Stephen “Chappie” Chapis – Contributor/Editor – USA

Stephen Chapis

My earliest aviation “memory” is sitting on my grandmother’s lap in the right seat of Sundowner N2118W on August 20, 1975, at Easton-Newnam Airport, Maryland.  In the left seat was my grandfather and as my grandmother recounted many times over the years, my grandfather told me to put my hands on the yoke and as I did, he rotated and suddenly I was flying.  I was hooked.

Growing up, I built plastic and R/C models, and read every aviation book and magazine, including Air Classics, which usually featured a beautiful air-to-air photograph of a warbird.  Often times those pages would end up on my bedroom walls and I’d wonder how the photographer captured such an image and dare to dream that I could do it someday.

Among the airshows I attended two in the 1980s standout in hindsight.  The first was Oshkosh ’82, where I took my first aviation photograph with a Kodak Disc camera and where I first became smitten with warbirds.  The second was in 1987, when my dad and I flew in an R/C scale meet at the Flying Circus Aerodrome (FCA) in Bealeton, Virginia.  It was on that hot August day, that I got my first taste of aerobatics during a ride in a 450-hp Super Stearman.  Twenty-eight years later, thanks to FCA pilot/wing-walker Chuck Tippett, I got my tailwheel sign-off in a J-3 and that very same field of grass.

In 1990, after years of using various point-and-shoot cameras and/or commandeering my dad’s Minolta XD-7, I bought my first “real” camera- a Minolta Maxxum along with a 70-200mm zoom lens and a 400mm prime.  It was with this camera that I learned a little about aviation photography.  However, until my first article was published in Combat Aircraft in 2007, my photos would simply end up in a photo album that would gather dust in a closet.

In 2008, two significant events launched my writing/photography career.  First, I discovered Warbird Digest magazine, and soon after my first of nearly 140 articles to appear in that magazine was published.  Second was meeting and flying with Charles Lynch, who opened the door and invited me into the warbird community where I began meeting and flying with a wide variety of warbird personalities.  By 2009, I had become a regular contributor to Warbird Digest, was appointed Associate Editor by Greg Morehead in 2014, and was recruited by Moreno Aguiari to write for Warbird News in 2015.  In addition to my work for Warbird Digest and Warbird News, I’ve had work published in Aeroplane, Aviation News, Combat Aircraft, EAA’s WARBIRDS, FlyPast, Golden Pylons, Prop Noise, Red Alert and World Airshow News.  In 2017, my first book, ALLIED JET KILLERS OF WORLD WAR 2, was published by Osprey Publishing.

In my other life, I have been an Emergency Medical Technician for twenty-three years and currently work at Georgetown EMS/Station 93 in my hometown.  In addition, I served twenty-one years in the District of Columbia Air National Guard as an F-16 bomb loader.  During that time, I participated in several exercises including Air Warrior, Green Flag, Snowbird, and Cope Thunder, and deployed to Azraq, Jordan during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

And of course, none of the above would be possible without the love, encouragement, and support of my wife, Germaine.