Of all the pictures I have taken, the Mirages fighters picture was most satisfying because it fit the phrase "decisive moment" to a "t". Found this shot among some old negatives in my drawer. One of my favourite shot because of the fleeting moment of the Mirage fighters zooming past in "A" formation and the spectators straining their necks to get a glimpse of the planes. A "decisive moment"?

Nikon F2 with drive and 20mm Nikkor lens was used with the prism removed. It was a "get it or miss it situation"! I released the shutter when I heard the roar of the jets and managed to get one decent frame ! The planes were flown by pilots from Adelaide, Australia. They were based at Butterworth, Malaysia. The display was to mark the Adelaide Week celebrations, thus the "A" formation. The 27 year old Tri-X negative was scanned with a Kodak RFS2035 scanner. The picture appeared on the front page of The Star in Malaysia.

When this picture was posted in the net,
Clive Carter of Australia wrote:

".... A nice shot, like the formation and the excited onlookers. I have made many
trips to "Butterworth" back in those days (I was in the New Zealand Air Force at that time.) We often had exercises with the Australian Air Force - Those were great times. Thanks for the memory.

George Rady of U.S.A. reckoned:

"... GREAT CATCH!!! Another shot for Life Magazine. The thing that impresses me is that we can see faces in the crowd even thought the sky dominates the shot. The visceral image of warplanes streaking overhead, even if only at play, is just a powerful image given the role of these jets in the later half of the 20th Century. The umbrella is PERFECT!!!

What really hit me about this photo was the image of the current balance of power in Southeast Asia. This was the major topic conversation while I was in Indonesian during the Reformasi in '98. With 200 million Indonesians crowded onto Java and lesser islands, and just a few Aussies holding down all theat great infrastructure down under... at what other point in History would that not the ultimate temptation for some Napoleonic character in the Indon army to whoop up Islamic fever (and hungery, bored masses) to ensure that Asia belonged to the Asians, again! Would the world care?

The only thing that would make any ruthless military leader pause is the knowledge that Aussy and New Zealands air superiority would annhilate any attempt to invade. Surely one can't believe that this parade is "entertainment" ? ? ? It's Magellan firing his ship's cannons over the island of Limasawa to show the natives whose got the technology to win - if they are foolish enough to think of a fight. That's why this belong's in Life, or maybe Time..."

Garry Schaefer of Canada exclaimed:

".... This is a truly amazing image. In it lies much for geopolitcal analysis as, George has noted. What is striking to me is the juxtaposition of the beautiful (in an awesome sort of a way) overflight of the machines of death with the excited and almost gleeful expressions on the faces of the crowd below. (Yes, I attend air shows too and do similarly enjoy the sensation as these birds go over.) As George has also noted, the umbrella is a pure stroke of perfection here. It is easy to see how this made the front page in Malaysia and how it could well have gone further. Thanks for bringing it to us.

My friend, Vincent Thian of Associated Press (AP) said:

"... Hi,Leow, another PERFECT picture from you,even 27 years ago you already a Superman(in photojournalism)while I'm still a baby,haha.Can't wait to see more of your old picture,will you show us more?.."

Goh Chai Hin, AFP in Beijing commented:

".... I've seen this picture before, on the wall of the old photo room in Penang Star, when I was a rookie there in the good old days. I remembered staring at that picture during one of the late shifts, as I rest my legs on top of your desk, and saying "Damn, that old man is good,"

Jimin Lai ex Star photographer now with AFP, to me he is the most promising young photojournalist that I know says:

" ..... The first time I saw this photo, I went 'wow'. I was even more impressed after you told me how you shot it.

Thanks for the memory and the inspiration.


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Photo Editor of the Star newspaper.
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