Erickson’s facility at Medford was the home for this Skycrane while I was there. A team were working on it and, I imagine, they were getting it ready for the coming fire season. At this point, though, it was still in need of a few parts. It looked a bit lacking but I suspect the process of adding the remaining elements to get it back into an airworthy condition was not going to take that long. Hopefully by now she is back in the air and working hard.
Erickson is a company that you certainly associate with helicopters but normally you would think about the Skycrane. They also use airframes from other manufacturers. This Super Puma was sitting on their ramp at Medford. I’m not sure whether it is used for heavy lift work, firefighting or a bit of both. It was not what I expected to see though!
While I was walking around the display line of the Airshow of the Cascades during the evening show, the Erickson collection’s P-38 was carrying out its display. I was in amongst a lot of people when the announcer told everyone to be ready for a special pass. My location was not great but I got ready as the P-38 ran in for a topside pass expecting the detonation of some pyrotechnics behind it. Nothing happened. The P-38 flew by and no explosions.
A short while later, the announcer had a second crack at getting us ready for the pass. Obviously the first pass had not worked as planned. This time the P-38 was coming in from the opposite direction. I also had a few moments to try and reposition myself to get a better view. This shot was the result. Some of my friends were further up the display line and got a different angle on the shot which was cool. Even so, I am pretty happy with this.
I attended a course recently that was held in Madras OR at the home of the Erickson Air Museum. This museum is a fantastic collection of vintage aircraft, some of which were used for the course, more of which will appear on this blog in due course. At various times while we were there, I had the opportunity to wander around the museum and see the collection. This included during the evening when a party was underway but which also meant they had some interesting illumination.
The majority of the aircraft are warbirds but not all of them. A Bellanca was present which is, to be generous, a most unusual looking aircraft. I would certainly have liked to have seen it outside had the opportunity arisen but that wasn’t to be. There was also a Martin Mauler which is an aircraft I had never heard of previously. It looks like a Skyraider but you could tell it was different. It was just hard to know what it was without checking the information on the display.
Madras is not on the trail for most people so I imagine the museum does not have a lot of people happening upon it. However, it is a nice facility with a great collection and a super bunch of people working there. If you like warbirds and vintage aircraft, it should definitely be visited at some point.
I previously posted an item about the DC-7 tanker that was parked up on the Erickson ramp. Over the course of the few days we were there, this aircraft had a few visits from me. It’s positioning was not always ideal for what I wanted. The evening light was often great for photos but, sadly, the aircraft was almost exactly tail on to the setting sun. However, that did provide some silhouette options as well as playing with HDR to see if I could come up with something I liked.
One morning the sun came up as there was still some rain in the area. There was some good light on the nose for a while but the best option was the rainbow that formed in the background and was well aligned with the aircraft. I tried a variety of things over the days and some of those results are here. Of course, it would have been far more fun to see it in action!
Firefighting aircraft have often been older airframes converted for the task when their primary life is over. This has meant a lot of old piston types -both civil and military – have become tankers. Now there is a generation of jet airliners that are becoming viable candidates for conversion. I previously posted some shots of a BAe146 tanker. Erickson has been active in converting McDonnell Douglas MD-87 airframes to tankers and has a number already in service.
Dominating the flight line outside the Erickson hangars was a line of three MD-87s that had been acquired from Spain. They appeared to have come from a couple of operators and we sitting in storage. Most apertures were taped up and some panels/doors had been removed. However, these airframes are not destined to be parts donors. All of them are scheduled for conversion to tankers. Before too long they will be active supporting firefighting efforts across the country. The introduction of modern jet types to service should provide increased performance and the ability to respond faster to situations further away. They should provide a welcome boost to firefighting capability.
I’m not sure when I first became aware of the PBY Catalina but I am pretty sure it involved a plastic model that a friend of mine had. (Kev Fry, was it you?) Flying boats always appealed to me and the blisters on the rear fuselage caught my eye even at that time. Erickson has a PBY in the collection and it was going to feature in our program. However, my first encounter with it was as it was parked up on the ramp outside the hangar.
I was walking around in the early evening light and the paint scheme seemed to glow in the low sun. It is a big beast so there are lots of options as you walk around it. Whatever shot you want to get, you do want something that emphasizes the hull shape since that is one of the defining characteristics of the plane. Sometimes, getting in really close can achieve that.
You do want to check out multiple angles, though. Whether it is the nose shape, the wheels and wheelwells or the rear blisters, there is something from any direction worthy of a look. Whether they will all be great shots is a different story. However, having the chance to shoot one when hardly anyone is around is a chance not to be passed on.
Parked up on the ramp at Erickson’s facility was a DC-7 tanker. It didn’t move while we were there so it became the target of a number of photographers at any one time. I shall show more of it shortly but one thing that caught my attention was the amount of oil on the engine nacelles. Old piston engines are well known for consuming oil at a prodigious rate and this beast was no exception. It seemed to have done a great job of relocating the oil from the internals of the engines to the outside of the nacelles. It made for some great patterns and this was what distracted me for a while as I walked around the aircraft.
The Erickson collection did not used to be based in Madras. For many years the aircraft were part of the museum at Tillamook. The old airship hangars at Tillamook were their home. While most of the planes have now moved, one of them still bears a name indicative of its past. This is the Douglas DC-3 named City of Tillamook.
The aircraft sat on the ramp outside the museum hangar for the duration of my visit. The first evening we were there we had time to stroll around the ramp as the sun set. This resulted in some lovely lighting conditions. It was fun to see the DC-3 in close proximity to some later Douglas products. They shall be the subject of a later post.
My trip to Madras involved flying in to Redmond airport, about half an hour south of Madras. Hayman and I came in on the same flight and shared a ride to Madras. As we drove out of the airport, something interesting caught my eye on the other side of the field so we did a little exporting before heading off. Redmond has a base for Airtanker operations in support of firefighting. The aircraft that I had first seen was a DC-7 that had been converted for tanker operations and was painted up in Erickson colors. It looked immaculate and the activity suggested it might be preparing to depart. With fires in the surrounding hills, there was plenty of work.
While we waited for it to start up, a BAe146 tanker conversion landed and taxied in to the base. It was the first time I had seen one in person. Sadly the fencing around the base was rather touch to shoot through. Hayman made good use of the gap under the gates but my camera shape did not allow that. I had to make do with shooting through the fence where possible.