Tag Archives: super hornet

My First Super Hornet Blues Display

Seafair provided me with my first opportunity to shoot the Blue Angels during a display since they transitioned to the Super Hornet.  I was interested to see whether the display seemed any different with the new jets.  Seafair is a nice location over Lake Washington but the alignment of the display box relative to the shore of the lake is not ideal and this does result in the planes being further away than for most venues.  The increased size of the Super Hornet is probably a benefit in this situation.

I was interested whether the larger jets would make things seem a bit slower somehow but I didn’t notice anything in practice to support that idea.  The normal tight flying that the Blues are famous for was there and, if anything, the bigger jets look closer as a result of the changed perspective.  It is not that big a deal, though, so I suspect some of this was in my imagination.  I would like to see them at a different location where the display axis is closer in order to get another view of the display, though.

Aside from watching the display at Lake Washington, I did also Watch them depart and return from Boeing Field.  They always departed to the north and returned from the north even if everything else had been landing from the south.  I spent one arrival down at the south end and watched then run the length of the runway and break for landing.  It was a good spot to watch this from.  Overall, I was happy with the new look for the team.  I hope the jets hold up well.  The Blues have a reputation of having to live with some of the oldest jets in the fleet and reliability will be something to watch.

Blue Angels Super Bugs Get To Seattle

I was at Boeing Field for the arrival of the Blue Angels for Seafair.  It was a work day so I was sitting in the car and actually presenting to some colleagues via a Teams call.  My presentation was underway as they were getting close but it was almost done.  I was hoping that it would all wrap up before they got there. Sadly, I was wrong.  I was on the final section of the presentation when they flew overhead in Delta formation.  I was shut in the car but still had to explain why it had suddenly got so loud at my end.

Fortunately, that was the end of the meeting and I was able to get out of the car in time for the arrival of the individual jets for landing.  I did get to see the Delta arrival again later in the weekend but I am not sure whether it is my imagination or not but it seemed lower and closer on that first occasion when I was sitting in the car with no camera.

Super Bugs At BFI

Stopping for lunch at BFI, I was happy to be informed by someone already there that there were a couple of Super Hornets from the US Navy that had departed earlier and were due back shortly.  I was able to munch on my sandwiches and do a little work while I waited but it wasn’t too long before they arrived.  Initially, they appeared to be making a section approach but, as they got closer to the field, the separated and came in with about a 30 second spacing.  One of the jets had some squadron colors which is always welcome these days.  Not a dynamic approach but still a nice surprise.

Talk to Me Goose – Oh That’s Right, You Can’t

Top Gun 2 is in production at the moment.  There has been much activity around the Super Hornets on the west coast and their involvement in the film with one jet getting photographed a bit in Pete Mitchell’s colors.  What I didn’t know was that the production has been on the road.  While up at Whidbey Island we saw a Super Bug launching towards us.  Based Growlers are of interest and Super Bugs less so but we still shot it.  As it got closer, it was clearly painted up differently and we realized we had Maverick’s plane in frame.  It flew a straight out departure and we didn’t see it return before we left but it was kind of a pleasant surprise to get it at all!

Finally, We Get What We Came For

As my day at the canyon continued (you can read about the beginnings here), I got a bit more luck.  The Navy came to the rescue with some Hornets and Super Hornets making their way through the canyon.  One came in at an odd angle and then pulled out of the canyon over the overlook location.  This was fine for me but probably annoyed those further down the canyon.

Then we got something a lot more like what we had anticipated.  Jets came in along the angle from the highway starting out a lot lower than those that had come across the ridge.  They could drop in a lot more quickly and be deeper into the canyon as they came by.  This was what it was all about.  They provided a last minute contribution to what I had come for and I was very grateful.  A few more would have been good but it was okay.

Once disappointing aspect of this was that, with so few jets coming through, I shot all of them.  I didn’t have the opportunity to waste so I never got to keep the camera down and just appreciate the jets transitioning through below me for what it was.  On my next trip I will hopefully get to do that as well as get some shots.

Hello Surprise Hornets

AE7I1090.jpgSFO might get the occasional military movement but it is primarily civil traffic you see there.  Roger and I were chatting when we noticed something small on the approach.  Initially I assumed a business jet but then the shape became clearer and it was a Super Hornet.  In fact, there were two with the second close in trail.  From our location they were a bit far out but still an interesting pair of visitors to photograph.

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Vampires Out in Daylight

B11I5928.jpgTucson International is a place I was expecting to shoot F-16s of various nations.  I had not expected to see any Super Hornets.  However, the Navy had other plans.  A couple of VX-9 Vampires jets were detached and carrying out missions with some of the based test aircraft.  One of them was the color jet too!  This was a very pleasant surprise.  They took off in the morning for a mission and we got to see them head off.  They returned ahead of my expectations and I wasn’t in the right place to get them on approach.  Even so, a great addition to the day.  I was flying home later that day and, while looking out of the window at the gate, they taxied by again so I guess they were getting a lot of flying in.

The Aussies Are in Town

C59F3347.jpgOne of the things that I was really looking forward to about Red Flag 16-1 was the large Australian contingent that was going to be present. The Aussies were coming with Hornets and Super Hornets as well as a P-3 and an E-7 Wedgetail. They were also tanked across by a KC-30 although that sadly went somewhere else so I didn’t see it while I was there. Another benefit of the Aussies is that they bring some fun to the media panel. Sometimes these can be rather dull affairs and like pulling teeth. Previous RAAF officers have been very chatty and informative. This time was no exception.

C59F4262.jpgI was pleased that the Wedgetail flew on the main media day. They were alternative AWACS resources and whether this was planned or luck I don’t know. I am just glad I got to see it fly. The Hornets have been to previous Red Flags but this was the first exercise for the Super Bugs. They have been deployed on operations, though, judging by the mission markings some jets were carrying.

AU0E8446.jpgI was included in a second day on base when we got to spend some time on the Aussie ramp prior to the launch of the first mission. A team of RAAF personnel escorted us around as we got a chance to check out both generations of Hornet. One of the legacy Hornets was carrying squadron anniversary markings which looked good on it. The team was operating out of a building that they had temporarily adorned with something more personnel. If you don’t immediately get it, say the phrase out loud as a response to the question “Where are you from?”

C59F5748.jpgThe team was also selling a bunch of squadron swag. I am not a collector of this stuff but it looked pretty cool so I was happy to part with some cash for the squadron funds. Then we retired to the EOR for the launch. Of course, that also included both types of Hornet taxiing out past us on their way to the runway. Cheers to all of the team for being so friendly and accommodating.