I put together a selection of shots from the RIAT show of 2006 in this post. It was another four years before I was back for my next visit. This time I made a visit to the Park and View East rather than the west. This was the end at which everything was landing, and it also provided a good view of some of the arrivals as they taxied to the ramp.
The weather started out okay, but it got steadily worse resulting ion a torrential downpour. Some movements were in such low light that it was almost like shooting at night. The stormy weather passed and then the flying could resume. Given the variety of things that were showing up, I will focus this post on the arrival traffic, and we can add some of the displays in a different post.
Plenty of helicopters as well as the fast jets. I had not shot at this location before and I was not prepared for how crowded it could be and the way you needed to be at the front. That limited some of my shots unfortunately. Also, there was a lot of heat haze in the air so some of the nicer angles on the approach produced shots that are not sharp enough. Still, a fun day out. Drying out took a while that night though!
I mentioned the arrival of some USAF T-38s in this post. They weren’t alone, though. Boeing had both of their T-38 chase jets out on missions and they had to come back at some point. The day had lovely weather so I was going to wait around and get on with some work to see when they showed up. The jets have similar paint schemes but are slightly different in detail. I had shot one of them in nice conditions once so was keen to do better. I got both of them as they returned so finally felt like I had some success.
I wonder how long they will last. Since Boeing has won the contest to replace the T-38 in USAF service, I wonder whether the early T-7 jets they built will find their way to Boeing Field at some point to support flight test activities. They will probably not be a match for production jets so would be of less use for in service test activities. We shall see. The T-33s are still around so the T-38s may have years ahead of them.
This is part one of a two-parter. I was at Boeing Field sitting taking calls and doing emails and keeping an eye out for anything interesting. That included the Boeing chase T-38s but they are going to have their own post. They weren’t the only T-38s though. Three jets from Beale AFB also showed up. I missed the first and got the second as it landed. The third followed a while later. Strangely for Boeing Field (which sits under the SeaTac approach path) it did an overhead join and then broke into the pattern before landing.
The three jets were on the ground for a while and didn’t leave to late in the day. I heard them call up that they were taxiing and decided to try and get down to the other end of the field for the departure. As I drove down, I could hear them on the radio getting ready to go. I knew it was going to be close but sadly, it wasn’t close enough. As I pulled in to the parking area, they took off in formation. They kept it low and the light was gorgeous. It looked great but no photos to prove it. The third jet had taxied out but must have had an issue because it returned to the ramp. Oh well…
I caught one of the Boeing T-33 chase aircraft that had been out supporting the 777X flight trials. The weather had been crappy which is par for the course when I am seeing the Boeing chase planes. However, it did start to improve. A hint of sun came out as it came down the approach but the light was better a bit far out. I could see it in the distance but it was more shady as it got close. Still, not too bad. I heard a rumor that they might be retiring them before too long. I hope that isn’t the case but we shall see.
I have posted a few times about the Red Arrows at RIAT covering their prep for display and post display. I haven’t actually shared any good shots from the display itself. Here are a few that I got over the course of the show. Some were taken close to show center and others were taken from the end of the display line to give a different perspective on the same maneuvers. They put on a great show and it is funny that, when you see them regularly, you get blasé but, when you haven’t seen them for a while, you come to appreciate the display a lot more.
Boeing Field gets the occasional military visitors and you never know what might show up. I glanced up and saw a pair of T-38s downwind for arrival. They came in with about a minute of spacing between them. The tail codes showed them to be Beale jets. They headed to the FBO at Modern and were soon being refueled. The canopies stayed up so they may have been heading out again a while later but I had to move on so I didn’t get to see them depart.
I have struggled to get shots of the Boeing chase aircraft in decent light. Whether it is the T-33s or the T-38s, my encounters have generally been on overcast days. Finally my luck changed and one of the T-38s came in to Paine Field for a couple of approaches on a sunny day. It was the middle of the day so the light angles weren’t great but it was certainly a step up. A couple of passes and then they headed to Boeing Field.
The Hansajet was an odd airframe and one of those examples of manufacturers trying innovative things out that didn’t really go anywhere. It had a slightly forward swept wing to improve efficiency but forward swept wings have largely failed to gain any traction. It was operated by the Luftwaffe and this example was an attendee at an Air Fete at Mildenhall, I am going to say in 1991 but that may be wrong. I saw it on approach and then again in the static display. Quite a neat looking jet I think. Anyone know if any still fly?
I was working through some RIAT photos of the Patrouille de France display. I had some tight shots of the first four jets as they took off and, as I looked closer at them, I was confused as to why two of the jets had a more nose high attitude than the other two. Since they are taking off on formation, I figured that they should look the same.
A closer look at the images and it seems that the flap settings of the jets vary. The nose high aircraft seem to have less flap – hence their need for a higher angle of attack – than the other two jets. I have been trying the think why they would adopt this approach. With all jets accelerating together and climbing together, I had imagined that they would all be in the same configuration. I wonder whether there is something to do with the outwash from the nearby jets that requires a different configuration but I haven’t come up with anything conclusive. I throw it out to the aero engineers that read this to propose your ideas as to why. If any of you know anyone in the PdF, feel free to ask them instead!
The Red Arrows operated from ramp space at the eastern end of the show grounds at RIAT. I spent some time down there on one of the days. It provided a chance to watch them brief, crew up, start and then recover after the display. Here area. Few shots of the team in action.