Tag Archives: olympia

Airlift Northwest In Olympia

Airlift Northwest is a regular feature in the Seattle area providing aeromedical services across the region.  I have seen their helicopters at both Arlington and Boeing Field numerous times.  During the Olympic Air Show at Olympia, I was wandering up towards the hangar where the Huskie was stored when one of the Airlift Northwest EC-135s made its approach.  I couldn’t have been better positioned for it so got a bunch of shots as it came in and landed.  The UW colors look good on these helicopters.

You Fly The Huey And I’ll Check My Texts

After talking to someone that flew for the operator, I found myself checking through some older shots of the Olympic Air Show with the Hueys doing flight demonstrations.  As I scrolled through the shots, I saw that, of the two crew, one was busy flying the helicopter and the other was playing with their phone.  I imagine that they were filming the display but I preferred the idea that the whole thing was too boring and they were just checking out messages instead.

Department Of Natural Resources Demo

Let’s head back to the summer and the Olympic Air Show in Olympia.  This is a show that often has a helicopter theme but this year it had an extra rotary element that was cool to watch.  Earlier in the day, I had been looking across the field to where a selection of Hueys were parked up.  These belong to the Department of Natural Resources for the State of Washington.  What I hadn’t realized was that they were going to be part of the flying display.

Two of the Hueys took part.  They undertook a demonstration of aerial firefighting techniques.  While both helicopters were fitted with the underfuselage tank, one was configured to use the tank while the other was set up with a Bambi bucket.  A large water container – looked like a giant paddling pool to me – had been set up at the far end of the field.  Why they chose to put it so far away from the public I don’t know.

The helicopters took it in turns to fill up with water, either with a snorkel or by dunking the bucket.  They then went to the opposite end of the field and demonstrated different techniques for dropping water on the fire.  These would include a direct run overhead, a vertical drop, a toss maneuver and so on.  Each Huey would use the technique with the only variation for each cycle being the difference between the integral tank and the bucket.

Everything was a bit distant from the crowd so it was stretching the capabilities of the lenses (and the dope holding them) but it was one of the times that you were grateful for it not being too sunny since the heat haze was barely an issue.  It would have been fun to have it all a bit closer to the crowd but it was still a good demonstration of the capabilities the Department has for dealing with wildfires, something that was, no doubt, put to good use later in the year.

Movie Star Black Hawk

When I got to Olympia for the Olympic Air Show, one of the first things I saw on the ramp was a very serious looking Black Hawk.  It was equipped with everything you could think off.  The ESSS system was mounted, there was a FLIR turret and a variety of weapons.  I was rather curious what unit owned it.  It turns out it is a civilian owned machine.  Northwest Helicopters is the operator and it is used for filming work.  That explains it looking so tooled up.  A civil registration is discretely on the tail and it says the machine is actually an EH-60.  I’ll have to watch out for it in any movies that are coming up.

Sunny Huskie

I almost didn’t make it to the Olympic Air Show in Olympia this year.  I had been on the road and picked up a cold that had left me feeling pretty crummy.  The drive down and back was not appealing if I was feeling bad but, when I woke up on the Saturday, I didn’t feel too rough.  I wasn’t going to get up and out early to make it inside for the show but there was the chance of meeting up with the guys to shot in the afternoon and that is what I did.  No need to walk much and the drive wasn’t too energetic so I could go with it.

The main reason for going was the Huskie.  Last year I got my first experience of it flying but the light had been pretty flat and overcast.  This year the forecast was for sun so I didn’t want to miss the chance to shoot it in good conditions.  I’m glad I went.  The display was a nice routine but restrained as you would imagine for something that only flies one weekend a year.  It came close to us on a few occasions so I was able to get some shots.  If they flew a little later in the day, that would be good but I got what I went for.  It may not have been the greatest idea, though, because I felt decidedly crap on the Sunday.  I guess the cold had not run its course after all.

An Old School Cobra

The Cobra is still a big part of Marine Corps aviation with the Zulu model the current favorite as it replaces the previous Whiskey models.  However, the Cobra started out life as an Army attack helicopter.  While they are long retired from Army service, old examples still are airworthy and one of them was performing at the Olympia air show.  I was rather pleased to see it when it initially arrived and then it performed a flying display alongside a Huey.

A lightly loaded Cobra is still an agile beast and this one was being thrown around with some zeal.  Unfortunately, the sky was rather overcast so the shape was a bit disguised by the shadows but it was still great to see the narrow fuselage combined with the broad chord rotor as it thrashed its way around the display.  What a cool looking machine.

The Only Airworthy Huskie

This one is about as rare as something gets.  If you are the only airworthy example, the only thing that is going to beat you is the only example at all.  The Kaman Huskie is a neat little helicopter.  It features the Kaman intermeshing rotor design which removes the requirement for a tail rotor and results in a pretty compact configuration.  These used to be in widespread service with the US forces.  Now they are scrapped or in museums.

This one lives in Olympia and it comes out to fly at their annual air show.  Apparently, there are only about 14 hours left on the rotor blades and there are no more blades so the flying is rationed carefully to get a few more years out of her.  Kaman’s rotor blade design includes control surfaces on the blade so these are not a simple item.

Seeing her towed out was a lot of fun and I was delighted when she taxied out and took off for the display.  What a fascinating shape and something genuinely different.  I was so pleased, even if the light was rather sketchy.  A cloudy Huskie is better than no Huskie at all.

Olympia Capitol building

wpid6875-AU0E1523.jpgI was in Olympia WA recently for some meetings.  The meetings were near the state capitol and with some time free at lunchtime, I wandered over to have a look around.  The building is quite similar in form to a number of capitol buildings with a domed structure topping the main building.  It was very nicely decorated with it being impressive without be too grandiose.  I met one of the building guides as I came in and she kindly showed me around including letting me into one of the function rooms that is normally locked.

wpid6901-AU0E1649.jpgGeorge Washington appears throughout the building in various places as you might expect for a state named after him.  Neither chamber was sitting while I was there so I could go to the visitors galleries for both and walk around without restrictions.  We even got to go into the Governor’s office to see the room in which he holds meetings with visitors.  (We didn’t go into the office he occupies as I think he was in there at the time!)  The grounds around the capitol were very nice too and it was a great day so not a bad way to spend a lunch break.