Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Choppers Galore!

I drove past the Yakima airport today and saw something that drew my attention away from the road. There seemed to be a helicopter in the military parking area.  Sure enough!!  Several!  Not just two...but six choppers!  Three Chinooks and three Blackhawks.  

These were not just ANY Blackhawks or Chinooks, thought, there were the attack versions!  MH-60 and MH-47 Chinooks.  All decked out with mini-guns.  What a wonderful end to the afternoon!

A friend of mine mentioned to me to expect to see some Apaches, I'm still watching for those, but this definitely was worth seeing!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Constellation Will Stop Near San Diego

If you're interested in keeping up with Connie on her long trek to death under the cutter's torch, her is an update.

Where To Have A BLAST in London...

Okay, this has nothing to do with the Pacific Northwest, but it IS a very interesting resource for those of you who have a fascination with WWII and the Battle of Britain.  A friend sent this to me and I thought anyone who reads this page might find it cool, too.

Have a look at where bombs fell in London here!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

USS Constellation gets one day reprieve.

America's conventional super-carriers held the line between the aging Essex and Midway classes and the modern Nimitz class.  They are about 1000 feet long and their flight decks over 200 feet wide, and weighing about 65000 tons.  These ships were powered by steam, developed by burning petroleum, rather than steam generated by cracking the atom.  Used heavily from the 1960s to to 2000s, these ships were all decommissioned in the past 10 years or so.

The US Navy must be looking at ways to clear pier space or perhaps just to say money, because the conventional-powered super-carriers will soon be no more.  First the USS Forrestal was towed to Brownsville, Texas for scrapping, then the Saratoga, and most recently, the USS Constellation have been slated for scrapping.

Sadly, the day for Constellation to leave her pier is close at hand.  Constellation, which has been housed at Bremerton, Washington for several years, will be towed around South America and all the way to Brownsville, Texas, which is fast becoming a graveyard for aircraft carriers.  Yes, it must be done, but what a sad end to noble ships.  Connie will begin her final journey, this Friday.  August 8, 2014.

Interestingly, the Forrestal was sold for one cent, whilst it appears the government accepted $3 million dollars for Connie...

You can read more here, and here.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Boeing Loses Six 737s in Train Derailment.

Thursday, July 3, a train carrying six Boeing 737 fuselages, and sub-assemblies to 777 and 747s derailed about 20 miles from Superior, Montana.  The photo shows three 737 fuselages nose and tail down in a river, apparently having come from somewhere quite a way up.  The Boeing site shows that new Boeing 737s go for around 76-109 MILLION dollars EACH.  That, right there, is a large chunk of change.  Not that that amount is huge on the scale that Boeing builds, but still, I would not want to be found at fault for the derailment and subsequent loss and damage to the freight!!!!  You can see more here, and here.

(Photo Credit: Jen Johnson)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Agricultural Aircraft

I tend to focus on military aviation here in Washington, I suppose, largely because that is where my interest has always laid.  Today, however, I may add another aspect to this blog.  Agricultural aircraft.  Those aircraft, mainly sprayers, that help Washington's farmers keep the crops coming in.

Today, I happened to be in Wapato, Washington.  Just South of Wapato is a small private airfield.  I have been past it a couple times, but no one was in evidence.  Today, however, it was different.  The owner was there and I explained my somewhat illogical wish to photograph his aircraft.  He has two Air Tractors.  Both sporting Pratt & Whitney R-1340s.

He didn't seemed surprised in the least, and, indeed, seemed happy to share.  He talked a little about them and how loud they are.  He said that some people just are not as fond of his aircraft as enthusiasts like myself.  He also mentioned that both engines in his aircraft have different personalities.  One doesn't leak at all, the other has leaks, but no one can figure out why or where and all they can say is it's normal.  Some have said that if a round engine is not leaking, it's because it's out of oil.

I took my pictures and then asked if I could come back.  He said that would be great.  I'm thinking some sunrise photos would really rock.

I did a little research and the place he mentioned really does a pretty good business fixing up these old round engines. It is called Covington Aircraft.  They do aircraft engine maintenance, repair and overhauls.  They work on everything from the shiniest new turbine engines to the old and reliable radials.  Particularly the R-1340s and the R-985s.

These same R-1340s ran in everything from the Boeing P-26 to the Gee Bee Racers, the Ford Tri-Motor, Lockheed Electra and Vega, and the venerable North American T-6 Texan trainer of WWII.  The first R-1340s were built in the mid-1920s, and had a production of about 36,000 units!  The serial on one of these was 26,000 or so.

He told me a little about what he sprays.  Well, one of his sons is the pilot.  They spray vegetable crops in the lower Yakima Valley.  Everything from peas to peppers and beans.  Particularly he mentioned a couple local fruit stand/family operations.  I've always watched sprayers and thought they must have the best job ever, they get to pull high G turns and bank and climb like low level fighter pilots, but they don't have to deal with being shot at.  Seems like a legit lifestyle to me.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Yep! Another one!!

USS Saratoga, CV-60, is to be scrapped in Brownsville, Texas, not far from former USS Forrestal. Given my low placement among the US Navy's hierarchy, I don't know anything more than what I saw in this article, but one wonders why the USN is getting rid of its big ships recently.  Are they making room for the expected downsizing?  or perhaps they have finally come to a decision concerning the scrapping of ships they do not plan to use.  There may be other things at play.  I hope that someone saves important parts of her for a museum or display.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Flying Heritage Collection, 2014

 The Flying Heritage Collection of Everett, Washington, has an immaculate collection of aircraft from World War II.  Amongst that collection, and on view for the better part of this year, are THREE Mitsubishi A6M Zeroes.  There is an A6M3 and A6M5 in excellent condition, while the third Zero is in nearly the condition that it was recovered in.  The display gives the viewer a better understanding of what the recovery of these old birds means.  The A6M3 does not have a Sakai 12 engine, but rather a modified American engine of a similar size.  This was done for the sake of reliability.  The majority of the collection ACTUALLY are airworthy.  

 The collection includes several American fighters, but also a B-25 bomber.  This one is in lovingly restored condition.

 The collection also includes some armor.  Here we see a few examples.
 The Luftwaffe is well represented by an Me-109, Me-163, FW-190 D and an FW190A, not to mention a Fiesler Storch and a V-1 Buzz Bomb.
 The one addition to the collection that is not of WWII fame is the MiG-29!  This is the trainer version and is one of the few privately owned MiG-29s in the world.  This is tantamount to owning an F-15!
 Below is the Ki-43 Oscar.
 And here are a few photos of the P-47D.

 The cowls are off some of the aircraft due to FAA inspections and maintenance, but also gives a great view of the R-2800.

 This photo of the P-51D is my favorite of the visit.
 The Soviet Union is also well represented.  This is a PO-2, similar to what the famous "Night Witches" flew.

 You can make out the Il-16 in the background, but this is the Il-2 Shturmovik, Soviet Russia's awesome ground attack aircraft.

 In keeping with the Soviet norm, it is built like a tank.

 And FINALLY!  This is the V-2!  The ballistic missile was impossible to thwart, because once it began its downward plunge to the target nothing could stop it!
Obviously there is much more that you are not seeing, but that is an excellent reason for you to visit!  Admission was $14 for adults, under 5 for free.  You can look at spending an hour to two hours here, but don't rush away, because the Boeing Museum of Flight Restoration Center is not far away, as is the Historic Flight Museum.  You can also tour the Boeing plant.  To say aviation has a home here is something of an understatement!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Keep Track of the Forrestal!

A reader sent me a link to a site he hosts!  It is totally worth a visit!  The photos alone are tremendous!  Here:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

USS Forrestal's Final Voyage

CVA-59/ CV/ AVT-59 USS Forrestal, laid down in 1952 and commissioned in 1955, was the first supercarrier, and carried the torch for freedom until 1993, when she was decommissioned.  She is 1039 feet long and four acres of American real-estate.  In 1963 she was host to a C-130 Hercules.   There was hope that USS Forrestal Museum Inc. could raise enough money, public interest, and premises to give her a permanent home as a museum ship.  The USS Forrestal Museum Inc., however, switched their efforts from USS Forrestal to USS Kitty Hawk, CV-63, for various reasons.  The result was that, in October 2013, the US Navy awarded a contract to All Star Metals of Brownsville, Texas, that infamous place on the gulf coast that eats old, brave navy ships, to recycle and dismantle her.  The Navy paid All Stars Metals one cent.  ONE CENT!!

The up-shot is, in the dawn hours of February 4th, the Ex-USS Forrestal was to begin her final journey to sea.  If you live near Philadelphia, along the East Coast, the Gulf Coast, or near Brownsville, Texas, and you see a proud ship under tow, please, take a minute, watch her in her glory.  Take a picture.  Share the moment with a child or loved one.  Say a prayer.  Remember the men who served aboard her.  Remember her service.  For she is a proud ship.

And, if you DO get a photo, send it my way to be posted.  Please!


End of Two Eras is Nigh?

I have been a big fan of the heavy hitting capability of the A-10 Warthog for a very long time.  I am also quite fond of the tradition, heritage, and capability of the U-2/TR-1 series of black jets.  They may not be with us much longer, though, according to Chief of U.S. Air Force Air Command Command Gen. Michael Hostage in an interview with Air Force Times.  

Because big business seems to be running things in Washington DC we can look forward to buying more drones like Global Hawk, but that leaves little money for the continuation of U-2/TR-1 service.  That then puts out of commission an entirely viable, of older technology.  Why are we letting big business wine and dine our politicians?  Is it good to have technology for technology sake?  I don't know the answers, but I wonder.

The A-10 may die because of the fact that it does not have a place on battlefield of the future.  Given the fact that we may be facing insurgents and un-organized hostile forces, this actually seems reasonable.  Still, the A-10 carries that badge of honor of being an ugly but capable weapons system.  

You can find out more here and here.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

MV-22 Stop-over

 An MV-22 Osprey from VMM-161, the "Greyhawks" out of Miramar, California, stopped by the Yakima airport a couple days ago(?).  Apparently there was some sort of equipment casualty and a part was trucked from Spokane to Yakima to repair it.

 As a matter of luck I discovered its presence.  I took the daughter and drove over to see it.

As a further matter of luck, I discovered from some passersby that it was scheduled to leave at 1pm.  We got there about noon.  So, we grabbed a bite to eat and then came back to tail gate!

About twenty minute before one, they started the APU, which was remarkable loud, then, after that had stabilized, about ten minutes later they began start up procedures.  That blue smoke is from the APU start if I remember right.
 After they got it going, you could tell the crew chief unplugged his mike and ran over to the rapidly multiplying crowd.  He pointed to a couple of kids next to the fence, which, the mother said, freaked them out, then he handed them each a squadron patch.  If I had a little less decorum, I would have rushed the fence and begged for one, too.
They ran the engines up once to a towering crescendo and then dropped the throttles again.  Then finally, with the entire crew, which, if my count was correct, was five, the crew door forward was closed, throttles ran up again and breaks released and it moved out.

It rotated outside of my vision.  I was hoping for more of a vertical lift off, but alas it was not to be.

Still, for a Saturday afternoon around here, it was great excitement!!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tides Change

About 11 years ago, I volunteered at the McClellan Aviation Museum.  I really enjoyed my time there.  Shortly before we returned to Washington State, and near the end of my time volunteering, the museum personnel were invited to watch the preview of "Fighter Pilot."

The story went that an Air Force general had been touring the National Museum of the United States Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio.  When they arrived at the IMAX theater, the only movie available was one about the Navy's Blue Angels, "Magic of Flight."  This rankled the general and set in progress the idea of "Fighter Pilot," because he thought it ridiculous that the USAF did not have its own IMAX movie.  Apparently, he felt it poor form to recruit for the Navy.

My wife and I showed up, along with several of the museum's staff, and enjoyed a really good movie that took advantage of the IMAX viewing experience.

Ever since then, though, I have always remembered the story about the general and his wanting a USAF movie in the USAF museum.  Well, the tides have changed.  I happened to be looking at the information about the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.  When I scrolled across the IMAX theater offerings, I had to chuckle.  There, in the center, next to the "Magic of Flight" was "Fighter Pilot."  The story of what it's like to fly an Air Force F-15 at Red Flag.

Whom ever that general of the Air Force was, I hope he's chuckling over the fact that his movie is on view in the US Navy's hall of aviation history.   

You can visit the Navy museum's theater page here, and the USAF museum's theater offerings here.