Flying high above Scotland’s scenic landscape from the open cockpit of a lightweight aircraft provides the perfect platform for photography.
For the last 15 years, flying instructor Graeme Ritchie has been soaring around 2000ft above ground in the small two-seater microlight.
Starting as a hobby, the 48-year-old was quickly hooked on the majestic sights seen from the sky and began training for his license and, in summer of last year, stopped his job in IT to become a full time flying instructor at East of Scotland Microlights.
Based at East Fortune in East Lothian, Graeme now works alongside the school and club founder Gordon Douglas, the chief flying instructor who first introduced Graeme to the sky.
“I live in East Lothian and I used to see them flying overhead quite often and thought it looked like fun,” Graeme said. “I went along and had a trial flight. I liked it and I was hooked."
Taking people on one hour trips around East Lothian or training people to achieve their own private pilot’s license, a clear sky provides the perfect way to take in some of the area’s scenic highlights such as the Bass Rock and the rugged coastline.
Graeme even managed a front row aerial seat to watch the recent demolition of the Cockenzie Power Station.
“It is about getting up in the air and having that freedom," he said. "It is just a lot of fun and I enjoy teaching people how to fly.
“I have a couple of students in their 70s who didn't realise they would ever be capable of flying and piloting an aircraft themselves so it is pretty satisfying to actually see those guys qualifying and getting their licensing and knowing it was me who taught them to fly.”
When not training, Graeme can jump in his own plane in his spare time and travel further afield with the islands of the west coast of Scotland being one of his favourite destinations to travel to.
As his career and hobby in Microlight flying continues, so does his expansive collection of photos from above Scotland’s sky. From Glen Coe to John O' Groats, he has also captured the familiar sights such as the Forth Rail Bridge, Dundee's Tay Road Bridge and Edinburgh's city centre.
“Once you have your license, you can go off on trips,” Graeme said. “Two weeks ago, my partner Kim and I flew ours [microlight] to France for a holiday.
“It is pretty much the best platform for photography because it is an open cockpit so it is not like being in a helicopter or conventional aircraft where you have to take pictures through a plastic window or windscreen and you have reflections and scratches.
“I have always had a keen interest in photography. You get amazing light and amazing views from up there.
“What we all love at East Fortune most, and the thing we do fairly regularly, is flying off to the west coast of Scotland to to the islands because most of the Scottish islands have small airstrips so it is a great way to go to places like Gigha, Mull,Coll, Colonsay and Skye.
“We could be over on the west coast of Scotland in one of these place in a couple of hours flying time from East Fortune.
“Colonsay for lunch and back home for tea.”