Tag Archives: ISAP

Stored Dreamliners in the Early Days

Having seen the increasing number of 777s and 787s parked up at Everett (777X won’t be certificated for another year or two and the 787s have stopped delivery since October due to fuselage issues and are only now starting to be accepted again), it reminded me of the number of 787s that were stored in the early days due to the extended test program given how many issues there were with the jet.  (Does this all sound rather familiar?)

I didn’t live in the Pacific Northwest in those days but came up to Seattle for an ISAP symposium.  The field trip included time with the Heritage Flight Museum n Paine Field.  We were checking out the collection and also getting to see a few of the aircraft in action.  A few of the attendees had also paid to get flights in the planes as well.  We got to hang out on the ramp as well as on the berm which I understand was a popular spot in days gone by but is now out of bounds.

There were plenty of 787s parked around the field in those days.  To be honest, I can’t recall whether deliveries were underway and the numbers had thinned a bit but the earliest airframes were the most trouble and they might have been the ones still sitting around awaiting a long list of rectification issues and the potential that the original customer wouldn’t even take them.  These are some of the jets that I got shots of that day.

USS Midway

AU0E4344-Pano.jpgI was watching something on TV recently and there was some footage of the harbor in San Diego. The camera panned across the waterfront and right across the USS Midway. The Midway was a long lasting ship. She was originally built immediately after the end of WWII. A variety of upgrades and rebuilds meant that she served for nearly fifty years. She was a big ship but not as big as the Nimitz class ships in service today or Forrestal and Kitty Hawk classes. Consequently, she could not operate F-14s and was the last carrier to operate Phantoms which were replaced by F/A-18s when the Phantoms were retired.

QB5Y4492.jpgUpon retirement, she became a museum in San Diego where you can visit her today. I took a look around a few years ago when ISAP was holding it symposium in San Diego. I got there a day early to have a look around and a bunch of us went down to see the Midway.

QB5Y4474.jpgThe collection of aircraft on board is pretty cool. There are some unusual types on display and they are arranged about the ship. The deck and hangar space provides plenty of options for the displays given the size of the air wing she used to accommodate. The deck has been used for other events including launching Kirby Chambliss during the Red Bull Air Races one year and hosting a college basketball game.

C59F0764.jpgOne frustrating memory of my visit relates to something not on the Midway. I had been talking with my friends about how I wanted to shoot LCACs – the hovercraft the Marines use for coming ashore. While I was up on the deck, what should I hear but an LCAC. Unfortunately, I was at the wrong end of a long flight deck so only got a passing look at the LCAC as it went by. I did get a quick shot but not one that will ever win any awards!

QB5Y4509.jpgShould you find yourself in San Diego and you have some free time, I heartily recommend a visit to the Midway. San Diego has a lot to offer but the ship is impressive enough on its own and the collection of aircraft onboard is an added bonus.

C-46 Commando

wpid13604-C59F9601.jpgEven people how aren’t particularly into aviation have a reasonable chance of having heard of the Douglas DC-3, also known as the C-47 and the Dakota. Not only was it a hugely important aircraft in WWI but it also continued to provide the post war commercial services and, even today, to fill a niche in air transportation. Far less attention is given to one of its counterparts in the war, the Curtiss C-46 Commando. The C-46 never stuck in the public conscience in the same way and its use post war was a lot more limited.

wpid13612-C59F9800.jpgHowever, they didn’t all disappear and one fine example still flies at a lot of air shows. I got to see it at Pungo in Virginia a few years back at an ISAP event. The symposium was being held in Virginia Beach and we spent a couple of days at Pungo. One was the day before their annual air show. We got to look around the collection and see the aircraft in action. The C-46 put on a few great low passes and I was at one end of the field and got a great view head on.

wpid13606-C59F9606.jpgOn the day of the show, the weather was not cooperating and the train came down heavily at various times throughout the day. The C-46 did fly in the gaps provided by the not so awful weather. They were not conditions conducive to good photos but I still got some of it. However, the practice day proved to be the better day for seeing this fine machine in the air.

wpid13610-QB5Y5183.jpg wpid13608-C59F9763.jpg

Museum of Flight

wpid6656-AU0E8587-Edit.jpgThe end of the field trip for the ISAP Symposium was a visit to the Museum of Flight.  Located at Boeing Field, this is a great museum and worth a visit whether you are an aviation nut or not.  It has an impressive collection of aircraft and they are nicely displayed.  Inside are some impressive machines including the always attractive M-12, a variant of the Blackbird family that was intended to launch high speed drones (a program that was not ultimately successful and was cancelled).

wpid6658-AU0E8598.jpgOutside is a further selection of great airframes including a British Airways Concorde, the prototype Boeing 747, a Boeing 727 in American Airlines colors and a NASA Boeing 737 which may (or may not) be a prototype.  There are others too but these stand out.  They also have a Space Shuttle crew trainer which, since it is not an original orbiter, is actually more accessible to the visitors.  It was not a long visit so we had to move pretty quickly to get around but a good time nonetheless.

Heritage Flight Foundation Visit

wpid6724-AU0E8355.jpgThe field trip during the ISAP Symposium was held at Paine Field in Everett.  We were hosted by the Heritage Flight Foundation and its owner John Sessions and they were excellent hosts.  (I visited once before and you can see that post here.)  Aside from the selection of aircraft still in the hangar where we were set up, they had arranged some photo sorties with some of their aircraft.  The B-25, Grumpy, was the camera ship for a few photographers and the P-51 Mustang was the target.  A T-6 also went up as a second camera ship.  Each photo position was a paying ride with the T-6 obviously being the premium slot.

wpid6706-AU0E7804.jpgI had decided not to take the ride.  It was not cheap although certainly not bad value for money.  As the weather was not looking great, I wondered whether I had chosen wisely.  As it was, the people who did go up did get some great images.  The area certainly can provide some nice backdrops and the light, while flat, did not hurt things.  However, even as someone on the ground, the flights seemed over very fast so I imagine for those on board, it was gone all to quickly.

wpid6712-C59F9236.jpgFor those of us on the ground, we got treated to the departure and arrivals of the aircraft plus a few passes of the P-51 and T-6 which were a lot of fun.  Gloomy skies made it all a little flat looking but still a great sight.  Being able to be close to the aircraft during the start up, taxi out and return was certainly worthwhile.  The following day they were having a public event and I hope the weather improved for the large numbers they were expecting.

It’s ISAP Time Again

wpid4590-C59F3417.jpgOnce again the annual symposium of ISAP, the International Society of Aviation Photographers is back around. This year it is being held up in Seattle. It is always a good chance to meet up with old friends and spend a few days discussing planes and taking pictures of them. I am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out this year. Hopefully, it will be a great event. We shall see.

No doubt, there will be some pictures from this event that make their way onto the blog. Stay tuned to see what shows up here in the coming weeks! As to the reason for the A-10 picture above, it has nothing to do with ISAP. It’s just a picture of a plane that I like!

Virginia Air Power Park

Just down the road from the Virginia Air and Space Museum is the Virginia Air Power Park.  This has some similarities to the Air and Space Museum and some differences.  First, since it is also close to the Air Force and NASA facilities, it shares the access to some interesting exhibits.  Therefore, there are some very interesting aircraft on display.  This includes an XV-6 Kestrel from NASA, just like the Air and Space Museum.  Strange that such a rare aircraft should have two on display in such close proximity!

The differences are more pronounced.  It is an outdoor exhibition and decidedly less glamorous.  Getting funding to look after the aircraft is a continuing issue for the team there and they are working hard at it.  Some of the aircraft are repainted but others a in need of a new coat when they can get it.  Since everything is outdoors, I imagine that the preservation task is a more difficult one.  We were there on a rather grey day.  It had been raining heavily and was still cloudy and dull while we were there.  Some of the aircraft were standing in large puddles which can’t be good for them.

None of this is meant to be critical of the team.  That they are doing what they can to keep these aircraft on display is great but it must be a struggle to make sure that they are not going to rot away.  Not only are there aircraft but also some interesting missile and some rockets from the space program’s test activities.  They also have some capsule hardware from test activities.

There is a building at the park as well which currently contains a wide selection of models of different aircraft, ships and spacecraft.  Again, if you are passing by, I would recommend you pay it a visit but you might need to make sure you have some shoes that don’t mind puddles!

More Oceana

The ISAP theme continues!  In a previous post (that you can read here if you missed it) I talked about some shooting I did with some friends outside NAS Oceana, the premier fighter base for the US Navy on the east coast.  Well, the field trip from the symposium included a visit to Oceana as well although this was to be on the flightline.  VF-31 was the Squadron that hosted us.  They provided us with an excellent visit.

The squadron was not undertaking operations that day so their part of the ramp was occupied by planes but nothing was moving.  This gave us a great space in which to move around.  We were basically free to go to the end of their line where it met the taxiway and to shoot from anywhere in there.  The only restrictions were the normal ones on a Navy base.  No shooting open panels and no shooting Super Hornets down the inlets.

There was a fair amount of activity on base and the weather was very nice (if a little breezy).  Since we were there in the morning, we had the sun pretty much behind us which worked out well.  The squadrons that were flying that day seemed to have a steady stream of jets on the move.  They would taxi passed us on the next taxiway from the one we could get to the edge of so we could see the jets coming by easily and when they were in the hold they were easy enough to shoot.

The warm weather meant that shooting anything too far away was going to be fruitless if using a long lens since the heat distortion was too much.  However, if you went a little wider, you could minimize the effect of that, at least for the size of shots that are going to be posted online.  They wouldn’t stand up to too much enlargement I suspect but they certainly show what was going on.

Interspersed with the regular jets were a few in special schemes.  There were a number of the squadron specials up and flying as well as one of the CONA marked aircraft.  We also saw a few jets that were in the aggressor colors but that had moved to a new squadron so we a combination of new and old markings.  I am sure they will be repainted in gray before long so that is something good to have seen while it was around.

The VF-31 special aircraft was at the end of the line up and the squadron kindly provided some steps to allow us to get a higher look at it.  These were originally for us to get a group photo in front of the jet but, once they were there, most people took the opportunity to get a few shots as well.  These things tend to work quite well with everyone taking a turn but occasionally, as with people who linger very close to a subject, you get a few people who forget that they aren’t the only person involved.  Thankfully, he majority are very considerate and “help” the less fortunate to play well with everyone else!

The next squadron along the ramp was VF-213.  They did have some operations underway.  One of the things they were doing was providing experience flights to midshipmen who were yet to decide their career path in the Navy.  Additionally, they appeared to be in the process of training up a number of the ground crew.  Consequently, when one of the jets came in for a running change of backseater, we got to see the midshipmen swap over and the ground crew being shepherded through the process of turning the jet.  It was fun for us but I wonder how much they enjoyed having their early work being watched by so many.  Many thanks to them, though, for tolerating our presence.

Our stay was slightly extended since our bus driver had been taken ill while we were on base and a replacement had to come in and help out.  I didn’t hear the final outcome but hopefully he was feeling better later on.  With a new driver in place, it was time for us to move on.  Considering the size of the group we had, the team at Oceana did a great job of hosting us.   Many thanks for everything.


Continuing my theme of items related to the ISAP symposium, we took a trip to the Museum of Military Aviation at Pungo south of Virginia Beach.  Actually, we took two trips to be accurate.  The first was part of the symposium field trip and the second was after the symposium had concluded and was for the air show at the museum.  Since they were preparing for the air show on the Friday of the field trip, I think it is fair to combine the two events into one posting.

Friday was a great day from a weather perspective except that it was quite windy and, more importantly from an aviating perspective, the wind was directly across the runway.  This meant that not too much flying was going on.  With a great collection of vintage military aircraft available, this was a shame.  However, they were all laid out along the field to take a look at so we were able to get up close and personal with a bunch of cool aircraft.

One of the planned attendees for the show did appear but that is something I am going to save for another post.  The show also included a lot of reenactors who had set up encampments around the site.  For a lot of the group, this proved to be a good alternative to go and photograph.  Normally, I am more than willing to photograph anything interesting or unusual but, for some reason, I didn’t get into this topic at all.

It is not that they weren’t worthy of photographing.  If you look at the images that people got you can see some good work.  My friend Jo recently blogged about this very topic here so you can see some of what was there.  However, in this case it just did not seem to work for me so I spent my time wandering around other parts of the museum.

The Sunday of the show arrived with very unfavorable weather.  Apparently the Saturday had been pretty good but Sunday had low clouds and rain when we got there.  It appeared highly unlikely that it was going to improve but we waited it out for a while.  The reenactors were out again so there was much for people to see but, since I was more bothered about the aircraft, I focused on them.  A few extra aircraft had arrived since we had been there on Friday, my favorite being a Fairey Firefly that had come in from Canada.  They were supposed to depart late morning for their trip home but sadly the weather got too bad to allow even that departure.

I certainly enjoyed seeing the various aircraft at the museum and there for the show.  It was a shame they weren’t granted better weather as I’m sure their ticket sales will have suffered (although a surprising number of people continued to arrive while we were there) but hopefully they will have achieved enough to support the ongoing work of the museum.  They certainly need to be commended for their efforts putting together the event.

NAS Oceana

The recent ISAP symposium took me to Norfolk VA.  It is a short drive to Virginia Beach and NAS Oceana – the home of the east coast fighter squadrons for the US Navy.  The field trip for the symposium was going to include a visit to Oceana but, since I was there ahead of the event, I decided to pay a quick visit after my arrival.  A slight delay due to travel complications and then the passing through of a pretty significant storm meant I was a little later than planned but no great problems resulted.

The weather was not great so the light was a bit sparse.  Combined with a cloudy sky, photographing grey jets is always a challenge but I was meeting up with a friend from FenceCheck.com who lives locally so there was always time to chat even if nothing was happening.  However, after a pretty quiet period, a few more jets got up and started flying.  I was supposed to be leaving to go and pick up a friend from the airport but the storm that I had come through was not alone and his inbound flight was significantly delayed.  Therefore, I had the time to see what else would fly.

The activity kept going for a bit was the light was fading fast and my ISO settings were getting higher and higher.  Since the time to pick up my friend was now approaching, I decided to pack up my stuff.  Another jet arrived as I did so.  This didn’t bother me until I realized it was one of the CONA painted aircraft so the kit was rapidly extracted again and a few shots taken.  Then it really was time to go.

Thanks for the advice on the spot to those concerned and also for the chance to catch up.  Maybe not the most ideal conditions but still a fun way to kill an hour or two.