Getting up close with the jets gives you an opportunity to see right into the cockpit while the planes are flying. As the A-10s pull hard off the target on the range they come right towards you. Consequently you can find yourself looking right in through the top of the cockpit. Looking through my shots I could see this view of the pilots. They have a notepad of some sort strapped to one their legs. I assume it is for flight planning purposes but I can’t help but think about the slower transit speed of the A-10. They have a fair bit of time when making their way from DM to the range and back again. Maybe a game of Sudoku or a crossword is a good way to pass the time?
My trip to Arizona to shoot the shooting A-10s was a lot of fun and something I have already covered. One aspect of this shoot that caught my interest was the cannon shells in flight. I have seen images from other people that allow you to see the A-10’s shells leaving the muzzle or flying to the target and when I got something similar, I was quite pleased. However, a shot that really caught my eye was one of them that had a background with some clouds visible.
This background provides a mechanism to see any discontinuities in the density of the air as is experienced in a shockwave. This is the effect that is used in Schlieren photography in wind tunnels. The refractive index of the air changes as the density changes. Normally you don’t see this. However, if the background is not continuous, the refraction of the background results in the shockwave being visible. One of the shells showed this up and I thought it was cool. Therefore, I am sharing it here just in case you think it is cool too!
Every other year, the A-10 community in the US Air Force holds a competition called Hawgsmoke. This year it was being held in Arizona. The aircraft were based at Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson and the Goldwater range complex was where most of the exercise was taking place. With the possibility that the A-10 might be taken out of service hanging over things, I was keen to get down there in case this was the last time the event would take place.
I covered the event for Global Aviation Resource so you can see the article I produced here. Rather than repeat that, I shall provide a little of the back-story. Arizona in July is not the coolest place in the world. Head out into the desert and it is even warmer. Get taken there in an Air Force bus which has air conditioning that doesn’t work properly and you will be pretty toasty. If the young guy driving the bus appears to be falling asleep all of the time, you are feeling a bit more alert than might otherwise be the case in that heat.
Our time on the range was a bit short. One of the TV crews from a local station obviously decided he had seen enough and told the organizers that he would miss his deadline if we didn’t leave. He had been given the same schedule as the rest of us so I suspect he was talking crap. However, while we were on the range for less time than expected, we still got a great experience of the A-10s running in to shoot the targets. The close proximity as they fired was something else as was their break over the top of us after each pass.
It was a good bunch of guys on the trip and we all headed out to shoot around Davis Monthan when we got back. This gave me a chance to get some more shots of the A-10s that would fill out the article a little. By the end of the day, I was shattered. I had been drinking liquid all day but I think I was just keeping out of trouble rather than being properly hydrated. Still, it was really worth it. A little longer and the benefit of the sun coming around would have been nice but it was still cool (but hot!). Below is some video that I shot for GAR while I was there too.