OPA Worlds Day 1: Miss GEICO, Shadow Pirate, Typhoon And More Take Charge
Inside SOTW Mag: Factory Billet’s New Power Paradigm
OPA Fleet Approaching 50 Teams For World Championships
Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Hires Executive Director
Commentary: And Joe Sgro Served The Pizza
All Gain And No Pain In Skater 36 ROS Swap Out For Verado 400Rs

Five years ago today, photographer Tom Newby died in a helicopter crash during a Powerboat magazine photo shoot near Fort Myers, Fla. For the record, he did not die “do something he loved.” He died doing his job.

Don’t get me wrong, Tom Newby liked his job. A lot. But had Newby died doing something he loved,  he would have been surfing, diving, sailing or having martinis and sushi with friends.

Tom Newby (far right) with former Powerboat magazine publisher Vicki Newton and Matt Trulio Tom Newby (far right) with former Powerboat magazine publisher Vicki Newton and Matt Trulio "on assignment" in Malta.

I write about Tom Newby, whom I worked with, often on the road for assignments, at Powerboat magazine for 12 years, every year on this day. I write about him because I loved him and miss him every day, and want to keep his memory alive. For he was more than an iconic high-performance powerboat photographer. He was a loveable, quirky guy who touched many lives.

Newby loved playing practical jokes on his co-workers. Among his more memorable ones was planting dead bait in a van that Jack Saranpa, a Powerboat magazine advertising sales person at the time, had to drive across Florida the following morning. Newby put some of the bait in really obvious places—the glove box was one—and not-so-obvious places, such as between the springs under the driver’s seat. His thinking was that Saranpa would find the obvious stinky bait right away and then, believing that he’d gotten it all out of the van, start driving. A few hours later, the stench would return and Saranpa would have to stop and search the van again.

For the record, the plan worked perfectly. Also for the record, I was in on it. Sorry, Jack.

Only once to my knowledge were the tables turned on Newby. About ten years ago, we were in Lima, Peru, covering some kind of crazy record powerboat run cooked up by Bob Teague of Teague Custom Marine and his Peruvian customer, Lizardo Benitez. Newby and I were allowed to fly with the rescue crew—courtesy of the Peruvian Navy—in an Augusta Bell 212 helicopter. We spent most of the morning in a hangar on the naval base in Lima, waiting for the fog to clear so Teague and Benitez could tackle the run, and in that time I got to know our pilot. His English was about as good as my Spanish, meaning horrible, but we shared a common hobby—skydiving—so we hit it off.

In fact, we hit it off so well that he agreed to lower us to the ground in the small coastal resort town of Pucasana, the end point for the record run, using the helicopter’s power winch and rescue harness. At some point during the run, I told Newby this was going to happen and he went into his classic, vigorous headshake followed by his equally classic and vigorous retort:

“Uh, you’re dreamin’ buddy.”

Newby's images graced Powerboat magazine covers for years.Newby's spectacular images graced Powerboat magazine covers and interior for years.

I told him it was going to happen. He came back with, “Get out of here.” At that point, I decided to sit back, shut up and let him stew.

At the end of the run, the pilot brought the helicopter to a hover over a breakwater in Pucasana. A crewmember handed me a rescue harness, clipped me in and I swung my legs out the open door. Newby yelled over the wind and engine noise, “What the hell are you doing?”

I yelled back, “The pilot won’t land. He doesn’t want to get his helicopter dirty.” And then I let the harness take my weight, and the crew lowered me to the ground. My laptop and Newby’s camera gear followed via the harness. Then it was Newby’s turn.

Even from 50 feet below, I could see he was not enjoying the experience. I could see he didn’t trust the harness to support him from the way he clung to the cable over his head. I could tell from the way his legs collapsed under him as he gently touched down that he was grateful to be on solid ground.

“I thought you were joking,” he screamed to me as I helped him out of his harness with the helicopter, gone moments later, still over his head. “They told me that if I didn’t want to get out I’d have to ride back to the base with them. So I got out.”

I just shrugged. “Well, we’re here,” I said. “Let’s get to the party for Bob and Lizardo and grab a beer.”

For the rest of the day and into the night, even during much of our red-eye flight back to the States, Newby eyed me suspiciously and kept saying, “I can believe we did that. I can’t believe it. That was crazy.”

I just shrugged. Until now. God’s speed, Tom Newby.

Latest Videos

  • Miss GEICO 2.0 was spotted testing recently.
  • Adrenaline Powerboats ZXR 47 Stringer Infusion Timelapse
  • Adrenaline ZXR 47 Hull Infusion Timelapse
  • Buffalo Drone Skater
  • Boyne Thunder 2017 016
  • Boyne Thunder 2017 Boyne to Charlevoix
  • Test-driving the all-new MTI-V 57 with quad Seven Marine 627 engines.
  • All-new MTI-V 57 Runs in Miami
  • Livorsi Marine Multi-Stepped Trim Tabs
  • Speed On The Water 2016 Year In Review on Press
  • 2016 SBI Key West Offshore World Championships—From The Air
  • Skater 318 No. 2 Runs 122 MPH.
  • Christian 42 3rd Run
  • Christian 42
  • Lake Lanier 388 Skater
  • Skater Powerboats 368 at the 2016 Pirates of Lanier Poker Run in Buford, Ga.
  • DCB M35 with Mercury Racing 1550 Engines
  • Swoop Motorsports Dial 911 Skater test session on Lake Havasu in March 2016.
  • Kenny Mungle and John Tomlinson of TNT Custom Marine tested Mungle's 36-foot Skater in Miami today.
  • Mercury Racing ROS Teaser 3
  • Mercury Racing ROS Teaser 2
  • Mercury Racing ROS Teaser 1
  • Blackwater Boats 36 Sport, 36 Sportfish, 36 TE Models
  • Waves and Wheels Optimus Prime Skater Unveiling
  • Mystic Powerboats M3900 Delivery
  • DCB Performance Boats Lickity Split delivery on Lake Havasu.
  • DCB M35 Lickity Split
  • Pure Platinum 388 Skater Powerboats catamaran testing in Jacksonville in early April.
  • Waves and Wheels Ironman-themed Hustler 377 Talon.
  • QMSF Qatar Cup - Doha 2015
  • Mystic Powerboats C4400 test run
  • Waves and Wheels Cigarette Racing 38 Top Gun update.
  • First Mystic C4400 Water Test
  • Mystic C4400 First Dip
  • Mystic C4400 First Fire
  • AJ Interview Transcoded 01 YouTube 720p
  • Bob Nixon Interview Final YouTube 720p
  • Win Farnsworth Interview - Monster Bash 2014
  • Speedonthewater.com Sunsation Powerboats interview from 2014 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout
  • Mystic 39 Center Console Sea Trial
  • Speedonthewater.com MTI interview from 2014 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout
  • Speedonthewater.com Gone Again interview from 2014 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout
  • Ray Lee of Speedboat Magazine wows the SCOPE Poker Run crowd with his rendition of Johnny B Goode.
  • Chaparral Villian Water Test
  • LOTO, Hall of fame awards
  • Pirates of Lanier Poker Run party
  • Tom Cat Skater Powerboats catamaran
  • Some video highlights from the Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Boyne City, Mich.
  • Start of the 2014 Boyne Thunder Poker Run.
  • 2014 Boyne Thunder Poker Run
  • 11th annual Boyne Thunder Poker Run street party.
  • 2014 Jacksonville River Rally Poker Run
  • Dan Lawrence in Porsche 918 Spyder
  • Outerlimits Kilo Run
  • DCB M35 with Mercury 1100s
  • DCB M35 with twin Mercury 1100s
  • Miss GEICO Mercury 1650 Engines
  • Nor-Tech 390 Sport with Seven Marine 557 engines 2
  • Nor-Tech 390 Sport with Seven Marine 557 engines 1
  • Nor-Tech 390 with Seven Marine 557 engines close-up
  • Broadco Property Restoration Offshore Racing Team Test
  • fpc miamishow14 mangroves
  • fpc miamishow14 mangroves
  • fpc miamishow14 stop1
  • fpc miamishow14 start
  • fpc miamishow14 mti42s
  • Sunsation Boats 29 CCX
  • 43 Outerlimits
  • Formula Boats 353 FAS3Tech with first set of Ilmor Marine 570 engines.
  • Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Panic Mouse
  • Lake of the Ozarks 2013 SuperCatFest
  • Texas Outlaw Challenge 2013 Party
  • Texas Outlaw Challenge 2013 MTI Catamarans
  • KeyWest PokerRun13 NorTech DJ
  • Big Cat Poker Run 2013 Baehr 39 Cigarette

Latest Videos

Speed on the Water