The airport in my hometown has a wing of F-16 fighters stationed. Two of my friends are pilots, and are pretty acquainted with my love of photography. Anyway, the other day we were talking and one offered to get me on the tarmac to shoot planes. I've got a lot of leeway — stationary, taking off by day, by night, landing, etc. The only thing I can't do is get up in one of them, which is not allowed since 9/11, since they all carry armed missiles and are technically all on patrol, even when on training flights. ("Besides," my friend told me, "I'd just pull a high-G turn and make you puke all over your camera.")
So here's my question: Assuming this isn't an open-ended invitation I'd want to get this right the first time. So how would you go about shooting these? I've got focal lengths at my disposal from 17mm to 600mm. One intriguing possibility would be night shots and let the after burners provide ambient light. If so, what kinds of settings? Like I said, I won't have a lot of time or opportunity to experiment and these planes take off in groups of three. Anyone ever try something like this?