Category Archives: Flying

A MIG Divided

A MIG-17 to be precise. It’s owned by one of the CAF SoCal staff members (@highalphaairshows) and is having a little maintenance done.

Who knew that they came apart like that? Not me!

The tail end is largely just a shell to keep it aerodynamic and provide structure for the tail and the horizontal stabilizer.

By the way, these no doubt would have been classified, top-secret photos, costing the lives of dozens of CIA agents and operatives about the time I was born.

Here’s the business end which that tail encloses and covers. That’s a LOT of jet engine!

As sleek, powerful, and FAST as the MIG-17 looks when ready to fly, like this it’s just odd. Sort of like seeing your grandmother naked odd.

It’s a wicked machine for turning gallon after gallon of Jet-A into noise, with a top speed of just under Mach 1 as a side effect.

Not something you see every day!

 

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

Chopper

Police?

Probably not, they tend to circle. This guy was hovering.

News or a TV station?

Maybe, but they always have a honkin’ huge camera (or two) hanging off the nose. This guy has something under the cabin, but it doesn’t look big enough to be that big high-def, gyro-stabilized, computer-controlled setup.

Best guess? This was Sunday afternoon and he was out over Castle Peak (that mountain to our west that you see in the pictures from when we were almost on fire about fifteen months ago) and I remember from the local FaceBook group that there were dozens of people getting together to climb it. That’s not that big of a deal – it’s part of a wilderness park and there are a couple of trails. But it would have been unusual to see a hundred or so people traipsing up and down the mountain.

Maybe that was it.

Maybe.

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What’s Up With ATC Tonight?

As I’ve mentioned, we live pretty much right under the extended centerline for Burbank runway 8, which leads us to have 737’s and the like overhead at about 4,000′ all day long. Since I’m an airplane nut, this is not a problem.

It also means that I’m pretty used to which direction planes are coming from 99.99% of the time. So when I’m busy on the computer but I hear one coming from an odd direction, it makes my ears prick up.

When a second one follows, I pull out FlightAware to see what their flight paths are.

(Image from FlightAware)

That first plane (a United flight) came in from the northwest (not so unusual), then did a big 360° turn over Hidden Hills (pretty unusual) before he got lined up and had just exited stage right toward final approach. (For reference and scale, from our house at the blue dot, the 405 Freeway and Van Nuys airport there are about half way to Burbank.)

The second guy (a Southwest flight), currently over Tampa Avenue, came in a bit more normally from the north over Simi Valley, looped a little wide, but was now on final.

Then the third plane (Alaska Airlines Flight 1150) followed the second plane and made an even bigger 360° out over the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu!

What’s up with Air Traffic Control (ATC) tonight?

Let’s step outside and look toward the southwest and Malibu, shall we?

Yep, there he is!

And, yep! There he goes!

A weather-related issue? Possibly. You can see a storm cell over Topanga State Park to our south. There’s a front moving in and some of the showers were supposed to get severe, but that wasn’t supposed to happen until tomorrow morning.

Spacing? ATC maintains minimum separation between aircraft and if there are a few coming in all at the same time, someone might get told to take the scenic route and linger for a few in order to not crowd anyone else.

Whatever. I got my own personal mini air show! The day got better!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Flying, Photography

LOOK!!

Tonight on Twitter, someone wrote:

…which prompted a response from someone I follow…

…to which I said…

But seriously, folks! Why does everyone on the plane shut the window shade throughout the whole flight these days??!!

Being at 5,000, or 25,000, or 45,000 feet gives us a viewpoint on the world that was flat out impossible only 100 years ago, and was still highly unusual to the average person 60 or 70 years ago. Even today, despite how commonplace air travel has begun, for 90%+ of us it’s something we might see once or twice a year. For probably half of the US population or more it’s something they experience only every few years.

The world is a different place seen from above. The clouds come in myriad shapes and forms, flowing over vast distances, breaking up into puffy cotton balls, building into monstrous thunderheads. Sunrise from high altitude is the closest most of us will come to seeing an orbital sunrise, while sunset lingers and elongates time as the sky darkens and the stars come out.

You’ll always know where I’m sitting on the plane if I get a window seat. It doesn’t matter if it’s night – there might be aurora or stars. It doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy – I love looking at the clouds. It doesn’t matter if it’s a ten-hour flight over open water – I’ll watch for ships or islands or whales or mermaids.

I’ve seen full double rainbows while dodging thunderstorms on final into DFW. I’ve seen the Grand Canyon as a gash in the earth, while the Rockies covered with snow even in April and May look like the Earth’s ragged teeth. Rivers meandering, from the Mississippi to the Rio Grande and Potomac, tributaries branching off like poster children for fractal math.

Whole cities can be laid out before you. The Las Vegas Strip at night with enough neon to scare away the stars themselves. Washington DC laid out like a model, monuments and tourist sites elbow to elbow. New York City with Central Park beckoning and a lady standing in her harbor, Seattle with Mt. Rainier on guard, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco to its neighbors, Chicago and Lake Michigan spreading out like the spokes of a wheel. And for me, the American City of Lights, Los Angeles, lit up like a jewel for 100 miles in every direction, freeways like ribbons of light, the Hollywood sign off to the north, and the fireworks from Disneyland in Anaheim to the south.

Yet on almost flight I’ve taken in the past couple of years, by the time we’ve taxied out and are taking off, 90% of the shades are down. People have logged onto the plane’s wifi and they’re doing the exact same damn things they were doing on the ground. They’re answering boring emails, watching idiot videos, or playing mindless games. While outside, just a few inches away, are wonders and fantastic sights.

We’re jaded. We’ve lost our sense of wonder.

We’ve lost our minds.

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Filed under Flying, Travel

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

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

Hellcat In The Sun

An F-6 Hellcat.

Getting all cleaned up for next weekend, the Wings Over Camarillo airshow.

If you’re in the LA/SoCal area, maybe come and see us. I’ll probably be running around somewhere in the CAF SoCal hangars, down at the west end of the ramp. Stop by and say hello.

This plane, along with our F8 Bearcat, PBJ, P-51, Spitfire, Zero, PT-19s and SNJs and F-24 will all be flying, along with dozens if not hundreds of other aircraft.

On Saturday, the Camarillo animal shelter (on the airport, just down the block from our hangars) will also be holding a “Clear the Shelter” event.

For more information, see wingsovercamarillo.com.

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Filed under Photography, Flying, CAF, Airshows