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.
I almost didn’t make it to the Olympic Air Show in Olympia this year. I had been on the road and picked up a cold that had left me feeling pretty crummy. The drive down and back was not appealing if I was feeling bad but, when I woke up on the Saturday, I didn’t feel too rough. I wasn’t going to get up and out early to make it inside for the show but there was the chance of meeting up with the guys to shot in the afternoon and that is what I did. No need to walk much and the drive wasn’t too energetic so I could go with it.
The main reason for going was the Huskie. Last year I got my first experience of it flying but the light had been pretty flat and overcast. This year the forecast was for sun so I didn’t want to miss the chance to shoot it in good conditions. I’m glad I went. The display was a nice routine but restrained as you would imagine for something that only flies one weekend a year. It came close to us on a few occasions so I was able to get some shots. If they flew a little later in the day, that would be good but I got what I went for. It may not have been the greatest idea, though, because I felt decidedly crap on the Sunday. I guess the cold had not run its course after all.
The Cobra is still a big part of Marine Corps aviation with the Zulu model the current favorite as it replaces the previous Whiskey models. However, the Cobra started out life as an Army attack helicopter. While they are long retired from Army service, old examples still are airworthy and one of them was performing at the Olympia air show. I was rather pleased to see it when it initially arrived and then it performed a flying display alongside a Huey.
A lightly loaded Cobra is still an agile beast and this one was being thrown around with some zeal. Unfortunately, the sky was rather overcast so the shape was a bit disguised by the shadows but it was still great to see the narrow fuselage combined with the broad chord rotor as it thrashed its way around the display. What a cool looking machine.
This one is about as rare as something gets. If you are the only airworthy example, the only thing that is going to beat you is the only example at all. The Kaman Huskie is a neat little helicopter. It features the Kaman intermeshing rotor design which removes the requirement for a tail rotor and results in a pretty compact configuration. These used to be in widespread service with the US forces. Now they are scrapped or in museums.
This one lives in Olympia and it comes out to fly at their annual air show. Apparently, there are only about 14 hours left on the rotor blades and there are no more blades so the flying is rationed carefully to get a few more years out of her. Kaman’s rotor blade design includes control surfaces on the blade so these are not a simple item.
Seeing her towed out was a lot of fun and I was delighted when she taxied out and took off for the display. What a fascinating shape and something genuinely different. I was so pleased, even if the light was rather sketchy. A cloudy Huskie is better than no Huskie at all.
I was in Olympia WA recently for some meetings. The meetings were near the state capitol and with some time free at lunchtime, I wandered over to have a look around. The building is quite similar in form to a number of capitol buildings with a domed structure topping the main building. It was very nicely decorated with it being impressive without be too grandiose. I met one of the building guides as I came in and she kindly showed me around including letting me into one of the function rooms that is normally locked.
George Washington appears throughout the building in various places as you might expect for a state named after him. Neither chamber was sitting while I was there so I could go to the visitors galleries for both and walk around without restrictions. We even got to go into the Governor’s office to see the room in which he holds meetings with visitors. (We didn’t go into the office he occupies as I think he was in there at the time!) The grounds around the capitol were very nice too and it was a great day so not a bad way to spend a lunch break.