Some visits to an airport can be a total loss. Nothing of interest happens and you come away with no shots worthy of note. On other occasions, you get a surfeit of riches. I had one such evening at Paine Field. It included a sortie by FHCAM’s Bf-109. I saw it taxiing out which looked good and then found myself being joined on the mound by Steve Hinton. Steve’s son, Stevo, was being checked out in the 109 that evening. He took of a flew a little general handling before returning for a few patterns. The 109 is a great looking plane, particularly with the right engine installed. Having someone like Steve alongside to discuss what was going on was icing on the cake.
FHCAM opened up a new hangar at their museum facility in Everett. To coincide with the new opening, they unveiled a new addition to the collection. This addition was a Stuka. They had hinted earlier in the week that it might be a Stuka and I was hoping that would be the case. The other aircraft they were hinting at was the Me262 and, since we know they are close to flying their example of that, having a Stuka would be a significant addition. I was really pleased to see that was the case although the 18-24 months until it is airworthy will be a bit of a drag. Good things come to those that wait, though.
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.
The FHCAM IL-2 Shturmovik has been airworthy for a while but I have previously only seen it on the ground. Skyfair was my first opportunity to see it flying so I was rather pleased. This is a pretty rare type and a new one for me so having it display was a treat. The sun was rather high when it flew which is a bit less than ideal for a plane with a dark paint scheme but that is a small price to pay. It flew a number of passes, all of which felt nice and close. Great stuff.
The Fiesler Storch was a most unusual aircraft. It was used for utility purposes and was able to drop in to the smallest of locations and get back out again. Speed was not its thing but it was the one for special missions. I have seen scale versions in private use and some in museums but I am not sure I have ever seen a genuine one fly before. Skyfair included a performance by FHCAM’s example. I got some shots of it airborne although the dark paint scheme was not ideal on a sunny day. When it came to take off, I figured stills would not show anything about the performance so I switched to video. This allows you to see just how quickly and easily the slatted wing lifted the plane off the ground.
The two B-25s that live on Paine Field are regular performers. When they both went up at Skyfair, I have to admit that I was not so excited. However, I was not anticipating a series of flypasts that were significantly better than I had seen from them before. They brought them in with a tight formation and some angles that allowed some great topside shots as they curved around on to the runway alignment.
Watching them line up, you could see that they weren’t going to come so close and ruin the photo opportunities. Instead, we got lots of banking and pulling with far better shots than I had achieved previously. I was not alone in appreciating the effort. Everyone around me was most impressed by the performance.
The FHCAM FW-190 is one I have seen on the ground a few times but I have been thwarted with regard to it flying. It was scheduled to fly at Skyfair so I was optimistic. While waiting for the Skyhawk to arrive, we were pleased to see the 190 taxi out and depart. Hopefully it would be a short test flight and after a few minutes, it came back into the overhead. A very nice early turn to final brought it around the waiting crowd and there was much rejoicing!
On the day of the show it flew again. A nice bunch of passes and some good maneuvers to give us a view of the topside of the glossy paint scheme. The light was a touch harsh but the plane was definitely worth it. Combine that with the extra from the evening before and this will count as a success for me.
Night photo shoots are becoming more popular these days. The Flying Heritage Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM) held one with the de Havilland Mosquito. The evening started out with the plane on the ramp when people were free to wander around the aircraft. I was shooting a lot of long exposures using the tripod which does a good job of removing the people provided they keep moving. However, a few people were hanging around for long periods so they show up in the shots. Others were using the flashes on their cameras or flashlights to look at stuff which made things blow out.
Once we were all cleared from the ramp, one of the FHCAM crew came out to talk about the aircraft. He was the one that would carry out the engine runs and he ran through the test procedures that would be followed for the engines. People had the chance to ask questions and get a good understanding of the plane and how it is operated.
Then came the fun. The engines were fired up in sequence. Then they were run through the test program. The blue flame from the exhaust stacks could be clearly seen in the very dark conditions. When the mag checks were carried out, the flames were even more conspicuous. I moved around a bit to get some different positions. I was quite surprised to see how blurred some of the shots were. The aircraft clearly moves a lot despite being chocked and so some of the shots were totally unusable. This was a lesson learned. In future I would focus on shortening the exposure times a lot to minimize this issue which I hadn’t anticipated.
I also shot a bunch of video while the runs were underway. The edited video is below. It was a fun evening and thanks to FHCAM for holding it. It would be fun to do on another type. It might be nice to have a touch more light on the ramp but the dark conditions did have some advantages. I discovered a bit about shooting in that environment which should hopefully help on future night shoots.
The Bf-109 was built in huge numbers but a very small number of them survive. The Hispano Buchon was a 109 fitted with a Merlin engine and they served after the war and ultimately made their way into collections in bigger numbers but real 109s are a lot thinner on the ground. They also look so much meaner in my mind courtesy of the thicker nose for the DB engine. FHCAM has a 109 and it flew during the European Theater Day.
It went out for a run in the morning and I got a couple of quick shots of it then. It flew again in the afternoon, this time paired with the Mosquito. Sadly, there were limited times when they were alone and the Mosquito was a priority for me that day so the 109 did not get my focus. I did get to shoot a few frames of it and, with a sunny day bringing out the camouflage nicely, I was quite pleased with the results. Obviously there are better conditions to shoot it but I had very few 109 airborne shots before this day so I expanded the collection quite a bit.
I last saw a Mosquito in flight in the early 1990s when the BAe operated example was on the air show circuit prior to its loss at Barton. I had assumed at that time that I was unlikely to see another one fly. I never saw Kermit Weeks’ example fly and it has been on the ground for a long time. I hadn’t counted on the recent interest from collectors in getting rare aircraft rebuilt. The Mosquito has been a popular project and there are a couple now flying in the US and, I think, another one in Canada. It is great to see people with the available funds getting these aircraft back in the skies (even if these are pretty close to totally new builds).
One of the Mossies is part of Paul Allen’s collection and the Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM). It had flown a few times since we moved to the area but I had not seen it fly until they held their European Theater Day. I was determined to see it this time. I had forgotten just how large an aircraft the Mossie is. It flew with a bunch of other fighters and included a number of passes with a 109. The Mossie is huge when next to the 109 and it really has presence. It is a bit of a pain to photograph because the color scheme has camouflage upper surfaces and black undersides. With the sun high in the sky, this makes for a very contrasty subject.
I probably got a little overenthusiastic photographing the plane. It was parked on the ramp before and after the flypasts although not well positioned for the light in either case. That didn’t stop me though. When it was flying it got my maximum attention – a little bit of a compromise since the 109 it was partnered with was also something worthy of some shots. I did get a few of them and they will be in an upcoming post. It is nice to have finally shot a Mossie though after all of this time. I look forward to seeing it again, particularly on its own and in more of a display format.