09/01/2008 Cleveland Air Show


Annual Cleveland Air Show was held through the Labor-Day Weekend, August 30-September 1 this year.  We regularly go there two days, but this year, I decided to fly a long cross country during the Labor-Day weekend.  So, I went there only two days this year.

Like Dayton air show, the sun is almost always behind the audience.  It is an ideal condition for photography.  In addition, the air was super clear this year.  Burke Lakefront Airport, where the air show is hosted, is (as the name says) on the shore of Lake Erie.  Usually, the air contains some haze due to the humidity from the lake.  But, this year, there was virtually no haze.  I suppose the visibility was way better than 10 miles.  It was the best of the best condition for an air show.

Stearman.  You can see how clear the sky was. F-15 aerobatics.

In the morning, Stearman performed aerobatics.  The bright yellow wing was standing out of the perfectly blue sky.  I got some nice pictures, but to my disappointment, my digital SLR (*ist DS2) was missing the focus just a little bit in many shots even though the perfect condition.  In F-15 aerobatics, I captured the airplane in almost full-frame at perfect angle, but again, my camera missed the focus.  The above photo of F-15 was one shot after that missed-focus shot.  The above picture is also a good shot, but the missed shot frustrated me quite a bit.

After F-15, Navy F-18F Super Hornet took off.  It took off from left to right, then came back from the left showing a high-speed pass, and did a steep climb.  Then I saw something dropped from the airplane.  I took a photo of it.  It looked like a part of a panel.  The following pictures did not show any missing panels.  So, I do not know what it was.  But, this Super Hornet was supposed to fly a heritage formation with a WWII fighter, F-4U Corsair, which was subsequently cancelled.  I guess the pilot saw some sort of warning sign, which made him cancel the formation flight.

F-18F taking off for aerobatic performance. Something dropped from the airplane. This thing looked like a part of a panel.

The below picture is the F-4U Corsair, which was supposed to fly a formation with the F-18F.

F-4U Corsair did some fly-byes instead of the heritage formation.

Then, C-130 with commemorative marking of Normandy invasion flew some fly-byes, and the F-4U Corsair that missed the heritage flight performed some aerobatics.  Also, F-15, F-16, and P-51 performed a nice heritage formation.

C-130 with commemorative marking of Normandy invasion. F-4U Corsair performed some aerobatics. Heritage formation of F-15, F-16, and P-51.

I'm not showing photos here, but many civilian aerobatic teams also performed nice flights.  Although I didn't have an opportunity to take a good shot, aviation living-legend Sean D. Tucker performed an outstanding aerobatic maneuvers.

Then, the Blue Angels concluded the air show.

Fat Albert.  No rocket-assisted take off this time. Line-Abreast loop. Pitch-Up Break. (I'm not sure about the name of the maneuver.)

Almost through the day, the sun was behind the audience.  But, toward the end, the sun was shining from the left.  It is ok for Thunderbirds because the airplane is white.  But, Blue Angels' F-18 is painted dark blue.  So, unless the sun is behind the audience, the airplane appears dark in a picture.  I could use exposure compensation to make it brighter, but it sacrifices the color of the sky.  No matter how clear the sky is, using positive exposure compensation makes the sky white.  So, it's a trade off.  I have to choose blue sky and dark airplane, or white sky with brighter airplane.  I like to have an airplane in front of the blue sky, so I didn't use exposure compensation.  You may think the airplane appears to be dark, but it was inevitable.  I feel more comfortable to see an airplane flying in a clear blue sky.

But, this time, my camera disappointed me pretty much.  Despite the perfect weather condition, my camera missed the focus too often.  I've been using *ist DS2 for three years, and it now became far less capable compared to the newer models.  Also, a tiny dust stuck on the CCD screen, and the Pentax's CCD cleaner (O-ICK1) cannot get rid of it.  This camera gave me an unbelievable shot in the first try.  Also, I casually took a picture of a sparrow in which I could see hairs of the feather distinctively.  I was shocked by the picture quality of the digital SLR and regretted that I did not invest for a digital SLR before the Concorde's final flight.  However, *ist DS2 was slow.  Auto-focus was way slower than the film SLR camera.  I didn't understand why Pentax could not make it as fast as their film SLR.  Also, it could take continuous shot at 2.8 shots per second.  It raised the shutter too long, and during that period, it was super difficult to track the fast-moving target.  When I purchased *ist DS2, I was determined to use it for at least five years, but I am now thinking about getting a new model before the next air-show season.

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