What A Deployment Looks Like Through An Air Force Photographer's Lens

Air Force Helicopter Fighter Jet

Boy was I surprised when a Reddit User with the twitter handle RaptorClause got back to me about these images to say that they were all “public domain.”

They were public domain, he explained, because they had all been taken on a government camera, by a government-trained photographer.

As a fellow (former) combat photographer, I can relate to wanting to get your images out there for people to see — and wow does the Air Force know imagery.

You can check out some more of their work at Airman Magazine, but you certainly don’t want to miss out on these sick images … so go ahead, click that little link right there … do it.

First of all ... wow ...

The sounds these jets make when they take off can be heard anywhere on base.

The base, in this case, is Bagram Airbase, in northeast Afghanistan.

The base is one of the biggest in Afghanistan.

And it's a jump off point for support operations all around the country.

It's also a massive parking and maintenance lot for several flight units from NATO.

So this is what Air Force photographers get to do, shoot images of fighter jets ...

And guys awkwardly loading ordnance onto fighter jets.

Jet pilots have the bossest selfies.

Where there's snow, there's always some guy who's been ordered to move it.

But it's not all work, sometimes staying up to watch your team win the big game is worth being tired the next day.

The view for a crew chief ... (it's shot from a cockpit, but the view is the same).

You also need to take care of your ears. Working on the flight line certainly can't be good for the ol' hearing.

There are all sorts of birds the NATO forces use ...

But generally, beauties like the Apache here steal the attention of all the boys.

How could it not? Look at the way she moves.

So graceful.

Yet deadly.

Of course transport birds are still necessary ...

How else would casualties come from a fight and war-fighters get to the fight?

Looks like a CH-46 or a Chinook ... each bird has its signature sound, and guys on the ground can usually tell just by listening.

Jets on the other hand sound pretty much all the same.

Imagine going to work and this is your office.

That thing on the front is for refueling. Some transport birds fly so high, and so long, that they get refueled mid-flight.

Kick up dust. The dust wave from rotor wash can totally ruin your day if you're not ready for it.

Helicopters obviously don't have as much worry about runway conditions as jets.

These have special operations close air support written all over them. Anyone need some missiles?

Still looking for those operators, huh?

Certainly the A10 series jet has no problem finding the operators ...

The face of salvation on the ground and in a bad situation.

The best view for an infantry grunt on the ground.

Yes, she's an oldie but a goodie, capable of delivering quite the payload.

Isn't that just a face you can love?

OK enough A10's, now more birds.

These guys are still looking for their Navy SEALs.

That's purdy.

Pretty high ... the newer versions of the Huey's top out around 20,000 feet.

Flight of the Intruder: If you know that movie, then you're old like me.

Prince Harry was a gunner in a helicopter like this (guy in the front). Pilot just flies, gunner just shoots. Which would you be?

OK, enough with the birds of prey, let's do transport fixed-wing mommas.

Glub glub glub glub ...

Icarus lost his wings because he wasn't U.S. Military trained.

C-17 is the equivalent of commercial travel for military ... except not even remotely as comfortable.

Everybody, for a few wars running, has known the dream of one day catching that big bird home.

Erp, actually, yeah, that's the direction you head in when you head home.

Clearing those mountains is, of course, a must. Good thing there are no windows for the passengers.

Believe it or not, not everything the Air Force does is ... in the air.

Sometimes the Air Force photogs will go out on foot patrols with various units.

Civil engagement at its best.

Kids are kids, no matter the context.

Influencing and aiding the local schools is a must for counterinsurgency.

Face time, without gear, without weapons, no helmet: sometimes it's important to remove the barriers between yourself and the people.

It also pays to bring a dog or two to war. They smell stuff that we don't, then they report what it is they're smelling.

It's good morale for everyone to get together on occasion and barbecue a bunch of horrible military food.

Rinse, repeat ... until you catch that big bird home.

YOU SAW what a deployment was like on Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan >

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