I found myself looking through some old photos (as I have done a lot in the last ten months) and came to the Clear Lake Splash In that takes place in California. I only made one trip up to this event and, while I was told that it was a quieter year than previous events, it was still a pretty cool thing to experience. Three Grumman Widgeons showed up at the event. The classic Grumman amphibian look was cool to see in action.
They landed on the lake and then dropped the undercarriage to allow them to power up the steel plate ramp that had been laid to provide access to the parking field. The three of them were parked together over near the trees. One went out to do some flying during the course of the day and then they all headed home when things wrapped up.
Watching something of this size transition from the water to the land was most impressive. Similarly, the trip back down the ramp and in to the water was cool to witness. The Widgeon sits pretty low in the water when it is not at speed but, once it is up on the step, it is a very different beast. Since they were operating parallel to the shore, it was possible for them to be quite close while they were at speed which was great.
There is no shortage of DHC Beavers in the PNW, even of the turbine variety. Plenty of them are on floats, too, so even that doesn’t make it particularly special. However, when you haven’t been able to shoot much aviation for a long time, one is a welcome sight. Even better when it switches to the closer runway when on approach.
How many different animals have I photographed in our backyard? In a time when we haven’t been able to travel to see much, having stuff come to us has been quite a benefit. This addition was a total surprise. I had taken the sun shade out from where it was stored beside the house and, when I put it up, I realized it was pretty grubby and needed a clean. I moved it to an open patch of grass and washed it down. When I got back to the table, I realized it had been housing a frog that had dropped on to the table when I opened the shade up. I grabbed the camera quickly before it disappeared. It actually hung around longer than I expected and I even tried to start focus stacking but it then got a little mobile and I gave up on that.
It leapt off the table and on to the grass where I got a couple more shots before letting it head off to wherever it felt like taking cover. The green and gold colors were really pretty vibrant. I am not a frog expert but I did Google it. I think there is a fair chance that it is a Pacific Tree Frog. Anyone know anything better?
When I photographed this amphibian, I thought it was a Goose or a Widgeon. It made a pass over Paine Field while I was waiting for the return of the Bf-109 so I grabbed some shots of it. It was only as I looked at the shots afterwards – particularly the engine installations – that I realized I didn’t know what it was. I looked up the registration as saw it was a Gweduck. This is the only example so far and it is based at Renton. I would love to see more of it – particularly if that can include some time on the water!
While on the terrace at Future of Flight, I saw a Goose parked up over near the FBO. I had mixed feelings since it was interesting that it was there but I was disappointed I didn’t know it had come in and had missed the arrival. You can imagine how happy I was to see it taxi out a short while later. It made a mid flight departure so was still reasonably low as it came past. The dark paint might have Ben a problem on a cloudy northwest day but we had sun so it showed up nicely. Only as I looked at the shots afterwards did I realize that it was a turboprop conversion rather than a piston-engined plane. Oh to see it on the water!
As Bombardier has decided to remove itself from a number of its legacy aviation programs, Viking Aerospace has been willing to step in. It acquired the rights for a number of legacy de Havilland Canada products first and put the DHC-6 Twin Otter back into production. Since then it has acquired the CL215/415 amphibious waterbomber program and very recently the Dash-8/Q400 program. It has its headquarters at Victoria International so, after getting off the ferry and having a spot of lunch, we swung by to have a look. They have a very nice, modern headquarters building which stands out amongst the other airport buildings.
I took a look on the ramp. Their demonstrator Twin Otter was parked up along with a couple of clean airframes that looked like they were destined for new customers. A CL-215 was parked a bit further out. I discovered shortly afterwards that this one is about to undergo an upgrade program. There were plenty of people going in and out of the offices but the ramp was sadly quiet. No movements while I was there although we had places to be so I didn’t hang around for long.
While waiting for a few vintage types to arrive at Paine Field for Skyfair the following day we got an interesting bonus. A Kodiak showed up on approach. Not only was it equipped with floats but it was also painted in a tiger stripe livery that was pretty striking. Not a type that might normally get too much attention but, fitted out like this, it certainly did.
Pinal Air Park is located northwest of Tucson. A number of business operate there. It used to be a location for Evergreen International. They carried out a number of programs of a spooky nature which meant there was strict security controlling access to the area. Evergreen have gone bust so now the airport is a lot less restricted. The hangars and ramp areas are still controlled but the roads around the field are now freely accessible.
The airport is used for active operators but also for storage of airframes. Some of these are planes that are clearly not going to be making it back into the air again. They are either old enough to not be in demand or of a type that has more value in the spare parts they contain than as a complete airframe. That isn’t the case for all of them though. Many of them are stored awaiting another operator finding a use for them. Consequently, you see a variety of aircraft from old TWA 747s to unmarked A330s.
While I was there, a Pratt and Whitney 747SP engine testbed was visible on one ramp while the Global Supertanker 747-400 was not far away. There were also some stored Grumman Goose aircraft (should that be Geese?) that looked like they weren’t moving for a while. A turbine Caribou was on the ramp obscured by a CASA 212. Plenty of variety. This would certainly be a fun place to tour with someone that has good access.
I took a trip to the Hiller Aviation Museum recently. The trip was to see a speaker who was appearing there and that will be part of another post. However, I did have a good look around the museum while I was there. Located on San Carlos Airport, I have been to the museum a few times in the past when I was visiting the area for work but I hadn’t been since we moved west. My buddy, Hayman, is a volunteer there so I have no excuse for not having been recently!
A few things have changed since I was last there. The SST mockup has now gone freeing up some space for other exhibits. This post isn’t a comprehensive review of all that is there. It is more a focus on some of the things that caught my eye while I was walking around. One item I have to mention is the Boeing Condor unmanned vehicle. It is a cool thing to see but, since it is so large, it is squashed in amongst all of the other exhibits. I decided that I should try and get something to show it in all its glory. There was a balcony which would have had a better angle but that was restricted to some simulation experience. Instead, I decided to try a pano approach instead. It came outs reasonably well although taking out some of the distortion in post processing was necessary.
I had another go at a pano with the interior of the Albatross. It is a lovely looking aircraft with a great interior which is visible through the side door so getting too much of a shot of the inside was hard to do. A pano gives a bit more of a feel for the layout in there. It looks like a nice plane to take around the world!
The museum is great and the gift shop is pretty cool too. I have to admit a model helicopter left with me and now sits on my desk. It is an AW101 in Canadian rescue colors and looks pretty sharp!
I took a trip a few hours north of here to check out the Clear Lake Splash In. It is a gathering of float planes and amphibians on (surprisingly enough) Clear Lake. I should note that I have no idea why this lake is so named because the green weed that lined the shore and got bound up on anything entering the water was anything but clear.
I was writing up a piece for GAR and the article can be seen at the following link. http://www.globalaviationresource.com/v2/2014/10/09/aviation-event-review-clearlake-splash-in-2014/. There are plenty more images from the day there. The ones here are just a sample of the day. My friend Eric took his plane there and was the one who let me know about the day in the first place. He says it was a lot smaller than in previous years. That is a shame but it was still a fun day out. The location is very pleasant, the atmosphere relaxed and, as the day drew on, the light just got better and better. I will be back!