Tag Archives: Osprey

CV-22 Display

I have seen plenty of MV-22B Ospreys in service with the Marine Corps but I haven’t see too many CV-22s with the Air Force.  One of the early ones was at Hurlburt Field when I visited years ago but we weren’t allowed to photograph it.  RIAT provided my first opportunity to shoot one in action.  I got some shots of it on arrival day but I was not pleased with the results for a lot of them.  I don’t know whether the focus was off or it was my struggles with the low shutter speed but I didn’t do too well.

They did display during the flying program, though, so I had a lot more chances to get some shots.  The extra lumps and bumps make this distinctive from the USMC version but it is still a hard thing to photograph if you want to get significant blur on those giant, slow turning props.  The different shade of gray they go with seems slightly more interesting than the Marine’s scheme too.

Ospreys Galore

A trip to Log Boom Park in Kenmore is usually because I am after floatplanes.  However, it is a great source of wildlife and some of the ospreys in the vicinity were keen to be photographed.  You get plenty of ospreys and eagles in the area but they are usually fishing a bit further out into Lake Washington and not so close to the shore.  However, a few of them were circling right overhead and even looking at some fishing opportunities in around the jetty.  It would be rude to not try and get some shots of them!

Ospreys on the Hunt

Sitting out by Lake Washington watching the boat and floatplane traffic also provided a view of the local residents fishing.  These residents aren’t the humans on the pier with fishing poles.  These are the ospreys.  There are lots of ospreys that are around the north end of the lake at this time of year.  They are circling overhead looking for targets and then swooping down to catch them.

It is not usual to get them making their catch close in but sometimes you can see them diving in the grab a fish.  However, when they catch something, they do head back passed the shore as they make their way to their nests.  A fish tucked under their body and held in a forward alignment to make it easier to fly with is not a rare sight.  You also can get them circling overhead as they look for some food but I guess nothing too tasty was near me.

Osprey Checks Us Out

AE7I1339.jpgOne fun aspect of shooting by San Francisco Bay is that you get a lot of wildlife while you are killing time.  Roger and I were sitting by the shore waiting for a few movements when a bird started flying in our direction.  We both paid attention when we realized that it was not a gull as is normally the case.  Instead, it was an osprey.  They are not a rarity but they are still noteworthy.  It certainly wasn’t bothered by us as it flew right over us as it headed along the shoreline.  Looking up you could stare straight into its eyes as it surveyed the scene looking for its next snack.  Sadly, nothing was nearby for it to dive onto and it flew off.  Even so, a brief moment like this with such a cool bird made me happy for a long time afterwards.  Actually, I am still happy when I think about it.

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Ospreys on the Docks

AU0E1643.jpgI might have been visiting Mare Island to see the museum and surrounding area but I also got to fit in some wildlife viewing while I was there.  I had stepped out of the back of the museum towards one of the dry docks.  One of the guys working in a business nearby starting chatting and saying how he wished he had a long lens with him to photograph the ospreys.  I could hear a lot of noise but he pointed out the source.  All of the high structures around the docks be they cranes or gantries seemed to have a nest on them.  Ospreys were all over the place.  They had access to the fishing in the water a short distance away so the metalwork was providing a great vantage point with plenty of privacy.

AU0E1670.jpgThe noise from the nest close to me was pretty loud.  A chick was obviously awaiting some food.  At first I thought the parents were going to come right in but then I realized that there were so many nests that the birds I could see flying were not necessarily anything to do with this chick.  I don’t know whether it had worked that out, though, given the noise it was making when any bird came close.  I have no idea how much the nest impact the operation of the machinery and whether there are any restrictions on what can be done when they are in place but they are clearly all over the place.

V-22s But No Air Force One

wpid13566-AU0E8853.jpgThe President was visiting the Bay Area for a couple of days recently. This meant the arrival of Air Force One, the VH-3D helicopters, the C-17s to transport them and the V-22s that support the VH-3Ds. What more could an aviation guy want? I took a look at the temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) listed online to see when the airspace was going to be shut down. When the president flies, the airspace around him is shut down for security purposes. These closures are published (otherwise, how would the other pilots know not to fly) so it means we know when to expect things to happen.

Sadly, the arrival was on a day I was at work and was timed to come in to SFO around sunset so, even if I could be there, there was a chance that the light would have gone. (As it was, the arrival was just before the light went completely and a friend of mine did get some good shots.) The departure, on the other hand, was scheduled for Saturday morning. That I could manage. I figured that getting there early would be wise since I would not be the only one trying this so getting somewhere to park might be tricky. Plus, if they went early in the slot, I wanted to be ready.

wpid13562-AU0E8673.jpgI checked the TFR the night before and got up early the next morning. I had some breakfast and headed out. I arrived in plenty of time but did need to park quite a distance away. I got to the bayshore trail and found a few other guys with cameras. However, word quickly reached me that he had gone. I bumped into a friend of mine and he told me that he had checked the TFR earlier that morning and saw that it had been brought forward. He rushed out and got there just in time. I arrived about 20 minutes after they took off. Curiously, as I had been driving across the San Mateo bridge, I had seen a large jet airborne near the airport and wondered. Now I knew.

There was a silver lining to this disappointment. With Air Force One safely on its way, the V-22s were free to head out. The three of them took off in close succession and turned in our direction to head off down the peninsula. They didn’t come terribly close but I did get my first shots of them since they replaced the CH-46s that used to provide support. (Many moons ago I did see the CH-53Es that used to be undertake this role. They looked fantastic!)

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Marine Week

wpid10983-AU0E6829.jpgEn route from a day with a client to the airport I had a spare hour to pay a visit to Boeing Field in Seattle. I figured that my time window would mean there was nothing much to see and I didn’t have anything longer than the 24-105 with me anyway. However, when I got there I could see an interesting collection of USMC machines on the opposite side of the field and the Blue Angels were parked up near the Museum of Flight.

wpid10985-AU0E6834.jpgI took a ride around to where the Marine helicopters and V-22 were parked and got chatting to one of the crews. He explained it was the start of Marine Week and offered a chance to walk around the ramp with one of the crew. I was not going to refuse that. Mario kindly showed me around and let me shoot anything external. They had three UH-1Y Venoms and three AH-1Z Cobras along with a single V-22. One fof the Cobras was marked up in special squadron colors. I took a walk around all of them and grabbed a few shots while chatting with Mario about what it was like to support these machines. He had worked on the UH-1N before converting to the Venom so he had some interesting perspectives on the relative reliability of the two.

wpid10989-AU0E6839.jpgThese machines were going to be progressively moved across to the other side of the field as part of the public displays for Marine Week and the first of the Cobras actually was towed while I was there so my timing was excellent. However I did have to go and then my timing let me down as, while I was driving away, I saw an AV-8B Harrier II coming down the approach. Oh well. I still did better than I had expected.

ISAP Field Trip – Part 2

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…