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The Paris Air Show through the Lens of a Pilot Photographer

Starting a century ago, the first airshows were essentially a flying circus: roving bands of pilots and daredevils moving like a flock of birds from village to village and performing stunts like wing walking and other airborne acrobatics. (They may have coined the word “barnstorming,” though it remains unclear whether they actually flew through open barns.)

Today, some of that spectacle still remains, but airshows, especially the big ones in Paris, Farnborough, and Dubai, have become huge business, generating hundreds of billions of dollars in new deals every year.

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“It’s not only the size of the shows that dwarfs the flying circuses, but also the size of the technology,” Senatori says. “That size is even more awesome if you keep in mind that we’ve been flying for a little more than a century.” Above: The massive GP7200 jet engine powering the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane. Top GIF: Bi-planes performed stunts at the Paris Air Show. Image and GIF credits: GE Reports/Adam Senatori. 

Adam Senatori, who used to fly regional jets for Northwest airlines and still holds a pilot’s license, has been photographing and filming airshows for the last five years. “I’ve been always amazed by the feats of the barnstormers and when you see the fighter jet flyovers here, you still get the same thrill,” Senatori says. “But today, these shows are where the business gets done and where you see the technology that everyone’s going to be flying in the near future.”

He prepared a visual essay about the latest airshow in Paris, which is taking place this week. Take a look.

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The GE90 generates more thrust than the combined power of the Titanic and an early space rocket. This is how Senatori captured it.

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