Men’s Fitness March 2009 Article

Last fall, I got a call from Men’s Fitness magazine to shoot the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department helicopter search and rescue squad known as Henry 1. I have been holding these photos under my hat for months and now that the article is out I thought I’d put up an extended web gallery of images from this assignment.

I have to say that this assignment was one of the most fun and exciting assignments I have had in the last year. How often do you get to go fly around with an elite helicopter rescue unit for two full days and have them tell you “whatever you want to do you just let us know.” I probably won’t have that ever happen again. And I have to say everyone that works on the Henry 1 squad was a rockstar. They know they have one of the coolest jobs on the planet.

Though the assignment was only two days it felt like a week’s worth of helicopter time. We were flying all over the place answering calls and in between shooting training exercises on cliff bands, in the ocean and everywhere in between. I am sure some of the stunts the pilots were executing were quite a bit more dangerous than I knew. At one point Paul Bradley, the pilot with us on the first day of my assignment, slotted the chopper into a hillside with trees above the whirling blades and trees on either side only a few feet away. The next day I was hanging a hundred feet below the chopper to shoot a mock rescue. So as you can tell, this wasn’t much different than every kids fantasy: to fly in a chopper with pilots who can pretty much do anything! One of the most amazing aspects of this assignment for me was just to see how they work and how incredible their pilots are. When they take off there is no “scenic cruise” mentality. You get about a foot or two off the ground and you are out of there. They turn on a dime and lay that puppy sideways when they need to as you can see in a few of the images.

You can check out the web gallery with some of the out takes from this assignment on my website here. And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t say a huge thank you to Lisa Elin at Men’s Fitness and the entire Henry 1 crew for being so acomadating and friendly – I had a spectacular time ripping around northern California with you guys!

You can check out the Henry 1 website at And you can download the article on the Henry 1 site here.

  • Felix Features dispatches - Really nice work. I’ve shot some air ambulance helicopters here in Norway, and your pictures bring back some good memories.

  • Martin - Simply brilliant photos, Michael. Having grown up in Sonoma County (that looked like Salt Point?), dreaming of being a helicopter pilot watching Henry1 tear down the Russian River, and currently working as a photographer, I can’t tell you how close to home that hit.

    The only thing that would make it better is perhaps some insight to your technique behind some of those shots — especially the lighting. And maybe a shot from that wooded canyon!

  • Michael Clark - Martin –

    Hello. Thanks for your comment. I’ll keep that in mind as I write an article for the next issue of the newsletter. Those guys were so cool and unbelievably nice. Thanks for the nice comments.

  • Anonymous - I'm glad to hear you say such nice things about the crew and your experience. Paul and I have been together for many years and let me tell you from first hand experience, the crew you met are just wonderful and dedicated as you initially thought. Who else do you know that will volunteer to work a day off because they want to be available in case someone gets hurt?

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