Tag Archives: military

Almost Perfect MH-60 Timing

As we started our drive home from Oregon, we were to pass through Astoria.  There is an airfield at Astoria and it is home to a Coast Guard helicopter unit that flies the MH-60T Jayhawk.  I think this is one of the better-looking variants of the Black Hawk family both because of the paint job but also the configuration of external fuel tanks.  I hoped we might see one there, but we had a long drive home and I wasn’t going to subject Nancy to a long delay.

Imagine my frustration as we pulled off US101 towards the airport when an MH-60 flies over our heads towards the airport a mile away.  The light was great, and it looked good but I was driving and it was going to land long before we could get there.  Had I blown it?  Two minutes earlier and we would have been fine.  I pulled up and it was taxiing towards me.  I grabbed the camera and got a few shots as it headed to the Coast Guard ramp.  Check out the logo of Astoria in the shape of the Jayhawk.

However, it didn’t shut down.  I thought they might just be running after landing checks but Nancy asked why they hadn’t stopped everything so we waited for a while.  Sure enough, another crew walked across the ramp and climbed on board.  A few minutes later, they taxied back our way and then lifted.  The departure route has the bridge across the Columbia River in the background and, with great winter light, it looked great.  They turned down to the south and were gone.  I got back in the car and we were back on the road barely ten minutes after leaving 101.  I got my helicopter and Nancy didn’t have a long delay!

Marine Corps C-20G

Military movements don’t usually show up on things like FlightAware but they can make an appearance on FlightRadar24 or ADSB Exchange.  I hadn’t been checking either of them as I was getting ready to leave when one of the other people nearby let me know a C-20 was inbound.  It turned out to be a C-20G from the US Marine Corps.  I’m usually happy to shoot a Gulfstream but one in military markings is a bit more unusual and the Marine Corps even more so.  Glad to have had the tip not to go too soon.

My First Cyclone (In Horrid Conditions)

We made a trip to Victoria quite a few years ago when I happened to get a shot of a Canadian Forces Sea King as it flew by.  That was the only one I ever shot.  They have now been retired and replaced by the outstanding airframe (tongue firmly in cheek) that is the CH-148 Cyclone.  Based on the Sikorsky S-92, the Cyclone development program has been a bloody disaster.  Even as I write this, they are currently addressing cracks in the tail boom that have just shown up.

Just after we got off the ferry at Swartz Bay, we drove to the shoreline in Sidney.  I had only just parked the car and was heading to get something out of the trunk when I heard the sound of rotors.  It was raining heavily and the wind was blowing but I grabbed the camera from the trunk, set it up for rotors and looked up just as a Cyclone flew by a little way off and then turned downwind.  I think they have a squadron based in Victoria International Airport so I suspect it came from there.

The conditions for shooting were awful and the light was terrible so the shots are not too great.  However, sometimes you go with what is available.  I was hoping that they would be doing some pattern work and that we would get another pass but this was the one and only time that we saw them.  Now I have to hope that this isn’t a repeat of my Sea King experience and I never get another shot (although I’m not sure that it is a great helicopter to photograph anyway!).

Chinook Welcome Flyby

The presence of JBLM south of Tacoma means that there are plenty of military helicopters operating in the Seattle area.  I got lucky late in one day when a Chinook called up on approach.  They weren’t landing at the field but just flying through.  I got a good view of it as it came in to the field.  They then turned downwind to depart providing a background view as a local JetRanger came in to land.  I am not a big fan of the sand finish used on the Chinooks these days but they do pick up the light.

Norwegian P-8 In The Air

Boeing is churning out P-8s at quite a rate these days.  Most go to the US Navy but a fair few are for export and the most recent export customer to have their jets delivered is Norway.  The Royal Norwegian Air Force has started taking their jets – the first of which I saw on the ramp at Renton.  I did recently catch one coming back from a test flight which was a bit more interesting.  The Saint symbol on the fin seems to be common to the jets I have seen so far.

Odd P-8 Fin at BFI

While waiting for an arriving 777X, I looked back across Boeing Field at the Boeing military ramp.  They had a bunch of P-8s on the ramp at that time but one seemed a bit odd.  First, it didn’t have the fin cap attached.  I am not sure what might be the reason for removing it.  Also, something about the paint on the fin was odd.  It looked like someone was in the process of repainting it.  Since it was on their ramp and the rest of the airframe was obscured, I couldn’t see which airframe it was or which customer it was destined for so no idea what the story might be.  Anyone with any suggestions?

Arlington Evening Flying Display

After my afternoon out up in Skagit for the fly day there, I migrated with the guys down to Arlington.  They were having an evening flying display that would include the Ryan I previously posted about.  An overcast evening did not make for great light for photographing the aircraft.  There were only a few displays to see so it wasn’t too much of an event but it was still nice to be out shooting planes again.  Rene Price put on a good display in his Sukhoi and the Yak-18 display was a great example of what the plane can do.  Interestingly, there was the occasional hint of sunlight from the horizon while it flew which would glint off the white airframe since it was high enough to see the light we weren’t getting.

Grumpy, the B-25, flew a bunch of passes having come across from Skagit.  I guess with not much else flying, they were allowed to fly as many passes as they wanted.  Other than that, it was a pretty low key affair.

Another Encounter with Sue

I was sitting at Boeing Field having had a relaxing time getting some shots on a sunny afternoon when I got a notification that the A-26, Sexy Sue, was up again from Renton.  It is just over 10 minutes to get over there so I figured I would have plenty of time to get across once my next arrival was in.  The trip across to Renton was not an issue and I was there in plenty of time for their return from the San Juans.

They took some really long winded route to the south of the field before doubling back on themselves, all specifically to avoid the best of the light at the field.  Things had clouded over a little by the time they arrived but I still was okay with the shots.  I then headed down to the parking area at the entrance to the airport to be in position for them to taxi in.  I got there just in time and they taxied in towards me and shut down.

I waited for them to put the plane away.  I am not sure why they spent such a long time thinking about it.  Part of me wondered whether they were waiting for me to get lost but finally they started to move her back in to the hangar.  Having a look at some of the shots afterwards, I saw the BOAC Speedbird logo on one side of the fuselage along with a lot of names of individuals.  If you know the story behind this, please let me know.

A Pair of P-8s Testing Together

P-8 production is really moving along at the moment.  Aside from the US Navy aircraft, there are planes destined for the Royal Air Force, the Indian Navy and the Royal Norwegian Air Force in production and on test.  One afternoon I got both an Indian and an RAF jet arriving in close succession.  The nice thing about arrivals from the south when they are military jets is that they then taxi back past you as they head to the military ramp.

Heritage Flight Museum Fly Day

Thanks to my friends, Bob and David, I became aware one Saturday morning that a fly day was underway that day up in Skagit County.  The Heritage Flight Museum was going to have a few planes flying so I made a quick change of plans and headed up there.  The conditions were a bit overcast so not ideal but it was still worth a look.  There were a few of the regulars up there too so it was a chance to see some people I hadn’t seen for a while.

Of the various warbirds that they had flying that day, the A-1 Skyraider was the one that was of most interest for me.  It was the only one I hadn’t seen at previous events so I was keen to get a chance to photograph it.  On takeoff, it seemed to be trailing a fair bit of smoke.  Since it was recently off overhaul, this concerned me a bit but it seemed to clean up as they flew for a while so everything seemed to be fine.

There were straight passes across the field from various formations followed by some arcing turns over the museum ramp individually.  I backed up the road a bit to try and get a bit more of an angle on the planes as they ran across.  It would certainly have been nicer to have a bit more light on them but it was still good fun to be shooting something different.  I’m very grateful to the guys for giving me the heads up.