CUMBERLAND — When Rick Kight became an airplane pilot in 1968, he had no idea how flying would factor in his married life that began several years later.
The former Katie Thrasher of Deer Park in Garrett County and Rick married on Sept. 27, 1973.
And oftentimes during that 40-year union, a lot of things for the city couple have been up in the air — literally.
But no one is complaining.
“I used to take pictures of gliders landing at the airport when my husband was in the glider club. I was afraid of flying but I decided if I was going to be able to spend time with my husband I was going to have to fly with him. I finally tried it and have been flying ever since,” said Katie.
“I also was into photography, and an old friend at the airport, Herb Miller, gave me his camera after he bought a new one and that started my photography hobby. Now I never go anywhere without my cameras,” said Katie, who has earned awards for some of her aerial photographs.
“I used manual cameras for a long time, but a professional photographer who is Rick’s cousin urged me to try digital. I resisted but finally tried it. I shoot with a Nikon D-60 camera and a Nikon J-1 that Rick bought for me.”
Katie takes her photographs while flying with Rick in his single-engine Cessna 172 airplane based at the Greater Cumberland Regional Airport in Wiley Ford, W.Va. She usually occupies the rear seat where she can move to either side of the aircraft for camera shots made through closed rear windows.
From various elevations and at a flight speed slowed to 70 to 80 mph, Katie captures images of all sorts aboard Rick’s fixed wing airplane — the Mountain Thunder steam engine on round trips from Cumberland to Frostburg, Rocky Gap State Park, homecoming games at Greenway Avenue Stadium and the historic Nov. 21, 2009, opening of the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center. That day at least 30 ambulances took 62 patients from Memorial Hospital in Cumberland and 92 patients from Braddock Hospital — formerly known as Sacred Heart Hospital — from its Haystack Mountain location to the $268 million new hospital located at 12500 Willowbrook Road.
“Just being with my husband and with his love of flying and my love of photography, we work well together and not just in photography. We have been caregivers for several years together for ailing family members and you can’t do that unless you work well together.
“For me, my photography from the air gives me a different perspective. It takes me away from my troubles and heartache for a while and allows me to see more beauty, like one morning flying toward Petersburg when the sunlight was cutting through the fog at the top of the mountains.
“Getting pictures above ground gives you a different perspective,” said Katie, “and capturing images from the sky gives me greater appreciation for life.”
Jeffrey Alderton may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.