Tag Archives: attack

A Bonus With the A-26

Aside from my two HondaJets and a little other traffic, things were not looking too busy at Boeing Field.  I was contemplating my next move when I glanced at FlightRadar and saw a Douglas A-26 was flying over Seattle.  This is one that is based at Renton and used as a personal transport by the owner.  I have never seen it in action before.  Consequently, I was quite excited.  At first, I thought it looked like it was turning towards Boeing Field which would have been handy but then it headed north up towards the San Juan Islands.

I figured that, even if it was landing up there, it would be coming back to Renton later on so headed off in that direction to work out what flow the pattern was using.  The A-26 had departed over the lake to the north but all of the movements now seemed to be from the north so I figured it would come in from that direction.  No chance of shooting it from above at the overlook point at the south end but still plenty of options.

Unfortunately, they have closed off part of the park at the north end of the field and erected fencing.  This takes away an area of higher ground which gives a good view of the threshold.  However, with a couple of Cessnas bashing the circuit, I was able to see roughly what would be good and what wouldn’t.  A check on FlightRadar showed that they had finished flying around the San Juans and were coming back over the city.

They followed the water from the coast in to Lake Washington and I thought would be coming straight for me.  However, they continued over Bellevue instead.  I wondered if they were off somewhere else but soon they had turned back and were heading for Renton.  Looking up the lake, I could pick them out a long way out, long before they had even configured for landing.  With the fall foliage still evident on some of the shorelines, it made for quite a nice shot – something that wouldn’t have been the case at the other end.

The A-26 is pretty speedy so they were soon on final approach and I grabbed a bunch of shots both tight and wider.  Then they zipped by and behind the newly erected fencing!  I packed up my stuff and headed off but, as I drove back south, I saw they were still on the ramp outside the hangar.  I pulled in a watched them put the plane away.  Only at the last minute did I realize that I could have got a closer shot from near the gate but I shouldn’t complain given how lucky I had been to see them out on my day off.

Pearl Harbor

We didn’t spend a lot of time on Oahu but there were a couple of things we wanted to do while we were there.  One of those was making a visit to the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor.  Since Pearl Harbor is such a pivotal moment in US history, it just seemed impossible to go to Honolulu and not visit the site.  Obviously I am not alone in thinking this since the place is very busy and they advise that it can be quite a long wait to get there.

As it turned out, the timing was pretty good.  Entry to the memorial is free (there are other exhibits nearby that do have an entrance fee but we didn’t have time to fit them all in).  When you arrive, you get a timed entry card that has the time at which the visit will start.  Ours was only forty minutes away when we arrived.  While we were waiting, there were a number of exhibits to look at that discussed aspects of the attack and also memorials to other aspects of naval operations.

A visit to a war memorial of any sort is usually a harsh reminder of just how much loss occurs.  The separation of time and experience makes it easy to lose track of just how much a global conflict does to people.  There was a memorial to all of the submarines lost by the United States during WWII.  It was a lot of submarines.  On each stone was a brief history of the submarine and a list of the crew that were lost with the sub.  Reading through the list was a sobering experience.  That was going to be the theme for the whole day.







When our time slot came, we headed over the theater on the site.  This was the beginning of the visit and included an introductory film that lasted approximately half an hour.  This was a very well produced film that provided context for the lead up to war in the Pacific.  It included the run up to the attack,the preparations that were in place at Pearl Harbor and the details of the attack itself.

The descriptions of the day and the footage that accompanied it (including film of the Arizona exploding) were so vivid, I doubt anyone in the room was not moved.  It was certainly very quiet when the lights went up and everyone started filing to the boat.

The group was sized to fit on one boat to cross to the memorial and to have enough people to be on the memorial without making it too crowded.  When we arrived, the previous tour boarded our boat to return.  Having seen the memorial on TV many times, it was quite strange to finally see it in person.   I guess I often experience this with famous landmarks.

The memorial is a very interesting place.  Only one gun turret mount is visible above the surface so this is the first thing most people focus on.  Then, as you move around, you start to make out more of the detail just below the surface.  there are sections of the deck that are just below the surface that you can make out.  (Polarized sunglasses are a benefit on this trip.)  There is also still oil floating to the surface from the wreck, even after all of these years.  The ship burned for three days after the attack so the fact that there is still anything coming out is amazing.

There was a park ranger on the memorial available to answer questions.  While he seemed to enjoy presenting things in a dramatic style, he was a great source of additional information.  The introductory presentations suggest that the reason that the crew were left in the boat was because it was a memorial.  When he discussed exactly what happened during the explosion, you realize that there really wasn’t anything left to try and find.  It was a horrifying end.

This brings me to something I was rather perplexed about.  I took a lot of pictures while there (as is apparent from those attached to this post).  I wanted to have something to remember the whole thing by.  Obviously, everyone was taking a lot of pictures.  However, what I couldn’t understand was people taking pictures of themselves on the memorial.  I don’t normally ask people to comment but in this case, if you do have any thoughts, I would be interested to hear them.

I am happy to take our picture in front of scenic landscapes and famous cityscapes.  However, when visiting a memorial to the death of over 1,100 people, it seems to me that having me grinning in front of it is an inappropriate thing to do.  It is like people have forgotten exactly where they are for a moment.  The mood on the memorial was generally what you would expect but this just seemed odd to me.  Maybe I am out of touch on this.

This was a very interesting visit to make.  I am very glad to have been there and would certainly recommend you go if you are in the area.  It won’t be something that you necessarily “enjoy” but you will probably find it a very moving and thought-provoking experience.