Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania
2016: A Picture and its Story
A pilot looks up from a U.S. F-22 Raptor fighter as it prepares to refuel mid-air with a KC-135 refuelling plane during a flight to Britain from Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in Romania, April 25, 2016. Toby Melville: 'I hate flying, so when I was asked if I fancied a day trip from a US air force base in Britain to near the border with Crimea, to photograph a mid-air refuel of US fighter bomber planes, I did initially hesitate. I have been sick many a time on previous assignments; flying in military helicopters over Baghdad, in planes hugging mountains in Kosovo and on six-seater propeller planes bouncing up and down through electrical storms in the Chilean Andes mountains. But the chance to shoot from such a unique viewpoint soon overrode all my queasy qualms. A 3.30 alarm call marked the beginning of a 19-hour working day. Eight hours of the shift were spent mid air in the 50-year-old hulk of a noisy, rickety and dark behemoth of a fuel tanker plane. The USAF crew members gave me several opportunities to shoot the Raptor fighter jets performing their miraculous seeming manoeuvres during the day. The Raptors flew at hundreds of knots, just metres from us and with precision accuracy, the umbilical-like line would drop out of the bottom of our plane and lock onto a miniscule-looking aperture on the top of the F22's. This frame shows a pilot preparing to receive the fuel-line. With the bonus of an optically super window to shoot through, together with great visibility on the return leg to Britain from Romania, I was satisfied with the pictures. Thankfully on this trip I managed to keep my composure and during the debrief, still trying to hide wobbly legs, I didnÕt mention to any of the pilots or crew members that I once even puked on an escalator - thatÕs how bad my motion sickness is!' REUTERS/Toby Melville TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "2016 PIX" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.