The first Paris Air Show, in 1909, was described by the New-York Tribune as a "fairyland" surpassing all expectations. Twenty-four airplanes were displayed in the Grand Palais, with the Blériot monoplane that flew across the Channel the centerpiece of the show. Pear-shaped balloons and yellow dirigibles floated gracefully above the crowds.
One hundred four years later, more than 110 aircraft were on display at the 50th Paris Air Show, held at Le Bourget airport from June 17-23, 2013. Wisconsin photographer Adam Senatori was on hand, and you can see some of his shots in the gallery above.
The lack of U.S. military jets (due to budget sequestration) meant that most of the crowd focused on the Sukhoi Su-35, above, making its first appearance outside Russia. The demonstration flight of the single-seat, twin-engine fighter by test pilot Sergei Bodan (see video here), was remarkable to watch, said Senatori. "That was something I'd never seen before, and I probably won't have the chance to see it flown by that particular pilot in that manner again. Pugachev's Cobra, the Dead Leaf, and the Frolov Chakra. The aerobatics defied traditional aerodynamics—at least the aerodynamics that I was taught!"
The Su-35 was on Senatori's list of must-see aircraft. "I always prioritize what I want to shoot," he says, "based on how hard and how rare it is for me to actually encounter these aircraft in the wild."
Russian fighters had been absent from the airshow's static display since 2001. On the list this year were the Yakovlev Yak-130, the KA-52 Alligator Attack Helicopter, and the sleek and highly maneuverable Sukhoi Su-35, shown here.
Senatori is drawn to simplicity in his aerial photography, hence the stark white backgrounds. "I also like clouds in the background if they have painterly qualities," he notes. "I'm very inspired by the Dutch sea painters of the 17th century, and how they handled clouds in their land- and seascapes."