Tag Archives: military

The A-26 Makes a Long Trip in the Rain

During the holidays and just before New Year, my friend Paul was in town for a day, so we did some exploring.  The weather started out being less than ideal.  We had swung by Renton to see if there was anything of interest and the A-26, Sexy Sue, was out on the ramp looking ready to head off.  We debated which direction they would depart and which would be most suitable for shots.  In the end, we stayed where we were figuring it would be too high at the lake end of the field.  (That proved not to be the case with a very low departure!)

Our chosen location did give us a good view of start up and taxi out of the plane.  They were flight planned to Oakland CA which struck me as quite a long trip to take in an A-26.  Sure, in combat people would have done that and when they were corporate transports it would have been normal but there are more comfortable ways to travel these days.  Anyway, before long, they were lined up and powered off.  There was plenty of vortex action from the props in such a damp atmosphere but it probably looked better from other angles.  With them gone, we jumped back in the car and decided to continue our adventures elsewhere.

Two C-37s With One Being a Bit Shy

The US military operates a bunch of Gulfstream jets for transportation of key individuals.  One afternoon, I was at BFI and there was a C-37 from the USAF sitting on the ramp.  It had the powder blue livery common across the USAF VIP fleet.  I was hoping to see it takeoff, but it was not moving while I was there.  A little while later, it was joined by a second example.  This one was a lot less conspicuous.  It had no livery and no obvious markings at all.  The USAF has been toning down its planes recently and this was definitely in that style.  The lack of a registration might have told you that it wasn’t a civilian Gulfstream but the bigger giveaway would be the array of antennae that were on the fuselage.  This clearly could communicate with more than the average bizjet.

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!

Northwest Aviation Consortium Exercise

Last summer, Arlington Municipal Airport was the base of a multi-agency emergency preparedness exercise.  Police, county, military and EMS helicopter operators all came together to practice how they would manage major incidents should they occur in the region.  The prospect of a bunch of helicopter operators showing up in one place was too much to resist so I headed along to see what appeared.

Both King and Snohomish Counties participated, bringing their helicopters in to carry out multiple missions.  The US Navy showed up early on with an MH-60 from Whidbey Island and launched off on a mission but sadly didn’t come back afterwards.  A variety of other emergency medical operators were there with their airframes and there was a pretty regular trade in helicopters departing and returning.

The Snohomish County UH-1 undertook some work to practice lowering crews into remote spots (which I think might include rooftop insertions).  They lifted a platform on which the teams could stand and be carried into position.  They moved various groups of people around the airfield before lowering them to the ground and swapping out the individuals.  I imagine the view from that platform would be pretty impressive.

I stayed well out of the way of operations, but the teams were very friendly and happy to chat when they weren’t engaged in training.  However, with them operating multiple helicopters and having not been part of any briefing, it was clearly appropriate to keep some distance.  This meant the shots weren’t quite what I would have preferred but they were still fun to get.

Gripen Two Ship Departure

Flashback to RIAT and 2019.  I was working through the catalog looking for something for another project and came across these shots of Swedish Gripens departing from RAF Fairford after the show had concluded.  A section departure is always more interesting than a singleton even if it does give you something to think about when deciding on which plane to focus on.  The Gripen is a great looking jet and one that has been pretty successful given that it was built specifically for Swedish needs.  Always happy to get to shoot one.

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.

The Harriers Really Are Here

While Mark and I were in Arizona, we were talking about the sighting of Harriers down at El Centro.  Harriers are getting pretty rare these days and the Marines only operate them on the east coast at this point.  A detachment to this side of the country is of interest!  We debated the merits of a drive across to El Centro and decided to go for it.  We left Tucson mid morning and got to El Centro in early afternoon.  A quick drive around the south of the base saw one Harrier out in the open.  We could hear it too but, before too long, all had gone quiet – at least as far as Harriers are concerned.

As the day wore on, we were beginning to wonder whether we had been mistaken or just unlucky when a call came up on the radio of what sounded like a Harrier call sign.  A flight of four.  The daylight was beginning to get a little thin, so it was quite late to be going out but, since they have night attack avionics, no reason for them to be limited to daylight only.  Sure enough, we soon see a four ship of Harriers taxiing to the departure end.

The four of them launch in stream and, while they didn’t turn towards us when we would have liked them to, they did keep it low enough to get some nice shots.  One of the jets even had some color.  With them off, we decided to head around to the other side of the base to hopefully get their return.  Not long after we got there, one appeared overhead and alone venting fuel.  Clearly something was amiss, and it was making an early return.  A long straight in approach was best for them if not us!  Then we waited.  Unfortunately, it became clear that they would not be back before it got dark, so we eventually gave up and started our return journey.

The Return of the F-35As on Veterans’ Day

Quite some time ago, I posted a piece about the take off of some F-35As that were doing a flyover for Veteran’s Day.  What I didn’t cover in that post was that they had to come back!  They actually spent a fair bit of time out around the area as well as doing the flyover so there was some time between departure and arrival.  Originally, I had intended to get some pretty standard side on shots of their return.  However, earlier in the year, I had done the same thing for some other F-35s, and, at the last minute, I had a change of heart.

I rapidly grabbed my stuff and drove around to the approach end of the airfield near Ruby Chow Park.  I decided a head on shot followed by an underside shot would be a better bet.  Conveniently, they decided to do a run in and break rather than a straight in approach, so I was able to get some shot of them in formation as they passed overhead.  Then the approach shots worked out pretty much as I had hoped.  I was glad that I had done something different to my usual.  If there had been more opportunities, I hope I would have tried other ideas too.

A400M Atlas Demo from RIAT 2019

I was working through some shots from my last trip to RIAT in 2019.  Amazingly enough, I hadn’t finished editing some of the shots from that visit and I wanted to get rid of a lot of surplus shots to help the old hard drive space issues!  As I was working through them, I got to some shots of the A400M displays I saw over the course of the weekend.  I think the A400M is a cracking looking jet.  Whether it is doing what everyone wanted of it, I have no idea.  I just know it looks great and is capable of some really impressive demos.

For some reason, I had been feeling very brave during RIAT when it came to shooting some of the props.  I had gone with quite low shutter speeds with long lenses and the results were not necessarily all I would have wanted.  There were always going to be blurry shots to get culled, but the number of sharp ones was a little lower than I would have liked.  However, all was not a total loss, and I did get a bunch of shots that I was happy with.

Here is a selection of shots from across the show including the official displays by the Airbus test crew and some of the operator aircraft too.  The weather for RIAT 2019 was not that great.  We did get some nice light occasionally but one of the days was very wet (and I was feeling crappy too) and the others were overcast a lot of the time.  Not the most exciting light for a grey painted plane but they had the potential for prop vortices.  Will I have big prints of these on the wall?  No, I don’t think so.  However, it was okay and there will be other times, I hope.

Not Many P-3s Left So This Was a Treat

When my friend Paul first told me he was going to be in Seattle over the holidays, I thought we wouldn’t be able to get together.  However, circumstances changed, and it turned out we could go out and check out the local aviation scene.  We had been getting some stuff locally but a check on ADSB showed a P-3 and an EP-3 out at Whidbey Island and we debated whether to make the run north.  In the end, we went for it.  The EP-3 had been out a while already and it did return before we got there but we were not going to come up short.  A P-3 made its return with some lovely December sun on it.  It flew a bunch of patterns which meant the chance to try different spots to get some images, so we were rather pleased with the outcome.