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The Wild Blue Yonder

Well now I’m photographing dog shows, air shows, concerts, plays, etc. instead of mountains and wildlife. The Oakmont News often sends me out on assignments. They put the photos up on their web site and in the bimonthly newspaper. No pay of course but I’ve been meeting interesting folks this way, like a friend who has published 22 books, mostly on sociological futurology.

At the annual air show at the Sonoma County airport last weekend. Pat and I got there early and had front row seats to watch the old aircraft, acrobatics, and demonstrations.

B25 bomber. One of my ping pong partners, Taylor Finlay, flew one of these in WWII. We like to remind our opponents that we are 170 years old between us, but they still won’t cut us any slack.

n3n training biplane from the 1930s:

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“The Nanchang CJ-6 is an aircraft designed and built in China for use by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) as a basic trainer.”

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P-51 Mustang, the best fighter of WW2:

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F4U Corsaire:

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T33 trainer:

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P-38 fighter, my favorite in elementary school in the 40s:

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Acrobatic pilot Jacqui B, who took up acrobatic flying at 50 years:

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At the air show was a world champion acrobatic hang glider who is handicapped, having to get in his wheelchair after landing. He also kayaks and does other adventure sports. (Another of my ping pong playing friends, Roger Thompson, 89 years old, also a master hang glider, once flew off Sentinel Dome down to Yosemite Valley—legally)

The hang glider acrobatic champion goes from his wheelchair to the glider. A truck with a very long rope dashes down the runway to get him up in the air. Once up there the rope was released and he was able to fly for about ten minutes or so.

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A plane almost runs into his tow rope, but she’s an acrobatic pilot and it’s all part of the show.

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He lands with a flair:

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Below: the world’s first and only tilt wing aircraft, the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, for which you and I are paying 73 million dollars each plane, with 458 of them planned.

Very controversial for its price tag and dubious performance (it’s slow and dangerous to land), even Sec of Defense Cheney tried to kill the program but congress funded it anyway. It’s a transport vehicle that, according to the announcer at the air show, can accommodate 24 armored vehicles.

It can be stored full of vehicles under the deck of an aircraft carrier and take off vertically, then tilt the turboprops to fly like conventional aircraft.

Here it’s on the ground:

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After lift off:

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It raises quite a dust storm as it lifts off, and it’s very loud

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Here the props are in the process of tilting forward. Notice the crew member sitting on the back of the cargo bay. You can get an idea of its size.

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The SWAT team showed up to “rescue” some kidknapped kids

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The demonstration started a real grass fires, so we also saw the emergency vehicles in action

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