Not a great shot, in this case, but one that means something to me. When I went to the Abbotsford Air Show, there was a Hawk 115 in the static display. It was in an interesting color scheme but the lighting was a bit tough and it was surrounded be people. The reason I liked it was that I was involved in the Hawk 115 program when it was first underway. I left the company before the first jets were completed so I never actually saw one. This might actually have been my first encounter with one. Since they have been in service for nearly 25 years, they are probably nearing the end of their time so I did leave it a little late. It looks in better shape than me!
The retirement of some types from service gets a lot of attention from people. The last Phantoms leaving US service were well covered. The upcoming end of KC-10 operations is already getting discussed. However, the removal of the E-8 JSTARS seemed to just happen without much discussion. I have to admit it caught me off guard. I didn’t know that they were going away let alone that it had already happened.
With this milestone having slipped past me, I figured I should go back through the catalog and see what times I have shot E-8s. Not a lot of encounters with Red Flag having been my most productive venues. They were old jets when they became E-8s and I heard from a friend that one of them had gone through some interesting other configurations before making its way in to the E-8 fleet. They are consequently old enough to deserve retirement. It will be a shame not to see them around anymore.
The air show at Abbotsford has the conspicuous backdrop of Mt Baker. For the evening show, the light was really nice on the mountain and I think I have already posted about that. Some of the display aircraft would make turns in front of the mountain. Most are too small to be obvious in a shot but something the size of a C-17 Globemaster is going to show up. The USAF Moose was one of the display and here it is as it reverses course back towards the airfield.
The UW Huskies had a home game during the weekend of during the weekend of Veterans’ Day. The USAF provided a flyover for the start of the game with a couple of F-35As from Luke AFB making the trip up to Seattle to do the honors. The sun was a bit erratic on the day of the game, but it wasn’t too bad and the trees around Boeing Field still had a little fall color in them. Both jets launched for the flyover.
I watched them taxi out from the Modern ramp and head to the departure end. I knew that they would be airborne well before they got to me, but I was hoping that they would keep it low. The first of the jets obliged keeping nice and low at least for a while allowing me to get a shot with the ground in the background. The second jet was a little more eager to climb and it was well skylines by the time it got close to my spot. They were planning on some time in the local area before the flyover so now it was time to wait.
The trip to the UK early this year included a quick trip to Kemble or Cotswolds Airport as it is also known. Near the tower, they have a couple of preserved airframes that harken back to the time that this was a Royal Air Force base (including it being home of the Red Arrows). One of the gate guards (okay, they aren’t near the gate, but you get the idea) is a Folland Gnat. I don’t know whether it is a genuine ex-Red Arrow or just painted to look like one, but it is cool either way. It is the tiniest of jets. I wonder what it was like ferrying one across the Atlantic as they did for a tour.
The other airframe is a Hawker Hunter. This is a classic aircraft and one that continues in use to this day. It is a trainer version with the side-by-side cockpit arrangement and in a grey paint job that I am not familiar with them having used in service. Either way, another great looking jet and something cool for any visitors to check out.
Our flight from the Maasai Mara back to Nairobi took us in to Wilson Airport. This is not the main international airport but a smaller domestic airport that is closer to the center of the city. No terminals and jet bridges here. We disembarked from our Dash 8 on the ramp and walked to the building to get out of the airport. The ramp was packed with all sorts of aircraft. One caught my eye immediately as it looked unfamiliar to me.
The marking showed it belong to the Republic of Djibouti’s Air Force which only served to increase my level of interest. It wasn’t something I had seen before so I had to look up the type. It is a Harbin Y-12 which is a Chinese designed and manufactured aircraft. That was quite a turn up for me. Not sure how happy anyone would be about me getting photos on the ramp but no one seemed bothered at the time.
The P-59 was the first jet fighter that the US had. It was not a big success and was swiftly overtaken by more capable types. However, such was the progress in those days, aircraft had a short operational life. I have seen a couple of them that I am sure of. One was at Planes of Fame at Chino and the other is on a pole at Edwards. Here are the shots that I know I have of the type. The question is, do I have more that I haven’t keyworded?
Beech built the Mentor trainer for the military with a piston engine before coming up with the more powerful turboprop version, the T-34C Turbo Mentor. This saw extensive service with the US Navy. Now there are plenty of them on the civil register including this one I saw one day departing from Paine Field. The dark blue paint enhances the look of the plane and it looks like it has plenty of oomph. I imagine it is a ton of fun to have. I think it would be great to shoot air to air as well!
The Royal Canadian Air Force will soon be getting new tanker transport aircraft. They are going to buy some Airbus A330 MRTTs to replace their CC-150 Polaris jets. These are based on the A310 and I have never seen one before. Fortunately, there was one on static display at Abbotsford for the air show. It was in the grey scheme rather than the brightly painted version but that was fine by me. I was just glad to get one before they are replaced. It would be good to see one flying but I suspect the chances of that are diminishing. You never know, though.
The All-Star baseball game was in Seattle this year. Baseball is not my thing so I wasn’t paying too much attention although I did have a meeting near the stadium and discovered just how much a parking garage will charge on the day of the All-Star game! However, they did have some USAF F-35As in town for the flyover proceedings. I was south of the city later in the day and started to head north close to the time when the game was due to start. I had been hoping that I might get up to Boeing Field for their launch but, as I drove north, I could see the jets pulling off their run over the stadium.
I figured they would recover quickly but headed for the approach end of Boeing Field just in case. Fortunately, they had taken the scenic route and had been touring around Puget Sound. I was there in plenty of time for their landings. One thing that I had not really noticed before about the F-35A is the approach angle of attack that the jet adopts. The planes seem to have quite a nose high attitude when on approach. The radome is short so the field of view is probably not a problem, but I was surprised I had not spotted this previously.