FHCAM opened up a new hangar at their museum facility in Everett. To coincide with the new opening, they unveiled a new addition to the collection. This addition was a Stuka. They had hinted earlier in the week that it might be a Stuka and I was hoping that would be the case. The other aircraft they were hinting at was the Me262 and, since we know they are close to flying their example of that, having a Stuka would be a significant addition. I was really pleased to see that was the case although the 18-24 months until it is airworthy will be a bit of a drag. Good things come to those that wait, though.
I have seen very few airborne A-26 Invaders in my life. They have been in museums and have been on this blog but the last time I think I saw one active was at North Weald in the late 80s. To see one at Skyfair was, therefore, a treat. It flew a couple of times and was flown with some vigor during its flypasts so we got a good look at it. It is a beefy looking aircraft and to see it hurtling by was a lot of fun.
The Fiesler Storch was a most unusual aircraft. It was used for utility purposes and was able to drop in to the smallest of locations and get back out again. Speed was not its thing but it was the one for special missions. I have seen scale versions in private use and some in museums but I am not sure I have ever seen a genuine one fly before. Skyfair included a performance by FHCAM’s example. I got some shots of it airborne although the dark paint scheme was not ideal on a sunny day. When it came to take off, I figured stills would not show anything about the performance so I switched to video. This allows you to see just how quickly and easily the slatted wing lifted the plane off the ground.
The two B-25s that live on Paine Field are regular performers. When they both went up at Skyfair, I have to admit that I was not so excited. However, I was not anticipating a series of flypasts that were significantly better than I had seen from them before. They brought them in with a tight formation and some angles that allowed some great topside shots as they curved around on to the runway alignment.
Watching them line up, you could see that they weren’t going to come so close and ruin the photo opportunities. Instead, we got lots of banking and pulling with far better shots than I had achieved previously. I was not alone in appreciating the effort. Everyone around me was most impressed by the performance.
A weekend in Southern California for work was not my idea of fun but I did have a few hours free on the Sunday morning so I headed down to Santa Anna to the Lyon Air Museum. It is located on the opposite side of John Wayne Airport from the main terminal building and is not terribly obvious unless you look hard. Even the entrance road is a bit obscure and could be easily missed. However, once there, it was definitely worth the time.
The museum is in a modern structure and has an impressive collection. Supposedly the planes are all airworthy and they have some interesting ones there. Some of the collection will get their own posts. For now, here is an overlook of the museum and a few of the side exhibits that don’t get their own story.
Night photo shoots are becoming more popular these days. The Flying Heritage Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM) held one with the de Havilland Mosquito. The evening started out with the plane on the ramp when people were free to wander around the aircraft. I was shooting a lot of long exposures using the tripod which does a good job of removing the people provided they keep moving. However, a few people were hanging around for long periods so they show up in the shots. Others were using the flashes on their cameras or flashlights to look at stuff which made things blow out.
Once we were all cleared from the ramp, one of the FHCAM crew came out to talk about the aircraft. He was the one that would carry out the engine runs and he ran through the test procedures that would be followed for the engines. People had the chance to ask questions and get a good understanding of the plane and how it is operated.
Then came the fun. The engines were fired up in sequence. Then they were run through the test program. The blue flame from the exhaust stacks could be clearly seen in the very dark conditions. When the mag checks were carried out, the flames were even more conspicuous. I moved around a bit to get some different positions. I was quite surprised to see how blurred some of the shots were. The aircraft clearly moves a lot despite being chocked and so some of the shots were totally unusable. This was a lesson learned. In future I would focus on shortening the exposure times a lot to minimize this issue which I hadn’t anticipated.
I also shot a bunch of video while the runs were underway. The edited video is below. It was a fun evening and thanks to FHCAM for holding it. It would be fun to do on another type. It might be nice to have a touch more light on the ramp but the dark conditions did have some advantages. I discovered a bit about shooting in that environment which should hopefully help on future night shoots.
In my younger days, I was all about modern aircraft and didn’t have much interest in warbirds. Over time and having been involved with a number of groups that operate these aircraft, I have grown far more interested. Being in the US, you get a lot of American vintage aircraft to see. In the UK I might not have been so bothered about Spitfires but, now I see them less often, they have become of greater interest.
The later model Spitfires seem less graceful to me but the earlier models have a simpler and more elegant appearance. This one was carrying out some flybys at Paine Field during the Open Day. The rumble of the Merlin is well known and common to the P-51s. The line of the Spitfire is unique, though, and seeing it swooping by was really quite exciting. What a great looking aircraft.
While I was walking around the display line of the Airshow of the Cascades during the evening show, the Erickson collection’s P-38 was carrying out its display. I was in amongst a lot of people when the announcer told everyone to be ready for a special pass. My location was not great but I got ready as the P-38 ran in for a topside pass expecting the detonation of some pyrotechnics behind it. Nothing happened. The P-38 flew by and no explosions.
A short while later, the announcer had a second crack at getting us ready for the pass. Obviously the first pass had not worked as planned. This time the P-38 was coming in from the opposite direction. I also had a few moments to try and reposition myself to get a better view. This shot was the result. Some of my friends were further up the display line and got a different angle on the shot which was cool. Even so, I am pretty happy with this.
I attended a course recently that was held in Madras OR at the home of the Erickson Air Museum. This museum is a fantastic collection of vintage aircraft, some of which were used for the course, more of which will appear on this blog in due course. At various times while we were there, I had the opportunity to wander around the museum and see the collection. This included during the evening when a party was underway but which also meant they had some interesting illumination.
The majority of the aircraft are warbirds but not all of them. A Bellanca was present which is, to be generous, a most unusual looking aircraft. I would certainly have liked to have seen it outside had the opportunity arisen but that wasn’t to be. There was also a Martin Mauler which is an aircraft I had never heard of previously. It looks like a Skyraider but you could tell it was different. It was just hard to know what it was without checking the information on the display.
Madras is not on the trail for most people so I imagine the museum does not have a lot of people happening upon it. However, it is a nice facility with a great collection and a super bunch of people working there. If you like warbirds and vintage aircraft, it should definitely be visited at some point.
About a year ago I saw a ton of cracking images showing up online from friends of mine that had attended the Madras A2AX workshop. At the time I figured I needed to start panning on being there for the next edition of the workshop. It is run by Scott Slocum and Lyle Jansma at the Erickson Air Museum’s facility and their aircraft provided the subjects for the photo flights. Scott and Lyle were joined by Paul Bowen. Paul was not instructing but he did provide his own perspective and guidance on what we were working on and also could be relied on to show up with his camera whenever you were looking at your goofiest and to tell some hilarious tales of his various exploits.
I met some familiar faces and made a whole bunch of new friends. Various hurdles were thrown in the way of the team due to weather and serviceability issues but they adapted well and the team were intent on having a good time whatever was going on. It was a fantastic weekend with some great learning opportunities and some beautiful aircraft to photograph. Here are a couple of samples of what we had to play with.