In 1949, American photographer Andreas Feininger captured these incredible slinky-like images of U.S. Navy helicopters as they ascended from the ground and took off into the air in Anacostia, Maryland. As the light-tipped blades rotated rapidly, Feininger captured the movement with long exposures against the dark night sky. The repetitive pattern of light transformed the flying machine into a dazzling display of lines and circles. All that remained of the loud whirl and blast of wind produced by the rotating blades were these very clean and simple compositions filled with single streaks of unpredictable light.
These innovative images were part of Feininger’s work as a photographer for LIFE magazine. During his career, he became most recognized for his series of stunning black and white Manhattan landscapes, but he was so incredibly multi-talented that he developed an extensive portfolio consisting of 340 assignments for the publication from 1943 until 1962.