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Eyes to the sky: Billings photographer spends free time capturing photos of vintage planes

Eyes to the sky: Billings photographer spends free time capturing photos of vintage planes
Posted at 6:34 PM, Aug 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-10 16:58:03-04

BILLINGS — Keely Zimmermann joined the crowd looking up as planes arrived at the Billings-Logan International Airport on Wednesday, but she is looking through her camera lens.

Zimmermann is a self-taught professional photographer who fell in love with photographing airplanes in 2019 in Missoula, but she had spent many years around the aircraft.

Eyes to the sky: Billings photographer spends free time capturing photos of vintage planes

“I served 12 years in the Air Force, so I’ve been around aircraft for quite a while and I love airplanes,” she said. "When I first started I just started taking pictures of the aircraft on the ground and that was it."

Zimmermann's first love was the Miss Montana plane when she was volunteering at the Museum of Mountain Flying in Missoula. Her passion only grew from there.

Keely Zimmermann Photo

“Fell in love with war birds, vintage planes, with aerial firefighting planes,” Zimmermann said. “I love the shapes. The different designs of the aircraft.”

Zimmermann tracks flights and listens to live air traffic communication to know when and where to be to capture the best photos of planes she is interested in getting.

This weekend, during the Yellowstone International Air Show, Zimmermann will know exactly where to go.

Keely Zimmermann Photo

“I’m thrilled, I’m so excited. This is such a dream come true to be able to see the Blue Angels and the other aircraft that will be coming in. There’s going to be some great war birds, awesome static displays. But just to be able to see the elite of the elite planes is just such a treat,” she said.

Zimmermann will be helping out by taking photos for the Billings Gazette during the air show but has already taken advantage of the few times the Blue Angel jets have been flying over Billings this week.

“I’m actually excited about a chance for everybody to see and fall in love with planes like I did,” she said.

Check out Zimmermann's photos here.