I shot this viral aerial photo of a microburst from a news helicopter over Phoenix while fleeing a huge wall of dust.
This photo has been shared millions of times on over 30 million websites worldwide, including National Geographic, CNN, Fox News, The Weather Channel, and every other major network.
It has also been featured in textbooks and documentaries highlighting the effects of climate change on severe weather.
We spotted this microburst as we were covering a dust storm near Phoenix, and I instantly thought the same thing as everyone else, “It looks like an atom-bomb just detonated over Phoenix.”
Capturing these photos is a team effort between myself and my pilot, Andrew Park.
Our Robinson R44 Newscopter is just a really tall, really expensive tripod. We work together as pilot and photographer to be safely in position at the right place at the right time to capture these images.
There’s a lot going on in that little cockpit. I’m simultaneously photographing the action with video and still cameras, reporting the news, coordinating with the news station producers and engineers, and talking to my pilot to reposition our tripod in the sky.
Andrew, on the other hand, is basically wrestling a mechanical bull 800 feet above the ground, making calls to other aircraft and control towers, and keeping us safe.
A lot of times, I push my pilot to get closer to the action, but after years of working together, I know when we are reaching the limits of safely flying the aircraft in stormy, chaotic conditions.
This image is copyrighted by Gerald Ferguson. For usage, please contact me.