Spiraling Turbopropwash by DJ LeMay

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Now there’s something you don’t see every day…

A turbine otter (owner Misty Fjords Air) takes off in the
Port Alexander harbor early in the morning, with a cool display of
spiraling propwash around the nose of the plane.

August 5, 2008 7:15am
D200 18-200mm Lens
105mm 1/250 f/8 ISO 100


atmospheric, floatplane, djlemay, se alaska, spiral propwash, spiral slipstream, dehavilland turbine otter

Photography has opened my eyes to boundless visions of nature. It gives my little meanderings meaning with opportunities for learning, expression, challenge, and sharing.

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  • JanT
    JanTabout 4 years ago

    What a cool action shot! Love the spiraling movement in front, DJ!

  • Isn’t that just too cool!
    Thank you for assistance, Jan… Sure appreciate it.

    – DJ LeMay

  • E.R. Bazor
    E.R. Bazorabout 4 years ago

    Love it!
    It’s good to see you again DJ!

  • Oh YIPPEE! I’m thrilled to have this chosen for a feature! Thank you very much, Estes! Wonderful to see you again too! :D

    – DJ LeMay

  • Joanne  Bradley
    Joanne Bradleyabout 4 years ago

    Fantastic shot! You captured all the movement and motion so well! Now why do I feel like I just stepped into an episode of Northern Exposure, one of my all time favourite TV shows. Sadly I have yet to experience the real thing, but it’s at the top of my list!

  • Thank you, Joanne! Heh, heh… I loved that show too. Hope you get to visit soon… you’ll love it!

    – DJ LeMay

  • mscott207
    mscott207about 4 years ago

    WHHHHOOOOOOAAAAA!! unbelievable! i’ve never seen the likes of this before!! what an incredible capture!! congrats on the feature….so comletely well deserved!!

  • Thank you, Michael! I’m so glad you commented on this one! I’ve never seen anything like this before either and neither has anyone I’ve asked…

    – DJ LeMay

  • mscott207
    mscott207about 4 years ago

    i could look at this one for hours….totally amazing to me. your timing was perfect. right place, right time, right talent to nail it!! i’d favorite it 100 times if i could

  • Oh WOW! Thank you so much! It was the right place, right time… and gosh, thanks so much for the “right talent” comment! I got a few shots of it that morning… all with that propwash, but the others had a float in the foreground and the boat-filled dock in the background, making it confusing to see what I was photographing. I chose this shot because it was more focused on the plane.
    I still wonder if this is a usual sighting, or if I’ve got something pretty dang special here.

    – DJ LeMay

  • Sally Winter
    Sally Winteralmost 4 years ago

    another beautiful Alaska photo – thank you for sharing

  • Thank you very much, Sally!

    – DJ LeMay

  • Rhoufi
    Rhoufiover 3 years ago

    For us folk who live in cities a sight like this is gold. That propwash is such a bonus. This is a beautiful looking plane and your image is so fine.

  • Heh, heh… even for us folk that live out here in the bush this is an unusual sight! Grew up in the bush, worked for the Forest Service, and now live in the bush again but probably won’t ever see this again. I just made up that “spiraling turbopropwash”… I know there’s propwash but mostly when I read about it, they talked about the wash that comes off the wings. Couldn’t find out anything this visual phenomenom… so I made up a name for it!
    Thanks so much for ALL of your kind comments, favs, and support, Rhoufi! I appreciate it very much!

    – DJ LeMay

  • Rhoufi
    Rhoufiover 3 years ago

    I think it’s actually a phenomenon called “cavitation” and it’s caused by the moisture in the air (why you don’t see it all the time)and the velocity of the tip of the propeller (maximum at take-off). The difference in pressure across the prop (what drags the plane forward) cause water to precipitate out as drops that you see. But really, I like “turbopropwash” the best – it’s evocative and efficient. Great talking to you.

  • Ahhhh…. I knew it HAD to have a name! Thank you very much for the info! I knew it was from the moisture in the air and I thought that I could see it well because of my relation to it and the light.. Only hoped that I was capturing what I was seeing and a rare sight, I thought, with all the time I’ve spent around floatplanes here in the rainforest. I think it’s just way too cool and am thrilled to learn more about this phenomenon.

    – DJ LeMay

  • Rhoufi
    Rhoufiover 3 years ago

    I have just Google Earthed (sic!) Port Alexander and you aren’t kidding – you are very remote. There doesn’t seem to be a road linking the port with the mainland. The only way in and out seems to be by boat or seaplane and there are only about 3 short roads in total in the town. Everyone must know everyone else. The topography of the Island seems insane: tortuous inlets, high cliffs, dense forest. What a place! So RedBubble takes you on trips out, just as it brings us into the extreme beauty of your world. So liberating this internet thing we have now. Isolated in body only, your mind can travel anywhere.

  • Heh, heh… yep… nothing but 80 miles of grizzlies between us and the nearest town (Sitka)! Can be difficult to get out of here during the fall and winter when the weather’s bad… had a floatplane trip back home last November that made me go into shock during the last 10 minutes or so of the flight! Thought we were all done.
    Boardwalk’s here in town… no roads… no cars… we do have two tractors (one of them is John Deere that my husband rebuilt) and a big ATV that we got last year. I use the ATV or the Kubota tractor (with a home-built trailer) to get the groceries from the skiff to the house. The Post Office (yes we do have one!) is across the bay so first the groceries get a ride in a skiff. Our mail/groceries/supplies are delivered once/week by boat.
    I love pictures – they can take you anywhere!

    – DJ LeMay

  • Rhoufi
    Rhoufiover 3 years ago

    I found this for you DJ:

  • Slipstream… I did find that back when I was searching for what this is called… used it for a tag.
    Thank you for posting this way cool video, Rhoufi!

    – DJ LeMay

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