Well over 10 years ago, I was invited by a rail vehicle manufacturer to an industry event that they were holding to promote one of their vehicles. It was held at the TTCI test facility outside Pueblo in Colorado. Pueblo also has an aviation museum so it was inconceivable that I would go all that way and not check it out while I was there.
Most of the exhibits are outside in some pretty harsh sun so they are rather sun-bleached. There is an interesting mix of old types on display while a few are indoors and look in better condition. Helicopters and vintage fighters are always going to be good for me so hopefully there is something in here you like.
Our journey home from Tofino involved a ferry crossing from Nanaimo. We left plenty of time to get across the island as a result of some construction activity and, of course, we made it across easily. We were to early to check in for the ferry so waited in Nanaimo for a while. As we sat in the car, I saw an S-76 from HeliJet coming in to land. I had forgotten that HeliJet flew to Nanaimo as well as Victoria. Missing the arrival was annoying as they aren’t too frequent and there wouldn’t be another until after we had gone to the ferry.
However, departure on the return leg was not for a while so we headed around to the heliport. I assume it is a recent construction because it is a very modern looking building. The S-76 was parked on the pad right by the parking lot and with only a low fence unlike Victoria. It was a bit rainy so I stayed in the car until they loaded up. After start up and letting everything stabilize, they pulled up and headed out over the water en route to Vancouver. This might be a good spot on a sunny day!
The Lynx was a favorite helicopter of mine in my teens. It was in service with both the Royal Navy and the British Army in substantial numbers. We used to see them a lot as they often flew past our home on the seafront in Cowes moving between the Navy bases at Portland and Portsmouth. The Lynx has gone from UK service, replaced by the Wildcat. I hadn’t seen any Wildcats before RIAT so was glad to see them from both the Army and the Navy (not that they look that different unliked their predecessors). Old style Lynxes were still represented though. The German Navy had an example visiting. They are not going to be around for much longer, though. They will be replaced early in the 2020s.
The British Army display of the WAH-64D Apache is one I have seen plenty of pictures of but I haven’t had much of a chance to shoot it myself. The majority of the display is pretty standard stuff with them maneuvering tightly in front of the crowd, much like the US army’s display of the similar type. They do use a little bit of pyro during the display but the finale is a wall of fire. I was a bit concerned about my position compared to theirs as they positioned for the big moment as the background looked like it might not be all fire. However, things turned out well enough and I got the sort of shot I was hoping for.
The Helinet S-76s are something I am always looking out for. I have seen them many times although the shots have sometimes left me wanting something better. While I was last in Stanley Park, I got to see a lot of their movements. The best bit was that, on some occasions, they flew pretty close overhead me. I was able to get some shots I was pretty happy with.
I could watch them descend to the heliport on the other side of the harbor but that was a long way off. The climb outs sometimes came close but the arrivals were the best. I was quite surprised by the gear lowering sequence with the mains seeming to pop out like they were on springs. No slow and steady deployment for these guys.
While walking along the waterfront at East Cowes, I heard the noise of an approaching helicopter. As it got closer, it turned out to be a Coastguard AW189. I hoped it would come closer and it obliged by flying almost directly over us. What I didn’t know was that another of the fleet would be at RIAT when I was there a few days later so I was going to get a closer look than this. Stay tuned for that!
When I got to Olympia for the Olympic Air Show, one of the first things I saw on the ramp was a very serious looking Black Hawk. It was equipped with everything you could think off. The ESSS system was mounted, there was a FLIR turret and a variety of weapons. I was rather curious what unit owned it. It turns out it is a civilian owned machine. Northwest Helicopters is the operator and it is used for filming work. That explains it looking so tooled up. A civil registration is discretely on the tail and it says the machine is actually an EH-60. I’ll have to watch out for it in any movies that are coming up.
Igor Sikorsky is well known as a developer of helicopters even though his early work was based on fixed wing types. The airframe he developed to demonstrate practical rotary flight was the VS-300. This helicopter went through a number of design changes over its life including upgrades to the cyclic system to make it more controllable. When testing with it concluded, it was donated to the Henry Ford museum in Michigan and that is here I saw it. It is a historic landmark and hugely significant. However, it is stacked up in a display behind other artifacts, so it is actually pretty tricky to photograph. I tried making a pano of it to avoid the things in front with some success.
Helicopters are constantly moving around McCarran. There are tourist rides operating seemingly around the clock so hearing a couple of helps is not a surprise. However, these two were close to each other and seemed to have a more powerful sound. It turned out that they were two USMC AH-1Z Vipers coming in to an FBO. Paul was able to try and get some shots as they landed but I had to move the car. I settled for watching them for a bit and then got the camera as they were shutting down. It was unbelievably dark given how much ambient light there is in Vegas so I was pushing the camera’s capabilities a bit. The closer one shut down first which was unfortunate but let’s not get picky. They were still there the following morning when we were shooting departures as I could see them in the background of some shots.
I think the Coast Guard was messing with me while I was in Victoria. They operate a Bell 429 from their pad in the harbor and we saw it flying around on a regular basis. However, it always seemed to choose a route that took it just far enough away from me to avoid getting a decent shot. Plenty of longer range shots requiring a lot of cropping but nothing up close. The only time they came close, I didn’t have a long lens to hand. Very sneaky!