I been busy, part 3

USAF Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds formation burst
So, technically, this set of images and video clips came before the previous ‘I been busy’ entry, but it required a lot more work (read: free time) and so I put the easier post up before it. If you wanna fight about it, let’s meet tomorrow night behind the All-You-Can-Eat Car Wash. But until you man up, we’ll go ahead with this post, which as you may have guessed, is about an airshow. Specifically, the Wings Over Wayne 2019 Airshow at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, NC – Goldsboro is in Wayne County, so now you know. But enough stalling – let’s get right into the airsickness-inducing video. Yes, there was a big booger on the sensor, that I was unaware of until I got back, and the automatic sensor cleaning did not dislodge.

And no, I’m not going to let it go at that, so I am including a few stills below for a little more detail.

The lens in question, by the way, is the Tamron SP 150-600mm F5-6.3 Di VC USD G2, of which I have few if any complaints, but it is a heavy monster, and as I said this affected the video stability more than a little. I put more of the blame on the idiotic way that DSLRs require you to frame/monitor video usage, but I’m still working on options (the method used for macro video doesn’t quite work for these circumstances.) Its performance on the still shots was pretty impressive, I must say.

You wanted to see better detail from that Pearl Harbor reenactment? Okay, here’s the full frame captured during one of the passes:

Commemorative Air Force pass full
And now, the detail inset:

Commemorative Air Force pass detail
By the way, I probably overstated the pass speed in the video – more likely 100-175 knots, but still…

And another, a fraction of a second earlier in the pass – the one following also looked much the same. Luck plays a certain role in these images:

Commemorative Air Force blurry pass
Another little example of detail, this time involving the legacy flight with the F-35 and P-51. The full frame looked like this:

'Legacy Flight' of F-35 and P-51
But that’s not enough, so we’ll zoom in on that cockpit and see what we can find:

tight crop of F-35 pass showing pilot's kneeboards
See those pale rectangles within the cockpit? Those are the pilot’s kneeboards, the note pads that they can refer to during flight as needed. Several hundred meters away at probably better than 175 knots. I’m not complaining.

The light and sky conditions became the best later in the day, and so the Thunderbirds demo produced the best photos – not the least of which was due to having the best choreography, but I’ll be honest, I’d be psyched if they did much the same thing with A-10s.

USAF Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds during low-level formation roll
They do lots of low-level passes right in front of the crowd, but they’re still moving at a good clip regardless, so too close means they’re harder to track.

USAF Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds formation roll and focal length failure
It also helps if I’m better prepared, and back off the focal length a bit to keep them adequately framed. It’s much worse in video, however, because the zoom ring is not designed for smooth video transitions.

USAF Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds immediately after close pass
Timing is, unsurprisingly, also an issue – even when you’ve been warned what’s about to happen, there is the barest fraction of a second to capture an ideal frame. High-speed passes are aimed to occur right in front of the crowds, but precisely where is still variable, so you track one of the aircraft and hope to capture the other as it enters the frame. Above, a miss – that second smoke trail is from the other aircraft, having just passed through the frame. Ah well.

Now, a little detail to point out. The full-frame shot:

USAF Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds tight formation pass
Now, a collection of insets from the same image, of each of the pilots:

USAF Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds detail inset of pilots from previous frame The lead is top right of the image, and he’s the only one that watches where the flight is going. The others all watch the lead. Image top left is the right wing position, looking forward and left. Image bottom right is the left wing position, looking forward and right, while image bottom left is the tail position, looking at the flight lead above and ahead. There was, in fact, a tragic accident many years ago, during a practice session, where the flight leader suffered a control failure and was unable to pull up from a low-level pass; three other planes in formation followed him into the ground and impacted almost simultaneously.

USAF Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds mirror pass
This is easily my favorite of all the stills, for obvious reasons. Much of the effect of such demonstrations is from perspective; they appear almost touching when viewed from the side, but have a greater separation along the axis of our sight, and this effect is compounded by passing very low in front of the crowd. It also demonstrates how idiotic and impossible that one scene from ‘Top Gun’ was, but it was a stupid movie anyway. But wait! Let’s go in a little closer:

detail inset of previous mirror pass showing Opposing Solo pilot Michelle Curran
I love being able to read the inscriptions on the side of rapidly passing aircraft, and yes, they have a female pilot this year; there are three women on the main team, and they received the loudest cheers from the airshow crowd as well, even here in the redneck south. We’re making progress.

And I’ll close with a vertical climb image as the F-16 went screaming up several kilometers. Coming up, as soon as I can get to them, are several posts regarding the recent vacation in South Carolina (I took almost 1900 images for that alone, and that’s not counting The Girlfriend’s either.) Be patient.

USAF Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbird in vertical climb

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