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Perry’s Account of a Harrowing Experience

Published: July 1, 2009

Read Bruce Perry’s account of one of his more harrowing experiences while doing aerial photography

“On one shoot of the Cajon Pass, where the San Andreas Fault goes through, there was such severe turbulence that we had to back out of it. We were trying to fly into it and the winds were coming at us about as fast as a plane could fly, so we were essentially going nowhere and bouncing real severely so the pilot (Jack Bragdon) finally pulled out into a sharp bank and when he did so we had a lot of shear and the plane was dropping very quickly and a little out of the pilot’s control so he uttered an expletive and I got kind of scared at the time. I looked at him and his face was kind of white and his knuckles were white. It lasted about three minutes where we were fighting it and fighting it and then he realized we weren’t going anywhere. He looked at me and I looked at him and my eyes were big and his eyes were big and he said, ‘ok, we’re going to have to pull out of this’ and that’s when he pulled into the bank which lasted about 20 seconds, but it felt like a hour. We finally pulled out of that and got out of that area. That was the most exciting, dramatic experience we had. After we got back on the ground, we talked about it. He said he would have backed out more quickly of his own volition based on his pilot training, but he wanted to get there because that was where I said I needed to go. I told him that in the future, just do what you think is right and we’ll adjust. I don’t want to be in that kind of situation again. He’s got about 15 years of experience and an excellent pilot. He’s the kind of guy you want as a pilot because nothing gets him too excited; he’s real level-headed, real capable, I’ve never seen him panic. He handled this one time real well. After that experience, I said, this is the guy I want to use.”