Author Archives: Rob

FedEx Caravans

The FedEx freighter fleet is extensive and includes a variety of jets.  However, the feed of packages to those big jets is partly the role of a bunch of less glamorous types, a significant one of which is the Cessna Caravan.  These planes shuttle cargo from out stations to the larger airports and then distribute packages back out to those same stations.  It’s not the most exciting flying in the world but it is a valuable job.  Here are a few Caravans from FedEx’s fleet that I have seen (relatively) recently.  The Cessna Skycourier made its first flight recently and it is intended to replace these guys in the coming years.

Whitby

In the early 2000s, Nancy and I took a trip up to Yorkshire for a long weekend in February.  We were staying in Pickering and we got there just before a decent snow storm arrived.  By the time the snow started, we were comfortably tucked up in the hotel bar but the following day, any chance of going somewhere was out of the question as the town had temporarily been cut off by the snow.  The day after, the roads had been cleared and we took a drive north.

We ended up spending some time in Whitby.  A historic port town, Captain James Cook first went to see from there.  It has the ruins of an Abbey on the hill overlooking the harbor and the town rises from the water in a style you would expect of such an old English town to do.  We went to a really nice pub for lunch as a recall where we had excellent fish and chips – formulaic I know but still bloody good!  I scanned these images when making a surge through my old film shots so I thought I would go back about 20 years to something from the old country.

When Will We See You Again?

With long haul travel having almost vanished (other than a lot of use of passenger jets for freight movements), some of the regular visitors to Seattle and now a distant memory.  Virgin Atlantic was a regular visitor and they had migrated from other types to the 787-9 recently.  Here was one heading to SeaTac while I was at Boeing Field.  With the reduced size of the airline post COVID (and assuming it survives), will they be coming to Seattle again any time soon?  I hope so.

Goodwood Festival of Speed

More from the archives today.  Only once have I made the trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.  For car enthusiasts, this is quite the event.  An enormous variety of motor vehicles are on display and the drive them up the hill across the estate past the main house – a place I am quite familiar with having spent a summer living in the stable block around the corner.  Oh how I wish they had done this when I was there!

My one trip would have probably been in 2003 shortly before leaving the UK.  I only got a few photos but there are some rather unusual cars in the shots I did take.  I thought that a few of you are in to cars and might be interested in what was there.  Maybe some of you were there too?  One day I will try and be back when it is on again and make another trip.

Turkish Delivery (You Didn’t Think I Would Say Delight Did You?)

Boeing was ready to deliver a 787 to Turkish Airlines.  Normally these take place from the Delivery Center which is a nice building justifying the large wedge of cash that has just been handed over.  Boeing crews usually taxi out from the ramp but customer flights seem to get towed to the ramp entrance.  Maybe they don’t trust the customer pilots in amongst all of their expensive jets.

The departure was to the north so they taxied to the south end of the field before lining up for departure.  A flight to Istanbul is a decent length but, without any payload, it still doesn’t take long for them to get airborne.  Judging by the distance to go boards, they were off in about 4,000’.  Consequently, they had reached a decent height by the time they came by my location.  They headed off to the north to start the long trip home.

Frozen Kelp

Previous posts have included some of the frosty scenes from the beach at Tofino during our visit there last year.  Aside from the logs, the strands of kelp that had become washed up on the beach were also frosted.  The kelp itself seemed to have maintained its moisture without being damaged by freezing but the surface had accumulated a layer of frost that looked really pretty in the early morning light.  As the sun got high enough to warm the kelp up, the frost was soon gone.

Bones Retrospective

The B-1B Lancer (or Bone to almost everyone who cares) is an impressive piece of hardware.  It might have some performance limitations resulting from the redesign it underwent from the original canceled B-1A to the B-1B – changes that might not look that obvious but run quite deep – but it is still a very capable jet.  The blended airframe shaping really appeals to an aero guy like me while the swing wing is now a concept that is disappearing as other types retire so it is becoming the last of the line.  Add to that four afterburning engines and you get something that makes an impression.

It used to be a regular performer at air shows but these days you don’t see them as much.  However, it can still turn heads when it makes fast passes and plugs in the burners.  A bit of vapor can also be pulled as they get the speed and load on.  Seeing them launch from close to the runway is always worthwhile.  They are such an imposing jet.  Sadly, their limitations and the cost of supporting them will probably mean they get retired long before the B-52s that they were once considered to replace.  Here are some shots of my Bone encounters.

Bryce Canyon

More photos from old vacations.  This time we have moved from Arizona to Utah and to Bryce Canyon.  This was a place I was absolutely blown away by.  Photos of the canyon and the hoodoos within had got me interested in the place but seeing it was quite stunning.  We were staying on the rim so hiking down in to the canyon or taking the trail around the rim was really easy for us.  It might be true that I spent so much time trying to take some photos on the way around the rim trail that we got to the lot farther around too late for the shuttle and had to walk back again.  I think that proved to be good fortune as the views get better as the sun gets lower.

When you are within the canyon, the hoodoos rise up around you and you get a sense of the scale which you don’t from outside.  The peace and calm when you are down in there is very special.  I may not be a spiritual person but I certainly felt really at ease as we walked through the trails.  Here are a few of the shots I took during that trip.  There are other parts of Utah that we haven’t explored yet and I hope any trip back includes the opportunity to visit Bryce again.

Pueblo Museum

Well over 10 years ago, I was invited by a rail vehicle manufacturer to an industry event that they were holding to promote one of their vehicles.  It was held at the TTCI test facility outside Pueblo in Colorado.  Pueblo also has an aviation museum so it was inconceivable that I would go all that way and not check it out while I was there.

Most of the exhibits are outside in some pretty harsh sun so they are rather sun-bleached.  There is an interesting mix of old types on display while a few are indoors and look in better condition.  Helicopters and vintage fighters are always going to be good for me so hopefully there is something in here you like.

Foundations for a Tall Building

I have already posted a couple of times about the construction next to our old apartment in Chicago.  The demolition of the Sun Times building was here and the removal and replacement of Wabash Avenue was here.  This was all associated with the construction of the new tower.  Since the plot on which this tower was going to be built was pretty small, it couldn’t be a traditional steel frame skyscraper.  The provide the stiffness needed for such a slender tower, it had to be constructed of concrete.

This required a substantial foundation.  First was the need to clear out the old foundations.  The Sun Times building had been constructed on top of a ton of piles that were timber poles driven in to the ground.  These all had to come out before anything else could be done.  Tons of them would be lying around at various times as they were pulled out prior to being taken away.

Next was the need to drill down for the new piles.  I seem to recall that they went down about 130 feet but my memory may be off on that.  Some of the piles were really wide while others were slightly narrower.  Larger drills would take out the earth and then steels cylinders would be inserted in to the whole.  Rebar reinforcements would be inserted before the concrete could be poured in to make the final pile.  This process was repeated across the site over a course of months.

All of this was the precursor to the main foundation.  The building was built on top of a concrete raft.  This sat on top of all of the piles.  It was a single pour.  The whole pour took about 48 hours.  A steady stream of trucks brought the concrete in from a mixing plant a couple of miles away.  The mix was a special high strength one and each truck was tested as it arrived.  Pouring such a volume of concrete continuously required great care because the material generates heat as it sets and there was constant monitoring to ensure that the overall temperature remained within range.  Once they started, they couldn’t stop.

The whole thing apparently went to plan and the result was a large concrete base on which the rest of the construction effort would build.  After months of preparation, finally it was time for things to start going up again.