VANDALIA — Photographers, whether professional or amateur who love to photograph air shows, almost always express envy of those photographers whose job requirements, and credentials, allow them to get a bit closer to the show line.
There are photographers, there are air show photographers, and then there are Blue Angels photographers.
Even the most hard-core air show photographers would have a bit of job envy for Tim Schumaker of New Carlisle, Indiana.
Schumaker, a Mass Communications Specialist Second Class, (MC2), is attached to the Public Affairs office of the United States Navy Blue Angels. His job is to photograph the day-to-day activities, including air shows, of the Navy’s famed aerial demonstration team.
His job, like all other jobs within the Blue Angels organization, is competitive. One applies for the position and must undergo rigorous interviews and scrutiny to insure they meet the high standards established by the Blue Angels. Enlisted members of the Blue Angels typically serve a three-year tour before returning to fleet duty.
For Schumaker, earning his Blue Angels crest, the patch proudly worn on the uniforms of team members, is the culmination of a dream.
“My father joined the Navy as a pilot in 1964 because of a Blue Angels show he went to in 1961,” said Schumaker, “so for this to all come to fruition the way it did and me being on this team is not only a huge goal for the family to be accomplished, not only for me but also for my father, it is a giant dream to be achieved.”
While photographing the Blue Angels every day is, in many ways, a dream job, it, like most jobs, is not all glitz and glamour. There is much hard work and many long hours, not to mention a very rigorous travel schedule as the Blue Angels travel the world, showcasing our U.S. Navy.
Schumaker said that if needed, as a team member, he is expected to pitch in to assist with any situation. “I am expected to step up and do anybody else’s job on the team if a jet goes down (is in need of repair), I drop my camera down and change a tire, help take intake covers off, whatever is needed.”
The young photographer said that becoming a member of the Blue Angels was “definitely the culmination of some hope and dreams.” As for his future with the Navy, Schumaker said, “I’m not sure. As long as I keep having cool things like this happen, maybe I will (make it a career).”
Following the last performance at the Vectren Dayton Air Show, the Blue Angels returned to their home base at Pensacola, Florida for a quick re-grouping before flying north to Traverse City, Michigan where they will perform at the National Cherry Festival Air Show this weekend.