A400M Atlas Demo from RIAT 2019

I was working through some shots from my last trip to RIAT in 2019.  Amazingly enough, I hadn’t finished editing some of the shots from that visit and I wanted to get rid of a lot of surplus shots to help the old hard drive space issues!  As I was working through them, I got to some shots of the A400M displays I saw over the course of the weekend.  I think the A400M is a cracking looking jet.  Whether it is doing what everyone wanted of it, I have no idea.  I just know it looks great and is capable of some really impressive demos.

For some reason, I had been feeling very brave during RIAT when it came to shooting some of the props.  I had gone with quite low shutter speeds with long lenses and the results were not necessarily all I would have wanted.  There were always going to be blurry shots to get culled, but the number of sharp ones was a little lower than I would have liked.  However, all was not a total loss, and I did get a bunch of shots that I was happy with.

Here is a selection of shots from across the show including the official displays by the Airbus test crew and some of the operator aircraft too.  The weather for RIAT 2019 was not that great.  We did get some nice light occasionally but one of the days was very wet (and I was feeling crappy too) and the others were overcast a lot of the time.  Not the most exciting light for a grey painted plane but they had the potential for prop vortices.  Will I have big prints of these on the wall?  No, I don’t think so.  However, it was okay and there will be other times, I hope.

Downtown LA in the Gloom

Work took me to Los Angeles a couple of times early in 2024.  On neither occasion did the weather do me many favors.  The second trip was very wet but the first was more gloomy than anything else.  As I was walking back to the hotel one evening after we had finished our work, I was taken by the way in which the skyscrapers were disappearing into the mist.  I only had my phone with me, but it does a decent job in lower light conditions.

Falcon 50 With Winglets

If a Falcon 50 is coming and I have the time to be there, there is a good chance I will.  What could make a Falcon 50 even more appealing?  Having winglets fitted.  I didn’t know that when I went to catch it, but you can guess that I was rather pleased when that turned out to be the case.  It feels as if there have been lots of Falcon 50s in the area in recent months.  Maybe I am just noticing them more or maybe they have been more common.  Either way, I’ll take it.  Add some more with winglets and that will be even better please!

Propping Up Poulsbo’s Shoreline

An elevated walkway has been built along the shoreline in Poulsbo.  It runs from one of the parks in the center of town along the water to another park.  We went along it during one of our visits on a delightful, sunny, spring morning.  The hillside beside the water climbs up quite rapidly and there were many logs lying up the slope all well aligned with each other.  It was hard to tell whether they were integral to the stability of the slope because they weren’t deeply embedded.  However, their position seemed to suggest more of a motive, so I wonder if they are reinforcing the slope.

Not Many P-3s Left So This Was a Treat

When my friend Paul first told me he was going to be in Seattle over the holidays, I thought we wouldn’t be able to get together.  However, circumstances changed, and it turned out we could go out and check out the local aviation scene.  We had been getting some stuff locally but a check on ADSB showed a P-3 and an EP-3 out at Whidbey Island and we debated whether to make the run north.  In the end, we went for it.  The EP-3 had been out a while already and it did return before we got there but we were not going to come up short.  A P-3 made its return with some lovely December sun on it.  It flew a bunch of patterns which meant the chance to try different spots to get some images, so we were rather pleased with the outcome.

Bloedel on a Chilly But Sunny Day

The last time we went to Bloedel was after restrictions started to be lifted during the pandemic.  They had a timed entry system and a one-way route around the gardens to keep people spaced out at that time.  The one-way system has gone but they have kept the timed reservations it seems.  Not sure whether this just helps them out or if it has some other reasoning but it does stop the random decision to show up.

It was a lovely day to be out and about but, since it was winter, that also meant things were quite cold.  That does make for a good combination for light although the low sun angle will mean more areas are in shade.  The lakes, the woods and the run down to the house are all very appealing.  We also took a walk down the river to one side of the house and then back up the other side.  I am not sure whether we had taken that route previously as it didn’t seem very familiar.  It did have some nice falls that I may have been shooting for the first time.  A great way to spend a day out (and it includes a ferry ride to Bainbridge so a double win for me!).

Retirement for a Falcon 900EX Pilot

I was chatting with one of the Sheriff’s team at Boeing Field one weekend and he asked me if I was there to get the retirement flight.  I told him I didn’t know about it, and he said a Falcon 900EX pilot was coming in shortly on his final flight.  They were planning a water cannon salute for him.  The location of the hangar meant it wasn’t ideal to get shots of so I decided to go and get the touchdown of the flight and then do the best I could for the salute.

While I was waiting for the Falcon to return, I could see the fire trucks positioning themselves for the salute.  They were a good distance off so I knew that I wouldn’t get really compelling shots.  Nevertheless, I would be able to get something.  They had a couple of quick tests to make sure the water was flowing and then waited.  Soon enough the Falcon touched down.  A helicopter came into land just beforehand and blocked part of my planned shot but there was no time to change so I just adapted to what I had.  They rolled out to the north end of the field and then taxied in for the celebrations.  The fire trucks started spraying their water and the Falcon taxied through the water arch.  Then it was all over from my perspective.  I imagine that they celebrated a little longer.

As an aside, I went to the hangar the following week and asked if they wanted any shots.  They couldn’t have been less friendly if they had tried.  If they didn’t want anything, that’s fine but try not to be so miserable to someone just trying to do something nice.

Owls in the California Desert

I have been getting photos of owls a bit recently with the shorties making their winter stay up in Skagit County.  However, when Mark and I headed to El Centro, it was planes rather than owls that we were after.  I knew that they were around there because other friends have posted shots of them in the past, but they weren’t something I was thinking about.  However, as Mark was driving us along a dirt road near the base, I saw one sitting ride by the road.

Trying not to spook it, Mark was able to grab my camera from the back seat and pass it to me so I could shoot out of the window.  The owl seemed unimpressed and stayed exactly where it was.  After a few shots we moved on but there was another a short distance away.  Same result as it wasn’t too bothered by the car.  A bit further still and another one.  This one was either standing on one leg with the other tucked up or just only had the one leg.  I can’t tell.  Again, it obliged as I took some shots.  Three owls in a short distance seemed like a pretty lucky run of things.

FHCAM’s 262

My most recent visit to FHCAM was also my first encounter with their Messerschmidt Me-262.  I knew they had one, but it was never on display when I went previously.  Fortunately, it is now part of the main museum exhibits.  I think the 262 is a very interesting looking design.  Early jets were not always the most elegant shapes but the 262 had a really interesting, blended look to the fuselage and wings.  I was hoping I could find a way to get something that reflected that in my shots.  What I really wanted to do was use the monopod to get some higher angle shots but the museum has strict rules about such stuff so I had to make do with whatever my arms could manage.

The jet is a pretty small airframe.  That generation of planes was not particularly large with a few more specialized exceptions so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.  Compared to modern jets, it is tiny.  First generation jet engines were not efficient beasts so it would have worked its way through its fuel load quite rapidly, I imagine.  That assumed that both motors kept running for the whole flight.  I still haven’t seen one of the restored/replica 262s fly, sadly.  I wonder if I shall do that at some point.

Market in Tanzania

Our travels did include some opportunities to experience life beyond just the protected areas in which the wildlife lived.  When you are on an organized trip, you know that any experience you are given has an element of artificiality about it, but you do hope to see something of the real lives of people.  We stopped for a visit in the town of Mto wa Mbu.  We took a tuk tuk ride into the town through the streets as people went about their business.  In many of the previous towns we had passed through, I felt very unwilling to photograph people as I zipped through their home.  However, this visit was an organized event and involved a contribution to the community, so I felt slightly more relaxed about taking images.

We left our vehicles and were led through the market.  The stalls were stacked with goods and there did seem to be people that were there shopping as our group meandered through the narrow alleyways.  We stopped at a couple of places to learn more about the various commodities that were being traded.  There were certain approaches that would not sit well with people with western sensibilities, particularly when it came to the meat, but everywhere has their own way of doing things.  It might have been a bit of a prepared version for the tourists, but it was still good to see something a little closer to real life for people.