Category Archives: Flying

Random Old Photos – October 14th

About ten an a half years ago. Apparently we were out on a “drag.” (We never walked, I always got dragged.) It took a minute to recognize the location, off on a side street near the old house.

And there was a B-17 flying around.

The camera was my old digital Olympus “adventure” model – waterproof, rugged, supposedly would float if I dropped it. Great little camera, but the pictures weren’t nearly the quality or detail of today’s DSLRs, or even today’s phones. So I can’t be sure which B-17 it is, but my guess would be that it was the one owned by the Collings Foundation’s, Nine-O-Nine.

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Filed under Dogs, Flying, Photography

PT-19

If you’ve never taken a flight in an open cockpit plane, I highly recommend you try it!

This is our PT-19 trainer out at the CAF Southern California Wing in Camarillo.

Boarding is a little bit different than on Southwest or United – just climb up onto the wing, stay on the black strip, flip a leg over, and settle in.

In the back seat you’ll have that stick moving around and the rudder pedals moving back and forth as the pilot flies the plane. Try not to hit those unless you’re flying the plane. Those other knobs and levers are for fuel and throttle and flaps – don’t touch any of them, either. Just enjoy the view!

It’s not super fast – top speed is barely 100 mph. It’s still a joy to fly in.

If you want to fly and you’re in SoCal, get in touch with us once the COVID thing is over. (We’re all grounded right now.) We can make that happen!

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

Rescue

We hear helicopters pass by all the time – LA’s a busy place. Between police, fire, television, traffic, military, and just business aircraft, helicopters are not uncommon.

But most are just passing by. When you hear that heavy beat from a big one and you hear it for five, ten, fifteen minutes, then something’s going on. If it’s circling, that’s always a police helicopter. If it’s hovering, and REALLY making a racket and rattling the windows, then it’s probably a fire department chopper. Which in turn means one of two things: a brush fire (not uncommon right now) or a rescue.

Today it was another rescue, the second in about three weeks.

You’ve seen plenty of pictures of Castle Peak that’s directly off to our west, with the baseball and soccer fields at their base. You’ve seen it on fire, you’ve seen it under a comet, and one of these days you may see the view looking back this way. It’s in a wilderness park and folks climb it all the time. Folks also underestimate the difficulty level of the climb all the time. And if they fall and break a leg, or collapse due to heat exhaustion, they need to get rescued, often by helicopter.

When I finally paid attention to the fact that I had been “feeling” the beat of that heavy, hovering helicopter (I had on my noise cancelling headphones) and went out, it was just descending below the neighbor’s house, down onto the baseball fields. I could hear the engine wind down but not stop, holding there for about ten minutes as the patient was offloaded into an ambulance.

I was hoping he would come right overhead – if it were an LA County helicopter he would have, heading back to Van Nuys Airport to the east. The one a couple of weeks ago did, and he ended up making a couple of trips from the mountain to the baseball field, so there might have been several folks hurt.

Today we got one of the Ventura County helicopters. (They’re blue and yellow, LA County’s helicopters are orange and white.) Not sure what the distinction is that would cause them to call one or the other, although the county line does run right along the base of the mountain on this side. Maybe it depends on where exactly you get hurt?

When he was done he went straight back out to the west, toward Camarillo Airport. Their base is right next to our CAF hangars out there, so I’m familiar.

What if you get hurt on the Ventura County side, but roll down the mountain to the LA County side? Do they each take half?

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Filed under Flying, Los Angeles, Photography

Hawk

One of the advantages to working at home is that, when you take a break to stretch your legs and get some air in the back yard, if you see a red-tail hawk pinwheeling around the thermal rising above your hill, you can rush back into the house and grab your camera.

She was magnificent. (I don’t know for sure if it was a male or female, and what I find online is “females are generally bigger,” which is spectacularly useless when you only have one with nothing to compare it to.)

And then, in a heartbeat…

…she spotted something, wheeled around…

…tucked her wings…

…and dove. Incredibly fast.

I can’t help but think that tucked like that, her silhouette reminds me of nothing so much as an SR-70, which was designed to go Mach 3+.

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Filed under Critters, Flying, Photography

Big Planes In The Rain

Bombers and cargo planes.

AAF’s B-25 “Executive Sweet”

CAF SoCal’s C-46 “China Doll”

CAF SoCal’s PBJ “Semper Fi”

Clouds, drizzle, cold, and occasional downpours courtesy of a dark and suck-filled timeline.

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography, Weather

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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Filed under Flying, Photography

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 360ยฐ 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 360ยฐ 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