Category Archives: Airplanes

Blue Bird

Blue Bird

Blue Bird

United 757. Taken with Sony Alpha a700, Sony 70-400 f/4-5.6 G SSM.

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Thoughts on Five Hundred

On Saturday, I had my 500th photo accepted on airliners.net. I was very lucky to have it come up as #1 of the Day for several hours on Sunday, something that happens very rarely for me. It’s also probably unusual to have two milestones in the span of a week (1 million hits and X number of photos).

I think the thing that’s the most important core of airliners.net is not really how many photos we have or how many hits they get. What really matters is the friendships and personal relationships that grow out of a common interest.

I first started looking at airliners.net back in 2003 or so, when I saw photos linked from Patrick Smith’s Ask the Pilot column. I liked seeing if someone caught a picture of the plane I was on when I traveled. I never really thought about contributing at that time because I only owned a small point-n-shoot digital and I couldn’t really afford to spend tons of money on slide film for my ancient Yashica camera. So I contented myself to simply checking in once in a while.

As time went on, I really started discovering the wealth of great photographs tucked away there. I started following what went on with airports local to me. As a lifelong (at the time) resident of Western Massachusetts, I keenly tracked all of the new photos at Bradley and Albany. But I didn’t really start getting into it then either, because I was completely involved with another less glamorous type of photography – road signs.

It took me till 2006, when I finally bought a modern digital SLR camera (Minolta Maxxum 5D) that I really started getting into watching planes as something more than a curiosity. I’d always enjoyed airplanes and aviation, but never seriously. I also had no real idea how this website worked, and quickly learned.

The past four years have seen a lot of change on a.net – the founder selling it to a large company, people coming and going, and even some tragedy here and there with the sad passing of Paulo. Though Paulo and I didn’t agree on everything, he was cordial to me both in public and in PMs. It really made me reconsider what the important thing about all the time and effort we put into this. It’s about the people, even ones we argue with and have differing opinions. It’s about running into new folk at the watching areas and sharing the tales about the 747 that you weren’t expecting came in and surprised you. It’s about the thrill of hearing an unusual callsign on the radio to find a hulking Antonov ready to depart. It’s about traveling to new and exciting places and seeing what may be mundane for the locals but completely new and exciting to you.

I’ve met JohnJ and his wonderful family. John and Paul Leach are the two guys that really inspired me to start taking this seriously with what they posted from BDL. I’ve made great friendships with Tony Printezis and Ron Stella. I’ve given guided tours to BOS with guys like Stefan Sonnenberg, Florian Kondziela, and Florian Trojer and learned from their expertise, as well as their knowledge of the Euro zone. The guys up in Montreal were super welcoming to me when they could have simply ignored a foreigner way out of his element. Gerry Isaacson gave me some pointers on getting my first private jets done when a lesser man would have just ignored me. The countless PMs to and from people about individual shots and congratulations. It’s all about the common thread of helping one another and bringing together birds of a feather – and that’s what really makes this place great.

This might seem like just a lot of words, but I’m really thankful for what’s grown out of contributing to a website about hulking mechanical beasts that the general public sees little more than excuses for airlines to gouge and security to manhandle them. There’s more to airplanes than just getting from point A to point B, and more to airliners.net than just photographs. Sometimes in the rush for numbers and “medals” and milestones, we might forget that. So a hearty thank you goes out to the friends and colleagues here at airliners, for without them, I wouldn’t be doing any of this.

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The Beast

The Maw of the Galaxy

The Maw of the Galaxy

Taken with Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D, Tamron 17-50 f/2.8.

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Barnes Air Show Review

Yesterday my friend Tony and my coworker Stephen set off to Westfield, MA for the Barnes Air Show. It was a grand schedule, with many warbirds and the Air Force Thunderbirds coming by to perform. Alas, the weather forecast had predicted it to be sunny. Unfortunately, it kind of went south in the afternoon and turned cloudy. Boo! This is the third show in a row where preview day winds up having the better weather. Alas, I can never make it to those things. Plus, when I do show up to the show, something happens to the weather. I must be bad luck.

The morning was good in terms of WX, but around 12:00 the clouds started rolling in. This was in complete contrast to the Friday evening forecast which said sunny all day long.

The performers in the show were all excellent. Have to say the highlight of the show was the F-100 Super Saber. Never seen one of those in person in flight before and it was just as good as I expected it to be.

I was disappointed at two things. One, the situation on the westbound Mass Pike in the morning. The State police were having air show goers turn off from the State Police station instead of exit 3 itself. It turned out to be a complete mess of traffic jams and long waits. I would have expected better from the state police and the turnpike since the traffic jams can be a safety issue. At least have the parking donation guys inside the fence like they do at Quonset to keep one of the delays out. While things might be slow going initially when going to Westover, it’s never completely stop and go.

Second, I am also disappointed at whoever decided outside food was a no-go. The show’s website was perfectly clear with a reasonable outside food policy (No cans, alcoholic beverages, or coolers). Then, on the day of the show, they go and toss it out for a complete no food or drink policy? I couldn’t even bring in a Nalgene water bottle full of water. Of course, this didn’t stop people from smuggling in food. I can’t tell if they were doing this for a safety (unlikely) or revenue (far more likely) perspective, but it felt cheap. If the airshow is really that hard up for revenue, think of some other way that doesn’t inconvenience picnickers or people who just want to bring in a quart of water on what was predicted to be a hot, sunny day.

Incidentally, leaving was not really a problem for us. We left after the Thunderbirds finished. Sure, we had to wait ten minutes in stop-and-go on the dirt road until we got to East Mountain road, but once we got on to it, we drove right down to Route 20 to head to West Springfield for dinner with zero problems. Plus, we ran into the F100 demo team at Longhorn Steakhouse, which was a neat surprise.

It was refreshing to have no PA equipment at all where we were sitting (intersection of TWY A and B at Runway 15), but I should have brought my scanner, as there was no way to tell what was coming. Plus, the other showgoers were very friendly. Had several good conversations with the people sitting around us. Overall, a good day.

Pics to come later. I unloaded all of my memory cards last night to the tune of 1500 frames and didn’t really have the heart to start messing around with them. They’ll take more work due to the cloudiness of the afternoon.

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From the Archives: Fire the laser!

Airborne Laser Platform

Airborne Laser Platform

This Boeing 707 was modified into an airborne laser platform testbed and has since been retired to the national museum of the Air Force. Taken with the a700 and Tamron 70-200 f/2.8.

This is the last day of vacation week posts, so tomorrow you’ll be hearing from me for real again! I’ll have some things and photographs to report from Yellowstone and Glacier parks.

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B-17 Flying Fortress

Yesterday I took a quick ride up to North Andover, Massachusetts where the Lawrence Municipal Airport lives. At this airport a piece of flying history decided to pay a visit on a decidedly cloudy weekend. The B-17 Flying Fortress is one of World War II’s iconic aircraft. Only fourteen airworthy examples exist in the world today – a mere fraction of what was produced during the war.

This example used to live in Windsor Locks at the New England Air Museum adjacent to Bradley airport. It was destroyed in the tornado of 1977, but rebuilt after tens of thousands of man-hours of restoration work. Liberty Belle was taking people up for flights for about $400 a head. If I wasn’t broke, I’d consider doing it. I’d love to be able to take some photos aboard this majestic beast.

You’ll just have to live with this gallery of it taxiing, taking off, and landing.

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

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Another Photo Post

I don’t really have much to write about today, so I apologize. In the place of actual writing (which you can find tomorrow via a Top Chef Thoughts post), enjoy some photographs instead.

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