Tag Archives: arizona

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!

A Huey Trip at the Last Minute

During our Arizona trip, Mark and I stopped by at Falcon Field.  Our friend, Joe, is involved in a group, the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, that maintains and operates historic army helicopters, and they were having a flying event that day.  We wanted to see the Huey that they operate as it was taking people out on rides.  We saw a couple of runs and then they stopped for a break, and we could wander around the helicopter.  When they were getting ready for the next flight, they had a spare slot and asked if I wanted to take a ride.  The funny thing is, while I was happy to make the contribution, I often am more interested in seeing the flying from the outside rather than being inside.  However, since it was a good cause, I said yes.  I am so glad I did so.  I had a good spot looking forward between the two crew up front and next to the open door giving me plenty to see.  I decided that video was more likely to be a good way of recording such a trip so that is the majority of what I took during the trip.  I did get some stills, of course, but the video then got edited down to the following piece.  I thoroughly enjoyed the flight and the brief time to see some of the surrounding landscape.  I will not be so reticent in future.

Falcon 10s Aren’t Too Common These Days

The Dassault bizjets line continues to flourish but it all goes back to an earlier generation.  Interestingly, The Falcon 10 came after the Falcon 20 despite the numbering and is not related in anything other than name to the Falcon 10X which is the latest development from Dassault.  It is still a popular jet but there just aren’t that many of them around anymore.  However, they aren’t extinct and catching one is a nice result.

I have actually caught two of them in recent(ish) times.  The first came into Boeing Field and I have to say the weather was playing ball for a change.  Lovely winter light as it showed up and I was quite happy with the results.  Indeed, I thought this might be my last encounter with one for some time, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that one was coming into Phoenix Sky Harbor the day I flew down there.  Just before sunset it showed up.  It is a small plane so was a bit distant on the northern runway but still a result!

North Rim

Nancy and I took a trip to Arizona and Utah many years ago.  It proved to be a really excellent trip and we saw some amazing locations.  The first stop on the trip was the Grand Canyon.  While the majority of visitors go to the South Rim of the canyon, this trip took us to the North Rim.  The two locations are not far apart but to get from one to the other involves hours of driving.  Apparently, there is some canyon in the way!

The North Rim is accessible for a smaller part of the year because it gets snowed in and doesn’t clear out until late in spring.  The views are supposed to be similar on either side but the lack of people at the North Rim makes it a more peaceful place to visit apparently (I haven’t been to the South Rim so can’t speak with authority).  The scenery was definitely beautiful.  We had some cloudy times and some very clear weather.  At night you could look at an amazing night sky.

The problem with the Grand Canyon is that there is little you can do to convey the scale.  Images are really not able to provide an understanding of just how vast the place is.  You can see it is pretty, but the experience is not reproduced.  To be honest, even when I was there, I found it hard to appreciate the scale.  With so little to reference, you struggle to realize what is close and what is far away.  Occasionally, if you see a boat on the Colorado River, you realize just how immense it all is.  Awesome is a word that should be used when describing the Grand Canyon!

I haven’t looked at these pictures for years.  I realize that I took some of them as examples at the time and then focused on those.  I haven’t been through some of the others.  With newer processing techniques, there is plenty to be done with some of the shots I have overlooked.  I shall be playing with this for quite a while I think.

Customs Citation

AE7I5235.jpgCessna Citations are not the most exciting business jets.  The original versions are particularly uninspiring with their simple design and unswept wing.  Normally I might not even bother if I came across one.  This example showed up at Davis Monthan while we were on the ramp and it obviously wasn’t a standard version.  It belongs to the Customs people.  I imagine it spends a lot of time looking at what is going on along the border.  Flying out of Tucson would support that idea.  I imagine the sensors on board are a lot more interesting than the plane itself.

Pinal Air Park

AE7I6148-Pano.jpgPinal Air Park is located northwest of Tucson.  A number of business operate there.  It used to be a location for Evergreen International.  They carried out a number of programs of a spooky nature which meant there was strict security controlling access to the area.  Evergreen have gone bust so now the airport is a lot less restricted.  The hangars and ramp areas are still controlled but the roads around the field are now freely accessible.

AE7I6139.jpgThe airport is used for active operators but also for storage of airframes.  Some of these are planes that are clearly not going to be making it back into the air again.  They are either old enough to not be in demand or of a type that has more value in the spare parts they contain than as a complete airframe.  That isn’t the case for all of them though.  Many of them are stored awaiting another operator finding a use for them.  Consequently, you see a variety of aircraft from old TWA 747s to unmarked A330s.

AE7I6150.jpgWhile I was there, a Pratt and Whitney 747SP engine testbed was visible on one ramp while the Global Supertanker 747-400 was not far away.  There were also some stored Grumman Goose aircraft (should that be Geese?) that looked like they weren’t moving for a while.  A turbine Caribou was on the ramp obscured by a CASA 212.  Plenty of variety.  This would certainly be a fun place to tour with someone that has good access.

Are New Tires That Expensive?

B11I3641.jpgI was skimming through some shots from Tucson to thin out the shots that I got from that day.  I looked at one of the shots because I thought that there was something wrong with the shot.  When I checked a few of the surrounding shots, I realized that there was nothing wrong.  The shot was real.  The F-16 had a tire that was looking very sad.  I know that budgets are tight but I think they need to change the tires on this jet.

Apache over Pinal

AE7I6217.jpgHave you ever been excited to have a lucky break and then felt disappointed by the same thing afterwards?  If so, you are like me and you really need help.  I was up at Pinal Air Park in the evening after our time on the range at Hawgsmoke.  An Apache helicopter was flying around the pattern.  I was impressed that it was flying while I was there and grabbed some shots.  The Singaporean forces have some Apaches there that they train on.  When I looked at the shots, I was hoping that was what I had got.  Sadly, it was just a normal US Apache.  Why was I so disappointed?  No good reason.  It was still cool to see one in the nice evening light but you often focus on what might have been.  Not healthy!

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Can 700mm Reach Into the Cockpit?

B11I5499.jpgSince changing camera bodies to something that is full frame, one of the things I have been pondering is what I will notice about the reduced reach that I will get with my current lenses.  Obviously there will be a change.  So far it has only really resulted in me changing when I press the shutter since I still work based on what I see through the viewfinder.  While we were out on the range at Hawgsmoke, the jets would carry out a strafing run and then pull towards the range tower where we were located.  Sometimes they would be really close.

B11I5161.jpgI had decided to try putting a 1.4x tele convertor on the 500mm to compensate for the larger sensor size.  This worked well for a number of the shots but, when the jets pulled overhead, it was a touch too much!  These shots are not cropped.  They are really that close and you can see exactly what is in the cockpit.

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Spooky Metroliner(ish)

AE7I4791.jpgIf I hadn’t been with Joe who is a bit more familiar with the regular movements at Tucson International, I would not have been too interested in this aircraft.  It looked like a pretty standard C-26 to me.  However, Joe was quick to see it and told me it is one that he had not seen move (I can’t recall whether this was ever or just for a long time).  Apparently, the turret under the fuselage is for surveillance activities of a spooky nature.  Why it was moving on this day (was it watching me?) I have no idea.  I was just glad that, rather than dismissing it as I might have done, I found out it was a little different.