Carla Thomas (BS '83)
When Carla Thomas is at the height of her career, it could mean the altitude at which she’s flying in an F-18 or another aircraft found in the fleet at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center. Thomas is an aerial photographer and can be found in the back seat of many of the aircraft that are used for a safety/photo/video chase. In addition to photographic documentation of flight research programs, she photographs Space Shuttle landings in California, center events, portraits, passports, and other on-location projects. In recent years she has worked on implementation of electronic imaging and archiving historical images of the Dryden photo lab. In addition, she researches and proposes new technology—including digital cameras and accompanying hardware and software—to aid in digital imaging. Thomas is a native Texan—born in Pecos and raised in South Houston, which is only a short distance from Johnson Space Center. Her love of photography began as a high school freshman and continued through college when she graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Photography from Sam Houston State University. Her photography experiences have taken her from photo lab work in Colorado to industrial photography at NASA’s White Sands Facility to the movie industry in Los Angeles and back to NASA in industrial photography for Dryden Flight Research Center in California. Her work was featured in the June 2008 issue of National Geographic Magazine. Her photographs have also been found on the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Aerospace America, Flight Training, as well as other published works.