Monday, July 25, 2011

Roommates, roommates, never been such devoted roommates...

This summer my visitors came in twos :)

My college roomates Valory and Julie came to visit!

Valory came out for a conference for work and stayed some extra time to spend time with me.  She was here for the 4th of July (as noted in previous posts) and then was joined by Julie (stateside for a few months from teaching English in Russia for the last few years.) on July 7th.

We had SO much fun together :).  I miss those girls.  I had forgotten how well we get a long and how much they bring out the silliness in me (dancing in the kitchen for example)

I had a great time playing tourist with them. A luau, visiting Mount Vernon, Old Town, etc.  Posts to come.

Photography Class

Jess and I are taking a photography class through Fairfax Country rec center.  The teacher's teaching style dosen't really match my learning style, but I'm still learning and taking pictures of things and in ways I wouldn't normally. 

Here a few of my favorite shots from our Shutter Speed assignment we had over the Fourth of July weekend

 and from our first
assignment on aperture.

More pictures to come :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

F/A-18 Hornet

(this post is provided by Ghost Writer Mel)

The F/A-18 Hornet has been used by Navy & Marine pilots since 1983.

It can serve both as an air-to-air fighter and as an air-to-ground striker on the same mission.

The F/A-18’s typical assignments include suppression of enemy air defense, fighter escort, reconnaissance, close air support, forward air control, and day & night strike missions.

It is a twin-engine aircraft.

The Hornet has a 20-mm gun mounted inside its nose & can carry up to 13,700 lbs of external ordnance. This ordnance tends to come in the form of 2 Sidewinders combined with other air-to-air or air-to-ground weapons depending on its mission.

There are 2 models of the F/A-18. The C model has just 1 seat for the pilot while the D model seats both a pilot and a WSO (weapons/sensor officer).

We were lucky enough to have a demonstration of the F/A-18 before seeing in participate in the Navy Heritage Flight. It is an aircraft that has served America well over the last (almost) 30 years and has seen combat around the world.

Navy Heritage Flight

(this post provided by Ghost Writer Mel)

This year is the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation! Given my love of military history I have to throw in a bit of the back story but I’ll try to make it brief.

In 1910, Glenn Curtiss approached the War and Navy Departments offering flight lessons to any officer for free. Aviation was still young enough that each manufacturer had very unique cockpit controls. For pilots to transition to a plane manufactured by a different company they would have to be completely retrained on the instrumentation. By training these officers on his controls, Curtiss made it necessary for the Navy to fly planes build by his company, Curtiss Aeroplane. (Brilliant businessman, right?)

By December he had 3 army and 1 naval officer working with him. They began working on the first seaplane (1 that could land & take off on the water) & after dozens of designs, they flew their 1st model in January of 2011. In February, Curtiss flew the seaplane to tea aboard the Pennsylvania and landed in the water next to the ship’s mooring. This demonstration, and the return flight, encouraged the Navy and who took possession of their first 2 seaplanes that summer.

During this same time Curtiss was also working with the navy to create an aircraft that could take off from and land upon a ship. In November 2010, a contract pilot for Curtiss took off from the cruiser Birmingham, the first take off from a navy vessel. Never mind that the ship's makeshift flight deck was so short he literally drove off the end & touched the water before gaining sufficient air speed... The following January he landed on board the Pennsylvania. Given the shortness of the flight deck, they developed & used the first tailhook to snag a cable strung across the deck to stop the airplane’s progress. Aircraft carriers all over the world today still use this same basic technology.

Sorry, more information than you wanted to know but given this anniversary I was hoping for more naval aircraft demonstrations. Sadly, most of the naval aircraft were only on static display. There were however a few flights, including a Navy Heritage Flight of an F/A-18 Hornet and a F4U Corsair.

It was amazing to watch an aircraft that first saw combat in 1942 flying with 1 introduced to the navy 41 years later. The difference between the 2 aircraft are marked and show how much aviation can change in just a few decades.


2011 JSOH and Airshow

(the following post is provided by Melanie)

Bright & early on May 21st we set out for the Joint Service Open House & Air Show at Andrew’s Joint Service Base. It is still so odd to refer to it that way instead of as Andrews Air Force Base. Anyway, this was our 3rd year attending the event although you’ll remember we tried 4 years ago & it became the day we didn’t go to the air show. Emma, Awesome, Amy, & I (Mel) drove up to FedEx Field to catch a shuttle over to the base.

One of the great things about the event is that it combines static displays of aircraft, tanks, and even boats with aerial demonstrations of planes, parachutists, and helicopters. I’ll post some more about these later.

The opening ceremony involved a parachutist dropping with a 75 lb American flag.

While there, we ran into several friends including April & Maggie. They left fairly early to head to another activity but we were soon joined by Joe & Sundee.

After the Thunderbirds performed, we headed to the lines to board the buses back to FedEx and had to wait in line for quite a while. Aren’t we cute?