The real clincher for me in the revival of aviation in South Wales, was an aviation museum celebrating not just the UK’s aviation heritage, but that of South Wales itself. It was the one thing that I always felt was missing when I was growing up aviation wise, with the nearest aviation related museum being in Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, over two and a half hours drive away. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned on a local facebook group that there was to be an aviation museum opening at RAF St Athan.
…..it's the crew, it's the pilots, it's the maintainers, it's being around the quality of the individuals that are part of this program, and I'm talking about the active duty and the civilian Heritage Flight pilots themselves, as people, they're just lights out. I work in a very different environment, and for 72 hours, when I get to wear a patch and be a part of this program...being around the people is awesome. It means a lot.
Having been fortunate enough to fulfill a lifelong ambition of traveling over to the Southwest of the USA for some of the best spots on Earth for aviation photography; this trip certainly didn’t disappoint. Over two weeks, a small group of fellow aviation photographers and I traveled more than 3,500 miles covering California, Nevada and Arizona, traveling through huge cities as well as some of the smallest and most isolated villages.
March 8, 2019 marked the end of an era for the United States Marine Corps, with the sundown of the VMAQ-2 Death Jesters, the EA-6B Prowler, and the dedicated, manned, Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare mission that traces its lineage back to 1952.
After a few orbits over the North Sea constantly scanning the surrounding airspace, my eyes caught four tiny specs in the distance and approaching fast towards to the tanker. As they became more visible it was clear that they were F-16 aircraft with conformal fuel tanks, confirming our suspicions of the only F-16s with conformal tanks; the Polish Air Force.
Using the weapon systems is easily the best part of being an Apache pilot. The first time you fire the gun from the front seat and hear the bassy boom boom boom, and the aircraft rocks with the recoil of then gun, you know you are experiencing something special.
I looked out the windshield and noticed a thousand droplets obscuring my view. Whooomp!! The sound of the wiper blades woke me from my momentary day dream. With a clear windshield, I saw a uniquely painted Cessna T-37C Gate Guard. This plane on a stick still seemed to want to soar high. Feet from the aging “Tweety Bird” was a small narrow access road. On one side of the road was a barn and the other a chapel. As I passed the church and barn, the claustrophobic feeling dissipated when the road opened up into a parking lot. I had arrived at Base Aérea N. 1 da Força Aérea Portuguesa or Air Base 1 of the Portuguese Air Force, BA1 for short. As you can tell, I am not in Kansas. Before I go any further, it is important to point out that my name is Richard, not Ricardo and the Portuguese Air Force is called Força Aérea Portuguesa or F.A.P. Some things shouldn’t be translated.
As we taxied down to the end of the runway, Job received a message saying that we were the lead element in a 4-ship flight consisting of the FM-2, T-6, and T-34. As we held short of the runway, I secured the door while Mark ran up the engines before takeoff. The back of the airplane bounced around with the trees behind us, frantically waving from the prop wash. The rumble from the R-2800’s reverberated through my chest as I wondered how much the brakes would hold.
Living less than twenty miles away, I grew up in this place. I watched the museum’s collection grow as I grew, going from two hangars, to three, then four. Meeting Roger was exciting, as he could provide me with all kinds of new information about the collection. As we talked, I was overwhelmed with questions, but had so little time to ask them. My wife finally had to pull me away from Roger, almost physically, or we may have never left the museum that day. This brief meeting was just the beginning of a new friendship with him and his family.
Nearing 40 years of sterling service and involved in every major conflict since Desert Storm/Operation Granby in 1991, the Tornado is now entering the final days of its life in RAF service. Recently, numbers 31 and 9 squadron RAF gave a spectacular send off to the remaining Mighty Fins at their home base RAF Marham, Norfolk, England.
The USAF Thunderbirds took part in a flyover for the Daytona 500, the fabled start of the NASCAR season. For their trip home to Nellis AFB, a KC-135 tanker accompanied them to keep their thirsty engines fed to their first stop in New Mexico.
Racing and airshows are so different, they're 180 degrees out. The planes are completely different and fly completely differently. When you get home from a race, your brain is completely Edge 540 plugged in and then you have to unplug it and plug into an Extra 330SC and it's completely different. So, you know, if you're pulling G in the Extra, you move the stick an inch, if you're pulling that G in the Edge, you move it seven inches, and it's just completely different.
Gold, rose, copper, rust, sand, coral, pink, maroon, gray, bone, granite, even purple and green were visible in the rock. As the earth spun, these colors in their formations were selectively revealed by the sun with a fresh scene every few minutes. Its beauty was unrivaled. Just being here in the presence of millions of years of change was worth the trip, but we were waiting for something else...the fighter pilots call this place the Jedi Transition.
Shortly after 0800, the first two KC-46As departed minutes apart from Paine Field in Everett, WA for their long-awaited delivery to the United States Air Force at McConnell AFB. A lot of planning had gone into the delivery ceremony at McConnell and Mother Nature decided to throw everyone a curveball.
That fall, father and daughter started talking and saying to each other that it would be fun to just get a plane that they could wrench themselves around in. With Caroline's desire motivating her father, that was all it took for Paul to go ahead and start looking for a new plane. He could see that she was really into it, and it helped that “She could talk me into almost anything, unfortunately”
With that said, the view as the ramp came down was breathtaking. Tony had said it'd be 'sensory overload' for a minute or two as one adjusts to the environment and he was right; floating around at 5,000 feet offered views all the way to the gorgeous Blue Ridge mountains, layered like a painting.
It was doing the best you could with the team, to see all the smiling faces, everyone was looking at you. It was the little things that occur that you never thought of before. So, my first year as part of the Synchro Pair which was 1999, I had never displayed to the public before. My first cross and as we crossed there was an explosion of light from the crowd side which was basically 50,000 flashes going off at the same time, because they all try and get the photo and it was [a remarkable thing] which I had never seen or expected. And then you see everyone smiling and happy to see you and when you taxi back, they’re all waving, it’s nice.