No air shows since 1989, and I attend 2 in less than a week? What? Here are images from the Wings of Freedom event at the Anoka County Airport in Blaine. Since I live close by, I made 3 trips there.
Although not as large as AirExpo 2013, the key with this event was the appearance of a B-24J Liberator, in addition to a B-17G Flying Fortress. Plus, I got see both of these big bombers airborne!
The music for this page is “Best Shots” by Pat Benatar. Wow; didn’t see THAT coming, did you? It’s one of the best greatest hits collections you’ll get on a single CD, as all of them you remember are there. Of course, “Shadows of the Night” is a must (the music video is on youtube), but also catch “Invincible”…very good song.
Oh, one other thing; clicking on any image for a larger version is highly encouraged!
A look at the “Nine O Nine”, the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress in attendance. Apparently there are only 10 active/flying B-17’s in the world. I got to see 2 of them in less than a week. The crowd is lining up for a tour, and to speak to World War II B-17 veterans, who greet them.
The tail section of the “Nine O Nine” with good colors, good contrast. I saw a guy there on the other side shooting into the strong back-lighting with his Canon 5D Mark III. He likely got lovely shots of a crappy, blown-out sky and a silhouette of mush with his $3,300 camera body. “Duhhhhhhh, gee, Tennessee…”
Here is “Witchcraft”, a Consolidated B-24J Liberator. This war bird looks mean! Wait until you see it in the air. The B-24J Liberator is slightly shorter than the B-17G but has a wider wing span.
The nose guns of “Witchcraft” converted to monochrome for that vintage look. It works.
A non-operational Northrup F-5 Freedom Fighter. If you saw the movie “Top Gun”, you saw this very plane (it was done up as a Russian MIG). That actually was its last assignment.
Two generations at the twin engine tail of the F-5. There’s no danger of jet-blast here; the engines have been removed. I used my flash to help light these two up.
Like you had to ask…but of course, I joined in for “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” (twice), but just the rhythm part…Pat’s husband Neil Giraldo handled the solo…
A monochrome P-51C. The color version was fine but I liked this one better. This plane made a few fly-by’s but I took no images as I would have been shooting into the sun (recall Chumley earlier with his 5D Mark III?).
The front ball turret of the “Nine O Nine”. About this time I was chased away as I had unknowingly crossed into the paid tours area. I thought the fee was for tours inside the plane. Sorry about that (it was the frakking co-pilot that scolded me; oy…still reeling over that). At least I got my shot.
What’s your reaction to this shot? One of sadness, perhaps, as the forlorn, elderly and wheelchair-bound WW II vet meets a young boy? Here’s where photography can be deceptive. It’s all about timing; seconds later this man and youth both burst out laughing (I missed that shot). Note the focal length; I was now outside the paid tours area.
The tail section of “Witchcraft”. You can see various names of those who have served, those who have worked on the plane, donors and others.
A wonderful contrast; totally by accident! I was shooting the gun when she inadvertently walked into the frame. Right when that happened, instead of cursing and then erasing it, I thanked that brief moment of luck (in a very unlucky year for me). One wonders if the young girl looking at her smart-phone has any idea what role that machine gun played in her ability to lead her life?
Finally! On my third trip it was time to get the bombers in the air! The “Nine O Nine” fires one of its starboard engines for take-off. The idea to capture the smoke was from Bob Adams, who mentioned that at AirExpo 2013.
A tail of smoke develops as a port engine is fired. Please note the ISO bump to 200; I wanted more speed for when they went in the air.
The “Nine O Nine” taxis out to the runway. I gotta tell ya; watching these aircraft is really quite a thrill. Images just do not do them justice. Plus, I am closer to them than last week. Super cool.
“Witchcraft” has now fired and is moving out. Note the guy through the roof hatch. How cool must THAT be!
The size of the“Nine O Nine” is apparent here; the wheels barely fit on the pavement!
With the war birds now on their way for departure, I ran to my car. It was (ahem) strategically parked only about 300 feet from where these shots were taken; no wonder why I keep getting in trouble (but the parking attendants had left). I zipped down about a mile to the runway. I was too late for the B-17G, but saw the B-24J take off. However the images stunk; I was too far away. With a flyover uncertain, I debated sticking around, or going home, as the show was over.
Look! There she is! The “Nine O Nine” does a fly-by; much to my delight!
Glad I stuck around! The flights are about 20 minutes, so I didn’t have to wait long.
“Witchcraft” is right behind. Of course, this was shot in Program Mode, and I was a bit shaky at the sight of these magnificent aircraft. Bumping up to ISO 200 gave me some extra speed.
Gosh, just look at that big bird! To accentuate the sky, I did change the white balance in these RAW images to “direct sunlight”, which it was.
Here comes the “Nine O Nine” in for her landing. The pilot was a total pro; super smooth. Given how the assembled crowd was almost a mile away, and with no one near me, I’m guessing no one else got this shot.
“Witchcraft” makes her landing. I felt quite a surge of emotion during the RAW processing of this photo. I hope it works for you. Neat thing about both these landing shots is the lack of any modern structures around.
After her smooth landing, the “Nine O Nine” returns to the assembled crowd.
Here comes “Witchcraft”, right behind. I wonder if the guy in the roof hatch was tempted to do that in-flght?
This shoot was no where the near fun we had at AirExpo 2013 (if you haven’t seen that page, you should), and required 3 trips to gather what you see here. However, seeing those big war birds do the fly-by and landing made it worth the effort!
all images © Scott Woelm – July 2013