During the Abbotsford Air Show, we could see a bunch of people out on the airfield. It wasn’t obvious what they were doing but I took some shots with the longest lens I had to see if I might later work out what was going in. My friend Mark thought it might be related to the drone display that was due to take place after dark. I think he might have been right. Looking at the shots, they seem to be waving the drones around above themselves. Maybe this is part of a calibration routine or something to do with activating them and having them communicate. I don’t know. If anyone is familiar with all of this, please do let me know in the comments.
The Royal Canadian Air Force will soon be getting new tanker transport aircraft. They are going to buy some Airbus A330 MRTTs to replace their CC-150 Polaris jets. These are based on the A310 and I have never seen one before. Fortunately, there was one on static display at Abbotsford for the air show. It was in the grey scheme rather than the brightly painted version but that was fine by me. I was just glad to get one before they are replaced. It would be good to see one flying but I suspect the chances of that are diminishing. You never know, though.
The Canadian Forces SkyHawks parachute display team opened the Abbotsford Air Show evening display. One of the jumpers had a line of smoke canisters that hung beneath them as they descended under their canopy. Some tight turns allowed the line to swing out and create some nice smoke trail patterns. Here are some shots of the results.
The Canadian Forces parachute display team, The SkyHawks, were performing at the Abbotsford Airshow. With their Canadian flag parachutes, they carried American and Canadian flags for the show opening as well as undertaking a few formation demonstrations. I was working my way through the images from the show and was cropping in on the shots to see which were the sharpest. It gave me a better view of how the team members link together for some of the configurations that they use.
One of the positions involved one guy’s foot being hooked between the legs of his partner. This looked like a pretty tough position to hold. In a three-person formation, the middle individual was holding the other two in place. I imagine that there is a fair bit of strength involved in making this work. These soldiers are undoubtedly tough individuals. I suspect you practice these positions a little further from the ground for the first few times!
The Antelope Valley Airshow at Edwards AFB last year gave access to some very unusual airframes including some unique types. In the 90s, an F-16D airframe was converted into a variable stability testbed. It was used for test pilot training but also became a testbed for other technologies. Known as VISTA, it also tested a thrust vectoring nozzle on the engine as MATV, performing some amazing maneuvers. I know one of the test pilots that flew it including when it misbehaved!
The aircraft continues to be used for new developments and, relatively recently, it was re-designated to be an X-plane. It is now known as the X-62 while continuing to perform some of its original test pilot training roles. It was on display in one of the hangars at Edwards. It was a bit hard to get good shots of it since everything was rather crowded, but I was able to get a few that I was happy with.
The KC-46 will end up being a big selling tanker because the USAF will buy loads and a few export customers will follow suit. However, where open competitions have been held, the Airbus A330 MRTT has been most successful. It is developing a wide customer base and one of those customer is the Royal Australian Air Force. They have brought their tankers, known as KC30, to the US on exercises but I had not seen one in person until I got to the Antelope Valley Air Show at Edwards AFB. The tanker was sitting on the ramp in the static area. It was looking particularly clean for a military jet and was configured with both the boom and the underwing pods for probe and rogue refueling. Fitting in a big jet in a busy ramp is tricky so a pano can help out making a shot possible. Now I just need to see one actually airborne!
Edwards AFB might be the home of the USAF flight test center but it is also home for NASA’s Armstrong test center. Consequently, NASA was included in the flying display. They put up a three ship formation that mad a series of passes. The formation was led by a Gulfstream with an F-15 and an F/A-18 on the wing tips. The Eagle is one that has been with NASA for years and is painted in a white scheme. The Hornet was still in Strike Test colors from Pax River but I have no idea how long it has been with NASA.
The two jets also did some demonstrations of sonic booms as they maneuvered high above the crowd with the booms reaching the ground at different times depending on how high they had been created. The sound was also modified by the maneuvering of the jet. Formations like this don’t appear regularly at air shows so this was a welcome addition to the flying program.
The F-35’s appearance at Seafair has resulted in a few posts of departures and arrivals at Boeing Field on this blog. However, I don’t think I have actually shared any shots of the display itself. I quite enjoyed the demo routine that the USAF had last year. Unfortunately, the display axis for Seafair is a long way from the shore so the shots were a bit distant. I also didn’t know the routine and was caught out when flares were dispensed and so didn’t get shots of those that I am happy with. However, there were a few times when the jet came in close to the shore and I got some closer views. I do want to see the display at a more conventional location at some point.
During the air show at Edwards AFB, there was a lot of maneuvering of aircraft high above the crowds. There was a little cloud at higher levels – not enough to stop it being almost uncomfortably hot, but enough to be visible – and the planes that flew through this level left their wakes through the cloud layers breaking them up and forming patterns where they had been. I thought this looked really cool and, because the show was backlit, the sun was coming through these patterns and the shadows made them appear more conspicuous. A C-17 flew across at one point which gives you some idea of the scale of these interesting patterns in the sky.
I went to see Seafair itself for the first time this year. I had been to Boeing Field to watch launches and recoveries before but this was my first time down by Lake Washington for the show. I was down close to Seward Park and, on one of the small bits of land jutting out in to the water was the location that the Coast Guard had parked their MH-65E Dolphin. It was part of the display but I suspect it was also on duty if there were any issues during the show.
I was looking forward to getting shots of it moving but, as a result of a re-planning of a presentation to a client which had been originally scheduled for the day before, I needed to take this call on my day off at the show. The call coincided with the Coast Guard demo. I was sitting on a Teams call on my phone as the Dolphin lifted off right next to me and did a dynamic low transition. Oh to have been able to photograph that!
I did get shots of it on the (sloping) ground and, at the end of the show, they took off to head back to wherever they were overnighting. At least this time, I was able to get shots of them starting up and taking off. Sadly, the departure was far less dynamic than the one for the show. However, there was nothing I could do about that. It was still cool to watch them from relatively close quarters.