Stalking the Jollys (Or Are They Stalking Us?)

A combat search and rescue element is usually included in Red Flag.  The HH-60 Pave Hawk is the usual resource used whether from the locally based unit or from a visiting outfit.  When you are set up for the jet action, the helos don’t tend to come anywhere near you.  They depart perpendicular to the runways and then head off on course.  Two things were different for me on this visit.  At one point Paul and I were checking out some other areas when the Hawks launched.  We were pretty much directly in the flightpath so we got a good look at the pair as they flew over and headed off to the ranges.

The other change was that on both days we were there, they turned early and flew out directly over our location at the Speedway en route to their exercise are.  I hadn’t seen this before.  I was surprised the first time and even more so the second.  I assume this was good luck on our part to have them come so close but maybe they were actually following us rather than the other way around?

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Departing the Bay at Sundown

This post may seem a bit symbolic but it is a bit of a cheat.  I flew out of SFO heading up to Seattle to go to my new place.  The flight left around sunset and, as we climbed out above the bay, I got some lovely views of the water, the city and the cloudscapes with the last light of the day.  As the sunset on my time there, it was rather appropriate.  (The reason it is a cheat is that I came back a few days later and left again by car.  That wasn’t so dramatic so I shall stick with this version instead.)

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Qatar Amiri Flight 747-8 BBJ

Just a quick post this time.  No big description.  While up the old tower at SFO, the Qatar Amiri Flight Boeing 747-8 BBJ was parked across the runway.  As private jets go, this is pretty well up there.  I haven’t been inside so I don’t know whether it is luxurious but I am willing to bet it doesn’t have a utilitarian feel in there.  I doubt I will get to find out though.

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Sailing Ship in Oakland

A pair of sailing ships had been in Oakland earlier in the year but I didn’t get around to seeing them while they were there.  However, I had lunch with some colleagues in Jack London Square a little while later and saw that one of the ships (or another similar ship) was tied up on the dock.  Unfortunately, the sun was behind the boat so it wasn’t an ideal time to photograph it but, with something that unusual, I figured I shouldn’t waste the opportunity.

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Late Gear Down for One Warthog

The normal operations at Nellis continue even while Red Flag is on.  The local units try to fly their missions at times that fit between the larger exercises.  A four ship of A-10s launched in the morning and they were recovering shortly before the Red Flag launch.  Rather than run in and break, they flew a straight in approach to runway 21R.  Strangely the first jet came passed and it was still gear up as it came close.  I have no idea whether they were just keeping it late or had got a call from the tower but the gear came down alongside us.  The following three jets were gear down a lot earlier.  Let’s say it was deliberate…

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Taking the Plunge

We were walking along the shore in Pacific Grove when we saw a bunch of people on the dock that is part of the wall of the small harbor.  It appeared that they were getting ready to jump in so we stopped to see if they were or not.  Jumping into the Pacific in spring is hardly a polar bear plunge but it was still fun to see their reactions as they jumped in.  I guess it was still pretty chilly.

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A Couple of Connie’s “Finest”

Red Flag is a time for lots of military aircraft to do their thing.  However, it isn’t only the military that show up.  Transporting everything that is required to support lots of deploying jets might be done by military transports but it is not unusual for civilian organizations to get some work.  Whether it was Red Flag support or something else, we got to see a couple of 747-400 freighters while we were there.  Both of them came from the same company, Kalitta.

One of the jets was fully painted up and showed up on the approach one day.  It flew a straight in approach and landed to either deposit or pick up some bulky items.  The second jet was a bit different.  First, it was in plane white with just some Kalitta markings.  More importantly, it arrived during a Red a Flag mission.  It ended up holding overhead for a long time while the launch was underway.  Finally they brought them down for an approach.  However, it wasn’t clear which way they would come.  Nellis has a habit of bringing jets in from different ends almost at whim.

At first it looked like they would land on the 21s.  Then they looked like they would go to the other end.  We jumped in the car and headed that way.  Just as we were getting close, the jet turned away and headed east.  We did a quick about turn and followed suit.  We hadn’t gone too far when they reversed course.  Where they deliberately toying with us?  Another quick reversal and we were getting close but now they were turning on to final.  Time ran out and we pulled in to a parking lot by a tire dealership just as it came in to view.  We had to work for that one.

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More Pretty Coastline Than You Know What to Do With

Our trip down the coast included some driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. This is undoubtedly a gorgeous place to be. Each turn in the coast brings with it another lovely view of rugged cliffs and crashing waves. Add some sun and it really is wonderful. There is little point in saying much more. Instead, here are a few shots to show just how great it is.

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This plane is a great example of what an imaginative mind can achieve when combined with an understanding of aerodynamics.  It is one of the products of the talent that is Burt Rutan.  When Burt ran Scaled Composites, he specialized in creating aircraft that were out of the ordinary and yet capable performers.  The Boomerang is an asymmetric airframe that provides twin engine performance with more benign handling in an engine out configuration.  I came upon it during a visit to Oshkosh for Airventure.

The owner at the time was very happy to share his aircraft with anyone who was interested and, given the unusual nature of the plane and the fascination people have with Rutan’s creations, he was never short of visitors.  I didn’t spend much time with him but, while I was there, I was struggling to find angles to shoot the plane from to emphasize what makes it special.  Getting it in flight would have helped but it was fun checking it out while it was on the ground.

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Sea Otter Tenant

Our visit to the aquarium in Monterey was mainly indoors but we did step out onto the deck area to see what was out there in the rain. I didn’t have a camera with me other than my phone but I did borrow Nancy’s P900 because a Sea Otter had moved in to the pool to take it easy. Someone told us that she was pregnant and liked the shelter the pool afforded. She certainly seemed to be relaxing comfortably while we were there. Maybe Tyson can update us on how she has been doing.

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