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Portfolio: Long Bach Nguyen

A pilot’s perspective

Corporate pilot, demo pilot, CFI, and photographer Long Bach Nguyen is at his heart a geographer.

That’s what he studied in college and what he translates into his photography. “I have been a U.S. citizen since I was 18, but sometimes I do consider myself a foreigner, and for that reason I want to show people how beautiful their country is,” Nguyen says. His family left Vietnam in April 1975 at the fall of Saigon, emigrating to the United States and settling in Seattle. He joined the Civil Air Patrol and soloed in 1982 in just 10 hours at age 16.

Nguyen has been accumulating hours and time in types since then. He is a corporate pilot flying the Cessna Citation CJ3, a Kodiak demonstration pilot for Modern Kodiak, and a ferry pilot with extraordinary routes including Bangkok to Seattle in a CJ3; Seattle to Barcelona, Spain, in a Citation I; and Seattle to Sweden in a King Air 350.

“I like to capture what I see along the way,” he said, marveling at the perspective he gets from 1,500 feet to 45,000 feet, and at the unique patterns and pathways in the landscape. He’s nearly giddy when he describes seeing Woodstock—Snoopy’s little bird buddy—in the convergence of rivers in Florida (see below).

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Long Bach Nguyen (click on image for slideshow)

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, VISTA POINT, SAN Francisco, CALIFORNIA: 'I was giving Kodiak recurrent training to my friend Chris when we flew over the Golden Gate Bridge. The fog covered the south end. Chris gave me a tour of the Bay as we continued with the flight portion of his training. I had Chris make several turns around the bridge so I could get a good shot with the fog.' LONG BACH NGUYEN AND HIS WIFE KATHERINE, BOEING FIELD, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: 'I like this photo with my wife recreating our wedding day in which we flew in a T-34B; she was in her wedding dress and I in my tux. This is 16 years later in a T-34A. I have been a photographer since I was 16 years old. I am self-taught; I still have my first camera. I am an airline transport pilot, certified flight instructor, and have more than 20,000 hours. I like to capture the scenery I see along my way across the sky.' SHIP ROCK (also known as Tse Bitai or “the winged rock”) NAVAJO, NEW MEXICO BRIDAL VEIL FALLS, LAKE SERENE, MOUNT INDEX, WASHINGTON: 'Bridal Veil Falls is located on the north side of Lake Serene at the base of Mount Index. I took this from my Cessna 182 while taking photos of the fall colors around Puget Sound and western Washington. I love the lush green forest and touches of fall color as the water comes off Lake Serene, creating these beautiful falls.' RED PHOENIX BIRD OVER MOUNT RAINIER, MONROE, WASHINGTON: 'My friend Jeremy and I were on our way back from Lake Chelan Airport in a Piper Meridian. We were on IFR arrival over the town of Monroe, Washington, and as we watched, the sunset turned into a spectacular light show. I had Jeremy lean back so I could take this image through the pilot’s side window from my right seat. I was able to capture the red cloud in the shape of a phoenix flying over Mount Rainier. NASA’S JOHN F. KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING, MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA: 'The day before I had picked up a Kodiak to ferry to Virginia for its new owner. The next morning, I flew the owner’s Cessna 206 to Fort Lauderdale in VFR conditions around 1,500 feet msl. I was flying south along the coast when ATC asked if I wanted to stay at my altitude, and if so, I had to fly east, or climb to 4,500 feet because of restricted airspace. I climbed to 4,500 feet and flew over the Kennedy Space Center. To my surprise I flew over Launch Complex 39. I have read about it, seen movies, and watched historic footage of the famous base and now was seeing it from the air. I think it was one of my most memorable flights.' GRANITE MOUNTAIN LOOKOUT, CASCADE MOUNTAINS, WASHINGTON: 'Granite Mountain Lookout is located near Snoqualmie Pass and north of Interstate 90 at 5,629 feet. It was another one of those beautiful winter flying days, so I decided to fly the Cessna 182 over the Overcoat Peak and Chimney Rock. I flew around this area for about 40 minutes before flying over Snoqualmie Pass and toward Granite Mountain. I made several passes over the lookout, hoping to get some good shots with the heavy snow.' OCHLOCKONEE RIVER AND GRASS ISLAND, FLORIDA: 'I was flying back to Portland, Oregon, in the Kodiak, following the west coast of Florida to Texas. The first thing that came to mind when I saw this river system was Woodstock, the little bird from the Peanuts comics. It made me smile when I noticed the river forms his smile and eye—do you see him? I enjoy looking around the landscape for that unusual or unique image.'
Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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