This Shot Of An A-10, F-35, And F-22 Billowing Vapor In Formation Is Absolutely Insane

Photographing three different U.S. Air Force tactical jets with gobs of vapor pouring off of them while flying in formation is far from common.

byTyler Rogoway|
A-10 photo


For aviation photographers, few atmospheric effects are as prized as vapor. Often referred to as 'vapes,' 'capes,' 'cones,' or 'streamers' depending on how the vapor propagates around the aircraft, it infuses breathtaking action and drama into an already great shot. Catching it with three dissimilar aircraft flying in formation, one of which is a straight-winged A-10 Warthog, a plane that isn't known for putting out big vapor with ease, is a once in a lifetime shot. This is exactly what Ryan Kelly of pulled off in Ocean City, Maryland last week. 

And no, vapor does not signify the aircraft is going supersonic. You can read all about vapes and what causes them in this past piece of ours

Ryan gave us the low-down on how he pulled off the killer shot:

I took this photo on rehearsal day of the Ocean City Air Show in Maryland. Heavy rain and storms went through the area earlier in the morning, which only helped the already high humidity. There was one particular spot over the water that seemed to be the vape spot that really made them pop. Vapes over everything that day! I’ve never seen vapor that heavy on light turns, let alone the Heritage Flight. 

The image was taken with a Nikon D500 paired with a Sigma 150-600C.

Ryan wasn't the only one who took special notice of the crazy vapor conditions along the beachfront show-line in Ocean City last week. Thunderbird #5, Lead Solo pilot Michelle "Mace" Curran, who has one of the best Instagram accounts on the planet, also posted a video of her Block 52 F-16C punching out giant vape capes as it rocketed past the shoreline:

While the F-22 and F-35 are 'vapor machines' under the right conditions, and the F-16 is no slouch in that department either, the real prize here is the A-10. It looks amazing with a big smear of cotton pouring off its blunt wings. 

Well done Ryan, well done!

Make sure to check out more of Ryan's work on his website.

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