The Lynx was a favorite helicopter of mine in my teens. It was in service with both the Royal Navy and the British Army in substantial numbers. We used to see them a lot as they often flew past our home on the seafront in Cowes moving between the Navy bases at Portland and Portsmouth. The Lynx has gone from UK service, replaced by the Wildcat. I hadn’t seen any Wildcats before RIAT so was glad to see them from both the Army and the Navy (not that they look that different unliked their predecessors). Old style Lynxes were still represented though. The German Navy had an example visiting. They are not going to be around for much longer, though. They will be replaced early in the 2020s.
The Cobra is still a big part of Marine Corps aviation with the Zulu model the current favorite as it replaces the previous Whiskey models. However, the Cobra started out life as an Army attack helicopter. While they are long retired from Army service, old examples still are airworthy and one of them was performing at the Olympia air show. I was rather pleased to see it when it initially arrived and then it performed a flying display alongside a Huey.
A lightly loaded Cobra is still an agile beast and this one was being thrown around with some zeal. Unfortunately, the sky was rather overcast so the shape was a bit disguised by the shadows but it was still great to see the narrow fuselage combined with the broad chord rotor as it thrashed its way around the display. What a cool looking machine.
San Carlos Airport is home to the Hiller Aviation Museum. In times past they used to have an event called Vertical Challenge. It was a big gathering of all things rotary winged. Sadly, the challenge ended but the current team is trying to reestablish something similar. They have a smaller gathering called Heli Fest and I went along to shoot with the team for this year’s event. It was a normal day for admissions to the museum but the arrival of a lot of different airframes provided a lot more to see so the visitor numbers were significantly up.
The biggest visitor was a Boeing CH-47F Chinook for the National Guard unit at Stockton. They carried out a few passes before landing. Since the airframe is a little large and has quite a rotor diameter, they shut down on the ramp and were towed in to their parking spot. Once in place, they were open t visitors to come and look through the helicopter and talk to the crew.
No surprise that there was a steady stream of people checking out the Chinook during the course of the day. It is a great looking machine and the crew was busy answering questions throughout the day. When things were wrapping up, they taxied out and took off. A flyby was a necessity prior to going home. The Chinook is a very fast helicopter to the pass was pretty zippy!
Chino is full of surprises. There are many hangars and many unusual things contained in them. A friend showed me a shot of a Jaguar T4 that was in one of them – I was disappointed to not see that myself. As I was walking back towards the parking with a fellow shooter, we came across a hangar with a Gazelle in it. The guy cleaning out the hangar floor invited us in. It was a French Army Gazelle, still equipped with many electronic boxes from its military role and showing the mounting point on the side of the fuselage where HOT anti-tank missiles were once mounted. He flies it regularly and says it has been immaculately maintained over its service life. It certainly looks great.
A work trip recently took me through Chicago Midway. I wasn’t there long before getting on my next flight. We were taxiing out to depart and were coming past the National Guard air unit based on the field. They operate a bunch of Black Hawks. A couple of them were parked up on the apron and one was on approach. My plane conveniently had to hold for a while so I got to see the Black Hawk fly its approach and land. I only had my phone with me but here is some footage of the arrival.
Hayman and I had a day free ahead of ISAP so decided to go exploring the areas around Norfolk. There is not a shortage of aerospace related museums in the area. With the military presence and NASA, plenty has happened nearby and so having enough to fill museum collections does not seem to be a problem!
One place we decided to check out was the museum of Army Transportation at Fort Eustis. The museum is located just inside the main gate and they are happy to have the visitors and make you feel most welcome. The museum obviously has more than just aircraft so you can see watercraft as well including some very large amphibious vehicles. There is also a rail section although that was being renovated while we were there and was closed off.
Since it is Army material in the museum, there are a lot of helicopters in the collection. Some fixed wing aircraft are also included but the really unusual things are the concept vehicles that never got off the ground – so to speak! Hover cars and research aircraft into vertical flight are included in the collection and make for an interesting sight.
One downside to the location is that the aircraft are housed under cover but with open sides. This is fine for the visitor unless they like to take photographs. If that is what you want, you will be fighting some harsh external lighting with subdues under cover lighting. However, them’s the breaks! The aircraft are in various states of restoration. Some have been recently repainted while others are awaiting the funds to have their turn. It is great to know that someone is taking care to make sure they are preserved.