I bumped into a guy I had met before while at Fox Field outside Lancaster CA. He had just arranged a ride out on to the ramp with one of the airport staff and invited me to come along. One of the old airframes stored at Fox Field, near the air tanker ramp, is an old Armstrong Whitworth Argosy. I have no idea of the history of this airframe and how it ended up here but here it is. We were free to wander around and get some shots of it.
I understand it has been at Fox Field for a long time. It isn’t going anywhere in a hurry but, courtesy of the dry climate, it is only decaying slowly. I have no idea how long it will be before it becomes unsafe to have around any longer but I imagine it will be a while. Definitely an unusual aircraft to get to shoot these days.
Glorious weather had greeted the B-17, Sentimental Journey, when it came to Seattle. The following week, it moved up to Arlington but was not so lucky. The skies were pretty overcast and the air was more humid. It didn’t make for great conditions to shoot a bare metal aircraft. However, many times before, I have written here about how poorer conditions can sometimes be worthwhile. This was one of those times.
I started off shooting from further up the field and, as the B-17 started her takeoff roll, it was clear that the props were pulling a fair bit of vapor from the air. Consequently, I headed further down the field for the next flight. This also provided a close look at the plane as it taxied out. The real benefit came when the power was applied. Vortices were streaming from the tips of the props and swirling back across the wings. It is always a tricky call when trying to shoot in these conditions. A good bit of prop blur is good as is a blurry background to emphasize speed but, this will result in the vortices being less defined. A faster shutter speed helps make them stand out. I tried to get a good balance with the speed I chose.
Over the course of the Seafair weekend, I got to see the demo F-35A arrive and depart a few times. The demo pilot would get airborne and keep the jet on the deck in full burner building up a decent amount of speed. Then, she would pull to a steep climb just as she got to the perimeter of the field. This looked pretty impressive from the side but it was even more impressive from head on.
The return to land after the display was a lot more sedate. It was a pretty standard pattern and approach but there were plenty of people at the south end to enjoy the last moments of the flight. I headed down there a couple of times. You could easily do both departure and approach since you had the whole time that the display was underway to re-position. I did all go to Ruby Chow Park from one departure and shot video rather than stills. Seeing the F-35 come right at us and then pull hard was impressive. The noise was intense and the wake threw dust and debris into the air around us. It made an impression!
My friend, Paul, had advised me that Lancaster CA had a couple of aircraft on poles that were worth a look. One is a retired Air Force test F-4 that sits at a busy intersection next to a rail station. The other is a NASA F/A-18A that is at the entrance to a baseball stadium. I decided to try and photograph both one evening when the light would be most favorable.
The guys hanging out near the F-4 looked a little perplexed as I drove up and started photographing this plane on a pole. I think they didn’t see the interest in it that I did. I think I attracted a few strange glances and I grabbed some shots and then headed back to the car. The Hornet at the baseball stadium was a different story. Not too many people around at that time so I took some shots and then headed off. There was one more target of interest but that would have to wait for a morning visit.
The Vice President made a visit to Seattle a while back. Much of the discussion was about how the traffic downtown could be disrupted but the first thought that I had was that there would be jets visiting. I was unable to see anything of the visit of Air Force One and the Marine Corps support when the president came to town but I was able to catch the Veep’s jet. For this visit, Air Force Two was provided by a USAF C-32. It arrived while I was elsewhere but I was able to catch it depart.
It was parked over near Modern Aviation and, when the motorcade arrived and delivered everybody, they were swiftly on their way. The taxi route came out towards me and then direct on to the runway to backtrack. Since a TFR was in effect, no one else was flying so no need to use the taxiway. Just straight back down the runway, do a 180 and power away. I think the 757 is a good looking jet and the C-32 certainly looks great. They were off the ground swiftly and climbing away.
Seafair provided me with my first opportunity to shoot the Blue Angels during a display since they transitioned to the Super Hornet. I was interested to see whether the display seemed any different with the new jets. Seafair is a nice location over Lake Washington but the alignment of the display box relative to the shore of the lake is not ideal and this does result in the planes being further away than for most venues. The increased size of the Super Hornet is probably a benefit in this situation.
I was interested whether the larger jets would make things seem a bit slower somehow but I didn’t notice anything in practice to support that idea. The normal tight flying that the Blues are famous for was there and, if anything, the bigger jets look closer as a result of the changed perspective. It is not that big a deal, though, so I suspect some of this was in my imagination. I would like to see them at a different location where the display axis is closer in order to get another view of the display, though.
Aside from watching the display at Lake Washington, I did also Watch them depart and return from Boeing Field. They always departed to the north and returned from the north even if everything else had been landing from the south. I spent one arrival down at the south end and watched then run the length of the runway and break for landing. It was a good spot to watch this from. Overall, I was happy with the new look for the team. I hope the jets hold up well. The Blues have a reputation of having to live with some of the oldest jets in the fleet and reliability will be something to watch.
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.
The C-12 Huron is the military version of the King Air. While it has been successful as a transport, it has also been the basis for a ton of derivatives. I am not an expert on this type and all of its subtypes so, when I see one, I can’t say for sure what it is. The most recent versions have been the MC-12W but I am not sure that they all look alike. When I saw this plane taxiing out at Boeing Field, I wondered if it was an MC-12W and asked a couple of friends that know more than me. They weren’t sure either. It might be or it could be something else. Whatever it is, it was an unusual visitor.
There are a few operators of large warbirds that take their planes on tours around the country providing people with an opportunity to check out the planes or, if they are willing to splash some cash, take a flight in them. Sentimental Journey is a B-17 that undertakes such flights and it came to the Pacific Northwest during the summer. I was at Boeing Field for a week before moving on to Arlington (of which more another time).
Because it does much of its business at the weekends, it is relatively easy to find time to come and see it fly. It did also do some flying later in the day so I was able to see it a few times. It certainly helped that the weather was really nice. I got some shots of it as it came to Boeing Field and then made some trips around the Puget Sound area. Here are some of the shots from that time. I did spend a little more time trying out shots from different places and those will get another post soon.
I was at Boeing Field for the arrival of the Blue Angels for Seafair. It was a work day so I was sitting in the car and actually presenting to some colleagues via a Teams call. My presentation was underway as they were getting close but it was almost done. I was hoping that it would all wrap up before they got there. Sadly, I was wrong. I was on the final section of the presentation when they flew overhead in Delta formation. I was shut in the car but still had to explain why it had suddenly got so loud at my end.
Fortunately, that was the end of the meeting and I was able to get out of the car in time for the arrival of the individual jets for landing. I did get to see the Delta arrival again later in the weekend but I am not sure whether it is my imagination or not but it seemed lower and closer on that first occasion when I was sitting in the car with no camera.