Tag Archives: black hawk

Three Black Hawks Bring In Some Passengers

The evening departure of the C-32 was covered in this previous post.  I hinted then about the arrival of some of the passengers.  I’m not sure where they had been visiting but they returned Ina. Three ship of Black Hawks.  Some of those who had been around earlier in the day had seen the departure and apparently it followed the same process.

The three ship of Black Hawks flew downwind on the west side of the field having approached from the south.  They then turned to final in a stream, descending to a lower level and flying the length of the runway prior to setting down near the fire station and close to the awaiting C-32.  Since it was late in the day, the light on them was really nice once they were over the field (conversely, they were seriously backlit while downwind).

After dropping off their passengers, they pulled up and departed back to the south, presumably heading towards JBLM.  I haven’t seen any UH-60s for a while so this was a nice change from the norm.  It was also fun looking at the crew on board with the helmet and face masks as they looked back at us.  Hopefully they didn’t mind being photographed too much!

Movie Star Black Hawk

When I got to Olympia for the Olympic Air Show, one of the first things I saw on the ramp was a very serious looking Black Hawk.  It was equipped with everything you could think off.  The ESSS system was mounted, there was a FLIR turret and a variety of weapons.  I was rather curious what unit owned it.  It turns out it is a civilian owned machine.  Northwest Helicopters is the operator and it is used for filming work.  That explains it looking so tooled up.  A civil registration is discretely on the tail and it says the machine is actually an EH-60.  I’ll have to watch out for it in any movies that are coming up.

A Loaded Black Hawk

The UH-60 Black Hawk is a pretty neat helicopter but in the standard fit, it is not terribly exciting.  However, I do like it when they are kitted up with a lot more stuff.  The external stores support system makes them look very purposeful and a flight refueling probe is another good addition.  The UH-60JA at Hyakuri had both with tanks fitted to the pylons.  It was at the far end of the ramp so, when it took off, I couldn’t get anything worthwhile.

It returned later in the day and came almost directly overhead.  Shooting a dark blue/gray helicopter looking straight up on a cloudy day is not a great combination but you aren’t going to ignore it.  I wish it had flown a few patterns or even taxied by, but I guess it was not to be.  Still, it was good to see it up close.

Westland Black Hawk

Scan 2-1611.jpgThe Sikorsky Black Hawk is a ubiquitous helicopter. They are in service around the world and Sikorsky has a second production facility getting established in Poland. What is not so well known, though, is that Westland attempted to become a license producer of the helicopter for the UK and other markets. They went as far as to build an airframe from a knocked down kit. Meanwhile, another airframe was converted to with what was then the Rolls Royce/Turbomeca RTM322 turboshaft engine for testing purpose. Together, these two airframes were demonstrated at Farnborough. The Westland derivative was not ordered by anyone and both airframes were ultimately converted to other configurations and sold on to other operators.

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Black Hawk Welcoming Committee

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.

Firefighting Helicopters

C59F6996.jpgWhen someone in Chicago needed to lift something that was too heavy for the S-58T fleet of Midwest, there was a good chance that CHI Aviation would get the job. When I first worked with them, they were known as Construction Helicopters but their scope has grown a lot and so the name has been changed. Whether it was the S-61 or the Super Puma, some big payloads could be taken up. I thought I wouldn’t see much of them once I moved to California. I was wrong.

AU0E1362.jpgThey have acquired some surplus CH-47 Chinooks from the US Army and a number of them are currently based in California working on firefighting contracts. Some of them were deployed to help fight the Wragg Fire and I had a chance to go hunting for them while I had some free time up there recently. I had no idea where they were going to be operating. A look on Flightradar24 showed that there was a lot of activity in the vicinity of the fires including fixed and rotary wing assets but I was heading off with little real idea what I was looking for.

C59F7120.jpgI took Route 128 that goes up through the hills and past Lake Berryessa. This road had been shut at one point when the fire first got established but had since been reopened. Even so, as I drove across, there were fire appliances from all over the state in any turn off I passed. There was also an orange streak on the road which, I assume, came from a fire retardant drop of some sort. As I came by the lake, I didn’t see any aerial activity. There were plenty of boats on the lake so I figured that they weren’t picking up water from there. It later turned out that was a false assumption.

C59F7081.jpgI dropped down from the hills and came around a bend in the road to find myself facing a Chinook coming in to pick up water from the river beside me. Fortunately, I was able to pull off right there. For once, I was well prepared. I had figured that I might see something and need to have the camera ready so I had fitted the lens and set everything up before starting the hunt so I grabbed the camera and started shooting.

C59F6823.jpgThere was a pair of the Chinooks coming in for water along with a Sikorsky Black Hawk. All of them were using Bambi Buckets to get water from the river before heading back to the fight. I got a bunch of shots from the road before things quietened down. Other than an Army Chinook without a bucket that seemed to be coordinating things (and marked with purple markings over its normal camo), nothing was moving. A guy came up from the river with his fishing gear in hand and suggested I go down to where he was to get a good shot.

I did as suggested but, of course, nothing was happening now. A couple of times I wandered back to the car only to hear something coming over and rushed back. Sadly, these were flights to the lake rather than the river. Finally I did get lucky and got a few shots from river level of someone picking up a load. Then it went quiet again so I headed off for a while on an idea that proved fruitless.

C59F6754.jpgMy return brought me back past the same spot and things were happening again. This time there was a Huey involved and he was running a lot of lifts. He also was loading from a slightly different part of the river. One of the Chinooks still showed up but at the original spot so I had to make my choices. Eventually, I needed to head back so started off. However, the Chinook and another Huey put in another quick appearance so I stopped for them and then finally headed back.

This was a totally impromptu trip and I ended up getting a lot of time with the CHI Chinooks as well as some other types too. Obviously, it is not great that they are needed with these fires raging but it was impressive to see the crews at work providing such a valuable service. Now I want to see them again, hopefully in a slightly more controlled environment! I wrote a piece for GAR which you can see here.

Farnborough ’92 – The Rest

0701-2.jpgThe attendance of the Russian contingent at Farnborough in 1992 was pretty impressive but they weren’t the only game in town. There were plenty of other aircraft on display. The Rafale prototype was there to follow up from the demonstrator a few years before. The first A340 was also part of the flying display.

0803.jpgPlenty of smaller types were on show including the Optica and the Pillan. Harriers and Hawks flew and the Gripen development program was represented by one of their jets. The Tucano for the RAF was taking part and the US military had a Black Hawk in the static display. Quite a variety of stuff to enjoy and interesting to see what is still in production today and what has disappeared from service.

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Stead Field National Guard

wpid12623-QB5Y7489.jpgQuite a few years ago, I was on a visit to NAS Fallon with my friend Richard. (You can check out his work at http://www.aviationimaging.com/ and I recommend you do.) Another buddy, Paul, was also along and the day after we were at Fallon, Paul had arranged a visit to the National Guard facility at Stead Field, north of Reno. (Paul’s work can be found at http://skippyscage.com/) This base operated a variety of helicopters including Chinooks, Black Hawks and Kiowas. It was also once the home of CH-54 Tarhes. It was in looking for pictures of the CH-54 that is preserved there that I came across the rest of the shots from that day.

wpid12635-QB5Y7598.jpgI took one Chinook shot that morning that I have used a number of times but the rest of them had kind of been forgotten. We had a great time wandering through the hangars seeing what was ready for use or undergoing maintenance. The high point of the day was that a Chinook was launching and we were allowed out onto the ramp outside the fence to be in place when the Chinook taxied out and took off.

wpid12637-QB5Y7610.jpgAs it happened, the Chinook pulled up into the hover and stayed there for quite some time. Since I had time, I progressively lowered my shutter speed to try and get more rotor blur on the famously slow turning Chinook rotor. I had just got as low as I could go when he suddenly transitioned to forward flight. I was at totally the wrong shutter speed and ended up with some parallax issues as he flew by but it was all good.

wpid12629-QB5Y7543.jpgThe Chinook obviously features here a bit but I wanted to share some of the other helicopters that were there that day. It was fun to see some shots that I had forgotten about long ago.

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Black Hawks at Mather

wpid11021-AU0E8915.jpgThe California National Guard has a selection of Black Hawks that are based at Mather. Paul and I drove around to see them parked up. They seem to have varying configurations of the type on the ramp so I assume they have multiple roles that are assigned to the unit and the different configs to suit the roles. The fencing by the ramp was a little tricky for photography purposed and it was easier to get the Huey on display using the phone to get the pictures since it has such a small aperture, it isn’t affected by fencing. It looks like an interesting unit and possibly one that might be worth covering in the future.