Tag Archives: travel

How Much Purple is There on These Houses?

While walking through Richmond, we came along a street of older houses in what seemed like quite a desirable neighborhood.  The dominant feature of most of these houses was the preponderance of wisteria on their frontages.  Some of the plants were confined to one house while others seemed to span whatever property that they felt like.  The purple blooms were most impressive, and it seemed like they were competing to see which house could be more purple than the next.  I don’t know how long wisteria blooms for so did we get lucky with our timing, or could we have been there at a wider range of times?

T-38s Including Some Color

Mesa Gateway Airport is a popular spot for cross country flights by various military aircraft.  T-38 training jets are particularly common apparently so, while it was my first time visiting the airport, catching some arriving Talons was not a surprise.  What was unusual was that one of them was in a retro paint scheme in a green camouflage design.  It was looking very well finished as it taxied in and parked.  The various student trainees parked their jets and walked into the FBO.  Many of them appeared to be overseas students training in the US.

T-45s at El Centro

My involvement with the T-45 program was back when the aircraft were just coming into service.  Now I am reading articles discussing the US Navy’s plan for the replacement of the Goshawk fleet.  Another type I have been involved with that is going to disappear from service before too long.  Since the jet was never exported, when the Navy gets rid of them, that will be it.  Consequently, while I have shot T-45s at various places and times before, getting some more shots while on our trip was worthwhile.

We made a detour from our Arizona locations to El Centro to catch the Harriers.  El Centro is a regular haunt of the T-45s with the training wings sending jets out to use the ranges just north of the base.  Since it is not too far to travel, you can watch them launch and know it won’t be too long before they return.  Getting the departing jets as they break towards the south with the last jet cutting the corner the most to catch up with the first ones is easy enough.  The returns give you an option at both ends with either the overhead break with speedbrakes out at one end or the final turn at the other.  Managed to catch both.  I am sure I will see more T-45s in the coming years but here are some shots from the recent visit.

Denver Union Station

I had to make a quick trip to Denver not long ago.  My flight left the morning after the meetings, and it wasn’t too early, so I decided to take the train to the airport rather than an Uber.  It was only about a ten-minute walk to Denver Union Station from the hotel and it was a sunny morning, so it felt good to stroll down through the city.  The station has been redeveloped with the introduction of the commuter rail services and the general updates to the LoDo area.  However, the original station building is still at the heart of the facility.  It is a nice-looking structure.

Once inside, the area of the platforms for the services has been modernized.  A nice, glazed roof has been added over the platform areas to provide shelter for the passengers waiting for their trains.  It has a good feel to it and doesn’t look like it is out of place with the older structures and the newer ones.  A pretty good job by the architects in my opinion.  It was a brief visit before my train came but a nice way to start the journey home.

Twotter Jump Ship

One of the sky diving airfields in Arizona is at Eloy.  A small field in a very small town, Eloy has a lot of customers for the jump ships and the vertical wind tunnel.  During our trip, I had seen some Skyvans operating as jump ships, and I was quite looking forward to the chance to shoot some Skyvan ops from close range.  When we got to Eloy, it turned out that things were different on the day.  The Skyvans were nowhere to be seen.  Instead, it was Twin Otters providing the lift and, once we were there, only one of them.  However, there were a couple of locations around the field that gave us options to photograph the Twotter with it taking off to the north and recovering in a southerly direction.  There was even one departure when it turned right over us but the reason for that will show up in a future post.

Nanaimo Bastion

The hotel we stayed in while in Nanaimo was called the Coast Bastion.  I didn’t think about why other than it was on Bastion Street, but Bastion Street was so named because it ends at Nanaimo Bastion.  Bastion is a word that I have heard at various times and know but that I had never really thought about.  This was a building erected when the settlers were building their outposts so they could protect themselves and their stuff.  A mini-fortress I suppose.  From our room we had a view down onto the bastion, but it was a short stroll across the road to look at it.  I understand that they open it up as a museum at some times, but it was sealed while we were there.

Doesn’t Everyone Have a Hornet by the Front Door?

When deciding on what garden furniture to have, there are many options.  You could have some garden gnomes, maybe a stone lion, all sorts of possibilities.  Most of these are because most people don’t have access to a fast jet.  If you do, and the California Science Center does, you’d stick a Hornet outside the front door.  It was in the shade from the building in the morning I was there, but I thought it provided just the right amount of gravitas.

Birds of All Varieties So Let’s Combine Them

I have put together posts for various animals that we saw during our trip to Kenya and Tanzania.  We also saw lots of birds.  Most of them I had no idea what they were, but our guides did a great job of telling us what we were seeing.  Whether I can remember them all now, is a different story.  Fortunately, I think I keyworded them shortly after we returned so I do have a chance.  Rather than talk about the various different bird, here is a compilation of images of some of the ones we saw during our time away.

A-4 and F-8 Airframes Aren’t Going Anywhere

Arizona is packed with old airframes.  You can go to any number of airports and find some old military aircraft stacked up in spare locations.  Marana Regional Airport is a great example.  Wander along the fence of the airport by the road and you come across a bunch of A-4 Skyhawks and F-8 Crusaders tucked away.  The weather is ideal for preserving an airframe and they look like they are in great condition.  No idea what state they were in when they arrived and what bits are missing but they do look like they could be so close to being useful even if they are really never going to move again.  Oh to see a Crusader or two back in action.

My Quest for the Cormorants is Finally Successful

The AW101 is a helicopter I really like.  I saw the early development airframes when I was young and have photographed Merlins of the Royal Navy and the RAF as well as an Italian example.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, I have really wanted to photograph the Canadian CH-149 Cormorants.  I have a desk model of one that I bought in California and figured I would have seen one fly by now, but I have had rotten luck.  The Abbotsford show last year was another time when I didn’t see one fly despite it having been a principal reason for me going.

CFB Comox is a base for the Cormorant and their show this year, while interesting overall, really had me figuring they were bound to fly there.  If they had a serviceability issue, there would be a spare airframe.  If someone got called out, there would still be another airframe available.  Surely it had to work out.  Fortunately, yes, it did.

Early in the show, a Cormorant was launched and flew patterns around the airfield, initially quite high up.  I grabbed the long lens to get shots of it.  Gradually it got lower, and the shots got better.  If everything else went wrong, at least I now had a shot or two of one flying.  The show opened with a Cormorant flying in with the Canadian flag suspended beneath it (with a crew member hanging on the flag too).  Then there was a SAR demo which it was a major part of.

I shot so many images of this helicopter.  I really went overboard.  I did play around with slower shutter speeds since I was able to get lots of shots.  I tried getting down to 1/40th of a second shutter speeds and have discovered that the rotor speed of the 101 is really low.  Even at that shutter speed, the blades are pretty distinct.  Something I noticed as I was taking these shots was just how stable the Cormorant is in the hover.  I have seen plenty of rotorcraft operations and hover stability is usually pretty good for larger helicopters but the 101 really did seem to come to a halt and then sit immobile.  Very impressive.

So glad to finally have time to photograph this lovely looking airframe.  I even got the best of the sun from the day, so the yellow paint was popping.  A trip to Comox was well worthwhile.