Category Archives: vintage

Back to Erickson At Madras

In 2015, I made a trip to Madras Oregon for an air-to-air photography course.  Based at the Erickson museum, we had an interesting few days discussing the approach to air to air photography as well as the chance to get some shots while airborne.  I had a good look around the museum while I was there as well but I was looking forward to a chance to check it out again when we headed south through Oregon.  Madras was on our route from Hood River to Klamath Falls so it was a definite stop.

We didn’t have a huge amount of time available to spend at the museum but we had enough to get a reasonable look around.  They were busy preparing aircraft since they were taking a few planes to the show at Klamath Falls that we were going to see.  As a result, some of the planes were either out on the ramp or at the front of the hangar being prepped for their ferry south.

There seemed to be more planes than I remembered from my previous trip and things were definitely squeezed in.  Of course, it might just be my memory not being up to par. The more unusual types like the Bellanca or the Mauler are always worth a look but everything in the collection looks great.

Hood River Museum

The Oregon trip with Mark provided a lot of options for additional aviation experiences while we were en route to the main event in Klamath Falls.  This included a stop off at Hood River to check out the museum there.  I had heard that it was an impressive collection of both planes and cars and that was no understatement.  When it comes to older aircraft, I am well out of my depth.  My interest in aviation came out of the military side of things in the 80s and the era of WWII and before was not something I paid any attention to.

The result of this is that a museum like Hood River is full of aircraft that I know nothing about.  I couldn’t identify many of them if asked and, when there are many variants of a given make, I don’t recognize what distinguishes them and whether one or other of them is significantly rarer than any other.  Instead, I just find it interesting to look at the wide variety of looks and finishes that the planes have.

The Hood River museum certainly provides me plenty to choose from in that regard.  There are so many aircraft in there and, while they have several hangars, it is not unfair to say that things are pretty on top of each other in order to get everything to fit in.  It is also a little dark but, since modern cameras are so good in low light conditions, this isn’t really a problem anymore.

Mark and I are both plane guys so the car collection was not a big focus for us.  We did take a look at to some of the vehicles that were there but, since we had a schedule to keep if we were to get to Klamath Falls in time for some dinner, we had to focus on the planes.  There is no way I could cover the collection in one blog post and I won’t even try.  Instead, I shall provide a tiny selection of what we saw.  Maybe, as I work through some of the shots, I shall revisit the collection in some future posts.

Ye Olde Pub

Erickson took their B-17, Ye Olde Pub, to the show at Klamath Falls.  However, we first got to get a look at her when we stopped at Madras where she was out on the ramp being prepared for the trip south to the show.  When she did make the transfer, we were ready for her arrival and then got a few chances to shoot her undertaking the display routine from a variety of locations both outside and inside the airfield.

She is a good looking B-17.  I like the painted aircraft more than the bare metal versions (although there is not a huge amount in it).  That makes her appeal to me a lot.  (I do get a little annoyed by cutesy words with an added “e” but will let that go for now.)

B-17 In Pieces

Erickson has a B-17 as part of its collection.  However, while Ye Olde Pub was sitting outside during my visit, there was a second B-17 on site.  This is Thunderbird and it is undergoing some major airframe work.  The fuselage was sitting on stands directly in front of you when you entered the hangar.  The wings and empennage were in racks around it.

I don’t know what the schedule is for sorting out this aircraft but people seemed to be busy working on it so I assume it will be back in the air before too long.  I did enjoy sneaking around trying to find good views of all of the parts that were stored awaiting their return to their rightful place on the airframe.  Madras is quite a hike for me but it might be good to go back when they get the plane back in the air.  It sounds like the sort of thing that Matt Booty might get down to photograph.  Maybe I can be his assistant!

Buzzed By A Bearcat

We were standing out to the east of the runway at Klamath Falls when the Erickson team was practicing their display ahead of the show at Sentry Eagle.  I was looking in the wrong direction when someone called out that the Bearcat was diving in on us.  I swung around and pulled the camera up at the last minute.  Needless to say, I did not get the greatest shots of the plane but it was coming right at me so I will go with the best I could get.  It was pretty cool having a Bearcat buzz right over my head!

Yak With Gear Issues

The opening fly day at Skagit County included a bonus in the form of a visiting Yak 3.  It arrived early in the day and then started up to be part of the flybys.  On one of the passes, the gear did not look fully up and then, at some point while it was off to the east, the gear door came off the plane.  Fortunately, it didn’t cause any serious issues and the pilot was able to land safely.

When he taxied in, it was easy to see that the door was missing on one of the legs.  I wondered how long the plane would be down for but I understand it ferried home later in the day to allow them to sort out the repair.  Plenty of planes have lost gear doors over the years.  As long as they come away cleanly and don’t damage any systems as they depart, things will probably be okay.

Odd Place To Find A Heron

A little while back, I posted about some local herons.  One of my friends (who shall remain unnamed) made a comment expressing disappointment that it wasn’t the de Havilland version of a heron.  Imagine my surprise when, only a few weeks later, Mark and I were driving through Oregon en route to Klamath Falls when we passed through a small town called Chiloquin and, right by the highway, was a de Havilland Heron.  This was a Royal Navy example that had found its way to the grounds outside a motel.

It wasn’t in the best of shape.  One wing was completely gone and it was sitting on the ground rather than its gear.  However, the paint finish was still pretty reasonable.  No engines, of course.  They will have been salvaged at some point when it became clear the airframe was not going to be a flier again.  The grass had grown up quite a bit around it.  Late June probably means it grows well and someone hadn’t cut it for a while.  I wandered around to try and get different angles on it.  The light was rather shady and I was using my phone rather than the main cameras but it was fine.  There was even a large rock that could be used to gain some elevation.  This trip was proving to be a lucky one for getting unplanned things and this added to that in a way we hadn’t anticipated.

Heritage Flight Museum Fly Day

I made a trip to the Heritage Flight Museum last year for one of their fly days.  I only shot from outside and that was quite good fun.  This year, I made the effort to get up there earlier to take a look around inside before the flying started.  Once I got inside, I decided that the location was worth staying inside for given that I could watch the planes start up and shut down and also get the best of the low passes.

Sadly, the Skyraider was not signed off to fly but everything else put on a good show. We had flying from the T-6, an O-1, a pair of T-34s and a P-51.  They all flew more than once (except the O-1) and the location on the ramp provided a great place to watch the start JP, taxi out, flybys and the recovery process.  I was even able to be in the shade for a lot of the time which made for a very relaxing day.

They flew some formation flybys including a missing man formation.  Then the individual planes would do a series of passes.  Having shot a similar day from outside before, being inside did provide a good opportunity to try different things.  Outside has angles to offer but inside gives some shots that can’t be matched including the lower passes.  Besides, watching them taxi by at such close range is really cool.  I hope to get back up for another of their fly days this year.  I also need to explore the museum in more detail.

Doc Weekend Rides

I have posted some photos of the arrival of Doc previously on the blog.  However, at the weekend, it did a series of flights and I went down one morning to get some shots of it before heading off to Skagit for the fly day up there.  Shooting at BFI in the morning is not ideal so I decided to head up the hill to look down on the airport.  I headed up there and met my friend Mark.  We went in to the clearing to get ready and realized we had timed it well.  It wasn’t long before several other people had arrived and things were getting rather crowded.  Early arrival meant the choice of spots.

You are shooting from quite a distance at that location but you are elevated so the heat haze is not such a problem.  Even so, not the simplest of shots to get.  The crew kept Doc really low on departure, much as they had done on the first flight I saw.  They were flying right by the Boeing ramp so you had a combination of modern Boeing planes and 1940s products!

Once they had headed out, we moved down to the approach end.  Originally, I set myself up next to the fence.  However, a Beech came in to land and I realized that the proximity to the fence, even with ladders, was not ideal.  I relocated to the other side of the road and awaited the return of Doc.  They made a pretty sporty turn from downwind.  I got shots of it but none that were a combination of sharp and as dramatic as I would have liked.  Then they were rapidly on to short final and swooping across the threshold.

It was all pretty good fun.  I was okay with the results I got, even if they weren’t amazing.  I could have hung around for more but had another place to be.  It would have been good to go back over the weekend but timing wasn’t good with the other things I had on.  I didn’t get the visit the plane itself which was a disappointment.  I do hope they come back at some time and I can have a tour of the aircraft.

Newly Arrived Dak

I heard that a DC-3 had arrived at Arlington.  It was a plane that had been with Air Atlantique in the UK for many years and was familiar to a friend of mine that had worked there a while back.  I am not sure if I had seen it in the UK or not but had definitely seen shots of it.  It came in during the week and was parked on the ramp at Arlington over the holiday weekend.  Unfortunately, the weather was not great.  However, with nothing much else to do, I figured I would head up and see it.

The rain was pouring down as I left home but it was actually drier and even with a hint of light up in Arlington when I arrived.  Even so, the conditions were not great.  However, the clouds, while plentiful, did seem to provide some interest to the sky.  Consequently, I went with HDR to try and make the best of the conditions.

I am not sure what the plans are for the plane and whether it will remain in its old RAF colors as a Dakota rather than a DC-3 or C-47.  We shall see.  Hopefully it stays in the area and I’ll get to see it flying.