Category Archives: military

Lucky C-17 Overflight

This goes back quite a while to a day when I was at Paine Field for some 777X activities.  After all that I had been there for was done, I was getting ready to pack up and go when I saw something off to the east approaching the field.  It was large but seemed rather slow.  It turned out to be a C-17.  It made a pass straight across the field and I was hoping that they would break into the pattern but I was to be disappointed.  They turned to the south and headed off towards McChord.  Still, it was a nice addition to a sunny day of aviation photography.

T-33 Pattern Work

After such a long time of struggling to get shots of the Boeing T-33 chase planes, I seem to have had a lot more luck recently.  One showed up at Paine Field and, rather than just shooting an approach and departing straight to Boeing Field, it made a full stop landing, taxied back, took off, entered the pattern and came around again.  This was a welcome addition to a sunny afternoon.  There was only one crew onboard so I guess with was some continuation training.

As the plane taxied back to the threshold, I got a good look at the upper side of the front fuselage.  There appear to be quite a variety of antennae mounted on there.  I didn’t know whether they were GPS location antennae or other types but there are plenty there.  Whether they are used for different functions or are needed for validating test data and cross referencing, I have no idea.  Some of them may even be redundant but no one has seen the need to remove them.  Whatever the reasons, there are lots there!

Detail on a SHAR

Another throwback post today to some of the time I spent with Art Nalls and Team SHAR.  Art is now selling his Harriers which is a big shame.  No idea who will buy them (assuming someone will) and what will happen to them but I hope they fly again.  The two-seater was close to flying again and I imagine there would be a few people interested in that.

I got a lot of shots with Art and the crew over the years but I recently found myself scanning through some detail shots of the plane.  I even played with a few shots from a single position where I had experimented with moving the focus point along the wing.  These seemed worth trying to focus stack.  I hadn’t aligned them shots perfectly when I took them so it didn’t stack perfectly but it made a reasonable job of it.  I hope to see this airframe again some time.

CF-100 Canucks in Museums

I can’t recall what prompted all of this but I found myself searching through my photos to see if I had any pictures of Avro Canada CF-100 Canucks.  I knew I had seen one at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford but had I seen any others?  I had been looking at the Wikipedia article on them as part of this theme and had seen where the remaining examples are.  Turns out I had also seen one in Castle AFB museum.  It’s a curious looking type but here are some shots including the IWM example from thirty years ago as well as last year.

US Navy P-8 Test Flight

Boeing Field always has the possibility of something interesting going on and a P-8 test flight for a US Navy jet was on the cards while I was there a while back.  Even better news was that it wasn’t a long flight that they had planned.  Consequently, I was going to be there for both departure and return.  Since the jet was lightly loaded, takeoff was not labored and they were well up by the time they were close to me.  Still, not a big angle on the jet with the light as it was.

I didn’t head to the approach end for the return as I was waiting for something else.  It did mean I was closer to the jet as it rolled out on is landing run.  The military ramp for Boeing is at that end of the field so the jet rolled to the end and turned off.  Heat haze is always a problem at this time of year but things looked surprisingly good considering.

Eagles Versus Hornets(ish)

The Growlers weren’t the only things flying at Coupeville while I was there.  A bunch of bald eagles were also flying in the vicinity.  They were crossing the approach path for the FCLP training which had me a little concerned.  I thought they would get lost when the jets showed up but they clearly weren’t very concerned and were used the the jets.  They might have got close but they seemed to stay just far enough away to avoid any conflict.  A bird strike with a bald eagle would probably be messy for all concerned.

NOLF Coupeville Area

My trip to Coupeville to shoot Growlers undertaking FCLP worked out well as described in this post.  What I didn’t emphasize in that post is just how close the road is to the north end of the runway.  While southerly flow is not normal, when that is happening, you are very close to the action.  The pano at the top of the post is the view you get of the runway from the road and plenty of people will show up to watch the jets bouncing.

The fields around the runway need to be looked after.  There was a tractor cutting the grass while the jets were bouncing and you can see what a good view the driver probably had of the jets.  I assume he had good hearing protection on while he was working in those fields.    I also include a shot of a jet coming low over the field.  Hopefully that shows just ow close everything is to the road.

Growler FCLP Video

Lots of still shots from my visit to Coupeville and the FCLP training for their Growlers but I was there long enough and there were enough passes to allow me to stop worrying about stills and to try getting some video from a variety of angles.  Here is a video I put together of some of the jets.

Welcomed By a Flying H-34

As I mentioned in a previous post, my visit to Brewster to see the S-58/UH-34s was not one during which I was expecting to see anything flying.  As I drove up, you can imagine my surprise to see a UH-34 in pristine Marine Corps markings hovering in front of me.  It transitioned away as I pulled in to the airport so I was pretty annoyed thinking I was just too late to see it.  However, I was wrong.  They were doing pattern work and, while I don’t know how long that they had been flying already, they were not finished.

I parked the car and grabbed the camera as they came downwind and turned in to approach from a high position.  The next couple of approaches seemed to be autorotation training.  Each run around the pattern gave me a bit more time to get to a better position from which to get some shots.  Initially, there was a building in the way but I was able to move to a spot with a clear view of the action without going anywhere I shouldn’t have been.

As I had managed to grab some shots, I figured I would switch to some video while I was at it.  I didn’t get much video but enough to put together one composite circuit of the flying.  That video is on YouTube as seen below.  They then landed and taxied back to their ramp where, after a suitable cooling off period, they shut down.  I was tempted to hang around to see if they flew again but I had a long day planned ahead of me and wanted to make sure I got everything in so I decided, after a short while, to continue on my way.

S-58s for Cherry Drying

My road trip on a day off was not just a chance to have a day doing something different from the normal working from home during lockdown but was also a chance to check out something I had been meaning to do since moving to the Pacific Northwest.  I was aware of helicopter operators that used the helicopters to dry fruit – cherries is what I had heard – and were keeping a bunch of vintage airframes in service to meet this need.  What I had read about was S-58/UH-34s being used in Brewster.

This was my first stop on my road trip.  It took a little over three hours to get there but there was very little traffic and the drive across the Cascades was a nice way to start the day.  I was not anticipating much activity as I had assumed the season was over and so anything there would be parked up.  I was not entirely right about that but more of that to come in another post.

The airport has a ton of airframes on site.  Many of them look to be maintained in airworthy condition.  A variety of colors suggest the sourcing of airframes from wherever it was practical to get them.  Unlike my time working with Midwest Helicopters, none of these airframes appeared to be turbine powered.  They still seemed to have the piston powerplants.  The airworthy looking helicopters were parked in an orderly fashion around the site.  There were also some spare airframes.  I don’t know whether these have been robbed for parts, are awaiting restoration or have had issues but they are stored out in the open.  There also appeared to be some other components stored outside.  I suspect this means they need work and maybe the serviceable parts are under cover.

I would certainly like to learn more about the operation.  The signage was not encouraging visitors but I did get a wave from someone driving out of the place.  I decided not to just wander up based on the notices around but it would be good to get back out there some time and learn more about their operations, history and the sources of the helicopters.  It would be an interesting article to put together.