Heath and Hall part Deux OT
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Thread: Heath and Hall part Deux OT

  1. #1

    Heath and Hall part Deux OT

    Well, it started clear and fine again today so I thought I'd go and expand my collection of aircraft images and fine tune my settings to reduce the number of throw away images...not that it matters with digital mind.

    They say the early bird catches the worm and oh boy what a worm I caught this morning, day break around here is about 07:00 with sun up around 08:00 so by 09:00 there was plenty of light, or so I thought...more anon on that score. Anyway around 09:20 the first piece of trade appeared about 20 miles out and smoking a lot, now theres no way I can be lucky enough to see two 707s two weeks running, bearing in mind I'm looking East its hard to make out what it is yet. The smoke gets closer and closer, some sort of 4 engined T tail airframe, two small for a FRED or C-17, cant be a C-141 as they are long gone, I had to confess I was at a loss, 10 miles out and the ever growing dot gets larger and larger, its not a T tail, its an AWACs !, OK this is going to be good, set the camera up, check the pan angles to make sure I avoid poles and tress, you don't get many chances like this, here it comes, man its big and noisy, then whoosh its gone behind the trees for touch down.....but no, a few seconds later a crescendo of noise and sure enough a lift off and a steep climb. Now, will he turn left or right, right is the circuit outbound, left is the touch and go circuit, a little wobble right, dang , then a hard reef left , wow an AWACs on T&Gs.

    Time to check the pictures...uggh, all dark and under exposed, aaagggh mild panic sets in, an AWACs downwind and gear down for a swing round for another approach and a camera not working, what to do, what to do.

    A quick check of the settings show them to all be ok, take some more pictures to test, but of what ?, grass, trees, houses, anything, another quick check and there all ok and perfectly exposed, hmmm must be a glitch, no time to ponder, the AWACS is back at 3 miles so off we go again, whoosh over he goes....quick check of the pictures, there better but not like last weeks ?.

    Well this went on and on, over thirty T&Gs the AWACs did, interspersed with some 135 take offs and a C-17 take off, the pictures were getting better but still something wrong, the sun is out theres a little cover, well a lot but its thin high stuff, suddenly a flash between the trees to the right in a hard left turn, something big, very very big, there !, there it is again, I'm in the wrong location, a quick run to an open spot and then whoosh, in a turn that would make a F-15 jock proud a C-17 at least in a 40 deg bank 3 miles from touch down and about 500'AGL, you can just see it flitting between the taller trees as it comes around to land.

    Time to forget light settings camera action, just point and shoot and shoot and shoot, set to largest format and hope some cropping will help, to late to mess any more, a prayer that at least one image comes out and then its time to shoot.

    Its amazing how high mental work load situations like this shut out peripheral noises, they slowly seep back as you calm down and focus on taking pictures, faintly at first a beeping noise, then louder....some truck reversing on the industrial estate behind no doubt, louder still, the C-17 is now less than a mile away and just as I press the shutter, a red flashing catches my eye, and then in a rush the situation becomes clear and the world seems to stop and go into slow motion....flat batteries....NO....dont you dare fail now, much profanity spews forth and with threats of unmentionable lingering pain the batteries hold on just long enough to capture a full pass from the C-17.

    After that it got pretty boring, more and yet more AWACs T&Gs, then a couple or 135Rs who did one or two T&Gs and then again another smoke blotch on the horizon, sigh not that AWACs again, but no, taking forever to cover the 20 mile visual range a pair of C-130s come home to roost, by now the sky was clear, crystal clear and the pictures much better...but...just not quite like last week. Finally the AWACs lifts off and banks right, thats him done for the day, three solid hours of T&Gs and I surely lost count but it was over thirty. Silence descends and after 40mins its clear all have gone to lunch.

    So off to Lakenheath for a little snout around, theres been loads of F-15s taking off, sure enough, after a short wait at the end of the runway a brace of F-15s appear ready for take off, then another and another and finally a solo, thats seven F-15s sat waiting to go, the first pair line up and then the strangest thing happened.

    Several months ago whilst at Mildenhall a brace of F-15s flew over head, there was an odd occasional chirping car alarm warbling sound short whistle chirp noise, most odd, it wasn't there before the F-15s, nor after, I never though any more, maybe a back ground noise or something.

    Flash forward to this morning, there it is again, a single chirp whistle, now where did that come from, I honestly didn't have much time to think as the next thing was a wall of sound from the afterburners, even 500 yds away the car shook and off they roared, zooming straight up and into the distance, mere dots in less than a minute.

    Next pair lined up and then there it was again, that odd noise followed by a deafening roar, and again with the next pair and finally with the solo, still haven't a clue what it is but I'm guessing some sort of compressor surging sucking, its sort of like a turbo waste gate sound, most odd.

    I didnt take any images, I know when I'm beat LOL, small camera and even smaller planes and just a little too far away, besides everyone else around me is sporting lenses longer than their arms, so fear of ridicule ( mostly mental ) with my point and shoot see's me just stand and watch....which isnt a bad thing, on reflection I'd spent over three hours at Mildenhall and take hundreds of pictures but not seen one plane, yet here at the end of Lakenheath I watched seven planes take off and didnt take one picture. I pondered this on the 60 mile drive home and was drawn to a parrallel in my flight sim world, I've made hundreds of planes, but I've rarely flown one, I'm going to have to do something about redressing that balance.

    And so ended a pleasant morning, the images are still not as good as I wanted, I can only surmise the low winter sun and high thin cloud just dragged the light down low enough to spoil the images, shame really, still will have to try again when the weather is nice again.

    Attached some of the best images, I think.



  2. #2

  3. #3
    Love the AWACS......Great shots....Thanks for those.....

  4. #4
    Retired SOH Administrator Henry's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
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    You need an assistant Michael
    its been a few years since ive been to either base
    but maybe ill get time to swing by and take a few myself :costumes:
    good shots anyhow

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