One of the reasons we get a stream of unusual freighters into Paine Field is the delivery of sections of fuselage for the production lines. This can include front fuselage sections, center wing boxes and empennage elements. One afternoon an Antonov showed up to deliver some of these parts. While getting the plane arriving was why I was there, it was interesting to see these chunks of future planes (I believe these were for the 767/KC-46 line) being offloaded and driven off to be used.
The Royal Canadian Air Force will soon be getting new tanker transport aircraft. They are going to buy some Airbus A330 MRTTs to replace their CC-150 Polaris jets. These are based on the A310 and I have never seen one before. Fortunately, there was one on static display at Abbotsford for the air show. It was in the grey scheme rather than the brightly painted version but that was fine by me. I was just glad to get one before they are replaced. It would be good to see one flying but I suspect the chances of that are diminishing. You never know, though.
There are many aircraft that the British aircraft industry produced in the middle to late 20th century that did not end up being terribly successful. There was the occasional commercial product in there but a lot that did not have large production numbers, even by the standards of the day. It was not unusual for the Royal Air Force to end up operating a few of these as the government of the day found a way to prop up an ailing manufacturer. One type like this was the Bristol Britannia.
A turboprop airliner, it was too large given that jets had taken over the market by the time it was coming into service. The Royal Air Force was the “willing” recipient of some of these airframes and, for transporting troops that didn’t have a choice in the matter, they were probably just fine. One of these airframes, Regulus, is not preserved at Cotswold Airport at Kemble in Gloucestershire. I didn’t know it was there until I was driving around the airport killing some time. It looks to be in great condition. I don’t know how well it is handling the corrosion risk that damp UK airfields offer but I hope it lasts a long time. There are a few of these around but not many.
It is a feature of getting old that so many things that seem recent really aren’t. The introduction of the C-130J to service took place in the late 1990s. One of the earliest operators was the Royal Air Force. That means that their aircraft are coming up on 25 years old. That is not that old for a Hercules but they have been used pretty intensively. Combine that with the cost of supporting multiple transport fleets and it might not be so surprising that they are now being retired.
I figured I would roll through my collection of shots to see how often I had photographed the RAF J models. The answer is not that often. The fact that I left the UK not long after they came in to service is part of the reason. I have seen them at various locations though so I am not without shots. It is funny to hear the stories now about whether the A400M is ready to take on the role and whether the Hercs should be retained.
When the Js came along, there were loads of stories of how they couldn’t do the things that the old K models could. Of course, they gradually ironed out the bugs and became a solid workhorse. The same will probably happen for the A400M and in a couple of decades, someone will be complaining that whatever replaces them is unsuited to the task and that they should be retained. Such is life…
I have seen countless RVs on the highway with a small vehicle hooked on the back. Having something more usable when you get to your destination makes a lot of sense. What about if you have a boat? How are you going to get around when you reach your next port? Why, bring a car with you of course! This ship was in the harbour at Bristol while we were visiting. The car was sitting on the deck, ready for use whenever it was needed!
The visit of the VP has resulted in two posts so far but there is a third! Once everyone had headed off, there were still a bunch of vehicles to be dealt with. As everyone was tidying up, a C-17 showed up on the approach to Boeing Field. It touched down and headed to Modern Aviation. I assume all of the vehicles will have been loaded up in it for transport to wherever they were needed next. I have to admit that I didn’t hang around to watch the loading or see the departure. It was time for me to head off so I will trust that is what they did.
I got to the gate for Antelope Valley Air Show 2022 early in the morning. We were lined up outside the security gate for Edwards AFB waiting for the time things opened up. I was on the phone so was happy to sit in the car for a while chatting. When I finished my call, I could see that I was a short distance away from Century Circle – a display of various aircraft associated with Edwards. Nothing was moving so I figured I would walk up and have a look around. I had got most of the way there when it looked like cars were starting to move. I rapidly retraced my steps to the car and we drove on to the base.
At the end of the show, I was coming back out the same gate so decided to see if it was possible to pull in and see the aircraft on display. Indeed, there were no barriers and Iw as able to park up and have a walk around the various exhibits. The name, Century Circle, is a reference to how many of the jets are Century Series fighters. There is going to be a museum for the Air Force flight test center and the base for the building was not far from the aircraft. I will be interesting to see what the museum is like when it is finished and how many of the other interesting aircraft that are currently on base will be included.
Of the jets on display, my favorites are the F-106, the F-105 and the F-104. Nicely sequential now I think about it. There is an F-102 which I have never been so keen on and this one is a two seater which takes a place that didn’t look that great and makes it worse. Still, vintage jets on display is a good thing and I shouldn’t be critical of what is on offer.
The one plane that is a bit of an oddball is the McDonnell Douglas YC-15. This was a program the USAF ran for a new jet transport to replace the C-130. Boeing and McDonnell Douglas both built demonstrators for the program but neither was taken to production. However, there are a lot of features from the YC-15 that will be familiar to observers of the C-17. Having a transport jet alongside the sleek fighters is a little unusual but it is a rare beast and worthy of preservation. Thankfully, the dry desert atmosphere is a place that will allow the airframe to survive for many years.
A while back I posted about the visit of a C-32 to Boeing Field in support of the visit of the Vice President. It wasn’t the only aircraft to be there, though. The USAF also had a C-40 that was providing support. The motorcade delivered everyone to the aircraft but the C-32 departed swiftly while the C-40 was in less of a hurry. I imagine that they were sweeping up the stragglers before heading off. Needless to say, I waited around for them to go. They didn’t get quite the same priority as the C-32 but taxied back and took off – presumably heading back to the east coast.
The KC-46 will end up being a big selling tanker because the USAF will buy loads and a few export customers will follow suit. However, where open competitions have been held, the Airbus A330 MRTT has been most successful. It is developing a wide customer base and one of those customer is the Royal Australian Air Force. They have brought their tankers, known as KC30, to the US on exercises but I had not seen one in person until I got to the Antelope Valley Air Show at Edwards AFB. The tanker was sitting on the ramp in the static area. It was looking particularly clean for a military jet and was configured with both the boom and the underwing pods for probe and rogue refueling. Fitting in a big jet in a busy ramp is tricky so a pano can help out making a shot possible. Now I just need to see one actually airborne!
I have been through Palmdale a few times but none of those previous trips coincided with a time when the Joe Davis Airpark was open. I got to look through the fence at the aircraft on display but couldn’t go in. This time, I was better prepared and was able to check the place out at my leisure (if you ignore having to do a Teams call halfway through while trying to find some shade and avoid noisy kids). As it happened, they were planning on closing earlier than scheduled that day so I could have had another miss if I had waited until later in the day!
The park has a wide variety of aircraft types scattered around. Photography is okay as things are not right on top of each other but the desert sun is still pretty harsh and so doesn’t make for the best results. Still, I’m not going to stop shooting images just for that reason. There are a couple of more unusual types on display and at least one of those is going to get its own post. There are plenty of fighters and trainers. An F-14 is always a welcome jet on display but an A-7 is also going to go down well with me as will an F-101. The C-140 was a nice surprise as I do like a JetStar.
The larger aircraft start with a C-46 which was a bit close to the fence so made for a more busy background. It is a small exhibit compared to the two largest items on display. B-52s are well represented in museums around the US. They were certainly built in large quantities. This one has a Hound Dog missile alongside. Next to it, though, is the most special asset. A 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Retired by NASA at the end of the Shuttle program, it now resides in the sun a short distance from its old home at Edwards.