Glorious weather had greeted the B-17, Sentimental Journey, when it came to Seattle. The following week, it moved up to Arlington but was not so lucky. The skies were pretty overcast and the air was more humid. It didn’t make for great conditions to shoot a bare metal aircraft. However, many times before, I have written here about how poorer conditions can sometimes be worthwhile. This was one of those times.
I started off shooting from further up the field and, as the B-17 started her takeoff roll, it was clear that the props were pulling a fair bit of vapor from the air. Consequently, I headed further down the field for the next flight. This also provided a close look at the plane as it taxied out. The real benefit came when the power was applied. Vortices were streaming from the tips of the props and swirling back across the wings. It is always a tricky call when trying to shoot in these conditions. A good bit of prop blur is good as is a blurry background to emphasize speed but, this will result in the vortices being less defined. A faster shutter speed helps make them stand out. I tried to get a good balance with the speed I chose.
There are a few operators of large warbirds that take their planes on tours around the country providing people with an opportunity to check out the planes or, if they are willing to splash some cash, take a flight in them. Sentimental Journey is a B-17 that undertakes such flights and it came to the Pacific Northwest during the summer. I was at Boeing Field for a week before moving on to Arlington (of which more another time).
Because it does much of its business at the weekends, it is relatively easy to find time to come and see it fly. It did also do some flying later in the day so I was able to see it a few times. It certainly helped that the weather was really nice. I got some shots of it as it came to Boeing Field and then made some trips around the Puget Sound area. Here are some of the shots from that time. I did spend a little more time trying out shots from different places and those will get another post soon.
Boeing Field is constantly operating from both runways at the same time. The light aircraft traffic on the short runway can co-exist with whatever is underway on the main, long runway. However, despite the clear ATC instructions, there are occasional when things don’t quite go to plan. We had a Cirrus and a Grand caravan on approach to the parallel runways. I am not certain who was at fault, but from my angle, it appeared that the Cirrus was drifting off towards the wrong runway. It corrected its path but not before the pilot of the Grand Caravan decided that things were not looking good and went around. It didn’t take them long to get back around the pattern and the second approach was incident free. I don’t know whether the controllers ended up talking to either crew or not.
A little floatplane activity is always fun to watch for me and, aside from Kenmore, there is also the base at Renton. Situated at the north end of the Renton runway is the Will Rogers-Wiley Post Memorial Seaplane Base. It can be a good place to see some floatplanes in action. I was chatting to a guy there and he told me that he thought some of the planes had gone to land on the main runway but he was mistaken. Just as I was getting ready to head back to the car, a Cessna came flying down the length of the runway without landing as it set up for a water touchdown.
It turned towards me a little as it descended across the end of the field. It was behind the fence and I couldn’t get a decent shot off but I was able to pick it up as it flew out over the water and touched down. It taxied back to the dock and disgorged its passengers. I must try and be better prepared for an arrival like that at some point in the future.
I watched this Maule pull out of the hangars on the west side of Boeing Field. It was given taxi instructions by the tower which involved a right turn to taxi south on Bravo. For some reason, they turned left and taxied north. It didn’t take long before a gentle reminder was provided and they did a quick 180 and taxied to the correct end of the runway for departure. As they climbed out, I could see their markings next to the cockpit. They had some mission marks that suggested they may have fought for the Rebel Alliance against the Empire. The Maule is a nice little plane but it is hardly the Millennium Falcon!
Erickson took their B-17, Ye Olde Pub, to the show at Klamath Falls. However, we first got to get a look at her when we stopped at Madras where she was out on the ramp being prepared for the trip south to the show. When she did make the transfer, we were ready for her arrival and then got a few chances to shoot her undertaking the display routine from a variety of locations both outside and inside the airfield.
She is a good looking B-17. I like the painted aircraft more than the bare metal versions (although there is not a huge amount in it). That makes her appeal to me a lot. (I do get a little annoyed by cutesy words with an added “e” but will let that go for now.)
Erickson has a B-17 as part of its collection. However, while Ye Olde Pub was sitting outside during my visit, there was a second B-17 on site. This is Thunderbird and it is undergoing some major airframe work. The fuselage was sitting on stands directly in front of you when you entered the hangar. The wings and empennage were in racks around it.
I don’t know what the schedule is for sorting out this aircraft but people seemed to be busy working on it so I assume it will be back in the air before too long. I did enjoy sneaking around trying to find good views of all of the parts that were stored awaiting their return to their rightful place on the airframe. Madras is quite a hike for me but it might be good to go back when they get the plane back in the air. It sounds like the sort of thing that Matt Booty might get down to photograph. Maybe I can be his assistant!
We were standing out to the east of the runway at Klamath Falls when the Erickson team was practicing their display ahead of the show at Sentry Eagle. I was looking in the wrong direction when someone called out that the Bearcat was diving in on us. I swung around and pulled the camera up at the last minute. Needless to say, I did not get the greatest shots of the plane but it was coming right at me so I will go with the best I could get. It was pretty cool having a Bearcat buzz right over my head!
Erickson currently flies a bunch of MD-87s are firefighting jets. However, these are a relatively recent addition to the service and they have replaced Douglas DC-7s. The DC-7s were still in service when I first made a visit to Madras in 2015 but they have now been retired. However, three of the airframes are stored on the ramp at Madras and we took a look around to see how they were fairing.
They looked in great condition. The dry atmosphere at Madras is good for storing aircraft. Some engines have been removed but the three jets are in the most recent paint finish and parked in a line. They make for an interesting subject. I have no idea how far from airworthy they are should anyone want to get any of them flying again (aside from the engines that have been removed) but they look like they have been taken care of. I would have loved to have seen one airborne but sadly, that time has passed.
The opening fly day at Skagit County included a bonus in the form of a visiting Yak 3. It arrived early in the day and then started up to be part of the flybys. On one of the passes, the gear did not look fully up and then, at some point while it was off to the east, the gear door came off the plane. Fortunately, it didn’t cause any serious issues and the pilot was able to land safely.
When he taxied in, it was easy to see that the door was missing on one of the legs. I wondered how long the plane would be down for but I understand it ferried home later in the day to allow them to sort out the repair. Plenty of planes have lost gear doors over the years. As long as they come away cleanly and don’t damage any systems as they depart, things will probably be okay.