Hornet After Dark

The Canadian Hornet that was at Chino was the last display to fly during the sunset show. (We had a long discussion about whether it is a CF-18 or a CF-188 during the down time but that can be saved for another day.) The aircraft taxied out as the sun was just getting close to setting. We were thinking this would be the perfect combination. Taking off before sunset would allow us to get some shots of it in the low sun when it would look at its best and the, as the sun finally set, we would get the glow of the burners against the darkening sky.

AU0E0401.jpgSadly, they decided to hold their departure until after the sun had already set. I think this was a missed opportunity. It did mean, though, that things were really dark by the end of the display. This was a time that really testing the capabilities of the camera. I was shooting at very high ISO settings in ranges that I would normally avoid. However, getting the shot sharp is better than having a low noise shot that is blurred.

AU0E0345.jpgThe aircraft pulled off the runway pretty aggressively and the burners really showed up nicely against the runway surface. The display itself was fine but the camouflage of the commemorative scheme was a bit tricky in the conditions. The finale of the display was the landing with the hook lowered. The Hornet touched down and the arrestor hook dragged along the runway surface leaving a bright shower of sparks behind it. The effect was pretty dramatic! I talked to one of the maintenance technicians later about it and asked how many of those they could do. One landing is enough to kill the head of the hook. He did say that they are easy to replace and that he had brought five of them on the trip. A neat way to wrap up the show.

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