Category Archives: CAF

Sky Crane

While the fires near us (never got closer than about 10-12 miles, but had over 100,000 people evacuated and major freeways closed for days, several dozen homes destroyed and damaged) are not out, the winds have died down, the onshore flow has resumed and raised the humidity back out of single digits, and the fires are contained enough so that the evacuations orders have been lifted and the freeways re-opened.

That having been said, the fires are still a long way from out. With the calmer winds and better humidity, the fire fighters are hitting the fires hard, particularly with “aerial assets,” that is, planes and helicopters.

One of the big helicopters (I think it’s an Erickson Sky Crane, but not 100% positive) was being based out of Camarillo (CMA) right near our hangars. It was fun to watch it come and go.

Warning – I would recommend against starting this video with the sound too loud or while wearing headphones! This sucker is really, REALLY loud.

The strobing effect of the video capture mechanism in the iPhone is also interesting – that tail rotor looks like it’s barely moving, but in fact it was going at hundreds if not thousands of RPM!

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Filed under CAF, Disasters, Flying, Photography, Video

Big Hangar, BIG Plane

At the CAF SoCal site in Camarillo (come out and visit us some time! if you’re there on Saturday, look me up, I’ll show you around – or you can go around with one of the docents who actually know what they’re talking about rather than making shut ip) we have three large hangars. They’re not small.

Then again, neither is our PBJ.

Semper Fi will fit in the maintenance hangar, but not with a ton of room to spare. When she moves in, a number of other aircraft have to move out. It’s time for a little engine work (sorry, she won’t be at those last couple of airshows this season) so the squeeze is on.

It is, however, SPECTACULAR to walk into the hangar under that tail and those huge wings! (Again, stop by…)

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Filed under CAF, Photography

Weight & Balance

Weight and balance are important things for all of us to keep an eye on in the universal, all-encompassing, meaning of life sort of philosophical zeitgeist sort of thing.

In a more direct, calculated, numerical viewpoint, they’re also pretty critical when flying an aircraft. Too heavy, the wings can snap off. If the center of gravity is too far forward, the plane will never climb and will nose over and dive into the ground. Too far back, and the nose will go high until you stall, at which point you can have a similarly “bad day.’

Removing a very large, heavy item from the front of an aircraft (i.e., the engine off of a Spitfire fighter) will seriously screw with your weight and balance. Good thing that no one’s flying the plane without an engine, huh?

It ’tis a thing of beauty and it will pull that high-performance fighter through the air like a bat out of hell.  2,000+ horsepower on a V-12 engine will do that.

Oh, by the way, last night I mistakenly referred to this as a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. It’s not. (But the one in the P-51 is…) While obviously a Rolls-Royce, this is a Griffon 65 engine. (Good thing no one actually reads anything that I write, eh?)

At the moment however, this one needs to be sent off for a complete tear-down and possible repairs. That will set us back well into five figures (please, let it not be six!) but we’re all about safety.

Now I’ll see if I’ve got enough balance to take my overweight butt into bed! Monday awaits

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

Spitfire Engine Removal

How exactly does one remove the engine from a Spitfire?

Very slowly and very carefully, apparently.

And with the use of a honkin’ big crane.

Given that a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine (if you can find one – pro tip, you can’t) will run in the neighborhood of $500,000, this makes perfect sense.

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Filed under CAF, Photography

Weekend Gradient & Reflection

The gradient comes from the lovely sunset colors as I was leaving the CAF hangars tonight.

The reflection is a philosophical one, not a photographic one. It comes along with two probably contradictory lessons.

John Scalzi has said, “The failure mode of ‘clever’ is ‘asshole.’” While I’ve agreed with this for years, it never came home quite so personally as today, when I in a moment that I regretted thirty seconds later, tried to make a joke which sounded much more clever in my head than it came out of my mouth.

This was not the world’s worst faux pas by any means, but it did leave a couple of people looking at me like, “Huh? Was that supposed to be funny?” It bothered me the more I thought about it all day.

The second, related, lesson is, “Don’t beat yourself up unnecessarily.” Before I left I went and found the person who I had made the comment to and apologized. Their response was, “Huh? What are you talking about?” I thought for a minute that I was hallucinating or something, had to remind them of where it was and who they were talking to and what I had said before they said (in essence), “Oh, that? Nothing wrong with that, was there? Didn’t give it a second thought.”

This is not to say that if you stick your foot in your mouth and truly do say something that portrays you to be an asshole that you shouldn’t repent and sincerely apologize and attempt to make amends. (Are you listening, GOP?) But before you beat yourself up all day for being offensive, make sure you actually offended someone.

Finally, if you take a longer, handheld exposure with the iPhone, can you see Jupiter at the upper left, near the edge of the picture? Yes. Yes you can.


Filed under Astronomy, CAF, Photography, Space

From The Ridiculous…

I had some CAF documents to knock out tonight and there was a shortage of good background video to have on. The Angels were on YouTube instead of a good, God-fearing, American cable channel like real baseball should be — I have no idea what’s good on regular television any more — and I just couldn’t bring myself to watch a Hallmark Christmas movie on demand.

Flipping through the various premium channels, I found the last hour or so of “Armageddon.” Have I told you how terribly godawful horrible that movie is? It’s not even the ridiculously bad science, even for a special effects extravaganza summer blockbuster piece of fluff. The story sucks. The science sucks. The special effects are big and flashy but so stupid that even they suck.

Fortunately, after that I was able to find the Disney version of “Into The Woods,” which I have never seen. That would be the sublime follow-up to “Armageddon.”

As much as I love the original, and would absolutely kill to see it live on stage, the Disney version is more than just a bit sanitized, especially in the second act. The original play, in addition to the marvelous and beautiful music (some of which has been deleted from this version), the play is dark and people get what they deserve, which is often death. That’s all sort of whitewashed, as is the Prince’s infidelity.

I enjoyed it, but I’m going to have to go back and watch the real version again soon.

Following that, “The Princess Bride” came on.

I got my CAF stuff done and emailed out, but I might not get to bed on time tonight. (We’re just getting to where we need to find Miracle Max.)

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Filed under CAF, Movies

Back To The Ramp

With the EMHE experience behind us (they did finish it up late last night) it was time to get back to my other obsession.

Most of the aircraft that aren’t in maintenance were out on the ramp. The F-8F Bearcat (left), F-6F Hellcat (center), and P-51 (enter left, just in front of the Hellcat’s left wing) were all prepped and ready to fly for the memorial service of a WWII vet that was being held at our hangar. The PBJ (right) and Jason’s MIG-17 (center right, red plane in front of the Hellcat’s right wing) were out there for show.

Side view.

I’m told it was a great day for flying. (I was at a desk, doing finance things all day.)

And now for two days of sitting on my ass a lot. Maybe reading. Maybe a movie or two.

Or maybe just some quality nap time.

As wiser people than I have pointed out, when you get old enough you find that things that were punishments as a child (“Go to your room and just sit there and think!” or “Go get in bed early, right now!”) have become hard won rewards.


Filed under CAF, Paul, Photography