Quite a while back, I saw a shot that someone had composited of a Typhoon display over an airfield where they had the jet throughout its routine to show its route through the sky. I liked the idea and, while it was totally different, it got me thinking when I was up at Heritage Flight Museum. They had the Skyraider on the ramp but not flying. It was ready to go but hadn’t yet been signed off.
However, they did do an engine run for the visitors and unfolded and folded the wings a few times. Having got some basic shots, the idea of the Typhoon display popped in to my head so I shot a sequence of shots of the wings as they folded and unfolded. I took way more than actually was a good idea. I imported them all in to Photoshop as layers and then hid all of them except one and then progressively added some back to get the wings in different positions. If I had used them all it would have just been a blur of wings.
With the ones I wanted selected, I changed the blend mode for all but the base layer to Darken and that meant the dark wing elements overlaid anything brighter behind them. The result was a composite with multiple wing positions all showing at once. I think it came out quite well. I thought I might have issues with hiding things I didn’t want to or having to much movement between shots but that wasn’t a problem in the end.
I have only seen one flying B-29 prior to this year. That is Fifi from the Commemorative Air Force which I got to see in DuPage IL many years back and also saw overflying Oshkosh. A second B-29 was returned to flight about four years ago – Doc. It is based in Wichita KS and has been on a tour which included a visit to the Pacific Northwest. Its previous stop was in Spokane and then it came to Boeing Field for a week.
I saw when it was due in to BFI and got down there in time for the planned arrival from the other side of the state. It was a little later than I expected but that was fine. It was easy to track as it came across the mountains and then across the city and on to the approach for Boeing Field. The light was pretty good on it as it came down final approach although the reflective nature of the polished aluminum fuselage meant it took on a greenish hue as it flew over the grass inside the perimeter fence.
Shortly after arrival, they crewed up to make a press trip. Sadly, I was not part of this but it did give me a chance to get some more shots. The winds meant they were doing a southerly departure and I didn’t anticipate them climbing too fast when babying these old engines. They certainly didn’t climb aggressively! They kept it nice and low while cleaning up the gear and were still very low when they came past me. It was ideal. They then put in a surprisingly aggressive turn downwind where they kept it low enough that they were behind the trees.
I decided to try for something different for the next return. I headed to the end of the runway to try for some shots directly underneath the plane. It is a tricky place to shoot with buildings in the way for a while and more power lines than is ideal. Still, it provides a cool perspective and something a little different. I was very pleased with the success rate of the shots because, while you are shooting at a wide angle, there is a lot of relative motion.
Once on the ground, the plane was going nowhere for a few days until the paid flights started at the end of the week. There would be another encounter. I got to see it one day as it flew over the city but I did make a more deliberate effort to shoot it again. More to come…
Sometimes my poor choices can help other people out. I made a trip down to Auburn to see the Stinson Reliant that the local chapter of the Commemorative Air Force has. They were having an open day but the conditions were not looking great. I got there as things were opening up and had a look around the plane while they prepped it to run. Then they fired it up and ran the engine for a while before shutting down. At this point, the rain was thinking about starting up and I decided to call it quits.
This was just what everyone else needed. I got a call as I was heading north again. My friend Bob told me they were looking to go flying. I was tempted to turn around and go back but decided not to. I had some other things I wanted to see and felt the conditions were likely to mean that they skipped the flying. I was clearly wrong. My friends got a bunch of nice shots of the plane flying. I have to make do with it on the ground for now.
After my afternoon out up in Skagit for the fly day there, I migrated with the guys down to Arlington. They were having an evening flying display that would include the Ryan I previously posted about. An overcast evening did not make for great light for photographing the aircraft. There were only a few displays to see so it wasn’t too much of an event but it was still nice to be out shooting planes again. Rene Price put on a good display in his Sukhoi and the Yak-18 display was a great example of what the plane can do. Interestingly, there was the occasional hint of sunlight from the horizon while it flew which would glint off the white airframe since it was high enough to see the light we weren’t getting.
Grumpy, the B-25, flew a bunch of passes having come across from Skagit. I guess with not much else flying, they were allowed to fly as many passes as they wanted. Other than that, it was a pretty low key affair.
I was sitting at Boeing Field having had a relaxing time getting some shots on a sunny afternoon when I got a notification that the A-26, Sexy Sue, was up again from Renton. It is just over 10 minutes to get over there so I figured I would have plenty of time to get across once my next arrival was in. The trip across to Renton was not an issue and I was there in plenty of time for their return from the San Juans.
They took some really long winded route to the south of the field before doubling back on themselves, all specifically to avoid the best of the light at the field. Things had clouded over a little by the time they arrived but I still was okay with the shots. I then headed down to the parking area at the entrance to the airport to be in position for them to taxi in. I got there just in time and they taxied in towards me and shut down.
I waited for them to put the plane away. I am not sure why they spent such a long time thinking about it. Part of me wondered whether they were waiting for me to get lost but finally they started to move her back in to the hangar. Having a look at some of the shots afterwards, I saw the BOAC Speedbird logo on one side of the fuselage along with a lot of names of individuals. If you know the story behind this, please let me know.
Thanks to my friends, Bob and David, I became aware one Saturday morning that a fly day was underway that day up in Skagit County. The Heritage Flight Museum was going to have a few planes flying so I made a quick change of plans and headed up there. The conditions were a bit overcast so not ideal but it was still worth a look. There were a few of the regulars up there too so it was a chance to see some people I hadn’t seen for a while.
Of the various warbirds that they had flying that day, the A-1 Skyraider was the one that was of most interest for me. It was the only one I hadn’t seen at previous events so I was keen to get a chance to photograph it. On takeoff, it seemed to be trailing a fair bit of smoke. Since it was recently off overhaul, this concerned me a bit but it seemed to clean up as they flew for a while so everything seemed to be fine.
There were straight passes across the field from various formations followed by some arcing turns over the museum ramp individually. I backed up the road a bit to try and get a bit more of an angle on the planes as they ran across. It would certainly have been nicer to have a bit more light on them but it was still good fun to be shooting something different. I’m very grateful to the guys for giving me the heads up.
An A-26 Invader, marked up as Sexy Sue, is based at Renton. It is flown pretty frequently. It is normal for it to take off and head up towards the San Juans before looping around and coming back down to Renton. A flight lasts about 40 minutes which means, even if I knew exactly when it got airborne, the chances of getting to Renton in time to get its return are pretty limited. I have caught it out and about one time when it landed from over the lake on a cloudy day.
My day off with the planes had me at Boeing Field when I got a notification that the A-26 was airborne from Renton. I was anticipating the arrival of something at BFI so wondered where I should put my priorities. It is about fifteen minutes from Boeing Field to Renton so a quick reposition is possible. I figured I could probably just make it when my other arrival touched down. However, I had assumed incorrectly about the direction of flight and the A-26 was heading off through Snoqualmie Pass instead of going north.
I tracked it for a while anticipating a turn but it kept going and eventually landed at Walla Walla. I did wonder whether they were heading to Oshkosh or not. Once it was on the ground, I forgot about it for a while. Then, when checking something else a little later on, I realized that they were up again and heading back home. Again, there was a question about something inbound to BFI but timing looked good so I waited for the first shot to be made and then hopped in the car to Renton. The lights all seemed to take forever but I was at the overlook in plenty of time. I wondered whether they would try for an approach across the lake and I would need to relocate but there was a lot of light aircraft traffic so they slotted in to the normal pattern having gone north a way before turning back in.
They were easy to see while downwind and then turned across the housing around Renton before lining up on final with Mt Rainier in the background. I decided to risk a slower shutter speed since the light was very bright and with such a cluttered background, I needed to blur things as much as possible to try and make the plane stand out. It worked a bit but it was still noticeable how much the background takes over shots from that location. As soon as they touched down, I was ready to head back to BFI since more things were due there. This day off was proving very fruitful.
Back when we lived in Chicago, I went to Kenosha to photograph the Grumman Wildcat that had recently been lifted from Lake Michigan. While I was there, I also got to have a look around the hangar which housed the collection of Chuck Greenhill. His airworthy planes were stored in the hangar but it was also busy working on restorations of some Grumman amphibians.
His Duck was in the hangar and it was a great looking example. I was disappointed that I never got to see it fly. It looked immaculate. I understand it has been sold and is now in Texas. There were also two Mustangs parked in there. One of them, Geraldine, they claimed to be the most authentic Mustang example in the world. I don’t know how you would measure such things but they seemed very confident claiming this. It even included a full, working armament so you could head up and shoot someone down if you were so inclined.
The amphibian restorations were very interesting. Bare metal fuselages and the wings off while they were in work. It would have been good to make regular visits to see how things progressed but I was not able to go back again so couldn’t do that. Even so, pretty cool to see the workmanship on these airframes.
Aside from my two HondaJets and a little other traffic, things were not looking too busy at Boeing Field. I was contemplating my next move when I glanced at FlightRadar and saw a Douglas A-26 was flying over Seattle. This is one that is based at Renton and used as a personal transport by the owner. I have never seen it in action before. Consequently, I was quite excited. At first, I thought it looked like it was turning towards Boeing Field which would have been handy but then it headed north up towards the San Juan Islands.
I figured that, even if it was landing up there, it would be coming back to Renton later on so headed off in that direction to work out what flow the pattern was using. The A-26 had departed over the lake to the north but all of the movements now seemed to be from the north so I figured it would come in from that direction. No chance of shooting it from above at the overlook point at the south end but still plenty of options.
Unfortunately, they have closed off part of the park at the north end of the field and erected fencing. This takes away an area of higher ground which gives a good view of the threshold. However, with a couple of Cessnas bashing the circuit, I was able to see roughly what would be good and what wouldn’t. A check on FlightRadar showed that they had finished flying around the San Juans and were coming back over the city.
They followed the water from the coast in to Lake Washington and I thought would be coming straight for me. However, they continued over Bellevue instead. I wondered if they were off somewhere else but soon they had turned back and were heading for Renton. Looking up the lake, I could pick them out a long way out, long before they had even configured for landing. With the fall foliage still evident on some of the shorelines, it made for quite a nice shot – something that wouldn’t have been the case at the other end.
The A-26 is pretty speedy so they were soon on final approach and I grabbed a bunch of shots both tight and wider. Then they zipped by and behind the newly erected fencing! I packed up my stuff and headed off but, as I drove back south, I saw they were still on the ramp outside the hangar. I pulled in a watched them put the plane away. Only at the last minute did I realize that I could have got a closer shot from near the gate but I shouldn’t complain given how lucky I had been to see them out on my day off.
While researching some old images of mine from the experimental hangar at the USAF Museum in Dayton OH (the collection of which has since been moved into a new, custom build display hangar which is far more spacious), I saw some shots of something which, to be honest, I had no idea what it was. I took a look at the website of the museum to try and identify the type. It is a Fisher P-75A Eagle.
I did not knew Fisher existed and discovered it was part of General Motors. The configuration of the aircraft is quite unusual. The engine is mounted in the middle of the aircraft driving a contra-rotating propeller. The cockpit is further forward that on other single-engined fighters of the era since there was no space allocated to the engine up front. The underside includes a pair of inlets. The airframe is finished in polished metal rather than paint. Overall, it looks quite impressive. From what I read, another type was not deemed as necessary so development was terminated and they used the airframes for engine development work. Funny how I saw it on the visit and took photos and then promptly forgot about it.