Warbirds in flight in N.D.

Aviation photographer Moose Peterson, along with Minot pilot Warren Pietsch, is telling the story of the Texas Flying Legends Museum warbirds and the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot.

Peterson and his wife, Sharon, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., have been in Minot for several days where Moose has been photographing the warbirds and other activities for articles for aviation magazines.

A well known worldwide wildlife photographer and author, Moose added aviation photography to his work. The Petersons, who have made previous trips to the city, arrived in Minot Saturday from Alaska for several days of photography and interviews here.

“Warren Pietsch and Pietsch Aviation along with the Texas Flying Legends Museum and Dakota Territory Air Musuem are a treasure trove of aviation heritage,” Moose said, in an interview at Pietsch Aircraft Restoration & Repair Tuesday afternoon. “There’s a lot here that not only covers just aviation in general but North Dakota so we’re doing all those things.”

He said it was the right time to be here because “North Dakota’s gorgeous and right now having great clouds, it was a good time to come back.”

That Tuesday afternoon the Petersons were waiting for another very historic aircraft a Howard 500 to fly into Minot Tuesday afternoon. The Howard 500 was an American executive aircraft produced by Howard Aero Inc.

Moose said the Howard 500 is very fast and very luxurious. “When you see it, it’s just stunning,” he said.

While in Minot, Moose said they met Don Rolf, a 92-year-old World War II veterans from Las Vegas, Nev., who had flown a 1931 Waco in Southern California. Pietsch has that plane.

Pietsch reintroduced Rolf to the plane that he flew in as a youth. “Warren gave him a ride and we’re doing a story on that plane,” Moose said.

“We listened to his (Rolf’s) great stories an amazing World War II vet and former pilot. We got a story, took a formal portrait of him with the plane inside a 1929 hangar. That’s just one of the fun things we’ve done,” Moose said.

Moose’s work in Minot and area will be going to aviation magazines EAA Vintage, EAA Warbirds and FlyPast. “Those are three magazines at the moment,” he said, later adding Classic Wings, an Australian magazine.

The cover of EAA Warbirds’ April edition featured Moose’s photo of four of the Texas Flying Legends Museum’s warbirds in flight. Moose said he and their youngest son did a joint piece about the Texas Flying Legends Museum for the magazine.

On Monday, Moose had the opportunity to shoot warbird photos with North Dakota’s “gorgeous clouds,” as he calls them, on a flight between Minot and Grand Forks for the Grand Forks International Airport’s 50th anniversary celebration.

“One of the things that Warren and I like to work on is the fact that we’re not just taking pretty plane pictures but actually putting them in historic perspective,” Moose said. With the Zero and the Wildcat both being Pacific fighters and having them with big, fluffy clouds typical of the South Pacific, they look historically accurate, Moose said.

“We try to make it look like you’ve seen in the old black and whites but just put today’s technology to the story,” Moose said. “They’re not just pretty pictures but they’re actually storytelling of that period of time.”

They set up a sunset scene Sunday night depicting Joe Foss, the famous World War II Marine fighter ace who flew the Wildcat. Foss, who died in 2003, also was governor of South Dakota.

Derek “Cruise” Peterson, a Minot pilot, “who is no relation,” Moose noted, participated in the photography shoot. “We put him in an actual World War II flight suit, parachute and we did a sunset shoot with him so it looks like Joe. That goes in the piece as well,” Moose said.

“The Dakota Territory Air Museum has a treasure trove of authentic material from then that we used as props, and it’s all part of telling the story. And we had great clouds like a South Pacific island. It was perfect,” he said.

“That what we do we fly, we take pictures, tell stories,” Moose added.

Sharon Peterson is the business manager of the Peterson team. “And a passionate flier. She likes to fly more than I do,” Moose said.

Moose said that he and Pietsch met through a mutual friend Bob Odegaard, a pilot from Kindred. “Bob worked his magic… It’s kind of a small community when you get into historic aircraft and education and preservation,” Moose said.

Moose anticipates his first story of the several he’s working on now will come out in about December and will probably be in the FlyPast magazine. FlyPast is considered Britain’s biggest selling monthly aviation magazine, and is internationally renowned for its comprehensive coverage of historic aircraft and flying heritage, according to its website.

He said the stories about the older planes will be published in 2015.

The Petersons have made previous visits to Minot including for the dedication of the Flying Legends Hangar at the air museum on July 4, 2013. They expect to be returning to Minot for future work.

Of the air museum in Minot, Moose said, “It’s a great one. I think what is so neat about this one is such a connection to the community and the state and the size. It’s not giant like the Smithsonian (in Washington, D.C.) but there’s a real hometown connection. That’s very unique. Most museums are just planes there’s not a connection to a community with their state like there is here.”

“This has flying aircraft here so it’s very unique,” he added.