Morton combines love of photos, flying

Published 9:12 pm Monday, January 12, 2015

Selma native Jamie Morton works as an aerial refueling boom operator in the United States Air Force.  Morton has documented his journey through photos.--Jamie Morton

Selma native Jamie Morton works as an aerial refueling boom operator in the United States Air Force. Morton has documented his journey through photos.–Jamie Morton

By Blake Deshazo

The Selma Times-Journal

Master Sergeant Jamie Morton was born and raised in Selma, and since graduating high school in 2000 he has spent the last 15 years in the United States Air Force.

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“I always liked airplanes,” Morton said.” I would go to Danelly Field as a kid, and we would watch airplanes fly in and out all day, and that’s kind of how it started. I just started liking airplanes and had a chance to join the Air Force.”

But Morton doesn’t have just any job in the USAF. He works as an aerial refueling boom operator. His duty is to refuel jets as they soar through the clouds thousands of feet above the ground.

“My brother did it before I did, and he told me that this is a job I would want to do,” Morton said. “He would tell me stories and send me pictures of it.”

After spending years in the air refueling some of the USAF’s most powerful flying machines, Morton has captured some photographs and stories of his own.

“When I deployed I would take pictures of all the guys that would refuel, and I would get their email addresses and send it to them,” Morton said. “That way they could send [the pictures] home to their families and show them doing their job. At first I didn’t think it was a big deal, until I started getting emails back from all of the pilots saying how much they appreciated it and how much it meant to their family.”

Morton said the pilots didn’t know what to think at first when he would ask them if they wanted their picture taken, but once they saw his work they didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“They probably thought it would be with a cell phone or something, but I use my editing to make the pictures not look like your average picture,” Morton said. “So essentially they have an art piece, but it is them inside the art piece.”

Morton doesn’t just take pictures to take them though. Photography is a passion for the boom operator.

“It really is an awesome thing to be able to combine two things I love,” Morton said. “I love airplanes, and I love pictures, so it is kind of one of those things where you don’t think about it [until] you’re up there doing it.”

The photography, Morton said, makes him focus on the beauty of his job, not how dangerous it actually is.

“Making it to the point where I could actually take pictures, it lets you forget about the consequences of the job being dangerous,” Morton said. “It really does make the job a lot more enjoyable when you can do your passion along with flying.”

Morton said one of his favorite memories was refueling a jet from Selma in Afghanistan.

“As cliché as it sounds, it was actually a dream come true,” Morton said. “I didn’t know they were the Alabama jets until they came up, and I started talking to [one of the pilots]. He told me the jet his wingman was flying was the city of Selma jet. I got to actually refuel that jet, so it was really cool.”

Morton said he doesn’t get the opportunity to take pictures now because he works in a test environment, but he has a collection of photographs and memories to last a lifetime.