Orbis MD-10 – Close But So Far!

B11I6803.jpgNot all old airliners end up being broken down for parts.  Some get a reprieve, at least for a while.  A frequent secondary use for airliners is freighters and FedEx have an extensive fleet of old DC-10s that they use.  These have gone through a cockpit upgrade program and have been renamed MD-10.  However, even that is not enough to keep them going indefinitely and the fleet is gradually being reduced.  One of them has got a new lease on life though.

IMG_4120.jpgOrbis is a charity that carries out eye surgery around the world in places where the medical facilities are limited.  Cataract surgery is a simple procedure in some countries but a rarity in others yet it is a simple solution to a problem that affects thousands of people.  Over the years they have had a number of airliners that are fitted out with an operating theater and they can fly into locations and carry out surgery on people who would otherwise have little hope of regaining normal sight.  The current aircraft (see at the bottom) was a DC10-10 that had originally been with United.  That aircraft is now being replaced with the MD-10 from FedEx.

B11I6788.jpgI first saw the aircraft at LAX during its press roll out.  I was landing and looked out of the window and there it was on the ramp.  No camera to hand so just a memory.  More recently, it spent some time at Moffett Field and I was able to grab a few shots.  It was hot so, while I chose the better side for the light, it meant being a distance away and getting a fair bit of heat haze.  I did also see the shady side through the fence.  I imagine the jet is now off doing good work around the world.  A great cause.

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It’s Cloudy Out at the Coast

AE7I9380.jpgThe weather over Sonoma was absolutely gorgeous when we were out on the photo flight (when isn’t the weather great in Sonoma?).  While we were orbiting over the county awaiting the second aircraft to come up to shoot, I was looking out towards the coast.  There was a lot more cloud that was hanging over the coastline with the sun still above it.  With the door open and a long lens on one body, I figured I should get a few shots of the coastline.  It looked gorgeous from where we were.

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Port Townsend Aero Museum

B11I8252.jpgYou know your wife is special when, while on vacation and discussing what to do, she points out an aviation museum that you could visit.  Not only that, but when you say she can drop you and pick you up later, she says she would be happy to look around with you.  What a star!  During our trip to the northwest, Nancy suggested the Port Townsend Aero Museum.  I wasn’t even aware of it but I was willing to take a look.  To be honest, our schedule did not include a lot of spare time but we had an hour or too to look around.

B11I8188.jpgThe museum is a really nicely laid out establishment.  The hangar in which everything is kept is a really nice building and the exhibits are laid out well with some on the floor and others suspended from the roof.  The way everything is put together is really good.  There is space around each plane and the signs explaining what everything was were well put together.

B11I8171.jpgThe planes are all in excellent condition and some are still airworthy.  (My only minor gripe was that they all had a museum logo sticker on them which was not ideal from a photo point of view but this is hardly something to focus on.)  The aircraft are all vintage types.  Most are piston powered but there are some gliders too.

B11I8157.jpgThis proved to be a great surprise on the trip (including that Nancy enjoyed it so much)!  I’m not sure how many visitors they get (it was quiet when we were there but we were on a day when I wouldn’t have expected many visitors competing for space.  I hope the business is sustainable because it is a great little museum.

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Port Townsend

B11I8274.jpgThe great thing about old towns is that they have interesting buildings.  (They sometimes have interesting people too but that is a separate issue.)  Port Townsend was a funky little town to look around.  As a port, it has been around for a while and obviously was quite a thriving location.  The grand design features of the buildings show that there was plenty of cash around when they were built.  If you head up the hill you come to the town hall which is pretty impressive itself so the town has obviously been a center of things for a while.

B11I8296.jpgIn the heart of the town, the buildings are of a similar style but are showing their individuality.  Getting shots of them is a little inhibited by the excessive number of power lines that are strung along the streets.  It would be nice to not have those there but nothing much I can do about that.  I imagine plenty of people wouldn’t notice them but they are the sort of thing that really catches my eye.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned it.  You might not have noticed them but now I have said something, they will be conspicuous to you too!

B11I8264.jpgThere seemed to be plenty of activity in Port Townsend.  Lots of shops and restaurants with plenty of variety so I assume that the area is going to be okay.  Having lots going on means that a cool town center is likely to survive and thrive.  That is good news.

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United 747 Flying a Display

B11I1667.jpgAir shows include a lot of planes that are regular performers.  However, some shows manage to include something a little different and having a big airline with a local hub will help.  The Chicago Air and Water Show would feature American Airlines jets when I lived there.  San Francisco Fleet Week gets United to bring a jet.  This year they brought a 747-400 to the flying display.  Seeing a big jet like this thrown around the bay is really cool.  Whether it is flying low over the bay or turning in near the Golden Gate Bridge, this is something you don’t get to see too often.

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Carmel Day Trip

B11I6880.jpgCarmel is close enough to us to be a nice day trip.  We have been there a few times in the past.  Previous vacations have taken us there and it is an easy add-on when going to Monterey or enjoying 17 Mile Drive.  This was the first time in a while we went just to enjoy Carmel itself.  Most of the time we were wandering around the shops or finding something good to eat.  It was not a photo trip per se but I did have the camera with me so here are some shots of buildings that caught my interest while we were there.

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Cal Bears Travel In Style

B11I6530.jpgThe college football season included a special game at the beginning of the season.  The game was scheduled to take place in Sydney Australia rather than the US.  Apparently, the NCAA is trying to increase interest in the sport in other countries and hosting a game in Australia was part of the plan.  One of the teams was the Cal Bears.  To get to Australia and back they chartered a jet for the team and support personnel.  Given the number of people involved, it was cheaper than flying commercially.

B11I6619.jpgThey chartered a jet from Virgin Australia in each direction.  The outbound leg was a jet that had made the LAX flight.  Instead of flying the return, it positioned to SFO for the outbound flight.  They then repeated the process in reverse after the game.  I missed the departure rotation but I was there for the return journey.  I may have shot Virgin Australia jets before but this was a bit different since they don’t normally appear at SFO.  (Cal also has a sponsorship deal with Oakland so this was out of the way for them too!)

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Crescent Lake

B11I7854.jpgThe drive to the rain forest from Port Angeles took us alongside Crescent Lake.  I suspect I don’t need to tell you roughly what shape the lake is but, if you don’t know, check it out on a map!  It was a pretty overcast morning when we drove by but this provided some soft lighting on the surrounding hills and also gave some interesting clouds to sit in some of the valleys and near the hill tops.

B11I7827.jpgThere were plenty of pull off locations along the road that skirts the south side of the lake.  It appears that the north side is pretty inaccessible by vehicle when looking at the maps of the area.  Only when you get to the west end of the lake do you start to see properties on the other side so I guess the road access up there does not go too far.  The water in the lake was very calm and the whole thing had a very ethereal feel about it.

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My First Lear 75

AE7I3398.jpgAfter building on the basic Learjet family for many years, Learjet decided to update things with the Lear 45.  This was a new design for them, even if it was based on many of the original Learjet design features.  It also spawned a shrink with the Learjet 40.  For a while this was a popular jet but, with many manufacturers adding new types to the market, the Lears were beginning to look rather dated and the sales suffered.

AE7I3514.jpgThe response was the Learjet 75.  A new engine and a bunch of revisions were introduced to try and reinvigorate the type and get some more airframes moving out of the production halls at Wichita.  The result has been mixed.  Some customers were pleased with the new type but the competition is still strong and some customers are not coming back.  I hadn’t seen one in the wild until recently when one showed up at San Jose.  It is still the same basic airframe so it looks okay (although if you ever get inside one, you will be surprised how cramped it is).  Whether it is enough to save the brand, we shall have to wait and see.

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Well Trained Dogs (or Well Trained Sheep)

B11I6931.jpgAlameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton are home to more than just the Alameda County Fair.  They also held the Highland Games.  This was a mix of Celtic sports and other rural activities from the UK.  Part of that included some sheep dog trials.  A variety of owners and their dogs took turns in herding a group of sheep around a variety of obstacles and in to a pen – all done against the clock.  I love watching sheepdogs at work.  They are so controlled in the way they move and keep the sheep where they want them.  We have seen them in action for real while in the UK and they really do know what they are doing.

B11I6933.jpgIn a more controlled environment such as a show like this, things are a little different.  There are people all around them and you can’t help but wonder whether the sheep are beginning to learn the routine after a while.  Then again, I have crossed paths with sheep on the hills and they really are the dopiest of creatures so expecting them to learn is probably a stretch.  My favorite pose for the dogs is when they are crouched down on the ground waiting for the next sign to move.  They look so intent.

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