I got a few stills of the hovercraft but I also decided to film some video. For those that haven’t seen hovercraft in action, stills probably do not give a suitable impression of how they rise up above the surface yet still leave a wake. Quite a cool form of transportation and I do enjoy seeing them. Hope you enjoy the video.
Regular readers know I like the hovercraft. I didn’t make a specific visit to Ryde on our last trip to see them but I did get to see them on our two ferry crossings and we also stopped at Southsea where I got to see a couple of arrivals and departures. The new hovercraft have not had a trouble free introduction but I suspect they have had a few fixes embodied. The memory of introduction problems will probably last far longer than the actual problems but I don’t know for sure whether they are doing fine now or not. All I know is that the service was running while we were there.
I was rather pleased that one of the crossings ended up getting very close to the ferry as we headed in to Portsmouth. It provided a far more interesting angle on the hovercraft than I would normally get. Combine that with some shots from the beach at Southsea and I was happy with having got some shots of the new craft which I hadn’t really seen before. During the departure, I was conscious of the potential for spray sideways as they lifted off. What I hadn’t considered properly – pretty annoying given how I know to deal with jetwash when on a ramp – is that the departing craft got quite far offshore before you got blasted with their propwash. That was mixed with seawater – an ideal combination for electronic equipment! No permanent damage though.
It wasn’t long ago that I made a trip out to get some shots of the VH-3D helicopters that operate as presidential transports and are known as Marine One when the President is aboard. You can read about that here.
It turns out I was going to get a second chance. As I drove back up to DuPage airport after shooting Fifi on the approach, I noticed a selection of nice looking helicopters parked up between the hangars. A presidential movement was planned and the aircraft were operating from DuPage. With the TFR being published, we knew they would be heading out early in the afternoon.
Sure enough, in due course the helicopters came into view. There were the two VH-3Ds along with three CH-46s in support – two of which were in the glossy green finish and one in standard gray. They taxied out in line and lined up on the taxiway. Then they lifted in unison and departed towards the city. It was very cool to watch.
A while later I was off the field again shooting Fifi taking off when a couple of the CH-46s came back. I was pretty disappointed to miss their arrival but I got the shot I was there for. When I got back to the field, I was walking across the apron when I met one of the HMX-1 crew-members. I told him how disappointed I was to have missed their return. Not to worry. He told me two more would be back in about ten minutes. Sure enough, in they came. What a great break to get them when I had no idea that they would be there.
We all gathered outside the Air and Space Museum to get on the buses for the second part of the trip. A few people got on the opposite bus to the one that they had come on. This apparently was a problem from a security perspective since our next stop was to be the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar. It would transpire that some would be glad they got back on their original bus before too long.
Miramar is a short drive north of San Diego. Now it a Marine Corps base, Miramar has operated under the control of a number of services through its life. It is probably most famous and the center of US Navy fighter operations in the 1980s when Top Gun was filmed there. Fightertown USA now is home to some marine F/A-18 Hornets as well as a lot of V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft. These have now almost completely replaced the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter with the marines at Miramar.
We were to be hosted by one of thes tilt rotor squadrons. However, first we had to get there! As we headed up the freeway, the bus suddenly went rather quiet. We coasted to a halt, our driver/comic hopped out, disappeared around the back and before too long we were on our way again. This was not to last though. Very soon we repeated the process and this time we were sitting on the shoulder of the freeway.
One errant bolt apparently was killing the cooling fan and the engine, in full self preservation mode, was shutting down before any damage could be done. To add insult to injury, we were actually in sight of the base. While a rescue plan consisting of a mechanic to fix the bus and the other bus making a return trip to pick us up was put into effect, we got to stand on the side of the freeway and watch the Hornets bashing the pattern.
Eventually we were on our way and got to join the rest of the party in the Officers’ Club at Miramar. There was food left for us and fortunately nobody decided to try and do any Top Gun song routines in the club. With a little compression of the time at lunch, we were able to get back on schedule. Off we went to the squadron.
We were given access to the squadron hangar (at least most of us were until the security gate got over its concern about how many people were coming in and locked a bunch outside for a while). There were a couple of aircraft in the hangar we had access to shoot and the doors were open to the ramp although we couldn’t venture outside. Plenty of Ospreys were out on the ramp and there was some flying activity. A Super Stallion also came in and some Hornets and and Orion were also flying in the distance.
The sun was out and the vast expanse of concrete was throwing up a lot of heat haze. This frustrated any attempts to shot anything too far away but there was still plenty to look at. Unfortunately, as our time was running out, we gathered together for the group shot. Just at this point a bunch of aircraft returned. The security minders were most insistent that we stop shooting and head to the group photo which was a bit of a shame but never mind.
After the group shots it was back to the buses for the final part of the day’s fun. Another installment will be forthcoming soon…