad is going to happen real soon.' Uh huh."
Something good happens pretty often, when the man, his machine and his camera work together to capture that bird's eye view. The flying photographer's exhibit is on view at the Utah Museum of Natural History until May 22. He'll be on campus Saturday for a lecture and a gallery stroll.