THE BLACK TRAIL OF SMOKE

SMOKEYDOGSOCKS

VACAVILLE, CALIFORNIA, United States

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The first time I was ever exposed to military aircraft, was when we moved out to California from Pasadena Texas. My mom had to come out to California, to bring home my younger sister, who had been staying at one of my Aunts & Uncles house, in Cordellia. When my Mom came out to get my sister, my Uncle Leo introduced Mom to a man that everybody called “Tiny”. I don’t know how he got that name, he was only 6’2" and weighed about 250 pounds and that is while he was in the Air Force. So, my Mom and Tiny struck it off and the next thing you know, we were on a train moving from Texas to California. The first place we lived, once we got here, was on California Street in Fairfield. That was later renamed Hawaii Street. Then we moved across Fairfield to 308 Hopkins Drive. We spent a total of two years in Fairfield before moving to Vacaville, where my parents found a 3 bedroom house at 380 Fir Street. Now back to the B-52. Since Tiny, later to become my dad by adoption when I was 12, was stationed at Travis AFB. At this particular time, Travis was a SAC base. There were C133 cargo planes along with C124 Globemasters, C130 Hercules, B52 Stratofortress’s, F102 and F106 delta winged fighters. As well as a meriad of other aircraft parked all over the tarmac, between the hangers and just about any place they could park an airplane. Well, my dad would take me and my brother out to the hanger where he worked and every time I heard an airplane taking off, or coming in for a landing, I would go out on the tarmac and watch them come and go. The one thing that made a big impression on me was “The Black Trail of Smoke” that was left behind as the Boeing B52 took to the air. I later found out that it was caused by the injection of water into the karosene burning engines. It seems that just the right amount of water can give the older karosene burning engines a big boost in thrust, kind of like an afterburner in a fighter jet. Thusley, all you had to do to find this bomber, was to follow the black smoke trail. Had this jet not turned when it did, I probably wouldn’t have got this image. I kept waiting for him to turn to give that telltale black cloud of smoke in the middle of his turn, like you see in this shot. It amazes me that after 58 years of service, updates in mechanical and electrical equipment, has kept this bird in the air all these years. I don’t know of any other airplane that has that kind of record,,,so far. The C130 Hercules is running a close second, in that the Hercules was in production around the same time as the B52. Both served in Viet Nam, but the Boeing B52 goes back to the end of the Korean War. Excuse me, Korean Conflict, or Police Action if you prefer. Whenever military personell have to go fight in another country, that’s WAR damnitt, I don’t care what someone else wants to call it. I took this shot while I was fishing at the base of Montezuma Slough Bridge. The bridge replaced the Ferry that everybody had to take to get onto and off of Grizzly Island, up until 1969. I only got to use the ferry twice before it was replaced with the bridge that now stands in it’s place. I used my Canon EOS Kiss Rebel 300D and my Canon 100-300mm AF Macro F:4/5.6:1 telephoto lens, set at 300mm to get this shot. I was hoping the pilot was going to turn before he finally did. Had I been fishing from my normal spot, I would have been 8 miles closer to him when he turned. At least that way, the bomber would have appeared larger.

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  • Ellen Cotton
  • SMOKEYDOGSOCKS
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