RIAT is known for putting together formations of different types to celebrate certain events. The fiftieth anniversary of the first flight of Concorde resulted in two display teams getting together. Concorde was an Anglo-French collaboration and so was the celebration in this case. The Red Arrows and the Patrouille de France both fly formations to represent Concorde so, for this joint effort, both teams got airborne and flew their two Concorde formations in line astern. They made passes in each direction with the national anthems of each country playing – one on the first pass and the other on the second. It was a simple demonstration but an impressive one all the same.
The Alpha Jet has attracted the attention of a few owners in the Pacific Northwest. This example is pretty cool because, rather than being painted in some new scheme, it is still in the colors it wore when operated by the Luftwaffe. It flew a few passes during Skyfair so we were able to see it in action. I have seen lots of the French style Alpha Jets with the spinning nose but my exposure to the German style of jets over the years has been a lot less. The pointy nose has a slightly more purposeful look to me.
I am catching up on some things that happened quite a while ago. The visit of the Patrouille de France to Mather for a display as part of their US Tour was a combination of fun and frustration. I was covering the visit for GAR and had arranged to be there for the arrival, the practice and the show itself. They were supposed to show up relatively early but they had some serviceability issues and, when they finally showed up, the sun was setting.
There was still some light when the first jets flew into the pattern. As they taxied in, the light on them was rather nice. By the time the last jets (of the day) showed up, it was dark. The crews were very cheerful despite their difficult day and they spent a lot of time with some local kids for a French school. They didn’t all make it though. Two jets had diverted with problems and they would show up until late the following day. The A400M didn’t arrive until after I had left and it headed straight out the following morning to go and fix the two stragglers. The second day practice and flyby over the Golden Gate were scrubbed as a result with the flyby being achieved after the display rather than before.
This shot won’t win any prizes. I only show it for relative rarity value (although one of my friends has caught a lot of these near his home). The US Special Forces have their own choices of equipment and the Dornier 328 turboprop has been something they have found a use for under the designation C-146. This one showed up on the downwind for Nellis during a break in Red Flag. It was rather far away from me but I wasn’t going to miss taking a shot of it given that it is the first I have seen. I didn’t even change the camera settings so it has frozen props. I think the artistic failings are the least of the problems when shooting something this far away!
When someone tells you something with absolute certainty, you might be justified in doubting whether they know exactly what they are talking about. At some point in the late 1990s I was in the Pilatus factory in Switzerland talking to an engineer that had previously worked for Dornier. He was telling us that the idea of re-engining the Dornier 328 turboprop with jet engines had been reviewed and the wing was not strong enough to take the loads. There was no way the program would ever happen.
Turns out he was not entirely accurate with his projection. Dornier did build a jet version of the plane and they show up now and again. I have seen one on the ground at Midway a few times when flying through but have never got a decent shot of it. Meanwhile, a recent visit there caught me out when another example of the type showed up on approach. I think it is quite a nice looking plane. Certainly a bit different to other aircraft of the size and something of a novelty as the regional jet market moves to larger sizes. Ironically, it was developing a 70 seat jet that took Dornier into bankruptcy.
It now looks like the 328 family might have a new lease on life. The owners of the design rights have signed an agreement with a Turkish organization to start production of an updated version for various Turkish government requirements prior to developing a new type. Maybe there is life in the jet yet!
A recent arrival at San Carlos is a Dornier 228 that is apparently configured for aerial survey work. The guys mentioned that it had been active prior to my visit but it was not doing much the day I was there. However, it was parked close to the fence. It wasn’t easy to get a shot of it but a bit of reaching above the fence line meant I could at least get something. It is a cool looking plane so I hope I get a chance to see it in action at some point.