Tag Archives: aircraft

The Return of the F-35As on Veterans’ Day

Quite some time ago, I posted a piece about the take off of some F-35As that were doing a flyover for Veteran’s Day.  What I didn’t cover in that post was that they had to come back!  They actually spent a fair bit of time out around the area as well as doing the flyover so there was some time between departure and arrival.  Originally, I had intended to get some pretty standard side on shots of their return.  However, earlier in the year, I had done the same thing for some other F-35s, and, at the last minute, I had a change of heart.

I rapidly grabbed my stuff and drove around to the approach end of the airfield near Ruby Chow Park.  I decided a head on shot followed by an underside shot would be a better bet.  Conveniently, they decided to do a run in and break rather than a straight in approach, so I was able to get some shot of them in formation as they passed overhead.  Then the approach shots worked out pretty much as I had hoped.  I was glad that I had done something different to my usual.  If there had been more opportunities, I hope I would have tried other ideas too.

Golden Global

Most bizjets have pretty uninteresting paint finishes but occasionally you get one that is a bit different.  This Global showed up one afternoon in this gold finish which looked rather special.  It had a logo on the fin which I didn’t recognize but, a little bit of searching showed the plane as belonging to Enrique Iglesias.  He was in town for a show and, with Drake having brought his 767 in previously, we got another performer and their jet.  I hope everyone had a good time at the show.  I didn’t see him depart.

A400M Atlas Demo from RIAT 2019

I was working through some shots from my last trip to RIAT in 2019.  Amazingly enough, I hadn’t finished editing some of the shots from that visit and I wanted to get rid of a lot of surplus shots to help the old hard drive space issues!  As I was working through them, I got to some shots of the A400M displays I saw over the course of the weekend.  I think the A400M is a cracking looking jet.  Whether it is doing what everyone wanted of it, I have no idea.  I just know it looks great and is capable of some really impressive demos.

For some reason, I had been feeling very brave during RIAT when it came to shooting some of the props.  I had gone with quite low shutter speeds with long lenses and the results were not necessarily all I would have wanted.  There were always going to be blurry shots to get culled, but the number of sharp ones was a little lower than I would have liked.  However, all was not a total loss, and I did get a bunch of shots that I was happy with.

Here is a selection of shots from across the show including the official displays by the Airbus test crew and some of the operator aircraft too.  The weather for RIAT 2019 was not that great.  We did get some nice light occasionally but one of the days was very wet (and I was feeling crappy too) and the others were overcast a lot of the time.  Not the most exciting light for a grey painted plane but they had the potential for prop vortices.  Will I have big prints of these on the wall?  No, I don’t think so.  However, it was okay and there will be other times, I hope.

Falcon 50 With Winglets

If a Falcon 50 is coming and I have the time to be there, there is a good chance I will.  What could make a Falcon 50 even more appealing?  Having winglets fitted.  I didn’t know that when I went to catch it, but you can guess that I was rather pleased when that turned out to be the case.  It feels as if there have been lots of Falcon 50s in the area in recent months.  Maybe I am just noticing them more or maybe they have been more common.  Either way, I’ll take it.  Add some more with winglets and that will be even better please!

Not Many P-3s Left So This Was a Treat

When my friend Paul first told me he was going to be in Seattle over the holidays, I thought we wouldn’t be able to get together.  However, circumstances changed, and it turned out we could go out and check out the local aviation scene.  We had been getting some stuff locally but a check on ADSB showed a P-3 and an EP-3 out at Whidbey Island and we debated whether to make the run north.  In the end, we went for it.  The EP-3 had been out a while already and it did return before we got there but we were not going to come up short.  A P-3 made its return with some lovely December sun on it.  It flew a bunch of patterns which meant the chance to try different spots to get some images, so we were rather pleased with the outcome.

Retirement for a Falcon 900EX Pilot

I was chatting with one of the Sheriff’s team at Boeing Field one weekend and he asked me if I was there to get the retirement flight.  I told him I didn’t know about it, and he said a Falcon 900EX pilot was coming in shortly on his final flight.  They were planning a water cannon salute for him.  The location of the hangar meant it wasn’t ideal to get shots of so I decided to go and get the touchdown of the flight and then do the best I could for the salute.

While I was waiting for the Falcon to return, I could see the fire trucks positioning themselves for the salute.  They were a good distance off so I knew that I wouldn’t get really compelling shots.  Nevertheless, I would be able to get something.  They had a couple of quick tests to make sure the water was flowing and then waited.  Soon enough the Falcon touched down.  A helicopter came into land just beforehand and blocked part of my planned shot but there was no time to change so I just adapted to what I had.  They rolled out to the north end of the field and then taxied in for the celebrations.  The fire trucks started spraying their water and the Falcon taxied through the water arch.  Then it was all over from my perspective.  I imagine that they celebrated a little longer.

As an aside, I went to the hangar the following week and asked if they wanted any shots.  They couldn’t have been less friendly if they had tried.  If they didn’t want anything, that’s fine but try not to be so miserable to someone just trying to do something nice.

FHCAM’s 262

My most recent visit to FHCAM was also my first encounter with their Messerschmidt Me-262.  I knew they had one, but it was never on display when I went previously.  Fortunately, it is now part of the main museum exhibits.  I think the 262 is a very interesting looking design.  Early jets were not always the most elegant shapes but the 262 had a really interesting, blended look to the fuselage and wings.  I was hoping I could find a way to get something that reflected that in my shots.  What I really wanted to do was use the monopod to get some higher angle shots but the museum has strict rules about such stuff so I had to make do with whatever my arms could manage.

The jet is a pretty small airframe.  That generation of planes was not particularly large with a few more specialized exceptions so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.  Compared to modern jets, it is tiny.  First generation jet engines were not efficient beasts so it would have worked its way through its fuel load quite rapidly, I imagine.  That assumed that both motors kept running for the whole flight.  I still haven’t seen one of the restored/replica 262s fly, sadly.  I wonder if I shall do that at some point.

Rainy Sunday for the National Queen

Given that National Airlines has a better than average livery, I will always be happy to get a shot of their planes.  The 747s are a favorite given that they are less common post the pandemic.  I was therefore really pleased that one was due into Paine Field one weekend.  Of course, this is the Pacific Northwest and that means no guarantee of good weather.  Sure enough, it was a bit overcast, and the air was damp.  I wasn’t going to get gleaming illumination of the airframe, but I might get some vapor.

Things weren’t that great but there were some vortices streaming from the flaps as they came across the threshold at the north end of the airport.  The grey of the livery was blending a bit with the clouds behind it, but the blues did still have a bit of punch to them.  It could have been better, but it was still something I was pleased to get.

Falcon 10s Aren’t Too Common These Days

The Dassault bizjets line continues to flourish but it all goes back to an earlier generation.  Interestingly, The Falcon 10 came after the Falcon 20 despite the numbering and is not related in anything other than name to the Falcon 10X which is the latest development from Dassault.  It is still a popular jet but there just aren’t that many of them around anymore.  However, they aren’t extinct and catching one is a nice result.

I have actually caught two of them in recent(ish) times.  The first came into Boeing Field and I have to say the weather was playing ball for a change.  Lovely winter light as it showed up and I was quite happy with the results.  Indeed, I thought this might be my last encounter with one for some time, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that one was coming into Phoenix Sky Harbor the day I flew down there.  Just before sunset it showed up.  It is a small plane so was a bit distant on the northern runway but still a result!

RCAF Hornet Tests High ISO Performance

The later stages of the Abbotsford Air Show included a performance by the RCAF CF-188A Hornet.  By the time it was performing, the light was pretty much gone.  The late performance has some benefits in that the burners are more striking against a darker sky, but the RCAF display often ends with a landing with the hook lowered.  I had seen this before at Chino and the same problem as happened there occurred here.  The touchdown point was a long way away from the spectator line, so it was too far away to get a decent shot.

However, there was the rest of the display to go for.  My current cameras seem very able to handle low light conditions.  The focus might be a touch slower or less accurate as the light diminishes but I wasn’t noticing a significant problem.  Also, the high ISO capabilities of current generation cameras are really impressive so shooting in such conditions is not necessarily a problem.  The camera will be able to perform although that won’t compensate for a jet just not looking that good with so little light.  You still have to pick your shots.

The Hornet is a good display jet with the ability to point the nose in different directions rapidly and to pull a decent amount of vapor from the air.  It can turn and it can blast through, so it makes for a good show.  Original generation Hornets are starting to become a rarity.  It won’t be long before the Canadian jets have been replaced by F-35s.  Other operators have already transitioned and more will follow.  Catch the legacy Hornets while you can and, preferably, in interesting lighting conditions.