Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt360° Aerial Panorama

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Arabian proverb says, "Everything in the world is afraid of time, and time is afraid of the pyramids".

A year ago Sergey Semenov tried to rent a helicopter in Cairo to shoot the pyramids. It didn't work. "No photos allowed due of the close proximity of the military base" such was the explanation. However there was positive news — a story of a French science enthusiast, who bribed local guides and got on top of a pyramid with his equipment to measure some magnetic fields. We have to say that pyramids are surrounded by high fence with motion sensors; and special guards with machine guns and security dogs patrol the perimeter during non-tourist hours. Based on Sergey's story however we assumed that there was certain flexibility in Egyptian national security system, and that we might have a chance to fly there :)

We had to hurry up, because pyramid of Cheops was the only one of "Seven Wonders of the World" still standing; and the last "Transformers" movie made me think that the militant robots might actually destroy the pyramids for real next time :)

 

Transformers in Egypt

Frame from the movie «Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen»  

Transformers in Egypt

Frame from the movie «Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen»  

 

We assembled the team and sent it off to Egypt. This time we decided to shoot with the help of a radio controlled helicopter. It's worth mentioning that according to news reports, there were series of protests and street gunfire in Cairo, so our guys were not very happy about the trip. I called my friend in Cairo to see what was really going on there, and he said, "There is gunfire in Downtown of Cairo, but the outskirts, where all the tourists stay, are quite safe. Just watch out for Cairo taxi drivers. Don't let them rob you" :)

So the guys left for Egypt to photograph pyramids. Their SMS saying, "we took off, and got arrested" did not surprise me. I was not worried a bit, thinking "It's Egypt. They won't hurt a tourist, they like them there." So when they texted me "It will cost 1000 US dollars to get us out flash card with photos back and continue shooting", I replied "No way! Stay where you are and keep bargaining".

It is considered rather rude in Eastern culture to accept the first price offered, so your counterpart would appreciate if you bargain just a little. It turned out to be true in our case. However, our guys were probably very uncomfortable in these circumstances — surrounded by 20 policeman and military, so they dropped the price just a touch, settling on 800 US dollars.

This price included access to the photographic location and police escort for entire day. So the photoshooting began.

Before we let one of the group members, Stas Sedov, the pilot of our RC helicopter, continue with his story, I want to say that Egypt is a very unique country, where they love tourists in general, and photographers in particular. My father went there 14 times and wants to keep it the way it is ...

 


 

"Quit playing games, boys! — Oleg told us one day last fall, — it's time for you to go to Cairo to shoot pyramids"

"Which Cairo? The one with revolution, gunfire and barricades on the streets?" — went through my mind, but I said out loud "Mmmm... When is our flight?"

It took me two weeks to assemble and set up another radio-controlled machine, which would serve as a back-up in case the main helicopter fails. Each helicopter was packed in a separate suitcase in case one bag gets lost. The total weight of our luggage — two helicopters, repair kit, and photo equipment (3 sets of cameras and lenses) — was 80 kilos.

Here I am admiring desert beauty of Egyptian landscapes, passing by our airplane windows. "Those cities look so much alike" — says sleepy Sergey pointing out of the window, and I notice that we in fact have been circling above one spot for over an hour. In a few minutes our captain announces that the rebels have occupied the international airport of Cairo and that our plane must remain in the air until the situation is resolved. How interesting!

We safely landed after about an hour of hovering above the airport, and immediately got into rebels' hands. Just kidding! I didn't notice any signs of a takeover; it was a normal peaceful life of an international airport. As it turned out, traffic controllers were on strike demanding a raise in salary.

After spending so much time on the plane we were anxious to start shooting the pyramids; but due to the delay we arrived to the closed gates. The name of our guide — a beautiful local girl — was Hinda, which surprisingly means "100 camels" in Arabic. We told her that we would try to get there early in the morning, before the museum opens (we wanted to take few shots without tourists).

Hours of operation of the local museum complex depend mainly on the timetable of tourist buses that bring most of the crowd to pyramids. The complex is open 8 am to 4 pm, and for the rest of the day it becomes a fortified military base, which we had no intentions to assault.

Early morning, 30 minutes before the opening, we are by the museum gate trying to convince the guards by money and speech to let us in. Absolutely useless! Against our expectations, gatekeepers are not interested in our money. I won't tell you how nervous we were while waiting for the beginning of our photo session. After one and a half hour we finally got to the first location only to face new difficulties.

Practically every local person living near pyramids makes his money here one way or another. We heard of camel drivers and other eclectic characters, but we had no idea about guards. It turned out that in addition to policemen in uniform there were policemen in plain clothes, military representatives in plain clothes, and the museum personnel near each pyramid. It would be hard to say who had more authority, perhaps, the army guys.

Hinda suggested talking to the military people right away to avoid further problems. We were prepared for that, and after a long conversation between Sergey and a tall camel rider in white robe and keffiyeh, we got permission to fly our helicopter. By that moment I was almost completely worn out by stress, uncertainty and heat, because there was absolutely no guarantee that our equipment will function properly in the condition of "over +35C in shade". Fortunately, everything worked fine, and we made two successful flights.

 

?????? ?????

 

We moved to the second location, and when we took off our luck turned. One of the "plain-clothed" officers made a phone call and the whole army came to arrest us.

We were taken to the administrative building of the museum. There were about 20 people, some wore uniform, and some were obviously from the museum. It was rather difficult to figure out who was in charge in this crowd. At first there was a lot of shouting, our guide was very pale and hardly translated a word for us. Finally one of the museum managers demanded to see the photos and then took our flash card. After taking control over our most "valuable possession", the museum authority immediately changed his tone of voice, and the atmosphere around us relaxed. Everybody took turns checking out the "magic apparatus" that we flew near pyramids. It was a sign for us to begin negotiating terms of our photo project. Hinda translated the reply of the museum authority: "We'll sort everything out in 5-10 minutes".

These 5-10 minutes turned into about 4 hours of continuous negotiation; people were coming and going, making impossible requirements, calling the Minister of Culture, Minister of Police and who knows what else. Imagine the chaos of the Egyptian street market increased 10 fold, and you'll get the picture!

We had to go to the police office (Where we accidentally ran into the Prime Minister of the country. No kidding) to negotiate a police escort for the duration of our shooting — the museum people refused to give us their permission without the escort.

By the end of the day we managed to sort out almost all the formalities, and the conversation focused on the final fee for taking pictures. Egyptians asked about 1000 US dollars. Everything would be official, with receipts and other paperwork. Of course, there was no such thing as official permit for aerial photography, and so they offered us to buy a permit for professional photography: "if you shoot from the air, you must be a professional!" By the way, there is no problem to shoot with a regular pro photo camera around pyramids, but not inside. After some more bargaining we dropped the price to 800 USD, and finally purchased this precious piece of paper and a police escort.

 

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Stas is reparing the R/C helicopter

I can describe the following day with only one phrase — we worked like plantation slaves! 

Our permit covered practically the entire territory of the pyramids. The police protected us from annoing bypassers and local beggars. The museum management let us to the Sphinx 30 minutes before the main crowd, for which I am very grateful. Too bad we couldn't get on the archeological ramp by the feet of the statue, so we had to shoot from the side. Having very limited visibility, I was concerned that our helicopter could add another "special feature" to the Sphinx's face with already missing nose by hitting its eye; but everything went well.

 

 

By the end of the day we became such good friends with our escort that we didn't want to part. Only deputy director of the museum, rushed us: "The museum is a military zone." Last tourists leave the territory at 4 pm, and we must go by 4:30 pm otherwise our escort would have serious problems... 

 

 

That day we also wanted to photograph the famous, beautiful old Mosque of Muhammad Ali, located in the center of Cairo. However because of the ongoing protests our guide refused to go there. After stuff of the museum confirmed her words we decided to skip it.

We were so tired that we fell asleep the moment our heads touched the pillows in the hotel, which was located just a couple of blocks from pyramids. Tomorrow we were going home.

At the airport screening a security officer told us that in Egypt it was prohibited to carry helicopters in one's luggage. After a short negotiation I took out 20-dollar bill and he politely let me though. Our second suitcase with the helicopter was received much better and cost only 10 bucks.

Here we were — Sergey and I — sitting in a café with the notebook, going through the images while waiting for our flight; and on the news they were saying that 19 people were killed yesterday in Cairo during protests on Tahrir Square... Egypt is an amazing country. It is very friendly to tourists. As one of the museum authorities put it, "Egypt has only two commodities: tourism and Suez Canal".

Arabian proverb says, "Everything in the world is afraid of time, and time is afraid of the pyramids".

And now you can look down at these pyramids, from the bird's eye view.

 

 

You can watch the short video from the above of Pyramids.

 


 

Photo by Sergey Semenov, video and pilotage by Stas Sedov

24 December 2011

 



Comments




2013-05-09 16:26:22    
  5 from 5

"Far-out - many thanks!!!
I once climbed the Cheops Pyramid and spent a night on top of the Pyramid of Menkaure.
I’ll gladly share some of your fantastic works via Twitter…
All good wishes!"

Harry Amon, Austria

2013-05-06 10:46:00    
  4 from 5

"Wooww, amazing, I really like to see the panoramic beauty of a country, including my country, it's just that it looks in the photo, when it? could see straight?"

Yosafat Ruruk, Indonesia

2013-04-30 14:03:33    
  5 from 5

"perfect"

Ton Lagraauw, Netherlands

2013-04-01 00:49:04    

"All naise."

cedo filipovic, Yugoslavia

2013-03-28 07:15:10    
  3 from 5

"I re-lived my visit to pyramids in 2000. It was very hot there. the magnificence of pyramids can be appreciated only by being there. we enjoyed the evening light and sound show also depicting the history of pyramids."

rajendra bhanawat, India

2013-03-19 21:42:43    
  4 from 5

ahmed ezzat, Egypt

2013-03-19 04:00:32    
  5 from 5

"My daugther and I visited Egypt 4 years ago and definitely Iґm very suprised with this presentation. Itґs wonderful!!!!. OH how a great work. I remember the trip and enjoy this marvellous air images"

SILVIA TORRES, Mexico

2013-03-15 13:47:26    
  1 from 5

RYON Gйrard, Singapore

2013-03-14 17:58:28    
  5 from 5

"Thank you. It's a great job for the world. You marй me see the pyramid's like I never see bafore. I never went to Egypt."

Teresa Leite, Portugal

2013-02-24 00:54:55    
  5 from 5

"wondermooi,deze reportage"

Jose Baeyens, Belgium

2013-02-22 01:48:00    
  5 from 5

"Long live Egypt!"

Iwona Rychter, Poland

2013-02-15 19:09:19    
  5 from 5

"You have created an Angelic moment that the People of the World can appreciate, Thank you for that Cyber Moment I really felt it and this is outstanding!"

Lezlie Scott, USA

2013-02-14 00:06:29    

"thank you so much i have seen one of the world's heritage so near for the firsttime"

salvatore borg bonaci, Malta

2013-02-10 02:14:10    
  5 from 5

"How about a panoramic view of the K(G)aba Aye Pagoda just a few miles from Yangon (Rangoon)!
Thank you for all the joy you have given me."

hasan Dr moolla, Canada

2013-02-08 22:35:26    

"thanks 4 everything"

behrooz purmohammad, Iran

2013-02-06 23:48:58    
  5 from 5

"thank you airpano for your great work ,welcome every one in our lovely egypt. please ask our god to give us peace ."

mohamed khalil, Egypt

2013-02-06 12:53:31    

"Awesome, always wished to visit the Pyramids ,. Now I don't have to go personally as i have feasted on them . Read a lot during school & college days"

Sabita Nazareth, India

2013-02-06 12:53:08    

"Awesome, always wished to visit the Pyramids ,. Now I don't have to go personally as i have feasted on them . Read a lot during school & college days"

Sabita Nazareth, India

2013-02-04 19:23:22    

""that's great ,thank you very much for your effort""

Amr osmna, Saudi Arabia

2013-02-04 01:06:28    
  5 from 5

"You are great! Crazy good projects have You. Be continue please. Good luck for your work and your life. Ferenc"

Franck Wolf, Hungary

2013-02-02 16:57:03    
  5 from 5

"that's great ,thank you very much for your effort"

peter fawzy, Egypt

2013-01-31 22:08:23    
  1 from 5

Stefan Kopeć, Poland

2013-01-31 22:06:48    
  1 from 5

Stefan Kopeć, Poland

2013-01-23 17:49:15    
  5 from 5

"Avete fatto un lavoro SUPER: vi dovrebbero dare un Nobel per il turismo e l'ingegno, oltre ad un Oscar per la fotografia. Grazie 10k da Tullio"

tullio simonetti, Italy

2013-01-21 16:55:11    
  5 from 5

"Simplesmente Fantбstico, Parabйns pelo vosso trabalho"

Fradique Santos, Portugal

2013-01-18 19:57:13    

"fantastic !!! l am very lucky l was there 4 times"

Agnes De Berlangeer, Belgium

2013-01-17 15:52:01    
  4 from 5

"I have had the good fortune of having visited the Pyramids site earlier. This was like reliving that lucky time. Commendable effort."

Masrur Ahmad, Pakistan

2013-01-14 15:54:50    
  4 from 5

"really amazing. I pray the Almighty to make my dream of visiting the Pyramids come true"

APPARAO PONNEKANTI, India

2013-01-12 10:46:51    
  5 from 5

"Truly Amazing ! I have been blesses with having been there ."

Rafael Sanchez, South Africa

2013-01-06 04:54:03    
  5 from 5

"sutch a lovely world we live in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Slobodan Todic, Mayotte

2013-01-03 16:11:59    

"Very good,I enjoied the beautifull pictures!"

Marcel Veen, Netherlands

2012-12-27 21:44:43    
  5 from 5

"wow very good. wonderful ~!!!
Fantastic ~!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Hun Lee, Korea

2012-12-16 23:47:47    
  5 from 5

"Beyond Words!"

Helen Malinak, USA

2012-12-13 07:46:02    
  5 from 5

"Superb! I'll never go there, so this was great. Thanks!"

Peter Bell, Canada

2012-12-09 21:04:16    

"MB"

d r, Uruguay

2012-12-09 17:54:46    
  5 from 5

"Brilliant.
OUT OF THIS WORLD"

Mahesh Kapoor, India

2012-12-08 15:39:40    
  5 from 5

"It is really informative. This is the first time coming to this site.Yet IT IS FANTASTIC."

prajna dipija, India

2012-11-20 10:22:03    
  5 from 5

"COMPLETELY AWESTRUCK AND EVEN MORE YOUR ENTHUSIASM
TO COME OUT WITH A WORK LIKE THIS.VERY INFORMATIVE.TQ"

SITARASU S/O MANI SULAIMAN SITARASU BIN ABDULLAH, Malaysia

2012-11-06 18:12:38    
  5 from 5

"simply awesome..."

Saqib Bilal, Pakistan

2012-11-04 18:28:20    
  5 from 5

"WOW... I am in absolute awe!!! Thank you soooo very much for sharing, ohh my goodness, it was beautiful... I traveled from Egypt to Italy, i had a wonderful Sunday afternoon, and i shall travel to more of the most beautiful places during the week. Brilliant, Thanks for sharing your creative genius!!!"

Felicity Cunniffe, South Africa

2012-11-04 00:57:53    
  5 from 5

"you guys are simply superb and doing good job for the rest of the people handling so many difficulties for people like me. May god bless you.i hope your future projects go very smoothly and you get permissions to shoot where you want to go and shoot. One last word for you wonderful people is EXCELLENT......"

Bhagvan Rabari, India

2012-11-02 14:51:53    
  5 from 5

"The pyramids are no doubt great but so is your photography ..& how you managed is really fantastic ! Millions can see & enjoy the beauty ! ! !"

Harish Budhlani, India

2012-11-01 22:23:12    
  5 from 5

"Only through the memory of my soul has Egypt come to me... until now through your work and haunting music.

Now I am really homesick.

~*LOVE ALWAYS*~

Imelda"

Imelda FB Maguire, Canada

2012-11-01 10:50:44    
  5 from 5

حمزة ابوكا&#160, Israel

2012-10-31 15:15:27    

"Thank you so much, you made me see the Pyramids like I never seen before. you are no#1. it feels like I'm in the air with your helicopter. it's so pleasant and amazing photography. Thanks again"

ibrahim hassan, Egypt

2012-10-31 15:00:52    
  5 from 5

"Amazing pictures"

Amira Saied, Egypt

2012-10-31 02:44:07    
  5 from 5

"Very nice!
I was glad to hear my music in this panorama. However, the license my music is published under requires you to give a credit, without it your work is copyright infringing . Please make sure to include the following credit in the description:

Music: 1000 and 1 Nights by SaReGaMa
saregama-music.blogspot.com

Thanks."

Sarva Mangalam, Antarctica

AirPano: Dear Sarva, if you put your mouse over the melody selection button in the bottom left control block, you will see credits to the music. Is it OK or you need something else?

2012-10-28 09:45:24    
  4 from 5

"I have viewed only a few, I think as a commoner I have not ever viewed such a fantastic sites,wish I could visit such sites once in our life times,really fascinating & fantastic. Wish u all the best 4 the future."

RASHID MOHAMMAD MALIM, Albania

2012-10-26 14:22:04    
  5 from 5

"Gracias por ste excelente trabajo"

Angeles Ruiz, Spain

2012-10-23 09:26:54    
  5 from 5

Brian Steven, Australia

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