Three Shenyang J-6 aircraft, the Chinese-built version of the Soviet MiG-19 fighter jet, in a tunnel in Albania
A Tupolev Tu-142, a maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft developed in the 1960s
Mebius saw images of abandoned fighter aircraft in Albania online and decided to see them for himself
The Tupolev Tu-142’s four turboprops drove huge contrarotating propellers
Up to the last moment, access to the Albanian tunnels was uncertain
Jetgala Wings
Photography by Arthur Mebius; Text by Katrina Balmaceda Uy
FROZEN TALES OF FORGOTTEN AIRCRAFT

FOR PHOTOGRAPHER ARTHUR MEBIUS, WHAT YOU LEAVE OUT OF AN IMAGE IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT IT SHOWS.
“I like to create a small history in a picture; you can see how it started and probably imagine how it will end,” he says. The moment in between is what your camera captures. He calls this a “one frame story” — a tale frozen at a decisive moment, just like the images shown in the comic books he loved to read as a kid.

 

“THERE WAS NO LIGHT SO I HAD TO BRING IT MYSELF… GETTING OUT WAS NOT EASY, TOO, AS IT WAS TOTALLY DARK”

Mebius’ Forgotten Warriors and Tupolev 142 ‘Bear’ series hint at his past and future, too. Almost 20 years ago, he had to decide on a career, and there were two things he wanted to be — a photographer and a pilot. Having chosen the former, he now wants to incorporate aviation into his personal photography projects.

 

To photograph fighter aircraft for Forgotten Warriors, Mebius travelled to Albania with aviation enthusiasts. The dramatic lighting was unplanned — the aircraft were parked in tunnels, and Mebius had to bring his own lights and work hurriedly to capture the images. The Tupolev 142, on the other hand, was incidental, spotted at an airfield on a trip to the ghost town of Pripyat in Ukraine.

 

“I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO PUSH MY PERSONAL PROJECTS IN THE DIRECTION OF AVIATION”

Mebius always liked aircraft, though he prefers the non-military versions. He is fascinated by the Tupolev 134, which was originally designed for training fighter pilots but is now used as a jet airliner. “It has a beautiful arrow shape and the sound is just amazing,” he says.

 

He is currently working on a photo series on North Korean civil aviation, which will go on exhibit in May in his home, the Netherlands. Mebius will also publish a book, Dear Sky, using photos from the series. Meanwhile, he also shoots advertising photos and videos for corporate clients, and has won prestigious prizes, including Cannes and New York Festivals awards.

 

www.arthurmebius.com | www.dearskybook.com