Skyfair proved to be a fun day out at Paine Field. A variety of types flew and they put on some nice passes that made getting shots a lot easier than is sometimes the case. The biggest problem was the heat haze which was really tough and affected all but the closest shots. One great combination that was put up was the Mossie with the Spitfire. After an event last year where I was disappointed trying to get shots of the Mossie alone, I was hoping it wouldn’t be in formation. However, when I saw this pairing fly by, I couldn’t help but be pleased with the way things turned out.
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.
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.