Tag Archives: california

The Tehachapi Loop

When I first started planning to trip to the Mojave Desert for the Edwards AFB show, a friend of mine in the Midwest was also planning on being there.  He said he was also going to visit the Tehachapi Loop.  I was vaguely aware of it but decided to look it up.  While he ended up not making the trip, I took some time on my last day to go across to see the loop for myself.  The Tehachapi Pass is a steep climb for a train to make and, in order for it to climb sufficiently in one section, the engineers that laid out the alignment put in a special configuration.

The trains make a 360 degree climbing turn and, given the length of the trains, the leading part of the train will pass over the top of the back end of the train as it climbs.  It is quite something to have a long train twisting around on itself as it climbs the grade.  Of course, descending is the reverse but that is less dramatic because the train is braking whereas the climbing trains are working flat out to make it up the hill.  The sounds of the locomotives at high power reaches you long before they come in to sight.

When I got there, I had no idea whether I would see a train or not.  I had plenty of time but I didn’t know whether the trains were regular on a Sunday.  Fortunately, it wasn’t long before a train came into the loop heading down the hill.  I watched it negotiate the curves and the parts of the train appear and disappear.  The interesting news was, as it got a little further down the hill, it stopped.  This looked promising in that it was probably holding for a train coming up the other way.  Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the sounds of multiple locos pulling hard came up the slope.

There were four locos on the front of the train dragging their load towards the summit of the pass.  The cars were stretched out behind them down the grade and, at the back (long after the lead locos had gone), another pair of locos were bringing up the rear.  With the train safely by, I decided I wouldn’t hang around to see if there was more traffic.  I had a drive back to the airport to do and didn’t need to wait around just in case.

My First Time At The Edwards AFB Show

I have been to Edwards AFB before on a couple of occasions.  However, I had never been to an airshow there before.  I have thought about it a few times in the past and ended up regretting not going as the shows stopped for a long time.  It had been thirteen years since the last show so I was determined to go.  There were a few unusual types that I was hoping to see either on static or flying.

It might have been mid October but it was still warm in the desert.  The air temperature might only have been in the 80s but the sun was very strong and a concrete ramp reflects that up at you as well so it was a bit of a hard day out.  By the end, I was pretty spent.  However, there were plenty of good things to see even if a few that I was hoping for didn’t show.  I shall have some specific topics for posts of their own but I shall include some general shots here.  The show is the only one I know of in the US which includes supersonic flight.  We actually had a few sonic booms during the show and they opened with one on the day after the 75th anniversary of the breaking of the sound barrier.

There were a few interesting visitors on the static display and some hangar exhibits of interest too.  Foreign aircraft were limited to an Australian KC-30 and a British F-35B (which was part of a display of the A, B and C models of the jet).  Since NASA has its Armstrong facility on base, they had a particularly strong showing too.  Some civilian law enforcement helicopters were also on the ramp.  The flying display is always going to be backlit but it was still possible to get some shots.  The B-1B also did a roll off its high speed pass but it was well away by the time it did this so I watched it rather than took photos.

It was a different show and one I am glad I went to.  I got there very early which helped getting on base smoothly but did mean an early start.  Getting off the base was probably the easiest I have ever experienced.  Will I go again?  Maybe but I am not sure.  We shall see what might be promised for future years.

Battle Of The Alliances

The creation of the airline alliances has allowed airlines to serve a wider range of routes than they could sustain themselves.  Part of their obligation as a member of the alliance is to have some of their aircraft painted in alliance colors.  Sadly, these liveries are not that exciting but I suppose it is some variety.  I was quite surprised to get an Air France 777-300ER in SkyTeam colors vacating the runway at the same time a United 777-200ER in Star Alliance colors was taxiing the opposite direction.  I felt like the scene for a stand off but no such thing occurred.

New Bradley Midfield Terminal

When I was last at LAX, there was plenty of construction underway in the middle of the field.  The Bradley International Terminal was being expanded to accommodate the growth that had taken place.  This was all pre-pandemic of course.  On this visit, it looked like everything was complete.  The new midfield terminal area was looking finished and there were aircraft on the gates including a China Southern A380.  With that fleet due for retirement, that might be my last chance to see one.  Not sure whether I will get to use the terminal or not but it looked good.

Is This Airline Really British?

I got another new freighter while at LAX although not a great shot of it.  Cargologic has a pair of 747-400Fs in service.  The threshold for the south runways is a long way east of Imperial Hill so it is easy for freighters to stop and turn off before they get past all of he buildings that are in the way.  Consequently, I didn’t get a clear shot of this jet.  At the time I took this, a bunch of restrictions had been imposed on Russian operators as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.  Cargologic is a British registered airline so was not restricted.  Its ownership traces back to Volga Dnepr which is restricted.  Not sure the distinction is a real one but, at the time, it was enough to allow them to keep operating.  I suspect the UK government is not going to look too hard.

Sparrow Visitors

Imperial Hill gets loads of visitors and plenty of them eat lunch while up there.  Consequently, the sparrows are keen on the place too and they get pretty confident with the people around.  While I was up there, I figured I should try and get a few sparrow shots as well as other flying things.  If I wanted to focus on them, they are so close and fearless that it should be easy to do.

Finnair Before Sunset

The light was getting low in the sky and I was needing to drop my rental car back at the lot to get my flight home but a Finnair A350 was on approach.  I could see it was coming in to the south complex so the Proud Bird parking lot would be the spot for me.  The nice evening light was going to work out well.  I had shot a Finnair A350 once before when one came to SFO but this would be only my second encounter.  No point in missing it.  The sky was warming up nicely so it was hard to miss getting the shot.

Strangely The First AA A321neo Encounters

The launch of the 737 Max was heavily influenced by American Airlines agreeing to buy a bunch of A320neo family jets from Airbus.  American had inherited a bunch of Airbus aircraft from the combination with USAirways but buying the neos really caused Boeing to take note.  The order also included a bunch of the ceo versions of the jets and I have seen loads of them over the years.  However, for some reason, I had never shot an American neo until I got to LAX.

Los Angeles seems to be a popular destination for American’s neo fleet.  While I was there, I saw a load of them arriving and departing.  The larger engines are quite conspicuous on the neo although the A321neo seems better proportioned for that size of engine so they are less obvious than the smaller jets.  I think they do occasionally make it to Seattle but whether I shall catch one up here, I don’t know.

SoFi Stadium

When I last went to LA, the racetrack in Inglewood had been flattened and construction was underway on the new football stadium.  Since then it was completed and opened as SoFi stadium.  I was keen to see it in person having seen it on TV a lot.  I made sure to be sitting on the left of the plane thinking I could get some shots of it from the air.  Having previously photographed the racetrack, I mistakenly thought it would be further south and had a longer lens on the camera.  The stadium is closer to the approach path so I had way too much lens and only got shots of parts of it.

However, after my meetings wrapped up, as I headed back to the airport, I did drive by the stadium.  There were tours available but I didn’t have too much time so instead parked up and walked around a bit of the outside.  I mainly used my phone to take some shots – good for shooting through fences – and also stitched together some shots to make some panos.

The stadium is really impressive to see in person.  There is plenty of development going on in the area around it and I imagine it is going to quite transform Inglewood over time.  Whether that is for the better or not, we shall see.  The landscaping certainly adds to the impressiveness and the overall structure is far larger than just the football stadium which seem to sit inside it and feel rather dwarfed.  If you get a chance to go by, I would certainly recommend it.  Spending billions on sports stadiums is a controversial topic but this one has certainly got something special about it which is what you would hope for when it cost as much as it did!

Dodger Stadium

The approach to Los Angeles International from the north brings you in from the coast heading east almost directly over downtown before turning south and then west to make the approach to the north complex.  This approach gives you a very good view of Dodger Stadium.  I had the camera to hand as we came in so grabbed a few quick shots of the park.  With the MLB dispute now solved, there should be crowds showing up here before too long (if they haven’t already depending on when I post this).