Pictures are fascinating when you consider that they record just a fraction of a second in time. Although I don’t specifically look for pictures like these, when I see something unusual, I’ll stay awhile to have a look.
These pictures of circa1969-70 Vietnam, taken during the war from a military aircraft really stood out for their clarity and subject matter. Most of us who served over there didn’t get this kind of view; however, most of us heard of the places or went through them from time to time. Capable 35mm SLR cameras were relatively new and only recently available at an affordable price. Even at that, there were some operator challenges to getting a good picture out of them. Due to the high cost of color printing at the time, most of us used slide film. The manual controls could be fussy for a novice to master. In my outfit there were only a handful of 35mm cameras in use and it’s anyone’s guess how many of those guys were capable of taking a good picture.
In the case of these particular shots, considering the operation challenges, add to it the scarcity of guys assigned to fly low and slow enough to take pictures like these and I would consider them very rare. As a bonus, the photographer, an Air Force pilot, provided a brief description of the image.
If you only heard of these places over the network nightly news, along with the body count….here they are, or rather, were:
And along the final approach course to Nha Trang:
Here are a couple taken in the Saigon area:
If you were listening to the broadcast news back then, you would recall the huge shrill raised about incursions into Cambodian airspace. Here is a picture of one of those incursions...a massive thunderstorm cut the 25-year old pilot off from taking a direct route to his home base.