Sunday, April 15, 2012

Airshow at Davis Monthan

As promised, there are pictures that are not cactus today.  Davis-Monthan had an airshow this weekend.  Yesterday's weather was just awful, so it seemed like half of Tucson was there today, when the climate was better.  It was a good show, I'm kicking myself for being so dang lazy and not taking the 200 mm lens (it's heavy), but it would have been good to have.  So, note to self for next time.

This is a V-22 Osprey, made by Bell and Boeing.  It had a very rocky early history, there were several crashes which killed a lot of Marines.  It's operational now and hasn't been in the news lately.  It's a cool idea, the engines swivel, allowing vertical takeoff and then converting to horizontal flight.  However, it's a very complicated implementation.

This is a converted 747-400 freighter, the Air Force designation is YAL-1.  It has a megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser.  It was primarily designed as a missile defense system to destroy tactical ballistic missiles in the boost phase.  The program was cancelled in 12/2011, after spending five billion dollars on it.  The plane will be kept in storage at D-M in the bone yard.

D-M is an old SAC base, it's huge, big airplanes, big ramps.  The Bumble Bee pedicab service was busy today.  This guy was a hoot.  He had a boom box blaring, and was dancing and singing.  He was definitely a crowd pleaser.

This is a Boeing E8 J-Stars.   It's a battle management aircraft.  In the first gulf war it was used to track moving vehicles on the ground for other planes to shoot at.  It provided a lot of the good footage on the nightly news of moving vehicles.  It's still in use.  There were several police and military guys with guns enforcing a perimeter.  I wanted to take their pictures as well, but decided against it.  They were looking tough.

 Stearman aerobatic bi-plane with a wing walker.

The Thunderbirds out on the ramp.  I was wildly excited to learn that they have a woman flying this year.  Her name is Caroline Jensen.  She's a Major and an AF Academy Grad with 2,500 total hours in Air force aircraft, with 200 hours of combat time in the F16.  It's about time.

This is the Super Guppy.  It's the only one left in service.  The fuselage was built from scratch.  The wings and tail are from a Boeing C97, which is the freighter version of a Stratocruiser; which  I would like to point out is a 1950's airplane.  It's used by NASA to ferry parts for the international space station.

Notice how shiny she is.  They've been out there with cheese cloth and wax.

The door opens!  How cool is that?

The F22 Raptor.  This recently went out of production.  There have been problems with the on board oxygen generator which is being used instead of bottled oxygen.  One pilot lost his life as a result of lack of oxygen, and several others have had incidents.  Apparently in Alaska they have to fly in survival suits, with big gloves, and the pilots have had a difficult time reaching down to pull the emergency oxygen handle, which is between the seat and the cockpit side wall, the Air force has ordered new larger handles for all airplanes in the fleet.  One wonders how the pilots feel about being in this plane.

A Royal Air Force Tornado.  They're in Tucson to train in the desert.  Our weather is much better than in the UK.

The Heritage Flight.  That's a A10 Warthog on top, and a P51 Mustang on the bottom.

If I had known that the Red Bull Airforce was going to be so cool, I would have brought the long lens!  If they fly anywhere near you, go!  This is their aerobatic helicopter.  Yes, helicopter.  I did not manipulate these images, he really did roll it.  He rolled it side to side and he looped it.  Just absolutely amazing to see.


Yep, it's upside down.

This is Kirby Chambliss, also on the Red Bull team.  He's flying an Edge 540.  This guy is just magic.  Look closely at the photo.  He's not flying away from the camera.  He's flying sideways.  It was the most amazing thing I have seen to date.  Between the helicopter and this guy, they really made the show for me.

As always, I look at all these planes (and those in the bone yard) and think about all the money that has been spent on armament.  If all that money and brain power could have been redirected over the years, we could have warp drive.  We could be off-world by now. 

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