Monthly Archives: November 2011

Four Rivers in One Hour

Downtown Paducah protected from the river with a mural covered floodwall

Mural covered floodwall protects downtown Paducah from the river's flooding.

Where in the US is it possible to fly my AirCam to explore and photograph four major rivers in one hour? Paducah, Kentucky. This is where the Tennessee, Cumberland, Ohio Rivers merge with the Mississippi River.

As a grand finale to finish up the photography for our Tennessee River book, I flew Cloud Chaser and Sue pulled the RV (mobile command center) to Paducah where we camped at the Kentucky Dam State Park. This worked out perfectly because the airport was only a mile from our campground.

Historic downtown Paducah, Kentucky.
Historic downtown Paducah, Kentucky.

Our first evening flight turned out to be one of the best we have had since producing the book, Chasing Lewis and Clark Across America. We departed the Kentucky Dam Airport and banked to the east which put us directly over the Kentucky Dam on the Tennessee River. With virtually no wind, Kentucky Lake appeared as a sheet of blue glass as far as the eye could see. After satisfying ourselves and camera with this visual appetizer, we continued east a couple of miles to the Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River. From there we climbed to 2,000 feet and head west to Paducah. Within minutes, we circled over downtown and from this perspective I captured shots that demonstrated the relationship of the town with the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers. Then with a rapid descent to a much lower altitude, the colorful murals on the flood wall became easily viewable.

Since we still had plenty of daylight left, we followed the Ohio River to its confluence with the Mississippi. Soon we neared Cairo, Illinois and could see a barge in the distance exiting the Ohio and turning upstream on the Mississippi. What luck! Just as I made it to the Missouri side of the Mississippi River,

Confluence of Ohio and Mississippi Rivers

This barge has just made the sharp turn out of the Ohio River and into the Mississippi.

the barge emerged from below a bridge. Wow! What a palette full of colors. The late evening sun made the fields of ripened soybeans look like a golden carpet bordered with green trees while the vivid blue sky reflected on the flows of the Ohio and Mississippi. Later after a few shots of the sleepy town of Cairo, we headed back to base. For four more days we continued to explore and photograph the rivers from above and learn more about Paducah from the ground.