Tag Archives: piston

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.)

Lockheed 12 Heading East

Airport roads can sometimes throw up interesting surprises.  I was driving around Paine Field one weekend and came upon this fuselage sitting on a trailer.  I had a chat with the guys loading it up.  It is a Lockheed 12 and was heading to Minnesota for restoration to flight.  They suggested a lot of work was needed and it would be a while before it was flying again.  However, I was just taken to see it sitting beside the road as I happened to pass by.

STOL Adventures

Quite a few of the planes that went to Concrete for the fly in were great STOL aircraft.  Light airframes with plenty of power and high lift wings make for a really short take-off.  Pilots of STOL planes are usually quite keen to show off the performance of their steeds so we knew we would get some aggressive takeoffs.

Consequently, I did try to position myself in the right spot along the runway when the STOL planes were taking off.  Getting a frontal view of the plane as they pull up rapidly and climb out steeply was the goal.  They usually obliged.  I haven’t been to any of the STOL competitions or the recent version that involves getting airborne and back on the ground, but I would like to see that at some point.  There is one in Alaska I would love to try at some point!

Murphy Moose On Floats At Olympia

I’ve posted shots of Murphy Mooses (or however that should be as a plural) in other posts including one with a turbine engine.  This one showed up at Olympia during one of the Olympic Air Shows.  It’s an average looking plane but stick it on floats and it immediately looks more interesting.  It landed and taxied in and then didn’t move again while I was there but at least I got some shots of it.

Helio Courier

There are a few planes that showed up at the Concrete Fly In that I particularly liked and one of those was a Helio Courier.  This is a beast of a plane but one that has some impressive field performance.  The example that showed up was completely unpainted which made it look even better (plus shaved some pounds off to improve that performance even more).  However, I was a little troubled by some of the flying.  The pilot took it up for a flight while we were there, and they climbed up above the field.  From the ground it is always hard to judge accurately what is happening so I will caveat all of this by saying it is how it appeared to me.

I don’t know what the winds were like aloft, but they seemed to be doing some slow flight above the field.  There also seemed to be a bit of wing rocking going on as they maneuvered, and I did wonder just how close to the stall they were flying.  Things might have been perfectly safe, but it did look odd from the ground.  Then there was the landing.  I don’t know whether they intended to land on the grass beside the runway but, as far as I am aware, that is not a designated operating area.  I think it is used for taxiing.  Anyway, they landed off the side of the runway and ran out on this area of grass.  Was that intentional?  Sort of didn’t look like it but I can’t say for certain.  Was it a good idea?  Probably not.

Let’s put all of that aside for now.  The aircraft is a fine machine, it carries a decent payload, it can get in and out of short strips and it is not so common so all of that adds up to a cool aircraft to see up close – thankfully not too close!

Finally, The Aero 45 Is Airborne for Me

I have seen the Aero Vodochody designed and Let Kunovice built Aero 45 before at events.  However, it was always parked and never in motion.  I think it is such a cool looking like aircraft and reminds me of a mini Heinkel HE-111.  I really wanted to see it flying and I have had two opportunities this year to do so.  First it showed up at Concrete for the fly in.  This was great news as I got it landing from close proximity and then again when it took off.

It was not a lot later that the Arlington show was setting up.  I wasn’t going to be at the show but I was there the day before for some warbird flying and the Aero 45 was coming in to be on static.  (This was a repeat of the first time I saw it in person which was also at Arlington.). Not so close this time but another opportunity to catch it in flight.  What a cool looking plane.  Glad we have it up here in the PNW.

Concrete Fly In

The time between me doing something and its appearance on the blog can vary wildly.  Sometimes, I will aim to get something squeezed in here soon after it happens but that is the exception.  Usually, I have stuff posted out quite far in advance.  As I come up with new topics, they get added to the schedule and, if a topic doesn’t get written about promptly, it can really disappear into the distance.  Such is the case with the Concrete fly in of 2023.

There will be several posts that make it on here from that event in the coming weeks.  I have started writing them up but some of the specific topics will take a while to appear.  However, I shall start things off with a more general post about the fly in.  Held at Mears Field in the interestingly names town of Concrete, it is a popular gathering of planes from around the region.  There is a single runway running east/west in the valley and the planes park up on either side of it.  You are able to walk across the runway at a couple of locations (or further away from them if you want to avoid the air cadets) so just keep you head on a swivel.  The wind seems to change midway through the day, so arrivals were from the west in the morning and the east in the afternoon.

We set up at a spot near the threshold on the eastern end of the field and it provides a good location to watch the landings and the takeoff rolls.  Sometimes, it is easy to forget that you can walk around, and you find you have stayed in one place for ages getting similar shots.  I did try and mix it up from time to time but it was rather sunny and warm and the shade under the wing of a 170 was pretty appealing.

Since I was shooting a lot of light aircraft, I decided to try and make the shots more interesting by keeping the shutter speed low to emphasize speed.  The downside the this is that you are very close to the runway so the parallax effect is quite pronounced.  You can also just miss a ton of shots but why not have some fun.  Few of them are ones you can’t afford to miss.  It does mean a sharp nose is probably combined with a blurry fin.  This will really annoy some viewers and others will never notice.  Since I am shooting for me, I’m the only one that has to care!

More to come of some specific planes and events from the day out with a regular crew of aviation loons.

Gliding at Arlington

Arlington Municipal Airport has a steady stream of light aircraft activity, but it is also home to a gliding community.  At weekends, it is not unusual to see some Piper Pawnees tugging gliders into the air.  Depending on the suitability of the conditions, these might be some pretty short flights, or they might be up for quite a while.  I have been up there at various times when the gliders are operating off the grass next to the main runway.  Usually, I am there for something else, so the gliding photos are taken when the opportunity arises.  Here are some shots of the Pawnee tug planes and the gliders themselves.

Log Boom with Mark

My buddy, Mark, was heading through the region on his way south but he had a little time to kill.  We agreed to meet up late in the afternoon to see what the traffic was like at Kenmore.  He comes from Vancouver, so floatplanes are not a novelty for him, but a different operator is some variety I guess.  I am always happy to watch floatplanes.  I got there a little before him and got a couple of extra movements but there was still enough happening once he showed up.  Log Boom Park provides a good spot to watch the planes from, but the summer can be trickier as it becomes a popular spot for the local kids to hang out and swim.  Fortunately, the day was cooler, so we weren’t surrounded by kids.

Most of the planes approached from down the lake and came straight in but there was one Cessna that decided the southerly wind necessitated the approach over Kenmore.  I would like more of those to be honest as they provide some interesting angles, but it was just the one this time.

CAF Reliant Getting Time In

Word reached me from my friend, Bob, that the CAF squadron at Arlington was planning to get some training done with their Reliant one Saturday.  I thought this would be worth a trip as I had previously left one of their events thinking that they weren’t going to fly and they did.  When everyone else got good shots of this plane, I was a touch annoyed.  Time to rectify this.

They were putting a few pilots through sorties to get time in the plane.  In the early part of the day, the weather was a little overcast so not great for shots but okay.  Of course, as the day drifted on and the sun moved around to the other side, things brightened up.  Just in time to be backlit.  At this point, I decided to call it a day and head home.  I did also have some good time near the plane while it was being refueled so I am quite happy with the results, even if they are nothing special.