Pride, Passion, Planes – A Day With The Patriots

 

If you hear a plane overhead, and you look up to see what kind it is, then it’s safe to say you love aviation. And most of us can trace back to the when that love first started. And for me, like millions of others of children, it was at an airshow. A few weekends ago, I got to spend the day with 20 of these folks who live and breathe aviation at the March Field Airfest. They are an all volunteer team who maintain and fly the six sleek all black L-39’s that make up The Patriots Jet Demonstration Team.

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Air & Space magazine cover from The Smithsonian Museum

Better late then never. On last month’s magazine shelves, you can find my image of a lone U-2 Dragon Lady banking over Northern California gracing the cover of Air & Space Magazine. If the name sounds familiar, but you can’t quite place it, it is the magazine of The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.  This was the first ever aviation magazine that I was given as a child, so I was extremely excited to have one of my images on the cover 30 years later. Click more to see pics from this air to air.

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Lost Coast SAR – USCG AS Humboldt Bay

Jagged rocks, rough seas, and thick clouds are just some of the hazards in this part of the world. With over 250 miles of rugged coastline from the Mendocino-Sonoma County line north to the California-Oregon border, the men and women of US Coast Guard Group/Air Station Humboldt Bay provide a vigilant 24×7, 365 watch over the residents and mariners of these waters.

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Air Force One comes to town

How does the most powerful man travel around the world? Any way he wants. And in the case of the President of the United States (POTUS), he travels aboard one of two specially modified Boeing 747-200 affectionately known as “Air Force One.” Operated by the 89th Airlift Wing out of Andrews Air Force base, these fortified aircraft are tasked to transport President Obama and the White House staff all over the globe and allow him to execute the full powers of the Office of the President of the United States.

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Life’s the Pitts

Timing, timing, timing, and a whole lot of luck! That’s exactly what goes into a successful photo flight. Ok, well, maybe little bit more then that. 🙂 Last month, I had a chance to shoot two beautiful Pitts Models 12’s and a Pitts S-2C over the skies of San Francisco flown by some amazing pilots. The Red / Sliver Model 12 was flown by Cory Lovell, the Green Model 12 was flown by Barry Woods, and the Red / White S-2C flown by Gary Evans. Together with photo pilot Collin Callahan, we set out on a late Saturday afternoon to chase that ever elusive perfect shot. What do you think? Did we get it?

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The City

Very few places around the world can simply be called ‘The City” and those for hundred of miles around know exactly where you are talking about. But around my parts, there is only one place that lives up to the name and the mystique. And here is the first of many in my new series called “The City.”

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San Francisco Giants – Play Ball

This past weekend I had a chance to challenge myself and try something I’ve never done before; shoot a baseball game. And for my regular readers, as you already know, when I do something, I go big! So for my first attempt at shooting America’s favorite pastime, I didn’t go to the local park or high school, I went straight to the Majors and didn’t stop there. I didn’t shoot just any MLB team, but got a chance to shoot the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants!

 

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AMC Rodeo 2011 – Cowboy Up Day 7

And just like that it was over for AMC Rodeo 2011. With severe weather delays in the beginning of the week, the schedulers had their hands full getting all of the crews in the air and the competitions closed out. But they did it in fine fashion and when it was all over and done, the 97th Air Mobility Wing from Altus Air Force Base, Okla earned the “Best Air Mobility Wing” title. Here are a selection of pictures from the days events.

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AMC Rodeo 2011 – Cowboy Up Day 6b

In the middle of 87,000 acres there was a small clearing about the size of two football fields. And in that small clearing, there was a small orange triangle that marked the center of the Rawhide Drop Zone for the Air Drop competition for the AMC Rodeo 2011. Aircrews were scored on their time over the DZ and how accurate their drop landed from the orange marker. There is nothing like seeing a massive C-17 1,000 feet over a tall treeline with its’ cargo ramp open and line up on you. Just another day in the Air Force!

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AMC Rodeo 2011 – Cowboy Up Day 6a

One of the hardest competitions at the AMC Rodeo 2011 is the Maintenance Skills Competition. the Four man teams enter the 30 minute timed competition in the blind without knowing what they need to fix. With a wide varying range of issues that can go wrong in an aircraft, the Teams have to be prepared for anything. Team March stepped up to the challenge on Day 6 and with a throng of supporters knocked it out of the park!

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AMC Rodeo 2011 – Cowboy Up Day 5

Day 5 had us spending it at McChord Field for Rodeo 2011. After a much needed morning of sleeping in, we stolled over to Rainier Ranch and did some shooting of the arrivals and departures. One of the coolest parts of Rodeo is how each of the Teams cheer on their aircraft when they head out on a sortie. One of my favorite shots is of the 89th Airlift Wing cheering one of their C-37’s as it taxis past the Ranch.

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AMC Rodeo 2011 – Cowboy Up Day 4

Day 4 of the AMC Rodeo brought with it over cast skies and the threat of showers all morning long. But with the numerous weather delays earlier in the week, the crews were eager to get back it the skies. I spent the morning freezing on Heritage Hill just on the back side of Rainier Ranch to finally shoot some aircraft flying around. Dark and gloomy, but a day at the airport is sill better then being stuck in a hangar.

 

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AMC Rodeo 2011 – Cowboy Up Day 1

Every two years, the best of the best from across the Air Mobility Command get together at Joint Base Lewis McChord. WA in an undisputed, winner take all competition that pits over 50 aircraft and 2,500 Airmen from across the world in a skills competion to crown the best of the best. This year, I have the chance to observe the March ARB Team as they participate in the Air Mobility Rodeo 2011.

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High Resolution Endeavor

Recently I had a chance to collaborate with revolutionary photographer, Thomas Bunce of Riveting Photos on one of his ultra unique high resolution projects. I have been following his art for some time, and after my recent trip to Florida, I was able to work with him on an image of the Space Shuttle Endeavor just before its’ final journey to space.

Thomas took 11 of my overlapping 12.2 megapixel images and weaved them together to create a single ultra high resolution 41.9 megapixel image. This single stitched image has enough data to zoom in and view details that even NASA camera don’t capture.  To view our creation, click on the image of Endeavor below and experience it for yourself. See if you can find the word “Loaded” on the Solid Rocket Booster or check out the peeling paper on the nose of the Orbiter. Absolutely amazing!

 

Soaring With Sagar – Real World Refueling

Laying on my belly in the back of the KC-135 from March ARB at 20,000 feet, I stared out into a ominous grey cloud. I couldn’t see the ground nor had any sense of depth or movement even though we were going 315 knots. It was like we were just in a grey void hanging in the sky. And to compound my fear, there was a thin coating of hydraulic fluid all over the Boom’s window. It was like looking through a window coated in vaseline. Knowing that there was going to be an F-16 just 10 feet away from us, both of us bouncing around due to turbulence from the clouds, and the Boom Operator not clearly being able to see the plane was less then comforting.

 

 

Space Shuttle Endeavor Go For Launch – Part 2

Fast forward two weeks and numerous potential launch dates, and it was time to fly back to Kennedy. You know you’ve been here enough times that you don’t need a map to navigate to the routine spots. But with that familiarity came the confidence to get the shots I wanted. Unfortunately with two weeks passing, the narrow launch window to send the Orbiter to the International Space Station (which moves 30 minutes earlier each day) went from a beautifully lit afternoon shot to a harsh back lit morning shot. And subsequently a very early morning for the Astronaut walk out. But the same was true for the RSS roll out, which was at night during the first launch attempt, but now would be basking in the warm Florida sun.

Space Shuttle Endeavor Go For Launch – Part 1

With half open eyes, and in a semi-awake state of mind, I spotted the now familiar 52-story Vertical Assembly building at the Kennedy Space Center. It was three a.m. eastern time, and I had just flown in the day before. My body was wondering why I was just waking up when normally I would be falling asleep at this time. It was confused and for a fleeting second so was I. But then I saw the innocuous sign on the side of the road. “Days till Count Down: 0.” And a small smile crept across my face. This was finally the day I would get to witness history and create some of my very own.