The 2019 Bell Fort Worth Alliance Air Show

Airshows are a tradition in my family, and every year we make our best effort to attend the annual one at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth. With Fort Worth being home of two major aerospace and defense companies—Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin—their products feature prominently in both static displays as well as in the live performances. And that also means that many other squadrons, units, and other organizations send planes out for the big event every October.

I enjoy taking good photos. I’m no expert, far from it, but I’d like to think I know how to frame a shot and polish the end product just a bit. So to give you a taste of airshow excitement (especially if you’ve never been to one before), here are the best photos from the day.

Mig 17 vs. Ferrari. Which would you rather be in?
A different kind of fire truck.
Former Red Bull Air Race pilot Kevin Coleman.
An F-16 Viper pilot showing us how it’s done.
Viper Moon?
David Martin and Mike Gallaway.
The one-of-a-kind Yak-110: two Russian Yak-55 aerobatic planes conjoined at the wing, with a rocket added for good measure. Why not?
The F-22 Raptor with afterburners on.
Bombs away!
The U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight. From left to right, top to bottom: A-1 Skyraider, F-22 Raptor, F-16 Viper, and P-51 Mustang.
The new Bell V-280 making its airshow debut!
And it wouldn’t be an airshow without the Blue Angels to wow the crowd.

If you enjoyed these photos, find an airshow near you and go when the opportunity comes around!

25,000 Words

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote anything on my blog. Other stuff just kept taking priority—but that was priority of my choosing, so I really have no excuse.

Anyway, rather than write any big, long piece to make up for what I haven’t posted in almost a month, I’m going to share some of the output from one of my hobbies: photography.

My grandparents gave me my first Vivitar camera when I must have been three or four, and I’ve been snapping pictures ever since. (I still have the Vivitar!) I upgraded to a digital Panasonic when I turned thirteen and more recently upgraded to a Canon DSLR last year to really take it to the next level.

Now, whether my eye for photography has ever been any good is for you to decide. And whether the shots come out looking great is also up in the air.

My goal as I work on photography on the side is to learn not only the mechanics of camera settings and framing the shot but also the post-processing that is done with image-editing software such as Photoshop. I’m a cheapskate (and Adobe charges out the nose for a Photoshop subscription now), so I’ve been using the open-source image-editor called GIMP. I think the results are pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

So, without further ado, here are some shots of airliners taken at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, TX and muscle cars taken at Lone Star Muscle Cars in Wichita Falls, TX. Enjoy and please let me know what you think.

Omni Air International 767 taxiing in the foreground; American A321 taking off in the background.
Omni Air International 767 taxiing in the foreground; American A321 taking off in the background.
American MD-83 in the foreground, American 777 in the background. Both planes are landing into the south.
American MD-83 in the foreground, American 777 in the background. Both planes are landing into the south.
American 737 landing in front of Omni Air International 767.
American 737 landing in front of Omni Air International 767.
American A321 coming in for a landing.
American A321 coming in for a landing.
Omni Air International 767 taking off into the south. A Qantas A380 is parked on the tarmac in the background.
Omni Air International 767 taking off into the south. A Qantas A380 is parked on the tarmac in the background.
Omni Air International 767 retracting its landing gear as it switches to the departure frequency.
Omni Air International 767 retracting its landing gear as it switches to the departure frequency.
Volaris A320 "María Amalia" approaching the runway.
Volaris A320 “María Amalia” approaching the runway.
Alaska 737 painted in a Toy Story 4 livery.
Alaska 737 painted in a Toy Story 4 livery.
American A321 landing in the foreground. The Alaska 737 is lined up for takeoff on the neighboring runway. Lined up in the background are an American (Embraer) ERJ-175, American 737, another American ERJ-175, and an American 787 Dreamliner.
American A321 landing in the foreground. The Alaska 737 is lined up for takeoff on the neighboring runway. Lined up in the background are an American (Embraer) ERJ-175, American 737, another American ERJ-175, and an American 787 Dreamliner.
Air China Cargo 777, JFK-bound, taxiing in the foreground. A Canadian CargoJet 767 waits to cross the runway in the background.
Air China Cargo 777, JFK-bound, taxiing in the foreground. A Canadian CargoJet 767 waits to cross the runway in the background.
The Air China Cargo 767 waiting for clearance to cross the runway.
The Air China Cargo 767 waiting for clearance to cross the runway.
American A321 at the moment of touchdown.
American A321 at the moment of touchdown.
Hmm, which one do I want?
Hmm, which one do I want?
1970 Ford Mustang Mach I. Easily my favorite Mustang ever.
1970 Ford Mustang Mach I. Easily my favorite Mustang ever.
1985 Mustang GT Predator 302. Probably my second-favorite Mustang.
1985 Mustang GT Predator 302. Probably my second-favorite Mustang.
1969 Dodge Super Bee.
1969 Dodge Super Bee.
1962 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster.
1962 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster.
1969 Chevrolet Camero.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro.
2001 Dodge Viper. Get stung with V10 power, baby!
2001 Dodge Viper. Get stung with V10 power, baby!
1966 Dodge Charger.
1966 Dodge Charger.
1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS "Moovin' Milk". I wouldn't mind if the milkman drove this. Wait, I guess milkmen don't exist anymore.
1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS “Moovin’ Milk”. I wouldn’t mind if the milkman drove this. Wait, I guess milkmen don’t exist anymore.
1965 Ford Mustang grille.
1965 Ford Mustang grille.
2002 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. I really like the firebird graphic on the hood.
2002 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. I really like the firebird graphic on the hood.
A spider! Guess the Dodge D150 he was hanging out on hasn't been driven in a while.
A spider! Guess the Dodge D150 he was hanging out on hasn’t been driven in a while.
Another shot of the 1969 Dodge Super Bee, but the grille this time.
Another shot of the 1969 Dodge Super Bee, but the grille this time.

One thing I really like about photography is that it gives me an excuse to get out, explore, and experiment. As you can probably tell, I like photographing machines, but really anything that (I think) exhibits beauty is worth capturing.

Coming soon: enhanced photos from my spring-break trip to Utah. Until then, thanks for reading and viewing.

2018 Fort Worth Alliance Air Show, In Pictures

Someone said a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll stop writing now. I took over one-thousand pictures at this airshow, so know you’re getting the best of the best right here.

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“Yeah! Airshows are awesome!”

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Samaritan’s Purse DC-8, used to provide aid where it is most needed around the world in Jesus’ name.

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Admiring the many .50-cal machine guns on this A-26 Invader.

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Bell 505, the exact helicopter Dad got to ride in (there are benefits to working for a helicopter company).

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Bell 47, the kind of helicopter that evacuated my grandfather after he suffered a facial wound during the Korean War. He was later awarded the Purple Heart.

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The mighty C-17 Globemaster III.

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Dad explaining the horizontal and vertical stabilizers on the C-17 and how they were built. He oversaw production of these.

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Inside the C-17, the American flag on the left and the Mississippi state flag on the right.

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Two F/A-18E Super Hornets.

 

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Weather doesn’t stop the family from having a good time.

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U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules.

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A-10 Thunderbolt II. Daniel took this picture.

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You don’t want to be on the receiving end of the .30-cal GAU-8 Avenger autocannon. Fun fact: the A-10 was more or less built around the GAU-8 gun. Daniel took this picture.

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A T-38 Talon called “The Spirit of Alliance” and owned (possibly flown?) by Ross Perot, Jr. Daniel took this picture.

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Who’s moving, the plane or the ground?

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The C-47 Skytrain known as “Southern Cross.” We’ve seen her at many an airshow in the area, but this time she’s not wearing as much. I personally thought the former girl on the nose was prettier.

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F-16C Fighting Falcon.

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F-16D Fighting Falcon. Note the second seat and hence longer cockpit.

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Remember the MiG 28s from Top Gun? Those were actually F-5 Tiger IIs. In reality, these F-5s are used by the Navy VFC-13 aggressor squadron to test real Top Gun pilots, which is why they are painted like Soviet-era MiGs.

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KC-10 Extender, used for aerial refueling of other aircraft. The KC-10 is based off the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 airframe.

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Canadair CT-114 Tutor, flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force aerobatics team, the Snowbirds.

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Matt Chapman in an Extra 300LX.

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Two T-28 Trojans taking off.

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A P-51D Mustang taking off. There’s nothing like the sound of a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine!

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The P-51 Mustang in the foreground, the two T-28 Trojans in the background.

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The next-generation multi-role fighter, the F-35 Lightning II.

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Afterburner’s on, baby!

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Afterburner’s still on, baby!

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The P-51D Mustang and the F-35 Lightning II, together as the Heritage Flight celebrating Air Force history and supremacy.

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The F-35 taxiing after a great performance.

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Fighter pilots make the coolest hand gestures.

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The Snowbirds wrapping up their preflight procedures.

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The first vic formation of Snowbirds takes off.

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Nine Snowbirds total, in three vics.

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What does it take to get a spot on top of the control tower, I wonder?

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The Snowbirds gliding into view behind Old Glory.

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The Snowbirds are as graceful as their name sounds, and keep it tight.

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A rare break in the clouds!

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The DEA demonstrating an op with the help of a UH-1 Iroquois, more commonly known as a Huey.

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When these guys surround your truck, you’d better get out with your hands up.

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“Getting high” with the DEA.

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Not for the faint of heart.

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Definitely not for the faint of heart.

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Sean D. Tucker performing in the one-of-a-kind Oracle Challenger III biplane.

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How…

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…does…

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…he…

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…do it?

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Bob Carlton in the Super Salto jet sailplane.

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Some graceful wisps of smoke left in the sky.

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Rob Holland flying the one-of-a-kind MXS-RH.

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The Shockwave jet-powered semi. Always a fun event at the air show!

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I wonder what kind of gas mileage it gets?

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Racing, jet vs. propeller, upright vs. inverted.

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A Thunderbird taking off.

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Thunderbirds 1-4 taking off.

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Thunderbirds 1-4 overhead.

At this point, my camera battery died, so I had to watch the rest of the Thunderbirds’ performance with my own eyes, instead of through a camera lens. And that’s not a bad thing!

I hope you enjoyed seeing these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. Likes and comments are always welcome.

On Airshows

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The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Snowbirds performing at the 2018 Fort Worth Alliance Air Show. They are as graceful as their name sounds.

Airshows are awesome. If you’ve been, you know; if you haven’t, go and find out.

I grew up going to airshows. My dad worked in the aerospace industry and took our family to as many airshows as he could in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I’ve been to at least fifteen by my reckoning, maybe as many as twenty. I’ve seen both the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels at least three times each, likely more. I’ve also seen a very realistic Pearl Harbor/Tora! Tora! Tora! reenactment with Mitsubishi Zeroes, several AV-8B Harrier demonstrations, and a rare Russian Mi-24 Hind helicopter flight. (If you don’t know what those are, follow the links!)

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Yours truly with the Mi-24 in 2016. “Never smile at the crocodile.”

My earliest airshow memory was talking to the pilot of an E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft at age three. He let me sit in the pilot’s seat, wear the headset, and play with the throttle controls. I then remember walking through the aircraft, past the computer workstations (where seats would normally be on a commercial aircraft), out the aft door, down the mobile stairs, and to where Mom and Daniel were waiting in the shade of a B-52 Stratofortress, Daniel still being in a stroller at the time. It’s all documented on an old camcorder tape somewhere, along with plenty of shots of vacant sky as a fighter jet whizzes past!

Airshows never get old for me; in fact, I appreciate them more and more as I get older. I still enjoy seeing the aircraft, but now I also enjoy talking to the pilots and crew. Most of them spend the day standing around in the heat, cold, or rain, just waiting for someone to ask them about their planes. You can learn some interesting things from striking up a conversation with them, and they’re more than happy to talk. I got to speak with a B-2 Spirit pilot this past weekend (though he left his B-2 back at Whiteman AFB, darn!). Dad told me that one time, back in the late 80s, he asked an F-14 pilot about the video targeting pod on his aircraft. The pilot looked at Dad incredulously and asked, as if it were classified info, “How do you know about that?” Dad replied, “Tom Clancy wrote about it in Red Storm Rising!” (It pays to read good books.)

Perhaps above all else, I enjoy airshows because they are tangible reminders of the sacrifices that American men and women make so that we can be free in this country. For every B-17 Stratofortress that survived World War II, there were hundreds that bit the dust or limped back home over European skies; and the life expectancy of a B-17 crewman was just a handful of missions, if he was fortunate. The men and women who build, fly, and support military aircraft do it not for their own sakes but for ours, so that we may live freely, safely, and comfortably on our own soil. They have my fullest respect.

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Yours truly with the “Texas Raiders” B-17 Stratofortress in 2016. This particular B-17 was used in a very iconic Don’t Mess with Texas commercial.

So, get online and find out if there’s an airshow near you. If there is, go. Bring your friends and family. Take good walking shoes, sunglasses, and sun protection—and a camera, too. Even if you know nothing about airplanes or aviation, go. Watch some air performances. Walk around the static displays. Talk to some pilots: ask them about their aircraft and what a day in the flight suit is like. Smile and thank them for their service. Many will autograph bulletins or even have posters they will autograph.

And, most importantly, have a great time and make great memories.

Coming soon: pictures from the 2018 Fort Worth Alliance Air Show. Stay tuned.