Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle was holding a fundraising event this summer. It was called Wild Bites. Taking place in the evening, it consisted of a bunch of Seattle restauranteurs having food stands throughout the zoo along with some drinks stands. You could wander around between the enclosures, take a look at the animals, stop for some snacks themed on the part of the zoo they were in and grab a drink too.
It was an enjoyable evening with some really interesting food and a nice atmosphere. I will have some follow up posts with specific animals from the evening but overall we had a really nice time. A minor problem was that a lot of the animals seemed to turn in for the evening once normal closing time came around. We found quite a few were settling down or were already asleep. Also, the drink stands seemed to run out of stuff later in the evening and, since we had waited to sample some of their stuff, to find it was out seemed a bit off.
Still, it was a nice evening and the zoo was a great place to wander as the light gently faded away. It was all raising money for the zoo too so a worthwhile cause. Keep an eye out for something similar if you live in the area.
The visitor that came the longest distance for Heli Fest is probably the MH-60S that the US Navy sent from North Island NAS down on Coronado Island near San Diego. They had needed one fuel stop to get there with a transit of about four hours each way. As with all of the military assets on show, they got a lot of attention from the visitors. The aircraft was open for anyone to check out and the kids certainly seemed interested. Since they had come so far, they were not just having a day visit. They had arrived the day before and were not heading back until the following day. Consequently, while everyone else was departing, they were locking up the helicopter for an overnight stop.
Two rescue helicopters were on show at Heli Fest. The 129RQW from Moffett Field had brought along one of their Pave Hawk helicopters while head the other way up the peninsula and you get the Coast Guard based at SFO with their MH-65 Dolphins. If you find yourself in need of helicopter based assistance in the Bay Area, one of these units will probably be sent to help you. The Coast Guard unit will be the first to respond. However, if you are further offshore, the Pave Hawk may be the one tasked. If they are training nearby, they may just be the easiest ones to send.
Whichever unit and aircraft it is, you will, no doubt, be really pleased to see them. Both helicopters were popular with the visitors. They had long lines of people waiting to take a look and talk to the crews. I was chatting with the Coast Guard guys about their planned departure time. They were way too optimistic. The line of people was still big when they originally planned to go. Eventually, they had to put someone in place to mark the end of the line. They were still turning people away but they needed to clean up, check the airframe and get going at some point!
The Pave Hawk did a nice job of taxiing out of the confined space in which it had been parked. Both of them made nice passes prior to heading off. The Dolphin is a sleek looking airframe so it looked pretty cool as it made its pass. Good job by both crews for having dealt with so many visitors during the day.
San Carlos Airport is home to the Hiller Aviation Museum. In times past they used to have an event called Vertical Challenge. It was a big gathering of all things rotary winged. Sadly, the challenge ended but the current team is trying to reestablish something similar. They have a smaller gathering called Heli Fest and I went along to shoot with the team for this year’s event. It was a normal day for admissions to the museum but the arrival of a lot of different airframes provided a lot more to see so the visitor numbers were significantly up.
The biggest visitor was a Boeing CH-47F Chinook for the National Guard unit at Stockton. They carried out a few passes before landing. Since the airframe is a little large and has quite a rotor diameter, they shut down on the ramp and were towed in to their parking spot. Once in place, they were open t visitors to come and look through the helicopter and talk to the crew.
No surprise that there was a steady stream of people checking out the Chinook during the course of the day. It is a great looking machine and the crew was busy answering questions throughout the day. When things were wrapping up, they taxied out and took off. A flyby was a necessity prior to going home. The Chinook is a very fast helicopter to the pass was pretty zippy!
A US Army Boeing CH-47F Chinook taxis out for departure at San Carlos CA.
Half Moon Bay on the Pacific coast hosts a great little event each year called Dream Machines. It is a combination of an aircraft and car event. I took a trip with my buddy Hayman to see how it was this year. The weather did not start out favorably and it looked like it might be a bit of a dull day. The clouds early certainly stopped a few visitors from making it in. However, the weather got a lot better as the day went on and there were still lots of great things to see.
Dream Machines is not an airshow so there are no displays. However, some aircraft get airborne and might do a few flybys. I covered the event for Global Aviation Resource and you can read my coverage in more detail at http://www.globalaviationresource.com/v2/2014/05/05/aviation-event-review-dream-machines-half-moon-bay/. There are a couple of sad notes associated with this day. The Sanders owned Sea Fury, Dreadnought, was at the event and departed in mid-afternoon. It was closely followed by a Cessna support plane. Unfortunately, en route to their base, they collided over the water and the Cessna was lost along with its pilot. Dreadnought suffered damage but returned to base. Also, as it was his home base, Eddie Andreini was part of the day’s proceedings including flying his Mustang. On the static line was his Stearman and this was the aircraft he was flying at Travis a few weeks later when he crashed on the runway and died. Both losses are very sad and our thoughts are with the friends and families and all involved.
Air shows are not planned to be a big part of my year this year. However, I did take the time to go a short distance out of the city recently to a small event that I like. Clow is an airport down in Bolingbrook, southwest of downtown Chicago. The airport holds an event every year for the local community to show what goes on at the airport and to try and generate interest in the aviation industry. It is not an airshow. There is not a flying display. However, a number of aircraft do visit and make some passes to show the crowd some interesting aircraft.
A number of aircraft are on display. Some warbirds show up and the EAA owned Ford Trimotor was providing rides throughout the event. Usually they have some parachutists displaying throughout the event (and I have previously shot them at work) but, unfortunately, the weather did not prove to be cooperative this year and the cloud base was too low to allow them to jump.
A number of aircraft manufacturers have their aircraft on display with Cessna, Piper, Cirrus and Diamond all having aircraft available to view by potential (and wishful thinking) buyers. Eclipse also brought one of their Total Eclipse 500 aircraft.
I was most interested in getting some shots of the aircraft either flying or on display but an event like this is also about seeing how the crowds interact with the aircraft and their owners. It is a very open event with people having the chance to get close to the aircraft and the operations. Since the conditions weren’t great, I often put down the camera and just watched everyone having fun. (Obviously no pictures of that!)