Category Archives: Travel

A Development Dash 8

I may have a soft spot for testbeds, but development airframes are also something that will interest me.  While driving around Tucson International Airport, we were looking at the various airframes at one of the schools based on the field.  There was a Dash 8 sitting in the yard.  It had Series 200 markings on it and seemed to be a development airframe.  With Mark being a Canadian, he was definitely pleased to catch this but I was too.  It looks in surprisingly good shape.

Sunset Comes Too Soon for BA

My Arizona trip with mark started out in Phoenix.  I got there earlier than he did and shot a little at Sky Harbor but, once we had met up, we decided to try what the evening shooting might offer there.  I was particularly interested in getting the British Airways A350 when it arrived.  Phoenix is a busy airport but does not have a huge amount of variety so this would be one of the more “exotic” arrivals.  It was due to make it in just before sunset, but the flight was running a touch late, and I wasn’t sure if it would make it.

Keeping an eye on the track of the flight was one thing, but we were also keeping an eye on the horizon.  There was low cloud in the distance which suggested that the sun might disappear from view before it actually set.  Sadly, this proved to be the case.  Things got gloomy rather quickly once the sun went behind the cloud bank and then, as it got low in the sky (out of sight) the light was fading fast.  That’s when the jet arrived.  Still, it wasn’t a total loss.  Sometimes low light can be interesting.  It wasn’t as good as the last light of the day glowing on the nose, but it was alright.  We watched the jet taxi in and then decided to see what low light shots we could make work.

A Shield Bug – Looks Like a Stinkbug

I was out in the garden of our place in Stockbridge and was surprised by how many ladybirds and flies I saw on the leaves.  Then I saw something a bit different.  I reminded me of the stink bugs we see in Washington.  According to Ian, who was in the yard shortly afterwards, it is a shield bug.  In all my years in the UK, I had never heard of or seen one of these.  Now I have.

Some Ted Lasso Tourism

On one of our days in the UK, we made a trip to Richmond.  It is over 30 years since I have spent time in Richmond, and it was nice to go there again.  A first for Nancy too.  We were having lunch with family but got there a little early to walk around.  One of the things we wanted to do was check out the area around Richmond Green.  This was a location for many of the scenes in the TV series, Ted Lasso.  It was on our way anyway, so we stopped to have a look around.

Looking like a tourist is never too appealing and I imagine plenty of people come by because of the show.  The pub that they feature apparently has fan memorabilia for the show’s imaginary team.  Some of the shops also have “Believe” signs above their doors.  TV does a good job of cutting together unrelated spaces, but you can easily recognize some of the places.  We did struggle to identify one or two other spots, though.  There is some demolition and construction underway now, so I wonder if that took out any bits that were previously used.

My First Sighting of F-16Vs

The designation of the F-16V is one that leaves me a bit confused.  There are A model jets that are upgraded to this standard, but I thought some new build jets were also having the designation.  Maybe I am mistaken about that.  I also see two-seaters upgraded to the standard so an A or a B model can now be a V model?  Anyway, enough about that. I got to see some.

Taiwan has been upgrading its fleet of A and B model F-16s to V models.  The program is nearly complete from what I have read.  They operate a number of the jets from the Guard base in Tucson at the international airport.  While Mark and I were there, we got to see a bunch of them launch and recover.  This included one with special markings in the fin.  The markings are otherwise not too conspicuous but, because they are early model jets, the lack of the bulged fin root with its antenna is the thing that allowed me to identify them.  Must be some life left in those airframes despite their age!

Another Chance to Photograph the Hovercraft

During our trip to the UK, my mum came across to spend some time with the family.  She used the hovercraft to make the crossing and we went to Southsea to pick her up.  Regular readers will know that I love hovercraft so it would have been churlish not to get some shots of its arriving – I mean her arriving!  I skipped the long lens shots and instead focused on the approach and arrival.  Here are those shots.  Her return journey was frustrated by high winds, so we didn’t get a second chance to photograph the hovercraft when taking her back.

How Low Will the Light Be for My Robin?

The Airbnb that we rented in Stockbridge had a grass area out front that had a steady stream of birds in and out.  That included some robins that would show up under the bushes and find themselves some food.  They clearly liked the shade because they would either be under the bush or come on to the grass in the areas shaded by the bushes.  Never in the sunlight on the grass.

The evening improved things a lot.  The shade was now over the whole of the lawn and they would hop about finding their latest meal.  However, if I wasn’t already by the window, moving into position would spook them and they would be gone.  I consequently spent a bit of time sitting by the window with the camera in position waiting for another one to appear.  When they did, it was getting pretty dim.  However, high ISO is worth a go these days and there are going to be good options in post so why not?  I used the tilt screen to frame the shot to avoid moving the camera much and scaring them off.  It also provided a lower angle which helps.  Much hopping around and then eventually it was right in front of me.  How cute European robins are!

Gripen Two Ship Departure

Flashback to RIAT and 2019.  I was working through the catalog looking for something for another project and came across these shots of Swedish Gripens departing from RAF Fairford after the show had concluded.  A section departure is always more interesting than a singleton even if it does give you something to think about when deciding on which plane to focus on.  The Gripen is a great looking jet and one that has been pretty successful given that it was built specifically for Swedish needs.  Always happy to get to shoot one.

Water Treatment Plant by the Pacific

The departure from LAX takes you out over the Pacific on most occasions.  As you climb out and reach the shoreline, just south of your track is a large water treatment plant.  Oceanfront property would be in high demand, I imagine, but this spot is taken with a far more functional purpose.  The size and shapes involved are quite fascinating to me and I couldn’t resist getting some images as we flew by.