Emirates pilot in running for photo award for A380 Burj Khalifa image

The keen amateur photographer had no idea advert was being shot

This image taken by Emirates pilot and Dubai resident James Ward has been shortlisted for an international award. Photo: James Ward
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A Dubai resident has made the final of an international photography competition with a picture taken from his back garden of the filming of an Emirates advert featuring an A380 plane flying past Burj Khalifa.

Emirates pilot and keen amateur photographer James Ward captured the image from his house in Dubai’s Meydan community.

Mr Ward, from the UK, said he had no idea the social media hit promotion was being filmed when he took the shot. His attention had been drawn by the plane's unusual flight pattern, he added.

The image has since been selected as one of the final 10 pictures in an aviation-themed global competition.

We live underneath the flight path for Dubai and are used to planes flying overhead but I thought there was something different about this plane
James Ward

“I took the picture when I got home from dropping my son off on the school run,” said Mr Ward, 35.

“We live underneath the flight path for Dubai and are used to planes flying overhead but I thought there was something different about this plane because it kept going round and round.

“I pulled out my camera and took a few photos, this one happened to be perfectly timed.”

His image received such a positive reception on Instagram that it caught the attention of Coradine Aviation, the US pilot software firm behind the competition.

“I posted it on Instagram shortly after I took it in October. It blew up and received thousands and thousands of likes,” he said.

“The response has been much bigger than I expected, especially for a picture that was just really just something off-the-cuff and spur-of-the-moment.”

Last week, Emirates airline released a video of stuntwoman Nicole Smith-Ludvik, dressed as a flight attendant, standing on top of Burj Khalifa.

Ms Smith-Ludvik was filmed at the summit of the world’s tallest building holding up signs stating “Wow, I can see Dubai Expo” and “Finally, here come my friends”.

The camera then pans out to reveal an Emirates A380 flying by, decked out in Expo 2020 Dubai livery, as she holds up another sign inviting people to use Emirates to travel to “the world’s greatest show”.

The video has just short of 500,000 likes on Emirates’ Instagram page.

“When Emirates posted their advert, I realised it had obviously been shot when I took this photograph,” said Mr Ward.

“I just happened to have captured the image from my house.

“It’s the coming together of two icons of Dubai. On one hand you have the Burj Khalifa, then you have an A380 plane which is synonymous with Emirates.”

If Mr Ward’s picture is chosen as the winner of the competition, he will receive a 10-year subscription to Coradine Aviation.

Emirates released a behind-the-scenes video on Monday explaining how they made its latest campaign featuring Ms Smith-Ludvik.

The skydiver and stuntwoman has proven beyond doubt she has a head for heights.

She previously stood proudly atop Burj Khalifa for an Emirates video in August celebrating UK-UAE travel restrictions being eased.

Ms Smith-Ludvik is among only a handful of people who have had the privilege of standing at the pinnacle of Burj Khalifa – including Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and actors Tom Cruise and Will Smith.

Updated: January 18, 2022, 6:56 AM