Not a great shot, in this case, but one that means something to me. When I went to the Abbotsford Air Show, there was a Hawk 115 in the static display. It was in an interesting color scheme but the lighting was a bit tough and it was surrounded be people. The reason I liked it was that I was involved in the Hawk 115 program when it was first underway. I left the company before the first jets were completed so I never actually saw one. This might actually have been my first encounter with one. Since they have been in service for nearly 25 years, they are probably nearing the end of their time so I did leave it a little late. It looks in better shape than me!
There were many animals I was looking forward to seeing when we visited Kenya and Tanzania. One that I hadn’t thought much about and, if I had, it wouldn’t have been positive, was the hyena. They have a pretty bad image since they clean up all of the debris that is left and will also do their own hunting in the pack. While this is no different to many other animals, they seem to have been given a more negative image.
When we arrived, we immediately saw loads of hyena. They were out walking alone and moving in groups. They are not the sleekest looking animal, but I found myself surprisingly interested in them. When one would come into view carrying a trophy from a carcass, I would see this as a positive when others were focusing on the negative. We saw one hyena limping across the road with an obvious wound on its leg. This reminded me of just how perilous life is for everything in the wild.
Later in the trip we came across a den for the pack. One hyena was walking back in with a wildebeest leg in its mouth. This was going to feed some hungry mouths. There were some cubs in the den, and we could hear them before we could see them. They were fighting with each other between sessions suckling from their mother. It was really fun to watch this whole pack of animals in their social setting.
I’m not expecting anyone reading this to suddenly love hyenas. Some of the pictures will probably reinforce thoughts that yo might already have had about them. However, I will say that I saw them in a very different light over the time I was in Kenya and Tanzania, and I will never think of them the same way again.
UW had some success with their football program this year which meant a few charter flights took place. Some of the charters that they arranged were with New Pacific Airlines. This is a relatively new airline that originally was going to be Northern Pacific until BNSF Railway, which owns that name, objected to their using it. Their plan has been to operate transpacific flights via Anchorage in a similar model to that of Icelandair. Things have got off to a slow start. They are doing some domestic US flying but those routes have been erratic too. The fleet is a pair (I think) of Boeing 757-200s so hardly cutting edge. I think they might not last long.
Consequently, when their jet showed up at BFI, I figured I should definitely get photos since I might not get the chance again. Winter conditions are not going to be the greatest, but I was able to get a few that I was pretty happy with. I don’t wish the airline any harm at all, but they don’t seem to be giving off the vibe of a great success story. Let’s hope the charters can fill in until they get something more solid going.
As we were walking around the winery in Kelowna, we had a lovely view to the south across the lake and to the hills beyond. The weather was quite clear but there was same haze in the air. This did a nice job of distinguishing between the hills based on their distance with the farthest hills getting obscured the most. With the warm winter light on this haze, it made for a very attractive view of the terrain in the distance, and I grabbed a longer lens for a quick shot.
When we landed in Nairobi, I was walking across the ramp and saw a very clean looking Mi-17 helicopter. It was marked up as belonging to the police service. The person I was chatting to told me that this helicopter and its hangar was very expensive but never actually got flown. Apparently, it might be a bit of a waste of time and money. Not sure whether that is true or not but that was what I was told. It certainly did look very shiny.
Across from Boeing Field is the site of Jorgensen’s Forge. This facility was created in the Second World War by the Isaacson company and later sold to Jorgensen. It has since gone through a variety of ownership but ceased trading a few years ago. It has been siting idle for a while but recently the demolition of the plant commenced. The whole area is a Superfund site which should be a surprise for a large foundry that has been in operation for decades. I don’t know what the plans for it now include but here are some shots of the skeleton of the structure from one weekend when it was being taken down bit by bit. A sad end to a location that provided many jobs and supported multiple different industries.
The time that the NASA DC-8 spent up in the Pacific Northwest was a ton of fun for the aviation enthusiasts. Since I did get to shoot the jet a few times, I got some closer shots of the airframe to show the various sensors that cover the jet and are used for the sampling work that has been its specialization. There are plenty of them on the top, sides and bottom of the airframe. Here are some shots. I wonder what will replace the jet and whether it will have a similar array of probes?
My Skagit trip was primarily looking for geese, but I was also going to see whether the short-eared owls were back out and about. I ended up in East 90 again which has a solid reputation for the owls. As I pulled up, various other raptors were flying very close by, so I knew the chances of seeing stuff were going to be good. Unfortunately, the owls were not playing ball. There were loads of them flying but they seemed to have staked out their interests further across the fields and away from the road. The northern harriers were the ones close by. The owls seemed to be wheeling about each other off in the distance so I had to make do with longer range images of them and get some of the other residents instead.
The A340 is a plane that keeps on going despite repeated claims it was done. The 300 series jet is actually not as inefficient as it is popular to suggest (the 600 series is far less competitive) and it is still working for a few airlines including Lufthansa. This winter the jet is back on the run to Seattle which has pleased me. Most of the jets have been repainted in the new livery which is not that thrilling. There are also Star Alliance liveried jets but there are one or two of them still in the older Lufthansa colors. This is a better look from my point of view.
I did have one of them come in one weekend when the light was good and the wind was favorable for the shots I was after. The landing shots were more of a struggle because the plane landed at noon and the lighting angles were not helpful. Departure was mid afternoon and so this was slightly better. They have been back occasionally since but not on days with a) good weather and b) me being available to be there. I hope I get more chances before they finally head to the desert.
The retirement of some types from service gets a lot of attention from people. The last Phantoms leaving US service were well covered. The upcoming end of KC-10 operations is already getting discussed. However, the removal of the E-8 JSTARS seemed to just happen without much discussion. I have to admit it caught me off guard. I didn’t know that they were going away let alone that it had already happened.
With this milestone having slipped past me, I figured I should go back through the catalog and see what times I have shot E-8s. Not a lot of encounters with Red Flag having been my most productive venues. They were old jets when they became E-8s and I heard from a friend that one of them had gone through some interesting other configurations before making its way in to the E-8 fleet. They are consequently old enough to deserve retirement. It will be a shame not to see them around anymore.