Friday pictures: Tornado vapor

I know it’s been too long since I did this. I regret that. So many great shots to post, so many Fridays gone to waste. Yet life is full, and this can slide with no harm to anything, and so it has. Mea culpa.

Today we look at a Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR4 pitching up at high speed, reheat engaged on both of its RB199 engines. Such power! This image was captured by Flickr user F6MAN, to whom I extend my thanks.

tonka-sm

This aircraft grew out of the same 1960’s fascination with variable-geometry wings that spawned the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23 Flogger, and the Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer, among others. Dassault tinkered around with swing wings on its Mirage G, G4, and G8 series of prototypes, which partially led to the Tornado. Wikipedia gives a useful timeline of the various studies that led to the Tornado – the AFVG, the MRA, the MRCA, etc. It is amazing to me to see how long it takes to move from desired capability to requirement to design to prototype to service introduction. The Tornado first flew in 1974, after almost a decade of development, and the last one rolled off of the line in 1998. It is operated by Britain, Germany, Italy, and Saudi Arabia, who together bought 992 airframes. At one point early in the effort, Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands all showed interest as well – Canada went on the operate the Boeing (McDonnell Douglas/Northrop F-18 Hornet), and the others adopted the Lockheed (General Dynamics) F-16 Fighting Falcon.

To see previous appearances of the Tornado in this series, please click here, here, or here.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

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Friday pictures: Eurofighter Typhoon

Taken last Saturday at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), this Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon image by Flickr user Andy in Oxford is simply tremendous. I must admit that the Typhoon leaves me cold most of the time – I do not know why. Yet the combination of vapor and afterburner and sunlight on the dark sky here makes for a powerful, dynamic representation of this formidable fighter. My thanks to Andy for the many, many terrific images found in his Flickr photostream.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: Folland Gnat

Continued apologies for how erratic these have become. I resume the series today for the simple reason that I came across a terrific shot of a wonderful plane that is hardly seen anymore, making it a perfect candidate for the series. I try hard to favor airplanes here that follow the “middle school study hall rule” (examples here, here, and here), and for whatever reason I do seem to keep returning to Britain’s early jets. I suspect my early exposure to my father’s Dinky Supermarine Swift, Hawker Hunter, and Gloster Javelin explain that.

With no further ado, then, here is this week’s wonderful shot by Flick photographer andys1616.

gnat

For more information on the Gnat, please start here.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures resuscitated

It has been quite some time since I last filed an entry in the Friday pictures series, and for all of my many loyal readers, I wanted to apologize for the unanounnced hiatus. Holidays and life clobbered the habit, and I will try to climb back in the saddle and resume what has been, I realize, a popular feature here at QES.

While I understand today is not Friday, I figured I would include a quick bonus picture here as a taste for the items to come.

The following image comes from Flickr user Moving Pictures Photography, and is taken of a Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR4 rolling inverted as it flies low through Cad West over Wales. There are several Flickr photographers who haunt this training area for the RAF, and collectively their pictures document the skill and power dejmonstrated by the RAF as they refine their low-level flying skills. Many of the shots seem as if they could only be taken air-to-air, but are in fact simply shot down from the valley ridges at the planes below. Most impressive – I would love to see this in person, and hear it, too, of course.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: Hurricane overhead

I apologize for this being late – Halloween and an awful cold both clobbered my day yesterday.

Twice in the last few months, I have turned to the Supermarine Spitfire as a subject for these posts (here and here). Today I am picking the Spitfire’s comrade in the Battle of Britain, the Hawker Hurricane. For more on both the 14,000 Hurricanes and on the Battle of Britain, I will send you to Wikipedia. For this week, I am simply going to thank rob 68 for this wonderful, timeless shot of a Hurricane flying overhead.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: Spitting fire

I have highlighted a Spitfire in a previous Friday pictures installment, and truth be told that design is such a beauty I could run Spitfires every Friday, despite my American bias. Still, such a lack of variety would be dull. Also, I have always chosen pictures of airborne aircraft prior to this week. What I seek in many of these pictures is a glimpse of the grace, the movement, the vitality of flight.

Curiously enough, this week that quality is found on the ground. In an image taken by an Irish gentleman, final gather, we see a split-second captured for our examination. The flames in the exhaust of a Spitfire’s Rolls Royce Merlin speak to the plane’s power, and are ephemeral. In this shot, we see them frozen for our contemplation.

I think it is magnificent that a seventy-year old machine can look this alive. My thanks to final gather for his picture.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: South African Lightnings

Earlier this month, Douglas Barrie wrote a post on Ares, my favorite blog these days, about the English Electric Lightning receiving an Engineering Heritage Award (PDF) by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. As an insular American plane buff, I gave far too little time thinking about the Lightning. Barrie makes the claim, which may be true and may not be true, that the Lightning was “epitome of the single-role aircraft.” Surely the Lockheed Blackbirds vie for such a title, but I see his point. English Electric built 339 of these planes, all with their unique over-under engine layout. A decent summary of Lightning information is on Wikipedia, but there are many, many web sites devoted to this plane, which clearly has a very loyal group of enthusiasts preserving its memories. (As an aside, as an example of insular buffs, the press release for the above award refers to the F-35 Lightning II as the namesake of the English Electric craft, when everyone knows the Lockheed plane is named after its forebear the P-38. Silly Brits.)

Way down in South Africa,  a recent airshow saw two flying Lightnings performing, and I am sure they put on an amazing show. I only know about it through the wonder of Flickr’s myriad photographers, and this week saw a wonderful series of pictures come appear. Marked with sponsorship decals for Vodacom Business, these planes look simply fabulous, and my hat is off to all the sponsors who have put them in the air. A certain amount of googling suggests that the return to flight was in 2004, but I cannot pin that down for sure. No matter – Friday pictures are about aeronautic eye candy, so with no further ado, and thanks to silver~halide, here are this week’s shots (shots below are thumbnails; please follow the link to the photographer to see larger images).

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured her