When we lived in the Bay Area, I wrote an article on a search and rescue exercise the the 129th Rescue Wing was holding at Moffett Field. I got to spend a good chunk of one day on base while the exercise was underway. During some of the down time between launch and recovery, we were taken in to the airship hangars. Hangar One is the famous hangar which has had its surface removed as a prelude to its eventual refurbishment.
On the other side of the field are the other two hangars and it was one of these that we got to check out. The structure of these hangars is wooden as opposed to the metal framework of Hangar One. The condition of the structure was deteriorating and, while we could go in to one hangar, I seem to recall that the other one was considered more hazardous.
The wooden framing was something to see. Pictures really don’t do anything to convey just how big these buildings are. A P-2 Neptune was in storage at the time. After this, it was moved across the field to join the P-3 Orion on display. Wherever you were on the ramp, the hangars dominated the view. As we watched the Pave Hawks and Hercs launching, the hangars were always there in the background.
A non floatplane visitor to the Splash In at Clear Lake one year was a Bell 407 that was used for EMS work. It flew in and landed in the parking lot next to the area where the planes were parked after coming out of the water. At some point, early in the day, I heard it firing up. Apparently it had been called out on a mission. Off it went, sadly not to return for the rest of the day.
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.
In this previous post about the hangars at Moffett Field, I mentioned that I was there to cover an exercise. The MC-130s were a big part of the exercise. They were loading up and launching down to remote landing strips on the California coast. The holds were full of equipment including off road vehicles. Loading these up was a tight fit. While the crews spent time getting everything ready to go, I was reasonably free to wander around the airframe and get some shots.
Here are some that I got that day. These were some of the oldest Combat Shadow (and maybe Hercules) airframes around at the time and I suspect that they have been replaced by now, I think by Combat King J models.
Someone recently was after a picture of a Philippines Airlines Boeing 747. When I looked up my shots of this airline, I came across a picture of one of their A340s landing at SFO. It had an anniversary marking on the fuselage. Just below it in the catalog was a 777-300ER which also had the same marking and was also landing at SFO. The similarity of the aircraft in these shots amused me so here they both are in case something like this is of interest to you too.
The Air France A380s have gone away. Their retirement had already been identified prior to the COVID-19 outbreak but it accelerated their departure. I had shot them on a few occasions with SFO and LAX being regular destinations. Since I won’t be seeing them again, here is a farewell tribute to the Air France A380. Hope one or two of the airframes find a second life.
Our January visit to San Francisco included a visit to the park above the Transbay Transit Center. We did walk down through the Center itself while we were there. It was a weekend and therefore pretty quiet. From the park, you can see the glass dome over the center below. We peered in while we were up there prior to heading downstairs. We also saw a pretty interesting cable stayed bridge that brings a roadway in for the buses to arrive and depart.
Inside, the use of the glass domes makes for a pretty airy feeling space. When no one is around, it all feels pretty relaxing. I imagine during rush hour (or what was rush hour before we stopped going to work) it would be a bit less relaxed and rather more urgent!
I was skimming through some photos and saw one of the moon I liked. It made me see what others I had shot over the years. I used to shoot the moon a lot when we lived in Chicago but haven’t done so much since. One shot is from California as the moon was setting over the hills while the sun was coming up. Others have involved cloudy nights that make for unusual shadows. I also decided to make a bit of an edit to one of the shots based on a picture I saw on someone’s shelf on a video I was watching. One for the Star Wars fans out there.
As we left San Francisco after our brief visit in January, I was on the side of the plane looking down on the Bay as climbed out and headed north. The usual departures of the 01s take you straight out over the bay and then you turn north as you head towards Oakland. The lighting was a bit harsh on this day but it was a good view of the city as we made our way home.
The 747 was still the mainstay of many long haul operations when I started shooting digital and SFO was a place that was served by a bunch of airlines using the type. I used to go to SFO quite a bit when I lived in Chicago because work brought me to the Bay Area frequently. That meant I got some opportunities to shoot the movements there. Of course, in due course we moved to the Bay Area so I got more chances but, by then, the 747s were swiftly disappearing and the 777 was becoming dominant.
Here is a selection of shots of different marques of 747 and different operators all operating in to SFO. Hope they amuse a few of you.