Tag Archives: military

A400M Atlas Demo from RIAT 2019

I was working through some shots from my last trip to RIAT in 2019.  Amazingly enough, I hadn’t finished editing some of the shots from that visit and I wanted to get rid of a lot of surplus shots to help the old hard drive space issues!  As I was working through them, I got to some shots of the A400M displays I saw over the course of the weekend.  I think the A400M is a cracking looking jet.  Whether it is doing what everyone wanted of it, I have no idea.  I just know it looks great and is capable of some really impressive demos.

For some reason, I had been feeling very brave during RIAT when it came to shooting some of the props.  I had gone with quite low shutter speeds with long lenses and the results were not necessarily all I would have wanted.  There were always going to be blurry shots to get culled, but the number of sharp ones was a little lower than I would have liked.  However, all was not a total loss, and I did get a bunch of shots that I was happy with.

Here is a selection of shots from across the show including the official displays by the Airbus test crew and some of the operator aircraft too.  The weather for RIAT 2019 was not that great.  We did get some nice light occasionally but one of the days was very wet (and I was feeling crappy too) and the others were overcast a lot of the time.  Not the most exciting light for a grey painted plane but they had the potential for prop vortices.  Will I have big prints of these on the wall?  No, I don’t think so.  However, it was okay and there will be other times, I hope.

Not Many P-3s Left So This Was a Treat

When my friend Paul first told me he was going to be in Seattle over the holidays, I thought we wouldn’t be able to get together.  However, circumstances changed, and it turned out we could go out and check out the local aviation scene.  We had been getting some stuff locally but a check on ADSB showed a P-3 and an EP-3 out at Whidbey Island and we debated whether to make the run north.  In the end, we went for it.  The EP-3 had been out a while already and it did return before we got there but we were not going to come up short.  A P-3 made its return with some lovely December sun on it.  It flew a bunch of patterns which meant the chance to try different spots to get some images, so we were rather pleased with the outcome.

FHCAM’s 262

My most recent visit to FHCAM was also my first encounter with their Messerschmidt Me-262.  I knew they had one, but it was never on display when I went previously.  Fortunately, it is now part of the main museum exhibits.  I think the 262 is a very interesting looking design.  Early jets were not always the most elegant shapes but the 262 had a really interesting, blended look to the fuselage and wings.  I was hoping I could find a way to get something that reflected that in my shots.  What I really wanted to do was use the monopod to get some higher angle shots but the museum has strict rules about such stuff so I had to make do with whatever my arms could manage.

The jet is a pretty small airframe.  That generation of planes was not particularly large with a few more specialized exceptions so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.  Compared to modern jets, it is tiny.  First generation jet engines were not efficient beasts so it would have worked its way through its fuel load quite rapidly, I imagine.  That assumed that both motors kept running for the whole flight.  I still haven’t seen one of the restored/replica 262s fly, sadly.  I wonder if I shall do that at some point.

RCAF Hornet Tests High ISO Performance

The later stages of the Abbotsford Air Show included a performance by the RCAF CF-188A Hornet.  By the time it was performing, the light was pretty much gone.  The late performance has some benefits in that the burners are more striking against a darker sky, but the RCAF display often ends with a landing with the hook lowered.  I had seen this before at Chino and the same problem as happened there occurred here.  The touchdown point was a long way away from the spectator line, so it was too far away to get a decent shot.

However, there was the rest of the display to go for.  My current cameras seem very able to handle low light conditions.  The focus might be a touch slower or less accurate as the light diminishes but I wasn’t noticing a significant problem.  Also, the high ISO capabilities of current generation cameras are really impressive so shooting in such conditions is not necessarily a problem.  The camera will be able to perform although that won’t compensate for a jet just not looking that good with so little light.  You still have to pick your shots.

The Hornet is a good display jet with the ability to point the nose in different directions rapidly and to pull a decent amount of vapor from the air.  It can turn and it can blast through, so it makes for a good show.  Original generation Hornets are starting to become a rarity.  It won’t be long before the Canadian jets have been replaced by F-35s.  Other operators have already transitioned and more will follow.  Catch the legacy Hornets while you can and, preferably, in interesting lighting conditions.

At Last, a Japanese Pegasus Airborne

Japan is one of the few countries to order the KC-46 Pegasus tankers for its Air Force.  Their initial four jets have been coming through the production line at Everett and I had seen the occasional one when it was on the ground being prepared.  However, I had never seen one fly.  I finally broke that duck a while back.  I was at Everett not only for the departure but the return of a Japanese jet.  I thought I was going to miss it taking off because it was lined up when I was getting close to the airfield.

Fortunately, it was doing a high-speed taxi first and then backtracked for the real departure by which time I had arrived.  The return was a lot more relaxed from my point of view and I was pleased to finally get one airborne.  I doubt I shall have many opportunities to see them once they are delivered.

A Little RIAT Reds Editing

Why, when my last visit to RIAT was in 2019, am I still working my way through some shots from that show?  There are many potential reasons but none of them reflect too well on me so we shall move past that topic and on to what I shot at that show.  Specifically, let’s look at the Red Arrows.  When we used to live in the UK, we would see the Reds on a regular basis and would sometimes get a bit blasé about them.  When you live elsewhere, they become a bit more fun to see.

Consequently, I did make the effort to get a few good shots of their displays.  It would have been nice to have some slightly better light to shoot them in, but that show was not the best for weather.  Take off is always nice since you are close to the formations, and they are potentially tightly grouped in the frame.  There are always the crossing shots to go for and then the bigger formation breaks will be a target.  All of these were part of my efforts that year.  When I was young, the rollbacks were a favorite of mine.  They do a variation on this now, but I am not quite so keen.  It is a tough one to shoot anyway since you really want to be on the display axis to get the best effect.  Even so, I was still pretty happy with what I got overall.

The Marines Show Up

I could easily have missed this, but my friend messaged me that a Herc was coming in.  I was working on some other stuff and would have been unaware until too late.  It was not where I was, and I wasn’t moving but the roll out and taxiing back was in lovely light so I wasn’t missing out.  They taxied to the terminal and kept the engines running so I wondered if they were going straight back out but it wasn’t to be.  They then taxied to a parking spot and shut down.  Maybe they were clearing customs?  Apparently they stayed for the night but were gone when I came by the following day.

I Should Just Enjoy the Old Pods

I have seen some pictures recently of Growlers bouncing at Coupeville with the latest jamming pods on the underwing pylons.  I was hoping that the jets I saw from the Rooks might be carrying the new pods.  Instead, they were using the older pods.  At first, I was disappointed by this but then I realized that this was the wrong way to look at things.  The new pods will be around for a long time and the chances are I will see them a lot in the future.  Making sure I have some shots of the older pods on jets as the bounce is something to make the most of before they are gone.  We only miss stuff when it is going away so time to think ahead.

A Twin Tub A-12 Sitting by the Parking Lot

Google Maps can really be your friend.  I was hoping to find the time to get to see the space shuttle stack in Expo Park while I was back in LA if possible.  I went on Google Maps to see how to get there and the layout of the area and I saw a tag for an A-12.  Sure enough, the twin seat Lockheed A-12 is mounted on display right next to the parking lot.  It is tucked in between the lot and a pathway over a dip in the grounds.  It is rather tight to the parking lot which made getting shots a touch tricky but the early morning light when I was there was the best angle for it.  I was pleased to add an unusual airframe to the briefest of visits!

The KF Centre of Excellence

Usually, when I go somewhere new, I have done some research on what aviation related things might be in the area should there happen to be any spare time to squeeze something in.  I had actually been checking out the layout of the airport at Kelowna before our trip since I knew that Kelowna Flightcraft had their operations and there was an Alaska Airlines paint facility.  I figured it would be worth a drive by if time allowed.

As it turned out, our planned hike got scrubbed because the snow made access to the trail, we intended to try impossible for our not off-road optimized car.  We were looking for something else to do and I asked Nancy is a quick drive by at the airport would be possible.  With nothing else in mind, so generously acquiesced.  We drove up the west side of the airport and passed a pair of Convairs up a side road with a sign saying Open to the Public.

I had no idea what this could be but, when we came back, we drove up to take a look.  Much to my surprise (and Nancy’s bemusement that I didn’t already know), we were at the KF Centre of Excellence.  This is a new museum that the owner(?) of Kelowna Flightcraft has established.  The building itself is a lovely structure.  It is loosely designed to resemble the layout of a plane with a central fuselage element and two wings which are hangars.  The external styling is very nice, and the interior is tastefully finished with lots of wood.  We paid to have a look around with the front desk being a converted nacelle.  (Much of the furnishing is aviation components that have been repurposed.  An office desk from a tailplane, nacelles that have been modified and the café seating is all old business class seats.

The center section of the museum has a lot of exhibits about flying including engines, fuselage components and even an old simulator.  It is quite informative and educational.  We enjoyed looking around.  Then it was to the hangars.  One has a Second World War vintage to it.  The largest item was a DC-3 but it was probably the least exciting.  Alongside it was a Mosquito that had only recently been flown in.  Beside that is a Hawker Tempest which is in an advanced state of restoration to flightworthy condition.  It may well be the only Tempest I have seen.  I’m not sure if I have ever seen one before.

Across to the other side and things are still quite empty.  Clearly there are plans to add more aircraft in due course.  A Staggerwing and a few floatplanes are in place but the two-seat F-104 Starfighter is definitely the most exotic.  It was airworthy until relatively recently.  Sadly, it is rather tight to the wall which made getting shots from different angles tricky.  Still cool to see it though.

I had no idea about the museum.  I had heard something about the Mosquito flying out of Vancouver to a new owner but hadn’t really pieced together what was going on so didn’t realize it was Kelowna.  The whole thing was quite a surprise.  Finding such a collection and in such a lovely building was a shock.  Oh yes, parked out front were two Convairs.  One was the old Honeywell testbed that I have shot prior to its retirement and the other is a retired water bomber.  How cool.  (As an aside, the Honeywell 757 testbed was just down the road undergoing some maintenance work.)