Tag Archives: British Columbia

Caterpillars on the Branches

I was walking along the street in Nanaimo and noticed a bush with branches that had what looked like spider webs on them.  I stopped to take a look and realized that it wasn’t spiders, it was caterpillars.  (I should note at this point, that there are people who read this blog that will already be turning off because they do not enjoy my posts that involve bugs!)  I don’t know much about caterpillars, but I am assuming that this was a nest of some sort for the next generation of caterpillars.  However, there were plenty of them on the outside crawling around.  It was quite a strange looking sight.  I couldn’t resist getting some shots of them before heading on.

Photoship Over the Air Show

The Abbotsford Air Show was also apparently an event that the Aviation Photocrew from Europe had made the trek for.  They had arranged for a variety of photo flights associated with the show and involving some of the performers.  I didn’t know that this had been set up but, when we saw the Skyvan flying overhead with planes formating on it, we knew what was happening and my friend Mark told me that the same folks were running things.  I hope that they got some good shots.

RCAF Hornet Tests High ISO Performance

The later stages of the Abbotsford Air Show included a performance by the RCAF CF-188A Hornet.  By the time it was performing, the light was pretty much gone.  The late performance has some benefits in that the burners are more striking against a darker sky, but the RCAF display often ends with a landing with the hook lowered.  I had seen this before at Chino and the same problem as happened there occurred here.  The touchdown point was a long way away from the spectator line, so it was too far away to get a decent shot.

However, there was the rest of the display to go for.  My current cameras seem very able to handle low light conditions.  The focus might be a touch slower or less accurate as the light diminishes but I wasn’t noticing a significant problem.  Also, the high ISO capabilities of current generation cameras are really impressive so shooting in such conditions is not necessarily a problem.  The camera will be able to perform although that won’t compensate for a jet just not looking that good with so little light.  You still have to pick your shots.

The Hornet is a good display jet with the ability to point the nose in different directions rapidly and to pull a decent amount of vapor from the air.  It can turn and it can blast through, so it makes for a good show.  Original generation Hornets are starting to become a rarity.  It won’t be long before the Canadian jets have been replaced by F-35s.  Other operators have already transitioned and more will follow.  Catch the legacy Hornets while you can and, preferably, in interesting lighting conditions.

The KF Centre of Excellence

Usually, when I go somewhere new, I have done some research on what aviation related things might be in the area should there happen to be any spare time to squeeze something in.  I had actually been checking out the layout of the airport at Kelowna before our trip since I knew that Kelowna Flightcraft had their operations and there was an Alaska Airlines paint facility.  I figured it would be worth a drive by if time allowed.

As it turned out, our planned hike got scrubbed because the snow made access to the trail, we intended to try impossible for our not off-road optimized car.  We were looking for something else to do and I asked Nancy is a quick drive by at the airport would be possible.  With nothing else in mind, so generously acquiesced.  We drove up the west side of the airport and passed a pair of Convairs up a side road with a sign saying Open to the Public.

I had no idea what this could be but, when we came back, we drove up to take a look.  Much to my surprise (and Nancy’s bemusement that I didn’t already know), we were at the KF Centre of Excellence.  This is a new museum that the owner(?) of Kelowna Flightcraft has established.  The building itself is a lovely structure.  It is loosely designed to resemble the layout of a plane with a central fuselage element and two wings which are hangars.  The external styling is very nice, and the interior is tastefully finished with lots of wood.  We paid to have a look around with the front desk being a converted nacelle.  (Much of the furnishing is aviation components that have been repurposed.  An office desk from a tailplane, nacelles that have been modified and the café seating is all old business class seats.

The center section of the museum has a lot of exhibits about flying including engines, fuselage components and even an old simulator.  It is quite informative and educational.  We enjoyed looking around.  Then it was to the hangars.  One has a Second World War vintage to it.  The largest item was a DC-3 but it was probably the least exciting.  Alongside it was a Mosquito that had only recently been flown in.  Beside that is a Hawker Tempest which is in an advanced state of restoration to flightworthy condition.  It may well be the only Tempest I have seen.  I’m not sure if I have ever seen one before.

Across to the other side and things are still quite empty.  Clearly there are plans to add more aircraft in due course.  A Staggerwing and a few floatplanes are in place but the two-seat F-104 Starfighter is definitely the most exotic.  It was airworthy until relatively recently.  Sadly, it is rather tight to the wall which made getting shots from different angles tricky.  Still cool to see it though.

I had no idea about the museum.  I had heard something about the Mosquito flying out of Vancouver to a new owner but hadn’t really pieced together what was going on so didn’t realize it was Kelowna.  The whole thing was quite a surprise.  Finding such a collection and in such a lovely building was a shock.  Oh yes, parked out front were two Convairs.  One was the old Honeywell testbed that I have shot prior to its retirement and the other is a retired water bomber.  How cool.  (As an aside, the Honeywell 757 testbed was just down the road undergoing some maintenance work.)

F-35A Snorting it Up at Abbotsford

I saw the USAF F-35A demo at SeaFair in 2022 and it was impressive but, unfortunately, a bit distant over the lake.  Abbotsford in 2023 was my first chance to see the performance closer in and that combined with the evening show to give good lighting conditions.  I was not disappointed.  The demo was a great routine, and it really tore up the skies as the pilot wrung the jet out for our entertainment.  The honking great engine means it is never quiet and, while it might not be as agile as an F-16, there is plenty of control authority for some rapid changes of direction.  The evening light made the airframe look even better.  These are some of my favorite shots from the display.

The Hawk 115 and I Are Aging Together

Not a great shot, in this case, but one that means something to me.  When I went to the Abbotsford Air Show, there was a Hawk 115 in the static display.  It was in an interesting color scheme but the lighting was a bit tough and it was surrounded be people.  The reason I liked it was that I was involved in the Hawk 115 program when it was first underway.  I left the company before the first jets were completed so I never actually saw one.  This might actually have been my first encounter with one.  Since they have been in service for nearly 25 years, they are probably nearing the end of their time so I did leave it a little late.  It looks in better shape than me!

Layers of Hills South of Kelowna

As we were walking around the winery in Kelowna, we had a lovely view to the south across the lake and to the hills beyond.  The weather was quite clear but there was same haze in the air.  This did a nice job of distinguishing between the hills based on their distance with the farthest hills getting obscured the most.  With the warm winter light on this haze, it made for a very attractive view of the terrain in the distance, and I grabbed a longer lens for a quick shot.

Mission Hills Winery

During our visit to Kelowna, we stopped off at a winery in the city that produces wine we have had before and that we wanted to get some more from.  It is called Mission Hills and is on the hillside overlooking the lake.  It isn’t a long drive from the center of the city, and you approach it through a residential area.  After passing through the main gate, it all still looks rather anonymous.

However, walk from the parking lot and things open up considerably.  The architecture is styled to resemble an Italian villa.  There are some colonnaded areas, a large chapel type building, the main building in which the wine tastings and sales are handled and a carillon.  Being up on the hill, this all has a lovely view down to the water with some vines on the slopes below.

It was a rather overcast day so not ideal for photographing it, but I had the phone with me, so I was not going to let the visit go unrecorded.  There were a few other people wandering the grounds, but I managed – on the whole – to exclude them from the shots.  Getting the whole carillon in the shot from close up required a little contortion to get the phone on the ground and looking at the right angle.  I think it worked out okay.

The location is very nice, and the wine is even better.  If you are in Kelowna, I do recommend a visit.

USAF Moose Low Over Canada

The air show at Abbotsford has the conspicuous backdrop of Mt Baker.  For the evening show, the light was really nice on the mountain and I think I have already posted about that.  Some of the display aircraft would make turns in front of the mountain.  Most are too small to be obvious in a shot but something the size of a C-17 Globemaster is going to show up.  The USAF Moose was one of the display and here it is as it reverses course back towards the airfield.

End of the Line at Abbotsford

My first trip to Abbotsford for the airshow got me there pretty early.  I was hanging around prior to meeting up with my friend and I saw a couple of old S-2 Trackers that were sitting in a field.  These were clearly waterbombers in days gone by but they have reached the end of the road as far as their flying career is concerned.  I understand that they were due to be heading off soon.  I was glad to see them before they went.  Seeing them flying would have been better of course.