I was listening to an episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage that was discussing wasps versus bees. As part of the conversation, one of the contributors mentioned that wasps like sweet things early in the season when they are feeding their young but, later in the year, they are only feeding themselves and they want protein (or the other way around if I have remembered incorrectly). I didn’t know anything about this before but then, shortly afterwards, we were sitting out on the deck after dinner and a wasp landed on a plate and then flew off with a chunk of chicken. This chunk was almost as big as it was.
A week later, we were back out on the deck and, with dinner done, a wasp came back to check out the leftovers. This time I was ready with my phone. Sure enough, it landed on my plate, checked out a piece of corn and then homed in on some chicken. A few bites later, it had extracted its meal and got airborne and away. I had my video proof, so I was happy. It came back for a second piece a little while later, so I guess it was storing food for later.
The Dornier 328Jet is not a total rarity but it is unusual enough to get attention. Earlier this year, one showed up as coming through BFI. Since I was able to be there, I decided it had to be worth the trip. Sure, it is just another landing shot of a small airliner but I spend too much time thinking back to things I never bothered about at the time that are now gone so I’d rather not add to that list.
The title kind of says it all for this one. I was up across the border at Abbotsford and saw these clouds in the evening light. I doubt there is anything special about them but I just liked the look so here they are.
Once Russia went to war with Ukraine, the ability of Russian cargo operators to continue their US business went away. Volga Dnepr had been providing a bunch of service for Boeing operations at Everett bringing in outsize airframe parts. With them out of the picture, Boeing had to find an alternative. Antonov Design Bureau designed the AN-124 originally and it has an in house airline, Antonov Airlines. They seem to have picked up a bunch of work that Volga Dnepr previously had. Despite the enthusiasm for various people calling them Russians, they are definitely Ukrainian!
They have been in and out of Paine Field pretty frequently over the last few months. I have got shots of them at different times with the aircraft carrying various messages about cities in Ukraine. Having got shots at different times, I also started shooting some video. Here are some of the shots along with a video of one of the departures.
The flowers in our back yard are very popular with butterflies and, with nice evening light in the garden, I was bound to drag out the macro lens. However, when I tried getting some shots, the camera was having a really hard time focusing. I often ended up using the manual focus ring to get something close when the camera kept focusing on the background. I had struggled with a couple of other subjects previously and I was beginning to get really annoyed. This was not a cheap lens, and the camera certainly isn’t cheap but why wouldn’t it focus on a butterfly? I was using animal mode so thought it would cope.
I ended up trying different focus area modes. Narrowing it down to the small focus spot and moving that around by hand rather than using the subject detection modes was my next effort. I seemed to have some better luck, but it still was unreliable and was giving me a red box around the focus area. Why wouldn’t it work. I took a look in the menus to see if there was something in there which was going to be an issue but nothing there either. I was beginning to be fearful I had a dud. Then I noticed something. The focus limit switch had moved from the full range to having a minimum focus distance of 0.5m. That would certainly be an issue. Put it back to where it should have been and suddenly the focus was working perfectly. What a dope. Not sure when I had knocked that switch but it might have been a while back. Doh!
The Antelope Valley Airshow at Edwards AFB last year gave access to some very unusual airframes including some unique types. In the 90s, an F-16D airframe was converted into a variable stability testbed. It was used for test pilot training but also became a testbed for other technologies. Known as VISTA, it also tested a thrust vectoring nozzle on the engine as MATV, performing some amazing maneuvers. I know one of the test pilots that flew it including when it misbehaved!
The aircraft continues to be used for new developments and, relatively recently, it was re-designated to be an X-plane. It is now known as the X-62 while continuing to perform some of its original test pilot training roles. It was on display in one of the hangars at Edwards. It was a bit hard to get good shots of it since everything was rather crowded, but I was able to get a few that I was happy with.
The conference center in Pittsburgh was my destination for a rail conference in June. I was there for several days but it was only on the last day that I managed to get some time to head up to the roof area of the center. It had some interesting gardens with views across the roof structure and some art installations. It also had a great view across the river. The top wasn’t the only interesting spot. There was a route under the center too which I found on my first day there when I was struggling with how to actually get into the place. It was not very intuitive which, given the nature of the place, seems rather odd. I saw a few people riding bikes through this lower level, but I never went down there.
In February, we headed to the UK for a family wedding that we had really been looking forward to. The overnight flight to Heathrow got us across the Atlantic. When we landed, we headed for Terminal 5 to unload. However, our gate was not yet clear. We had made good time across the water, so we were a little early and the late departures of BA were not designed to accommodate that! Instead, we started doing laps of the concourses while they waited for us to have a gate open. We ended up parking on a taxiway for a while and then doing another half lap. While this was not ideal, I did end up taking a few photos of the BA jets around the airport.
Much of the wildlife I end up photographing in Juanita Bay Park is the birds or the aquatic life. However, I do occasionally come across some other creatures as I stroll through and one afternoon it was some deer. I have seen deer in the park before. They tend to stay away from the more heavily trafficked areas, but they do cross the paths when getting from one spot to another. That was what happened in this instance. They jumped out of the bushes ahead of where I was heading and across to more foliage. I thought they would be gone but they stopped and munched on some of the leaves for a while. Not clearly in sight but not avoiding me either!
I have posted a few shots of preserved aircraft at Kemble, but Cotswold Airport is the end of the line for a lot of planes in a far less graceful way. It is the base for disassembly of airframes that have reached the end of their operational lives. A jet doesn’t have to be that old to have greater value in its parts than as an operational aircraft. If a major check is coming up and it isn’t worth that much post check, it might be worth it to the owner to have it broken down for spares. As airframes get older, this decision is more obvious.
Kemble is the location where a lot of this happens. From the airfield or from the road that passes by, you can see a line up of aircraft that are unlikely to ever fly again. They will be progressively stripped of their most valuable parts. They may hang around like this for a long time with bits being gradually taken off as they are demanded by other operators. Eventually, there will be little left of value and the scrap metal will become the most valuable thing that they have to offer. Then they will be cut up. It is a safe process for an aviation enthusiast but a normal part of the life cycle of an aircraft. If you are in the area, head by to see what is there.