Friday pictures: Blaze of Glory

The Portland Airport is home to the 142nd Fighter Wing, which is part of the Oregon Air National Guard. Equipped with McDonnell Douglas, er, Boeing F-15 Eagles, the Redhawks provide air defense for the Pacific Northwest. They also attract a dedicated group of photographers on Flickr, who chronicle the unit’s operations in wonderful detail. Chief among them is Flickr member vector1771, whose photstream is full of hundreds of vivid pictures of F-15s in their element. I am a continent away from Portland, but by now I have watched this unit’s planes for so long I have begun to recognize tail numbers.

Today’s image naturally comes from vector1771 and captures the final flight of an Eagle driver, callsign Tug, as he lifts off and accelerates for his last unrestricted climb atop the Eagle’s two F100 engines. While I am sure this was a bittersweet day for Tug, I hope that he could set aside those thoughts while putting the plane through its paces for the last time. My thanks to Tug for his years of service to the nation, and my thanks to vector1771 for sharing his work so generously. You really want to click this and see it big. Really.

3034549176_11b8e20fd2_o

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

Advertisements

Friday pictures: Vulcan into a stormy sky

Back in July, I featured a whole series of pictures of the Avro Vulcan that returned to flight for this summer’s airshow season. Vulcan XH558 delivers amazing performances by all accounts, and I very much wish to see it in person, but until then I rely on the photographers at Flickr to capture its appearances, and they do not disappoint. For more background on the Vulcan, her V-bomber sisters, and this one’s return to flight, please click here.

Avro/RAF Vulcan XH558 takes to stormy skies at Farnborough
Avro/RAF Vulcan XH558 takes to stormy skies at Farnborough

This week’s shot is by mjenner10, and he has many more aviation pictures in his stream. I encourage you to take a look for yourself.

Update: Oh no! They’re running out of money. Agh!

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

Friday pictures: Supermarine Spitfire

Any collection of pictures that seeks to capture the beauty and grace of aircraft will eventually include a Spitfire. This plane is one of the most iconic machines ever built, with delicate lines that ensured recognition even by those whose eyes are never turned skyward.

This week’s specific Spitfire is a Mk. XVI owned by Vintage Wings of Canada. Built in August 1945, this plane is now 63 years old, and yet nothing about it seems antique. It and nearly 22,000 other Spitfires played a central role in England’s war effort, and came to embody much of the fighting spirit that defined the grim days of the Battle of Britain. To learn more about Spitfire development and employment, click here.

This week’s shot comes to us via Flickr’s Hawk eye 68, who captured this timeless portrait two weeks ago at the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa. I do not know how many Spitfires remain in flying condition, but I can only trust that this one’s owners know what a significant piece of history they have and treat it with the requisite caution. These planes need to survive many generations to come.

Supermaine Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire

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

Friday pictures: F-86 & MiG-15

Fifty-eight years ago, the North American F-86 Sabre and the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-15 fought remorselessly for control of Korea’s skies, giving no quarter as they tangled in MiG Alley. Even though the skies over the Yalu River remain unwelcome to American aircraft today, times have changed sufficiently that these former foes now find themselves reunited in far more peaceful circumstances. I think it’s useful, as we look at the uncertainty in the world around us, to realize that the passage of two generations is enough time to witness profound changes in the world, and sometimes it’s change for the good.

Regardless of such thoughts, the two planes in this week’s picture are timeless examples of the first jet vs. jet combat ever. It is wonderful to see them in such perfect condition, and my thanks to Mark Von Raesfeld for his wonderful photography. As always, follow the link for a larger view.

F-86 Sabre & MiG-15 at Chino
F-86 Sabre & MiG-15 at Chino

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

Friday pictures: Vulcan reborn

Vickers Valiant
Vickers Valiant

After World War II, Great Britain developed a trio of jet bombers called the V-bombers. The Vickers Valiant, the Handley Page Victor, and the Avro Vulcan. First flights for these planes were in 1951 and 1952, and in 1964 the Royal Air Force fielded nearly 160 modern jet bombers. The Valiant served from 1955 until 1964, when the last of the 107 hulls built type was retired to Cosford, where it resides today. The Victor entered service in 1958 until 1993, and the last of the 86 Victors, configured as a bomber and not as a tanker, can be found in Duxford.

Handley Page Victor
Handley Page Victor

The idea of Britain producing three such similar aircraft, and of Britain possessing three separate design houses to do this work, is a reminder of how much the world has changed in the last sixty years. (Vickers was one of four firms whose 1960 merger formed the British Aircraft Corporation, which is the genesis of the modern BAE Systems, while Handley Page closed its doors in 1970.)

The third V-bomber is the Avro Vulcan. Design for the Vulcan began in 1947 when the firm was still known as A. V. Roe, and their entrant in the V-bomber competition took wing in 1952. An extremely modern design for its day, it featured an enormous delta-wing with four Bristol Olympus engines buried within the wing roots. Entering service in 1956, the Avro manufactured a total of 136 Vulcans, which served in various capacities until 1986, notably conducting extremely long-range missions as part of the Falklands War. Quite a few Vulcans can be seen, including at Cosford and Duxford with their V-bomber sisters.

Why then am I delivering this musty history lesson about a plane whose career ended twenty-two years ago? The twelfth Vulcan built, which rolled off the line in 1960 and was the last of its type in service, flew to Bruntingthorpe in 1993, where its owners have long hoped to restore it to regular flight. With dedication and substantial funding from many enthusiasts, they did so last October, and now that the summer airshow season is underway, XH558, as she is known, has begun making quite a splash on the English airshow circuit. Its a tremendous credit to Britain and those involved that this piece of their Cold War heritage, representing a different country, a different time, and ultimately a different world, is once again back in the sky where she belongs to remind the people of today of what has come before them. All who see Vulcans in person report it to be an unforgettable sight, and I cannot express how much I wish to see her fly. Someday.

My thanks to a bevy of talented Flickr photographers, who provide the wonderful pictures which follow:

RAF Waddington 2008 (by airfreakone) Avro Vulcan XH558 (by ...anna...) Waddington 2008 (by A. N. Fitzpatrick) 220E4379VULCAN!!!!!!!!!!! (by psbellamy1) 220E6442Waddington 05.07.08 (by psbellamy1) 220E6660Waddington 03.07.08 (by psbellamy1) 220E3945VULCAN!!!!!!!!!!! (by psbellamy1) 220E3968VULCAN!!!!!!!!!!! (by psbellamy1) 220E4153VULCAN!!!!!!!!!!! (by psbellamy1) 220E4189VULCAN!!!!!!!!!!! (by psbellamy1)

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

Friday pictures: B-25 Mitchell

This week’s subject is a picture by a Flickr photographer who is new to me – Michiel Harmsen, from the Netherlands. He has quite a few terrific shots, but the one that really caught my eye this week is a backlit shot of a taxiing North American B-25 Mitchell taken at the airshow in Bitburg, Germany this past weekend. This WWII medium bomber gained fame as the mount of Jimmy Doolittle’s Tokyo Raiders. I have so far followed a rule of thumb that all Friday pictures need to be airborne, but this week I am casting that aside. This one is simply too good to pass up.

b-25

My thanks to Mr. Harmsen for his beautiful photography. He generously makes the image available in enormous form, and it is even more compelling when viewed large.

As an aside, I believe this to be a B-25 painted in Red Bull colors (the plane’s markings are visible in other shots from the same set). A little googling suggests this B-25 is 44-86893. Retired to Davis Monthan in Arizona in 1957, it has been in civil service since 1958 (with a derelict period from 1969 to 1976). If you google N6123C, there is a great deal of information and pictures to be found on her. How wonderful she has survived to fly and be kept in such good shape.

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

Friday pictures: Hawker Hunter

I’m not sure why I gravitate to so many British planes for this series – Jaguars, Tornados, and now a Hunter. The US has so many beauties, but Flickr seems to have some truly gifted English photographers, I guess. Next week, I’ll look for something non-British and see what I come up with. In the meantime, take a moment to revel in this gorgeous Hawker Hunter trainer, taken by timuss. Perfection. There are a few planes that look to me like the simple forms that kids draw in Middle School study hall. The Mirage F1 and the Lockheed F-90 are both examples of this. The YF-16 almost was, although few kids would have dreamed up the ventral inlet. The F-104 has a bit of it, too. Quintessential, timeless shapes.

Hawker Hunter

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