(CNN) — "This is not an ordinary flight," says veteran Air Canada Captain Dave Butler. "We're going to have some fun today."
Air Canada had taken a 787 Dreamliner out of normal operation to be an actual runway model for its new corporate rebrand during a complex two-day photo shoot. The final product is pure glamor, but the meticulous creation is a side of the airline industry few get to see.
Only a handful of airline staff and CNN were aboard this 298-seat airliner.
The pristine jetliner had been delivered just days before from Boeing. The customary pre-flight safety briefing that would typically have been presented by a flight attendant fell to Butler.
For two days in May, the long-range airliner started and ended its flying in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Air Canada plane was chased by a Learjet 25B business jet, flown by Los Angeles-based aerial photographers Wolfe Air Aviation.
Air Canada is in the middle of a makeover from the ground up. From uniforms to catering to the paint scheme on its airliners, the carrier is shedding more than a decade of pearlescent blue in favor of black, white and red on its airplanes. The vanity shoot will become the backdrop for the airline's rebranding.
Kevin La Rosa II, pilot and aerial photography coordinator for Wolfe Air, led the team for the high-flying photo shoot.
"It's fun for our team to show up [for] a new livery because we're all airplane fanatics, too. So we come in and we study the way the paint job looks...we're literally planning how we're going to attack it and cover every single part of the aircraft," said La Rosa.
The final product looks effortless; A piece of advanced machinery caught soaring over the natural beauty of Canada's West Coast. Capturing such imagery is a ballet where the pilots have to know every move, but the dance of the two aircraft can't be choreographed in advance. The sky is an unpredictable photo studio.
La Rosa, 31, is a second-generation aerial photographer. His credits include the Marvel movies and nearly every Transformer film. He earned his Screen Actors Guild card flying a helicopter for the 2005 movie "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."
The cramped flight deck of the modified business jet has three monitors up front to give La Rosa and his co-pilot a look through the lens.
"Anywhere we put our eyes, we have a very quick reference of what the framing looks like," said La Rosa. "We literally fly the shot. The jet becomes nothing more than a [camera] dolly in the sky."