Back in 2015, when Southwest Airlines Captain Ted Orris saw a teenager taking photos during a layover, he didn’t know that a brief talk with him would set goals and career as an aviation photographer. Orris ended up becoming a mentor and inspiration for Ryan Patterson who now clicks professional aviation pictures from helicopters for a living.
This photo of Southwest Captain Ted Orris's final take-off before retirement is really something, but the story behind it is even better. In 2015, Captain Orris noticed a teenager taking pictures of planes during a layover before one of his flights. (1/8) pic.twitter.com/svb6eCpXsF— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) December 5, 2020
Their close bond was one of the reasons why Ryan Patterson didn’t think twice about hatching a plan when he heard about Orris’ retirement. Orris on the other hand did not want to make a big deal out of his retirement. The plan which was made in secret included clicking a photo of Orris’ final flight to say thank you.
Secretly, Ryan spent hours planning and arranging the proper clearances to surprise Ted with a helicopter shot of Ted’s final take-off, something that Ted had always said he wanted. Ryan was able to snap a few shots of the Southwest 737 from a helicopter and the results are worth looking at.
On the D-day, Ryan drove 7 hours to Atlanta and positioned himself in a helicopter. In the final moments before take-off, Ryan sent Ted a text that said “Look up and wave”. Southwest Airlines tweeted the story which quickly garnered ample of attention on the internet.