Category Archives: Flying

Smoke On

Following each pass by the Condor Squadron yesterday, there would be a trail of smoke.

It was fascinating watching it drift and curl, an active, visible display of the wake turbulence that follows high performance or large aircraft. (Okay, technically all aircraft have wake turbulence, but a 747 isn’t going to worry about the consequences of following a Cessna 172, while if the situation is reversed, a 172 following a 747 can get flipped right out of the sky in an instant.)

It drifted downwind, away from us, curling and twisting, descending toward the ground. And everyone else ignored it, looking in back of us for the planes that had just laid down the smoke, coming around for another pass.

And before anyone gets upset by the “pollution,” this isn’t exhaust from the engine or massive amounts of toxic waste being dumped. To make smoke for a demo or air show, planes have a separate reservoir of “smoke oil,” which is a biodegradable, non-toxic mineral oil that’s injected into the exhaust manifold. No chemtrails necessary!

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Missing Man Today

Today’s “missing man” flyover pass.

First pass is our CAF SoCal Wing PBJ (B-25), F6 Hellcat, and an F8 Bearcat. (The Bearcat isn’t ours, I believe it’s from the Palm Springs Air Museum, but I could very well be wrong. Ours is in mid overhaul.) It’s the F8 that pulls out of formation overhead.

Second pass are T-6 Texans / SNJs from the Condor Squadron out of Van Nuys.

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Throttle Quadrant

They don’t make them like this any more.


That’s part of the problem.

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It Would Be Nice To See Her Fly Again

It’s been a few years since she’s flown, although her engines get fired up every now and then to move fluids around. She’s got a bit of “ramp rash” and would need a thorough going over and a bit more than routine maintenance.

It wouldn’t be easy, or quick, or inexpensive. But there are other C-46 Commandos still flying cargo and it’s not at all ridiculous to think of China Doll flying again. But the time? The dedication? The manpower? The money? Those are all in short supply.

Still, one can dream. I’ve never gotten to fly in her and it would sure be nice.

Dreams are important. Gotta hold on to them…

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You Can’t Hide In That Tree!

Yesterday’s UPS Flight #5514 into Burbank, pulling out of a steep left turn to line up on Runway 8, but first trying to hide from view in that big tree in the back yard!

If you think I was surprised, you should have seen the squirrels, hummingbirds, and juncos scattering!

(No squirrels, hummingbirds, juncos, trees, or Airbus A300s were harmed in the making of this silliness.)

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Under The Flight Path, Part Deux

Yesterday I shared quick iPhone photos of big planes going over up high, climbing out of LAX, and smaller planes going over lower down, descending into BUR. A couple of times a day, pretty much on a set (-ish) schedule, we get the combination, big planes down low, descending into BUR.

UPS sends in a BIG plane late every afternoon, to load up and bring packages in from and back out to their central sorting hub in Louisville. Fortunately (or not, since I happen to love jet noise) it’s a new Airbus with lots of “quiet” technology, so it doesn’t sound terribly loud as it goes over.

(Image by app)

It’s a daily, personal air show if you time it right!


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Under The Flight Path

I suspect an awful lot of “normal” folks don’t even bother to look up when a plane goes overhead, especially at 12,000 feet and climbing.

I’m not “normal.” (This should be news to just about zero of you.)

As mentioned before, we’re under a couple of the LA area flight paths. Coming out of LAX to parts on opposite sides of the planet, we get the big jets going to Asia and Europe climbing out right over us. When I was out saying hello to the juncos and the squirrels I heard the rumble of this guy, whipped out the phone, set the camera to max telephoto, and took a few shots just to see if the pictures might be decent.

(Images from app)

Well, it’s headed to Frankfurt, was at 12,030 feet as he went over, and my photo’s good enough to see the logo on the tail, so that doesn’t suck.

Of course, two seconds after I put the phone back in my pocket this guy comes tearing over, headed toward Runway 8 at Burbank. Normally we get tons of 737s going in with the occasional business jet or light plane. This nice mid-sized twin was novel, but I caught him a little bit past the overhead point. Still…

Look at that flight path! (The green line.) He’d been doing laps all over the San Fernando Valley, and it’s an FAA owned plane. I wonder what was up?

Oh, and if anyone wins a reasonably sized lottery and is just dying to spend some of that money on me, a Beech Super King Air like this one would be a wonderful surprise for Christmas! (Hint, hint…)

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No Context For You – July 18th

Well, maybe a tiny little bit of context.

This isn’t exactly “Find That Lizard” quality “no context” material (that makes sense in my head – you’re on your own) but what I wanted to show you is that mask. I found them early in the pandemic and lockdown. They’re custom printed with an FAA VFR map for the area of your choice. Mine are for Camarillo Airport.

These days the folks who do these are also doing shirts, hats, pajamas, all sorts of things with your choice of maps on them. That’s clever. That’s ingenuity at work. I hope these guys are making a fortune.

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Calm Alternative

So, having utilized and enjoyed the Calm app yesterday, tonight I used it again for a while. And found that I need a bit more variety than rain on the strawberries or babbling brooks.

Not in a music mood (which is…odd) either, so what’s a good alternative?

Thanks, brain! That’s a good suggestion!

The app fit the bill just fine, the LAX Tower (North/South) feed to be specific.

Whoever said that air traffic is picking back up hit the nail on the head – it’s almost midnight and the incoming and outgoing traffic is constant.

It’s a comforting noise for a pilot who hasn’t been in the left seat in far too long. Sort of like listening to a baseball game, wonderful, calm, happy background noise.

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Big Clouds, Mid-Sized Jets, Tiny Hummingbirds

Big clouds. Broken. Puffy. Probably VFR conditions breaking through that deck, but I don’t know if I would push my luck and go through on a check ride.

More clouds to the north but a different pattern. Can you see the tiny hummingbird?

Now can you find the tiny hummingbird? How about the mid-sized jet? A Southwest 747 to be exact, going straight in to Burbank Runway 8. Small compared to the clouds, huge compared to the hummingbird, mid-sized compared to a 747.

It’s all perspective.

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Filed under Birds, Flying, Photography, Weather