Tag Archives: recovery

End of the Line for These Jets

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.

Wildcat Has Looked Better

In 2012, A Grumman Wildcat was raised from the bottom of Lake Michigan.  The lake has numerous wrecks scattered across it as a result of the training that was undertaken during the Second World War with students ditching their aircraft.  Many have been raised over the years with some being restored to flight and others ending up in museums.  The one that was raised in 2012 was the subject of a piece I put together for Global Aviation Magazine.

The airframe was moved to a hangar under the control of Chuck Greenhill (who had financed the recovery) at Kenosha Airport after it was raised from the water and this was where I got to see it.  Opening the hangar door was quite a shock because the smell was pretty overpowering.  The airframe was covered in various creatures that had attached themselves over the years and they were not doing well in the air of the hangar.  It was a tough smell initially.  You got used to it a bit and having the hangar door open helped to get some fresh air in there.

The airframe was in several parts.  The wings were laid out in place and the tail section, which had separated at some point during the accident, was laid out behind it all.  Obviously, there was lots of damage to the aircraft given that it originally had crashed and then spent decades underwater.  The recovery process was delicate to avoid inflicting any further damage.

The airframe remains the property of the US Navy.  It was originally going to go to Pensacola for restoration but ended up going to the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo MI in the end.  It is currently undergoing restoration there.

Recovering a Crashed Card

I was downloading shots from two cards into Lightroom when one of the downloads seemed to hang.  I have seen this before and on those occasions, removing the card and starting again did the trick.  This time it didn’t and, when I reinserted the card, the computer said I needed to reformat it.  I thought I would try it back in the camera to see if that was okay but no joy.  Time for RescuePro Deluxe again.  I wrote about using this previously.  I had an issue with it one time when I tried a recovery and the same thing happened this time.  The card drive letter doesn’t show up (nor do any of the others).

There is a simple fix to see them all which is to press the H key.  However, I hadn’t made a note of that previously and couldn’t remember.  Fortunately, their help desk gave me the code and the pictures were all swiftly recovered.  (I jest.  The program works well but recovering everything it can find on a 64Gb card and then working through that to find the files you really want rather than something from months previously is a bit of a slow process.  Still, it is a lot better than the alternative of having no shots!)

F1 Engines (New and Used)

I was too young to see a Saturn V launch.  My one and only space launch has been a shuttle flight and that was very impressive.  I can only imagine how cool the Saturn V was to witness.  Maybe when the new generation of heavy launchers comes into service I will get to see something similar.  The power for the first stage was provided by the F1 engines, five of which were clustered together.  We made a trip to the Kennedy Space Center a long time ago and a Saturn V is on display there lying on its side.  You can get face to face with the engine nozzles.

More recently, we checked out the Apollo exhibit at the Museum of Flight, here in Seattle.  They have a display of an F1 engine but this one is not looking so pristine.  This is because it is a used engine.  Not just used as in test firing used but used as in flew on a mission, free fell to the ocean, hit the sea at speed, sank to the bottom of the Atlantic and stayed there for decades.  Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, funded a project to recover the engines from Apollo 12.

The nozzle is gone which is no surprise given how thin it is as you can see in the pictures of the undamaged version.  However, the combustion chamber and the turbopump seem to have come through the experience in remarkable shape.  The injector plate is also on display and has been pulled out of the assembly to show it off more clearly.  The F1 was quite a feat of engineering – 1.5 million lbs of thrust and the pinnacle of 60s technology.

Mixed Formations

Returning jets from the Red Flag missions often come back with the other jets from their units.  However, you do occasionally get a mixed formation or two as a straggler joins up with some other jets for the run in and break.  This time, it might have been my imagination, but there seemed to be more mixed formations than normal.  We discussed whether, with the F-35s taking part in larger numbers, other pilots were kind of keen to get in formation with them and check them out from closer quarters.  Whether that was the case or not, whether there was another reason or perhaps it was just coincidence.  Whatever the reason, we got a few mixed groups and not always just with the Daves!

Bones Are Cool But Better in Pairs

Paul and my second full day at Red Flag was also the one where we both had to fly home.  We knew that the timing would mean leaving before the last of the big aircraft came home but we should get most of the recovery.  We set a time and started packing up.  We had done well so no complaints.  We hopped in the car and drove towards the turn to take us out to the freeway.  Just as we got there, a pair of B-1s came running in to the break in formation.  Surely we couldn’t let them go.  A rapid stop at the side of the road, grab cameras from the trunk and start shooting.

They flew by in formation and broke downwind.  Each of them turned in reasonably tight for their approach and it was possible to get some nice topside views as the curved around to final.  We could have been a bit closer and probably would have chosen different lenses if we had been able to choose but we got the shots.  Then it was time to repack the bags and get going.  We only lost about five minutes and everything worked out fin getting back so it was totally worth it.  There was no waiting for whatever followed them though.

Backup Strategy for the Blog Has Changed

Since I first started the blog using WordPress, I have been looking for something sensible for backing up the blog data.  I can use FileZilla to copy off everything on the blog periodically but that is a process that requires me to do something on a regular basis and it isn’t very convenient.  I had set up a plugin that was supposed to back up everything to a Dropbox account but I was never successful in getting too much of it to actually backup properly.  It always seemed to be stalled.  Consequently, I was concerned that I was vulnerable to a data loss.  Given how much effort goes into the backup strategy for my photos and documents, having the blog relatively unprotected didn’t seem to make much sense.

Then I came across an alternative approach.  This uses a plugin called UpdraftPlus.  I read a detailed article online about how to use this plugin to back up to a Google Drive account.  Since I already have one of those that doesn’t currently get used for anything else, I was interested.  The base account I have comes with 15 GB of storage so that seemed like plenty to cover what I needed.  The full article on how to set everything up is at https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/how-to-backup-your-wordpress-site-to-google-drive/ if you want to check it out.  It is not the simplest process and the interface appears to have been tweaked since it was written but I got to where I needed to be and have everything setup now.  It backs up on a daily basis so I now have a couple of previous backups at any one time should they be needed.  If you are wondering about backup strategies yourself, maybe this will be a useful approach to consider.

RescuePro Deluxe

Today we have something of a product review combined with a workflow experiment.  None of this was something that I wanted to do but circumstances dictated it was time.  I had been out for the day shooting some wildlife including some sea otters – that will show up in a future post – and, one returning home and downloading my images, a few of the shots showed up strangely with no preview in Lightroom when I started to import them and were apparently corrupted on the card.  Not sure what the cause of this was.  The body had just come back from an annual service at Canon and the card was a new one.  However, they both worked fine for the majority of the day with just some minor problems with a couple of dozen shots.  I shall try and sort that out later.

So, to the problem at hand.  I use Sandisk Extreme cards and have had virtually no problems to date.  Therefore, I was in new territory.  One thing that I do have as a result of using these cards is a bunch of coupons for RescuePro Deluxe.  This is software for retrieving lost files from cards.  I had used it once many years ago when recovering some shots that had been deleted on the card but not formatted and it had worked well.  That was my issue then.  Now I needed it due to a problem I hadn’t created.

My first minor problem was that the software defaults to recovering the images to a folder on the C: drive.  Since my desktop has an SSD running the OS and everything else on other drives, it isn’t overloaded with space so dumping 32Gb of images on to it caused a minor hiccup.  A kicked out of the program, restarted it and found how to change the output directory and then we were off and running.  However, now I came across my next issue.  It found all of the files on the card, not just the ones that were lost.  This is where the brain had a small “doh” moment.  I figured if I opened up the card in Explorer and deleted the good shots, it would mean the search would be a lot quicker.  Of course, if you are using software designed to find files that have been deleted, it still finds them all.  Why didn’t I think of that at the time?  Oh well, no big deal since this was all running in the background.

The result of the scan is that all files on the card are now stored in a folder.  Unfortunately, they are named sequentially File001, File002 etc.  This makes working out which are the missing files a bit more tricky.  So, two things were needed for the next step.  First, find out the filename for the first file on the card.  Then import all of the files into Lightroom by adding them where they are rather than copying them to a new location.  With them in Lightroom, it is a simple task to rename them all to their original names using the rename function and making sure you start with the filename of the first file that we found a moment ago.  Now all the files have the right name and are still in the recovery folder.

The next step might seem counterintuitive.  I delete them all from Lightroom.  I don’t delete the master files; just remove them from the catalog.  Next – trust me, I haven’t gone mad – I them re-import them all.  At this point, Lightroom sees the files with the right names and details and so automatically recognizes which ones are already in the catalog.  It then will pick out the ones which were the original missing files and you can import them properly to wherever you want them.  Now the recovery folder can be deleted (subject to your normal backup protocols).  It sounds a bit complex but, if you work through the process, the longest part of it is the scan of the card for the files in the first place.  After that, it all happens pretty quickly.

While RescuePro Deluxe is not the most user friendly piece of software, it did do what was required and I got it free with the cards I have.  You don’t own the software.  You get a one year subscription with the coupon.  Hopefully I won’t need it again this year but it is there if required.  I have a bunch of these coupons from various card purchases so I imagine I will be in good shape as long as required.  If you have gone through something similar and have a better way of dealing with it, please do let me know.  It is always good to learn from the experiences of others.