Tag Archives: planes of fame

Chino Backlot

The Planes of Fame museum at Chino is a fantastic place to visit for any aviation enthusiast.  Many hangars are open and they are filled with all sorts of interesting aircraft, restored either to static or flying condition.  However, they are not all that is there.  There is a backlot in which other aircraft are stored awaiting either their own restoration or for them to provide parts for the restoration of something else.  Some great looking vintage aircraft here including jets that it would be so good to see back in the air.  I decided to dedicate this post to some shots of these less glamorous residents.

P-26 Peashooter

AU0E4966.jpgOne of my favorites when visiting Chino for the Planes of Fame Airshow is the Boeing P-26 Peashooter. A pre-WWII aircraft, this is the end of a generation of aircraft. Once the war started, aircraft really advanced quickly. For those that had been involved in conflict before the US actually entered the war, the aircraft had already moved on. The P-26 is a bit of a stranger in a time warp. However, the shape and technology combined with the colors make it a curious aircraft for me. Seeing it fly during the twilight show at Chino was cool and the evening light was a lot more impressive than seeing it during the day.


Mean and Moody Sky

AU0E6095-HDR.jpgIt’s always a nice combination when you can get some light on the foreground subject of the photo and have a really dark and menacing cloud structure in the background.  The brightness of the foreground exposure is much higher than the background so it makes the clouds look even more dramatic when exposing for the subject.  Having a play with post processing will also help to make things look more dramatic.  This Wildcat was parked on the flightline at Chino for Planes of Fame just as the lighting worked to my advantage.  I may not have been happy about the weather conditions but this was one of the upsides to a cloudy sky.

Raptor Vortices

C59F1455.jpgA bit more from the Raptor display today. As the jet flew away from the crowd, it pulled in to the vertical. From a view directly astern, we got a brief view of the vortices forming over the forebody. The jet was quite a way off so these shots are cropped quite a bit. I love the way the vortex sits away from the body. Chino was a pretty dry environment so not a lot of vapor to pull from the air but it still showed up nicely.


Canadian Hornet Cockpit Displays

AU0E0371.jpgPreviously I may have mentioned my recent efforts to go through images I took a long time ago. The evening show at Chino had a number of performers and one of them was the Canadian Hornet demo. When I go through my images, part of my process is to render all of them at 100% and then view the full size image on one screen and the zoomed in version on the other. This allows me to see whether the shot is sharp and also whether there is anything glaringly wrong with it like bits cut off or someone’s head in the way.

AU0E0375.jpgI was going through the shots of the Hornet which flew after the sun had gone below the horizon, I noticed that, as it flew over the top of a loop, I had a view into the cockpit. Normally, this would be dark as the brightness of the day overpowered the shade of the cockpit. However, since it was pretty dark, the glow of the multifunction displays on the panel is clearly visible. We aren’t going to be able to see the details of the displays themselves but they are very conspicuous which is not the norm.

Interesting Raptor Control Inputs

C59F1416.jpgIt might be a long time ago that I did anything closely related to the engineering of fighters but there is still a part of me that is a stability and control type of guy. Watching the control inputs and responses of planes is cool as far as I am concerned. With the advent of fly by wire designs, there was considerable scope to play around with the use of the control surfaces to achieve different aims. With no direct linkages to the stick, the pilot can be totally unaware of the choices the system is making for control combinations.

C59F1422.jpgThe engineers may have chosen to program the trailing edges to have different deflections inboard and outboard to offload the outer portion of the wing for example. The F-22 makes use of a variety of interesting control inputs. For example, it doesn’t have a traditional speed brake. I assume this was removed for stealth reasons. Instead, the control surfaces move counter to each other. You may have inboard flaps going down and outboard flaps going up. The moments cancel out but all increase drag incrementally so the effect is like having a speed brake deployed.

Since the aircraft is also unstable, you may have tail deflections that seem at odds with the maneuver being flown. During the Chino show, the usual routine was flown (usual for an F-22 but not many other jets) and, as I look through a bunch of the shots, I see some quite unusual control inputs. If you are in to such things, these may appeal to you. Gary, are you reading this?

Some Gratuitous Raptor Shots

C59F8213.jpgUnfortunately, I have a rather large backlog of images that I haven’t done much with.  This is sometimes the result of having a number of events in a short space of time and other times it is the result of laziness!  Last year I covered the Planes of Fame show at Chino for GAR.  I got a lot of shots while I was there and I needed a selection to illustrate the piece so I dived in, found some good examples, worked on those and put them into the feature.

AU0E9493.jpgUnfortunately, I never got around to undertaking a proper run through of the shoot.  I only realized this recently so I have started to go through the images when the time allows.  One part of the show I really liked was the twilight show on the Friday.  This included a display by the USAF F-22.  In the last light of the day, the airframe looked really great.

AU0E9464.jpgRunning through the shots I found a few of the jet that I really liked.  (I found more than will work for this post and some that I like for various reasons but won’t really gel with most people.)  As a result, here are a sample of the shots I have been finding.  Now I am starting to think about air shows this year for the first time.  I might have to go to this one again!

Hornet After Dark

The Canadian Hornet that was at Chino was the last display to fly during the sunset show. (We had a long discussion about whether it is a CF-18 or a CF-188 during the down time but that can be saved for another day.) The aircraft taxied out as the sun was just getting close to setting. We were thinking this would be the perfect combination. Taking off before sunset would allow us to get some shots of it in the low sun when it would look at its best and the, as the sun finally set, we would get the glow of the burners against the darkening sky.

AU0E0401.jpgSadly, they decided to hold their departure until after the sun had already set. I think this was a missed opportunity. It did mean, though, that things were really dark by the end of the display. This was a time that really testing the capabilities of the camera. I was shooting at very high ISO settings in ranges that I would normally avoid. However, getting the shot sharp is better than having a low noise shot that is blurred.

AU0E0345.jpgThe aircraft pulled off the runway pretty aggressively and the burners really showed up nicely against the runway surface. The display itself was fine but the camouflage of the commemorative scheme was a bit tricky in the conditions. The finale of the display was the landing with the hook lowered. The Hornet touched down and the arrestor hook dragged along the runway surface leaving a bright shower of sparks behind it. The effect was pretty dramatic! I talked to one of the maintenance technicians later about it and asked how many of those they could do. One landing is enough to kill the head of the hook. He did say that they are easy to replace and that he had brought five of them on the trip. A neat way to wrap up the show.

F-22 Over Chino

The USAF F-22 Raptor is a popular air show performer but, with a relatively small fleet, they only have one display team and they have a limited number of engagements around the US each year. Chino was one of the shows that had them booked so it was probably the only time I was going to see the Raptor display this year as opposed to flying operationally. It flew twice while I was there. The first flight was a sunset display and the second was to wrap up the main display on the Saturday including the Heritage Flight performance.

C59F8233.jpgI got a lot of chances to get good shots of the plane. The sunset display had great light but both displays included some tight elements that brought the plane well into view. However, I am now going to tread on dangerous ground and say that I don’t think the display is that good. The flight control system design of the Raptor allows it to undertake some unusual maneuvers which the display makes a lot of. While they are certainly not the norm, I don’t think they should focus on them so much. Certainly show off some of the special features of the jet. Just don’t pretend they are tactically useful and spend more time showing people what they like about jet displays. Being low and slow is not a great place to be.

AU0E9785.jpgA crowd of people might be mildly amused by a jet coming down flat while gently rotating about its axis. However, turn up the noise and blast into some fast passes, tight turns and some more aggressive vertical maneuvers and your get a lot of crowd reaction. I once watched a Typhoon display being flown by a test pilot. It carried out a lot of high alpha rolls around the velocity vector. A few pilots around me appreciated the technical skill but everyone thought the display was boring.

AU0E9256.jpgMaybe, as the aircraft has been on the display circuit longer, they will evolve into a better combination. A little of the unusual stuff but more dynamic performances that show off the bits the public like.


Curtiss P-36

AU0E0569.jpgVintage aircraft are not my specialty. I know my P-51 from my P-47 but I am not too knowledgeable of the different types of the more famous aircraft and I am certainly on shaky ground when it comes to the less numerous types. Consequently, when I was preparing to go to Chino for the Planes of Fame airshow, the GAR team told me to get shots of the Curtiss P-36 Hawk that was going to be on display for the first time. I agreed while secretly wondering what a P-36 was. Fortunately, the internet is a wonderful source of information and I was able to get an idea of what it was I was looking for before it got there!

C59F8786.jpgThis P-36 has been restored at Chino and will shortly be heading to the UK to join a collection there. Not only was it on display in the static area but it also participated in the flying program. Therefore, I got many opportunities to get some shots of it for the GAR piece. It is an interesting looking aircraft, even if it didn’t end up being a huge seller. It looked great coming from restoration and was flown together with the AT-12 (which is apparently a two seat P-35 – so I am told). On a sunny spring day in California they looked very nice together. I hope everyone in the UK enjoys them when they arrive.