First Flight Over Helena, MT

Alpen Glow Ignites the Mountains of the ScapeGoat Wilderness, Montana

I feel like lately I've been super lucky. I remember my teachers in business school telling me "It's all about who you know." Which I thought was a ridiculous thing to tell someone who is paying $6,000 a year to be in that persons' classroom. But lately knowing the right people has put me in the middle of some incredible places and moments so maybe it was true. It seems like people my age and people I personally know are starting to find where they fit in this world and are finding what they love to do. It's true for me with photography, I believe that I found something that will remain with me until I'm gone. The same can be said for a good friend of mine that grew up with me in Helena. Ross and I played baseball and golf together for a lot of years in our youth ( I mean we are 25 so we aren't old by any means) and back then that is what we loved to do. After not making it to the PGA or MLB we both went to college on opposite ends of the state. Ross found his passion for aviation over the last year and completed his licensing about a week before our first flight together.

We met at the private airstrip in Helena at 6 am... about an hour before true sunrise. Upon arrival we both started looking at the horizon, I knew we were going to have an intense colorful sunrise, when there is a gap between the horizon of Big Belts and the cloud layer to the North East of Helena the sun will ignite the clouds. So far those were the conditions we were seeing. After the pre flight checks we got up in the air, call sign Quebec...something or other. and made our way North. Calm air the whole way, not even a slight bump and then the clouds exploded in pinks, orange, yellows, purples, and reds. I do't think I took my eye from the viewfinder for over a half hour. Ross started making circles over the Missouri River and the Gates of the Mountains and I kept snapping shots. After a few laps around we noticed the East facing mountains of the Scape Goat/ Bob Marshall Wilderness rising above an unusual inversion cloud layer started to catch the sunlight on their slopes. If any of my readers have spent time near the Rocky Mountain Front in Central Montana you know that calm days are unusual, blustering wind is the norm. Ross and I both kept repeating "this is crazy", for lack of any better words. My favorite part of landscape and adventure photography is a beautiful sunrise where the first light of the day seems to light the mountain peaks on fire, to have all these aspects come together on our first flight made it even more memorable. The sun started to fade as it rose above the clouds and we made our way back to Helena. Sometimes you are just be plain lucky like we were that day. I can't wait to get back up in the air with Ross. We are going to have some awesome flights over the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park so stay tuned!

Check out more photos below!


Ross piloting us above the Big Belts outside of Helena as the Sun Ignited the Clouds above.

Looking into the Bob Marshall Wilderness as first light ignites the mountain peaks

Looking out the window of the plane, sunrise exploding in color

An unusual inversion cloud layer covers the valley floor as Sawtooth Ridge bathes in morning light

The Bob Marshall Wilderness after the sun had rose above the clouds, heading back to Helena

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