Photographer captures air travel’s contrast in 2020, 2021

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Aerographer Ryan Patterson said that many of the photos taken on the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic are still painful to see and hope to never take another such image again. say.

But he knows he has captured history.

A 22-year-old George Washington University student built a side hustle that travels around the world to take aerial photographs of planes and sell prints.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020 and many jet airliners were shut down due to the global blockade, his personal mission hopes to be a once-in-a-lifetime sight.

Related: International travelers flock to the United States on the first day of relaxed COVID-19 restrictions

Based in Washington, DC, Patterson visited various airports across the country, took pictures of numerous planes, parked and stored them. His photographs depict dozens of unused planes hiding in the plane’s graveyard. This location is usually reserved for retired jet airliners. He also occupied many vacant tarmacs at coast-to-coast terminals, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Miami, and Kansas City.

An airplane parked at the Roswell International Air Center in September 2020. (Credit: Ryan Patterson)

“When people started having a hard time seeing COVID, I started taking pictures,” he told FOX TV. “COVID is obviously something you can’t see, and I felt like I could see COVID in the aviation industry.”

“I just wanted to find out what was happening,” he continued.

But he said the most difficult shoot was in Roswell, New Mexico, where he saw dozens of planes parked. It was about the same time that airline workers were fired due to the global blockade.

“I was one of the only people to go there and see the actual devastation and see the planes on the ground,” he said.


Kansas City International Airport May 2020 (Credit: Ryan Patterson)

Related: Bill requires U.S. airline passengers to be vaccinated with COVID-19 or to prove a negative test

“It was hard to see-it’s for sure,” he added.

But as air travel rebounded, Patterson returned to some of those same airports and came up with the idea of ​​comparing 2020 air travel with 2021 air travel side-by-side.

For example, I took an aerial photograph of the United Terminal at Dulles International Airport on the outskirts of Washington, DC. The normally crowded terminal appeared to have been almost abandoned in December 2020. He returned and took another aerial photograph of the same terminal, showing normal activity in September 2021.

“I shot at 10-month intervals at the same time,” he posted on Instagram. “At the end of a very long tunnel, I feel like it’s finally starting to come to light.”

“It was a moment of a round,” he said. “For me, I think it marked the end of the most difficult part.”

Ryan Patterson

American Airlines and United Airlines stored hundreds of planes in Roswell, New Mexico during the September 2020 pandemic. (Credit: Ryan Patterson)

Airline experts may agree with Patterson after seeing a recent air travel rebound and filling a flight close to pre-pandemic levels.

According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, flight bookings surged for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, 3.2% higher than pre-pandemic 2019 bookings. Nevertheless, travel recovery faces new threats as the number of new cases of COVID-19 continues to grow. The 7-day moving average of new infections in the United States is about 80,000 per day, an increase of 26% from 3 weeks ago.

Related: Holdout of COVID-19 vaccine may affect airline travel towards the holiday season

The United States has fully reopened to many vaccinated overseas travelers earlier this month, allowing family and friends to reunite for the first time since the advent of the coronavirus, boosting the pandemic-declined travel industry. Due to restrictions, the United States was closed to millions of people for 20 months.

Delta said there was a 450% increase in international Point of Sale bookings compared to the six weeks before the United States announced that it would welcome vaccinated foreigners.

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, said:


An airplane parked at Southern California Logistics Airport in July 2020. (Credit: Ryan Patterson)

Airline officials say they haven’t seen bookings suffer due to Delta variants, but could delay the return of business trips that airlines wanted to speed up this fall. Some people say that.

Related: Delta Air Lines says international bookings surged 450% during the reopening of the United States

Meanwhile, Patterson said there was some interest from companies to unveil the Stored Airplanes Project collection, but to airline workers affected by the pandemic and the 2020 blockade. I want to be sensitive.

“When people were having a hard time when they were sacked, I was aware that I wouldn’t post planes stored side by side,” he said. “I just have a stomachache. I didn’t want to cause pain.”

“Within a few years, these pictures will look a little different,” he said.

FOX Business and The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported by Los Angeles.


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