"We dreamed of being test pilots and we studied silhouettes and filed blunt white-pine wings with little sandpaper paddles to make them sharp and graceful. We hung die-cast propellers on straight pins. The tiny props turned in the wind as we walked across the lawn, holding the plane overhead so that it banked majestically against the sky. We saw ourselves diving out of the sun, ducking through clouds and rolling in the sky like lazy sharks. These dreams of freedom encourage our earthbound spirits."
- Philip Makanna (Ghosts II: A Time Remembered, 2001)
Philip Makanna's fascination with aviation began as a young boy growing up on Long Island, miles from the Grumman factory. The Wildcats and Hellcats that passed overhead during his youth left an indelible impression, and even after moving to California to pursue a career as a fine arts painter, sculptor, professor, and filmmaker, Makanna found himself reliving childhood dreams as he was sent to cover the Reno Air Races in 1974. It was his photographs of the classic WWII aircraft flying overhead during the mid-race displays that landed a book deal, and would later bring him to South Texas to the vast collection of the CAF and Colonel Lloyd P. Nolen.
The first GHOSTS calendar comprised of Makanna's genre-defining aerial photography was published by Philip and his wife Jeanie in 1980, and the pair have kept the tradition alive with the 2015 calendar marking the 35th edition of the now world-renowned GHOSTS calendar. The hunt for aircraft to photograph has brought Makanna to all reaches of the United States and abroad, regularly making trips to document the great collections of airplanes in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia. A recent increase in aircraft from the First World War have taken to the air once more due to the untiring restoration efforts of a small group of collectors, opening Makanna to an entirely new range of subjects to photograph.
With each year comes a stronger GHOSTS calendar, as the world's greatest aviation photographer continues to hone what has truly become his life's work.