P-80 IN THE AIR

TODAY IS MAY 10,2008. EVER SINCE I WAS A KID, I’VE HAD AN INTREST IN AIRCRAFT FROM SEVERAL DIFFERENT WARS. IN WORLD WAR II, MY FAVORITE PLANE WAS THE P-51 MUSTANG. FOR THE KOREAN WAR, I TOOK A LIKING TO THE F-86. BUT, BEFORE THE F-86 EVER SAW ANY ACTION IN COMBAT, IT’S PREDOCESSORS THE P-80 AND THE P-82, WERE AMERICAS FRONT LINE FIGHTERS AND CLOSE SUPPORT FIGHTER BOMBERS. I HAVE SEEN BOTH THE P-80 AND THE P-82 ON STATIC DISPLAY BEFORE, BUT I NEVER IMAGINED I WOULD EVER SEE ONE IN THE AIR, UNTIL TODAY. ACTUALLY ABOUT TWO WEEKS AGO, MY FRIEND, THE RANGE MASTER AT MY LOCAL SHOOTING CLUB, TOLD ME ABOUT THIS P-80 THAT WAS PARKED AT THE FUEL DOCK IN YOLO COUNTY’S SMALL AIRPORT THAT IS RIGHT ACROSS THE ROAD FROM THE GUN CLUB. I DIDN’T GET TO SEE IT THAT SATURDAY, BECAUSE HE HAD ALREADY LEFT THE AIRPORT. I FIGURED I WOULD NEVER SEE IT NOW, BECAUSE I CERTAINLY HAD NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE. SO I PUT THE THOUGHT OF IT IN THE BACK OF MY MIND AND WENT ON WITH SHOOTING AND WATCHING THE SKYDIVERS AND OTHER HOME BUILT AND EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT THAT COME AND GO AT YOLO AIRPORT. WELL TODAY, I WAS TALKING WITH A FELLOW SHOOTER WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN THIS OLD JET, THE P-80, CAME SHOOTING DOWN THE RUNWAY ACROSS THE STREET AND AT A HIGH RATE OF SPEED, HE CLIMBED OUT OF THE FLIGHT PATH AND FLEW AWAY. I DIDN’T HAVE MY CAMERA OUT AT THE TIME AND WHEN I THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO COME BACK AROUND FOR ANOTHER PASS, I EMMEDIATELY BROKE OUT THE DIGITAL CAMERA WITH THE 70-300 TELEPHOTO MACRO LENS AND HUNG IT AROUND MY NECK FOR THE NEXT PASS. WELL, IT NEVER CAME. SO, DEPRESSED ABOUT THE THOUGHT OF HAVING MISSED MY OPPERTUNITY AT SOME GREAT PHOTOS, I PLACED MY CAMERA BACK INSIDE MY FORD AND WENT BACK TO SHOOTING. WELL, ABOUT TWO HOURS LATER, I JUST HAPPENED TO LOOK OUT ACROSS THE RUNWAY TOWARDS THE CASCADE MOUNTAINS AND WHAT DO YOU THINK I SAW COMING IN FOR A LANDING, OR A PASS. WELL AS IT TURNED OUT IS WAS A PASS. SO I GOT OUT MY CAMERA AGAIN AND STARTED FRAMING THIS P-80 IN MY VIEW FINDER AND MAKING SURE THE AUTO FOCUS WAS DOING IT’S JOB. WELL, I SQUEEZED OFF A COUPLE OF SHOTS WHILE HE WAS PASSING BELOW THE TREE LINE AND ALL I COULD THINK OF WAS THIS DARN LENS REFOCUSING ON TREES EVERY TIME I SWEPT PASSED ONE WHILE TRACKING THIS JET. I FIGURED I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO SETTLE FOR JUST SO SO PHOTOS, UNTIL MY FRIEND THE RANGE MASTER SAID, "HEY LET’S JUMP IN THE CART, GOLF CART, AND DRIVE DOWN TO THE GATE AND GET A CLEAR VIEW OF HIM PASSING OR LANDING, WHATEVER ONE IT WAS GOING TO BE ON THE NEXT FLY OVER. WELL, HALF WAY DOWN THE ROAD TO THE DRIVEWAY ENTRANCE TO THE CLUB, WE REMEMBERED THAT THERE WERE CHEDDAR WORSTS ON THE GRILL BACK AT THE 100 YARD SHOOTING LINE. WELL, NEEDLESS TO SAY THE CHEDDAR WORST WERE GOING TO BE A LITTLE WELL DONE TODAY. BY THE TIME WE GOT BACK, THEY WERE ENGULFED IN A GREESE FIRE. NOT QUITE THE WAY YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO COOK SAUSAGES. ANYWAY, BACK AT THE RUNWAY. AS THE P-80 CAME CLOSER INTO VIEW HE PASSED BEHIND SOME TREES THAT ARE ON THE CLUB’S SIDE OF THE ROAD AND JEFF AND I THOUGHT WE WEREN’T GOING TO SEE HIM AGAIN. SO WITH A LITTLE PATIENTS, I KEPT MY EYE IN THE VIEW FINDER AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW, OUT FROM BEHIND THE TREES HE COMES. GEAR DOWN, FLAPS DOWN, JUST AS PRETTY AS YOU PLEASE. I TOOK ABOUT 15 SHOTS ALL TOGETHER AND SOME OF THEM ARE VERY NICE SHOTS, IF I DO SAY SO MY SELF. I GOT ONE OF HIM RIGHT AT TOUCHDOWN WITH HIS MAIN GEAR AND THE SMOKE IS BILLOWING OFF THE TIRES JUST BEHIND THE WING. OF COURSE, IF WE WENT FROM 0 TO 150 MILES PER HOUR IN 0.0 SECONDS, I THINK WE’D SMOKE TOO. ANYWAY, THAT PHOTO HAS THE VERY TIP OF THE VERTICAL STABLIZER AND THE TAIL PIPE CUT OFF AT THE EDGE OF THE PHOTO, WHICH I’D RATHER HAD NOT BEEN CUT OFF THERE. I WOULD HAVE RATHER HAD THE ENTIRE PLANE IN THAT PARTICULAR SHOT. OTHER THAN THAT LITTLE FLAW, IT’S A PRETTY GOOD SHOT. I DID GET THE ENTIRE PLANE IN THE FRAME WHEN THE NOSE GEAR TOUCHED DOWN THOUGH. AS WELL AS SEVERAL OTHER FULL PLANE SHOTS IN VARIOUS POSITIONS BEFORE AND AFTER TOUCH DOWN. I HAVEN’T EVEN UPLOADED THE SHOTS FROM MY CAMERA INTO MY HARD DRIVE YET. SO, I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT I COME WITH ONCE I GET THE SHOTS INTO ADOBE PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 2 AND DO A FEW LITTLE ENHANCEMENTS ON THEM. SO TO COME TO THE ORIGINAL POINT OF THE ENTRY IS TO MAKE NOTE OF THE FACT THAT I GOT TO SEE AN AIRPLANE FROM THE YEAR I WAS BORN ACTUALLY FLYING IN THE AIR. NOW, I KNOW THE BOING B-52 WAS FIRST FLOWN BACK THEN AS WELL, BUT I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A FIGHTER FAN. I WAS TOLD BY A PHSYCIC READER AT THE BERKLEY SCIENCE INSTITUTE, THAT IN A PAST LIFE I WAS A FEMALE SHUTTLE PILOT, DELIVERING AIRPLANES TO THE FRONT LINES AND THAT I WENT DOWN AT SEA COMING BACK FROM HAVING DELIVERED A B-17 TO THE HAWIIAN ISLANDS, SPECIFICALLY HICKHAM AIR FIELD. STRANGE! ANYWAY, HERE’S A JET THAT FIRST FLEW IN COMBAT IN 1952 AND I WAS JUST ABOUT TO MAKE MY GRAND ENTRANCE IN THE DELIVERY ROOM. IN FACT, MAY 28 I’LL BE 56, SO THIS JET THAT HAD BEEN COMPLETELY STRIPPED DOWN AND MATICULESSLY REBUILT, WAS A BRAND NEW 56 YEAR OLD AIRCRAFT AND IN THE AIR, NOT JUST SITTING ON THE GROUND WITH NO GUTS IN IT. TALK ABOUT A PRETTY AIRCRAFT IN THE AIR. THOUGH IT’S NOT A SWEPT WING, THE STRAIGHT WINGS WITH THE FUEL CELLS ON THE TIPS OF THE WINGS AND THE SMALL VERTICAL TAIL MADE FOR A BEAUTIFUL PHOTO AS HE CAME IN FOR A LANDING. ALSO THE LANDING GEAR ON THIS AIRPLANE AREN’T VERY LONG, LIKE YOU SEE ON SO MANY OF TODAYS AIRCRAFT, SO WHEN IT HIT THE RUNWAY, THE PLANE TOOK ON THIS LOWRIDER STANCE, KIND OF LIKE SQUATTING. IN FACT IN ONE OF THE PHOTOS, THE GEAR ARE VISSIBLY IN THE DOWN AND LOCKED POSSITION, BUT YOU CAN BARELY SEE THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE SO SHORT. I HAVE TO ADMIT, ALL OF THE STATIC DISPLAY P-80’S THAT I HAVE SEEN WERE JUST ONE SEATERS. THIS P-80 IS A TWO SEATER. I HOPE I GET TO SEE THIS JET UP CLOSE ONE OF THESE DAYS AND MAYBE TALK THE PILOT/OWNER INTO A SHORT FLIGHT AROUND THE BLOCK AND BACK. I’D LOVE TO HAVE THAT FLIGHT STICK IN MY HANDS. I HAD HOPED THAT I WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET SOME UP CLOSE PHOTOS OF IT TODAY, BUT APPARENTLY BY THE TIME I WAS LEAVING THE GUN RANGE, HE HAD ALREADY REFUELED AND TOOK OFF AGAIN FOR PARTS UNKNOWN. I’M HOPING THAT A COUPLE OF MY 8X10’S OF HIS JET WILL CONVENCE HIM TO TAKE ME UP.

Journal Comments

  • melynda blosser