The Planes of Fame museum at Chino is a fantastic place to visit for any aviation enthusiast. Many hangars are open and they are filled with all sorts of interesting aircraft, restored either to static or flying condition. However, they are not all that is there. There is a backlot in which other aircraft are stored awaiting either their own restoration or for them to provide parts for the restoration of something else. Some great looking vintage aircraft here including jets that it would be so good to see back in the air. I decided to dedicate this post to some shots of these less glamorous residents.
One of my favorites when visiting Chino for the Planes of Fame Airshow is the Boeing P-26 Peashooter. A pre-WWII aircraft, this is the end of a generation of aircraft. Once the war started, aircraft really advanced quickly. For those that had been involved in conflict before the US actually entered the war, the aircraft had already moved on. The P-26 is a bit of a stranger in a time warp. However, the shape and technology combined with the colors make it a curious aircraft for me. Seeing it fly during the twilight show at Chino was cool and the evening light was a lot more impressive than seeing it during the day.
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.
It’s always a nice combination when you can get some light on the foreground subject of the photo and have a really dark and menacing cloud structure in the background. The brightness of the foreground exposure is much higher than the background so it makes the clouds look even more dramatic when exposing for the subject. Having a play with post processing will also help to make things look more dramatic. This Wildcat was parked on the flightline at Chino for Planes of Fame just as the lighting worked to my advantage. I may not have been happy about the weather conditions but this was one of the upsides to a cloudy sky.
A bit more from the Raptor display today. As the jet flew away from the crowd, it pulled in to the vertical. From a view directly astern, we got a brief view of the vortices forming over the forebody. The jet was quite a way off so these shots are cropped quite a bit. I love the way the vortex sits away from the body. Chino was a pretty dry environment so not a lot of vapor to pull from the air but it still showed up nicely.
Previously I may have mentioned my recent efforts to go through images I took a long time ago. The evening show at Chino had a number of performers and one of them was the Canadian Hornet demo. When I go through my images, part of my process is to render all of them at 100% and then view the full size image on one screen and the zoomed in version on the other. This allows me to see whether the shot is sharp and also whether there is anything glaringly wrong with it like bits cut off or someone’s head in the way.
I was going through the shots of the Hornet which flew after the sun had gone below the horizon, I noticed that, as it flew over the top of a loop, I had a view into the cockpit. Normally, this would be dark as the brightness of the day overpowered the shade of the cockpit. However, since it was pretty dark, the glow of the multifunction displays on the panel is clearly visible. We aren’t going to be able to see the details of the displays themselves but they are very conspicuous which is not the norm.
It might be a long time ago that I did anything closely related to the engineering of fighters but there is still a part of me that is a stability and control type of guy. Watching the control inputs and responses of planes is cool as far as I am concerned. With the advent of fly by wire designs, there was considerable scope to play around with the use of the control surfaces to achieve different aims. With no direct linkages to the stick, the pilot can be totally unaware of the choices the system is making for control combinations.
The engineers may have chosen to program the trailing edges to have different deflections inboard and outboard to offload the outer portion of the wing for example. The F-22 makes use of a variety of interesting control inputs. For example, it doesn’t have a traditional speed brake. I assume this was removed for stealth reasons. Instead, the control surfaces move counter to each other. You may have inboard flaps going down and outboard flaps going up. The moments cancel out but all increase drag incrementally so the effect is like having a speed brake deployed.
Since the aircraft is also unstable, you may have tail deflections that seem at odds with the maneuver being flown. During the Chino show, the usual routine was flown (usual for an F-22 but not many other jets) and, as I look through a bunch of the shots, I see some quite unusual control inputs. If you are in to such things, these may appeal to you. Gary, are you reading this?
Unfortunately, I have a rather large backlog of images that I haven’t done much with. This is sometimes the result of having a number of events in a short space of time and other times it is the result of laziness! Last year I covered the Planes of Fame show at Chino for GAR. I got a lot of shots while I was there and I needed a selection to illustrate the piece so I dived in, found some good examples, worked on those and put them into the feature.
Unfortunately, I never got around to undertaking a proper run through of the shoot. I only realized this recently so I have started to go through the images when the time allows. One part of the show I really liked was the twilight show on the Friday. This included a display by the USAF F-22. In the last light of the day, the airframe looked really great.
Running through the shots I found a few of the jet that I really liked. (I found more than will work for this post and some that I like for various reasons but won’t really gel with most people.) As a result, here are a sample of the shots I have been finding. Now I am starting to think about air shows this year for the first time. I might have to go to this one again!
Canadair were a company that put together some odd projects. Before they became part of the Bombardier family, they produced a business jet and a water bomber. The Challenger (which came from an earlier Bill Lear project) has gone on to spawn a large number of production aircraft of various types. The CL-215 is a different story.
Water bombers are a very useful tool in fighting fires. Within that sphere, the CL-215 has been a great success. That is not a huge world, though, so production has been modest. Even so, the original piston powered aircraft has gone through a turboprop conversion program and the current production model, the CL-415 has turboprop engines as well as airframe and systems enhancements. Production is at a low rate but they do still come out of the factory.
I was quite pleased to come across a couple of the planes that are still fitted with the original radial engines. The already chunky lines of the plane go quite well with the bluff profile of the piston engine – something the turboprop lacks a little. These planes weren’t flying. They were awaiting their next project. With the fire season approaching, I imagine it won’t have been too long after I saw them before they were back in action.
If you want a rugged workhorse with a substantial payload, you can do a lot worse than the Antonov AN-2. This bi-plane, powered by a substantial radial engine, has been a workhorse of many operators around the world – particularly in the old Soviet Bloc. It might look very dated – production started in 1947 – but some examples were still being assembled in 2001. However, the reliance on Avgas and the general age of the type means it is progressively disappearing from service.
There are still plenty about though and I came across one at Chino as the sun was setting. At first I thought it might be in good condition and possibly a flyer. Getting a bit closer, though, showed that the fabric on some of the control surfaces was coming apart and this one must have been sitting around in the California sun for a while. A shame since they are a mighty thing to see in action. I have no idea what the future is for this airframe but maybe it could rumble into life again.