Airport roads can sometimes throw up interesting surprises. I was driving around Paine Field one weekend and came upon this fuselage sitting on a trailer. I had a chat with the guys loading it up. It is a Lockheed 12 and was heading to Minnesota for restoration to flight. They suggested a lot of work was needed and it would be a while before it was flying again. However, I was just taken to see it sitting beside the road as I happened to pass by.
Quite a few of the planes that went to Concrete for the fly in were great STOL aircraft. Light airframes with plenty of power and high lift wings make for a really short take-off. Pilots of STOL planes are usually quite keen to show off the performance of their steeds so we knew we would get some aggressive takeoffs.
Consequently, I did try to position myself in the right spot along the runway when the STOL planes were taking off. Getting a frontal view of the plane as they pull up rapidly and climb out steeply was the goal. They usually obliged. I haven’t been to any of the STOL competitions or the recent version that involves getting airborne and back on the ground, but I would like to see that at some point. There is one in Alaska I would love to try at some point!
I’ve posted shots of Murphy Mooses (or however that should be as a plural) in other posts including one with a turbine engine. This one showed up at Olympia during one of the Olympic Air Shows. It’s an average looking plane but stick it on floats and it immediately looks more interesting. It landed and taxied in and then didn’t move again while I was there but at least I got some shots of it.
There are a few planes that showed up at the Concrete Fly In that I particularly liked and one of those was a Helio Courier. This is a beast of a plane but one that has some impressive field performance. The example that showed up was completely unpainted which made it look even better (plus shaved some pounds off to improve that performance even more). However, I was a little troubled by some of the flying. The pilot took it up for a flight while we were there, and they climbed up above the field. From the ground it is always hard to judge accurately what is happening so I will caveat all of this by saying it is how it appeared to me.
I don’t know what the winds were like aloft, but they seemed to be doing some slow flight above the field. There also seemed to be a bit of wing rocking going on as they maneuvered, and I did wonder just how close to the stall they were flying. Things might have been perfectly safe, but it did look odd from the ground. Then there was the landing. I don’t know whether they intended to land on the grass beside the runway but, as far as I am aware, that is not a designated operating area. I think it is used for taxiing. Anyway, they landed off the side of the runway and ran out on this area of grass. Was that intentional? Sort of didn’t look like it but I can’t say for certain. Was it a good idea? Probably not.
Let’s put all of that aside for now. The aircraft is a fine machine, it carries a decent payload, it can get in and out of short strips and it is not so common so all of that adds up to a cool aircraft to see up close – thankfully not too close!
I have seen the Aero Vodochody designed and Let Kunovice built Aero 45 before at events. However, it was always parked and never in motion. I think it is such a cool looking like aircraft and reminds me of a mini Heinkel HE-111. I really wanted to see it flying and I have had two opportunities this year to do so. First it showed up at Concrete for the fly in. This was great news as I got it landing from close proximity and then again when it took off.
It was not a lot later that the Arlington show was setting up. I wasn’t going to be at the show but I was there the day before for some warbird flying and the Aero 45 was coming in to be on static. (This was a repeat of the first time I saw it in person which was also at Arlington.). Not so close this time but another opportunity to catch it in flight. What a cool looking plane. Glad we have it up here in the PNW.
The time between me doing something and its appearance on the blog can vary wildly. Sometimes, I will aim to get something squeezed in here soon after it happens but that is the exception. Usually, I have stuff posted out quite far in advance. As I come up with new topics, they get added to the schedule and, if a topic doesn’t get written about promptly, it can really disappear into the distance. Such is the case with the Concrete fly in of 2023.
There will be several posts that make it on here from that event in the coming weeks. I have started writing them up but some of the specific topics will take a while to appear. However, I shall start things off with a more general post about the fly in. Held at Mears Field in the interestingly names town of Concrete, it is a popular gathering of planes from around the region. There is a single runway running east/west in the valley and the planes park up on either side of it. You are able to walk across the runway at a couple of locations (or further away from them if you want to avoid the air cadets) so just keep you head on a swivel. The wind seems to change midway through the day, so arrivals were from the west in the morning and the east in the afternoon.
We set up at a spot near the threshold on the eastern end of the field and it provides a good location to watch the landings and the takeoff rolls. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that you can walk around, and you find you have stayed in one place for ages getting similar shots. I did try and mix it up from time to time but it was rather sunny and warm and the shade under the wing of a 170 was pretty appealing.
Since I was shooting a lot of light aircraft, I decided to try and make the shots more interesting by keeping the shutter speed low to emphasize speed. The downside the this is that you are very close to the runway so the parallax effect is quite pronounced. You can also just miss a ton of shots but why not have some fun. Few of them are ones you can’t afford to miss. It does mean a sharp nose is probably combined with a blurry fin. This will really annoy some viewers and others will never notice. Since I am shooting for me, I’m the only one that has to care!
Arlington Municipal Airport has a steady stream of light aircraft activity, but it is also home to a gliding community. At weekends, it is not unusual to see some Piper Pawnees tugging gliders into the air. Depending on the suitability of the conditions, these might be some pretty short flights, or they might be up for quite a while. I have been up there at various times when the gliders are operating off the grass next to the main runway. Usually, I am there for something else, so the gliding photos are taken when the opportunity arises. Here are some shots of the Pawnee tug planes and the gliders themselves.
My buddy, Mark, was heading through the region on his way south but he had a little time to kill. We agreed to meet up late in the afternoon to see what the traffic was like at Kenmore. He comes from Vancouver, so floatplanes are not a novelty for him, but a different operator is some variety I guess. I am always happy to watch floatplanes. I got there a little before him and got a couple of extra movements but there was still enough happening once he showed up. Log Boom Park provides a good spot to watch the planes from, but the summer can be trickier as it becomes a popular spot for the local kids to hang out and swim. Fortunately, the day was cooler, so we weren’t surrounded by kids.
Most of the planes approached from down the lake and came straight in but there was one Cessna that decided the southerly wind necessitated the approach over Kenmore. I would like more of those to be honest as they provide some interesting angles, but it was just the one this time.
Word reached me from my friend, Bob, that the CAF squadron at Arlington was planning to get some training done with their Reliant one Saturday. I thought this would be worth a trip as I had previously left one of their events thinking that they weren’t going to fly and they did. When everyone else got good shots of this plane, I was a touch annoyed. Time to rectify this.
They were putting a few pilots through sorties to get time in the plane. In the early part of the day, the weather was a little overcast so not great for shots but okay. Of course, as the day drifted on and the sun moved around to the other side, things brightened up. Just in time to be backlit. At this point, I decided to call it a day and head home. I did also have some good time near the plane while it was being refueled so I am quite happy with the results, even if they are nothing special.
I was planning to head up to Skagit for the May Fly Day at the Heritage Flight Museum anyway. As it turned out, I had been talking with Rich at COAP about the trip he was leading and, when he asked if I would like to tag along with their group, I said yes. They had been working with the Museum and arranged some opportunities to shoot from locations that normal ticket access wouldn’t allow.
The team at COAP and the team at the museum were super helpful and friendly. Add to that, the weather was great and the combination of aircraft they were able to put up was excellent so, the day was set to be a bunch of fun. It did not disappoint. I have shot at the museum fly days before but, sometimes, the planes I was after didn’t fly and sometimes the conditions weren’t ideal. On this occasion, everything came together. I did play around with my shots trying to get more dynamic images. The high vantage point we had available helped with that too.
I took a ton of shots and culled them heavily. The result was a few shots I was particularly happy with and it was nice that the museum shared a few of them on their social media platforms too. Seeing the Skyraider fly is always cool but the day was a trainer day and they put up some great trainer formations. The conditions were a little bumpy but they made a good job of it and there were shots to be had. I look forward to the next time I am up there.