One of the bigger attractions at the Antelope Valley Air Show, held at Edwards AFB, was the appearance of the Darkstar plane from Top Gun Maverick. Obviously not a real plane (and not even the real Darkstar which was a reconnaissance UAV that never progressed beyond testing), it was part of a hugely popular movie so garnered a ton of attention. It was parked in the static display alongside a very real SR-71 Blackbird. This was something I found far more interesting having seen them fly for real in my younger days. The Darkstar was still fun to see. I am not that churlish.
Category Archives: Travel
Return to the Clifton Suspension Bridge
When we lived in the UK, Nancy and I spent a weekend in Bristol as part of a visit to the balloon fiesta that is held there (or at least it was then – I don’t know whether it is still a big event or not). As part of that visit, we did head up to Clifton which sits on the hills overlooking the center of Bristol. The area is most famous for the Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the gorge in which the River Avon runs. Built by engineers based on a design that Brunel had originally proposed, it is quite a structure although the movement you feel in it as you walk across it is a little unsettling.
As you walk along the river from the harbor, you come around to get a good view from the underside of the bridge high above. We walked up this way to get a little closer and I accepted the cloudy day for what it was and got some photos of the bridge. You are walking along the river but also a rather busy road so it isn’t the most relaxing way to spend some time. However, I did get a view from below to match the ones from above from our previous trip.
Merlin Tormenting Me
During our stay in Longparish, we could hear the sound of helicopters on a regular basis. We weren’t far from both RAF Odiham and Middle Wallop so getting military movements was to be expected. Getting a camera to hand when they came over was another thing. However, while on one walk, we did see a Royal Navy Merlin operating across the fields and behind some trees. Getting a clear look at it was very difficult and, as we got closer to where it was on our walk, it naturally moved off somewhere else. I never got a good shot. Here is the best I could manage as they taunted me by remaining just out of reach.
Sheep Checking Us Out
Our wanderings through the lanes of Longparish took us past a bunch of fields filled with sheep. When they are young, sheep are super cute. As they get older, not so much! Also, my encounters with them over the years have suggested that they aren’t the brightest of creatures. Doesn’t stop me finding them interesting, though. These guys were munching their way around the fields, hiding under trees, licking tree trunks for some reason and occasionally coming close to the road to see who it was that was the other side of the fence. There was no way I wasn’t going to take some pictures of them!
While in Vancouver in November, we made a trip to North Van to see some friends. That meant a trip on the Seabus. The tricky thing about getting images of the Seabus is that you can’t really do anything if you are traveling on it. The dock is enclosed and the views are restricted so you don’t really have any options (or at least I haven’t worked out what they might be). However, I did go to the heliport which is very close by and this does provide a better view of the comings and goings of these ferries.
It’s not the most elegant of vessels but it does the job effectively. Back and forth without turning since it is a bi-directional vessel. It’s all about shuttling across the harbor as efficiently as possible. I did also shoot some video of it but it is safe to say that there is nothing terribly dynamic about it that makes for an exciting video!
Can I Sneak In Another Hovercraft Encounter
Our trips to the UK that involve some time on the Isle of Wight also are likely to include me trying to get a little time with the hovercraft. On our most recent trip, we didn’t go to the Island. However, we did pick up and drop off my mum when she came across and what form of transport did she use? Yep. I had a reason to be hanging around at the hovercraft terminal.
I did get some photos of the hovercraft but, this time, I decided to focus on some video of them coming and going. Not only were they running the regular service but there was also some training underway so we got an arrival that didn’t come up on the slipway but instead headed back out to see. Here is the video I edited.
The Negus 747-400
We were in the Cotswolds for a wedding earlier this year and the morning of the wedding found my with little to do while everyone was getting ready. I was only 30 minutes or so from the old RAF airfield of Kemble, now Cotswolds Airport. Surely it would be churlish to not take a look since I was killing time? Kemble has quite a lot of interest and will mean there are several posts to come. The first will focus on one of the largest residents.
British Airways painted three of its 747s in retro liveries. The jets had different interior configurations which meant they were used on specific routes. I got to shoot the BOAC jet and the Landor jet when they came to Seattle but I never saw the Negus jet. When BA retired the 747 fleet during the pandemic, the Negus jet apparently made its way to Kemble to become a venue rather than get reduced to parts and scrap metal. However, I didn’t know this.
Consequently, I was rather surprised to find the jet sitting there as I drove up to the airport main buildings. There are other 747s stored on the field at Kemble but this one is very accessible. It was early in the day when I arrived so I could wander around unfettered but there were already crews showing up to bring in fixtures for an event that they were going to be hosting. Renting out a 747 for an event sound like just the sort of thing I would do! I was very pleasantly surprised to see the third of the retro jets and to see it in such good condition. (Sure, they have a few nacelle panels that have been switched around but it still seems in good shape.)
Take Your Car With You
I have seen countless RVs on the highway with a small vehicle hooked on the back. Having something more usable when you get to your destination makes a lot of sense. What about if you have a boat? How are you going to get around when you reach your next port? Why, bring a car with you of course! This ship was in the harbour at Bristol while we were visiting. The car was sitting on the deck, ready for use whenever it was needed!
Wood Pigeons Own the Place
During our UK visit, we stayed in the village of Longparish. The gardens outside our place had a stream of wildlife coming through. By far the most common visitors were the wood pigeons. They were always wandering around the garden looking for snacks in the ground. They are so plump compared to normal pigeons, and you could see why eating pigeon might have been a big part of people’s diet. They seemed so confident in themselves. We felt like we were intruding on their space as we came in or out. It was really their place, not ours.
SS Great Britain
Bristol Docks are the home of the SS Great Britain. The first iron hulled ship with screw propulsion, the Great Britain ended up in Port Stanley. It was rescued in the 80s and brought to Bristol where it was restored over many years. Now it is in something like its original condition. It was not open to the public on the day we were there but it was visible from the opposite side of the docks as we walked down and then, as we came back up the other side, I could get a quick glimpse through the fence.