Bengaluru, Feb 22: Phil Camp first shot the photo of a flying machine when he was 16 years old. It was at the Oxford Airport, in 1973.
"Well, it as a Bollow 105 helicopter," recalls Phil, one of the world's leading aviation photo-journalists, when OneIndia caught up with him for an interaction at Aero India 2015.
"I used my brother's Russian-made Zenith camera," he adds.
At 57 years now, Phil seems to have lost some hair, but not his passion to chase planes, especially being operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Hailing from Southend-on-Sea, on the banks of river Thames, Phil dreamt of becoming an Air Traffic Controller one day.
"That was my dream right from when I was a kid of 10 years. But as I grew up, I realised I am colour blind and could not become a pilot, ATC or any other jobs related to flying. So the best way was to admire aviation was through photography as a hobby," says Phil, who has over 25,000 slides on aircraft.
For the last 37 years, as the Director of Aero Rep Limited, he looks after spare parts distribution of four US-based companies in the UK and Europe.
Not missed a single Aero India
A regular at Aero India right from 1996, Phil says the show has really grown bigger and bigger over the years. Interestingly, in 1940s, Phil's father worked in the Cavalry Regiment in Lucknow.
"I love the Surya Kirans. I have never missed Aero India even once. It's also a time to meet my old friends. During the first show in 1996, I met Air Marshal Gandhi and he invited me to Air Force Day Parade being held at AFS Palam in 1997. The IAF has become part of my life since then," says Phil.
2011 had the colours of mighty fighters
The 2011 show remains as the best one for Phil in terms of fighter participation. "You had the Typhoon, F-18, MiG 29, Rafale and Grippen. It presented the mighty colours of the world's leading fighters. But my favourite IAF fighter is the Sukhoi followed by MiG 21," says Phil.
The noted shutterbug says plans are already in place for his next visit to Aero India 2017. "I might come back again in between to visit some IAF bases, subject to the clearances from the Government of India," says Phil, who also loves South India's popular dish, dosas.
IAF's Sukhois & MiGs are favourites
Phil's love for the IAF was evident when he along with noted aviation bookseller Simon Watson co-authored a book titled: Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker in Indian Service. The book has been a bestseller since hitting the stands.
"I love to put my feet on IAF's tarmac. I love having breakfast at Squadrons. I admire the IAF, its past and present. I am excited about its future as well. You know, our memories are sharper than photography. I miss the Sukrya Kirans," Phil adds, checking his ticket as he heads towards the airport.
"See you mate, soon," he waves and walks away.
Photos: A Veeramani
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)