You are currently viewing Soaring Over the Badlands – As Viewed from a Piper Cub [Part 2]

Soaring Over the Badlands – As Viewed from a Piper Cub [Part 2]

Do you remember the first time you flew in an airplane? I was 18 on a flight from Chicago to Denver for my grandparents 50th anniversary party in Steamboat Springs, CO, the end of December. To this day I’m still baffled by the location since they’ve lived in Florida for going on 30 years.

I was fortunate to have a window seat on this first flight and it was a most exhilarating experience. Since then, I’ve flown almost every year, at least once. Flying on a commercial airplane is a thrill but when one has flown in a two seated Piper Cub over South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, the exhilaration takes on an entirely new form. This aerial trip took place a year and a half ago and I’ve finally gotten around to the rest of the photos from the trip.

Yellow Mounds from Above
Nikon D700 + 70-200 mm/2.8 @200 mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1000
8/2018 ©Cristen J. Roghair

Yellow Mounds is my favorite section of the Badlands. The contrasting colors of yellow and purple together in the rugged landscape seems so unreal and yet so perfect!

I have a healthy fear of heights but I can work up to it with the encouragement of others (rock/ice climbing and rappelling in Ontario, Canada, ’04-’05 taught me that). Someday I wish to try hang gliding, even if it’s only as a passenger and never solo.

Nikon D700 + 70-200 mm/2.8 @70 mm, ISO 100, f/5, 1/1250
8/2018 ©Cristen J. Roghair

The textures found in the Badlands, mixed with the angled sun create great natural contrast and interesting perspectives from the surrounding prairie.

Back to the Piper Cub, two seated plane, and this one had seats one behind the other. The point of this trip was to photograph the Badlands and in order to photograph from a plane, the windows have to be open.

Ribbons & Lace
Nikon D700 + 70-200 mm/2.8 @140 mm, ISO 100, f/5, 1/1000
8/2018 ©Cristen J. Roghair

This is my favorite image from the evening. The white tips of thin sediment were like nothing I’ve ever seen in the Badlands, almost like lace draped across the rugged terrain. 

While we were flying, the pilot opened the windows so I could have a clear view for photographing. Much of the time, we were not simply flying parallel with the earth. In order to get some of the shots I wanted, we flew perpendicular, held in with a seat belt. Talk about exhilarating! Soaring over the Badlands, windows open, camera sticking out as far as I would dare and my body positioned head down straight towards the earth. What a rush!

The Path Traveled
Nikon D700 + 70-200 mm/2.8 @200 mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1000
8/2018 ©Cristen J. Roghair

I only ever see buffalo in the park from a distance. Of course, being in the air didn’t get me any closer. I cropped this image in post (not something I normally do) since the bull was so far below.

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