09/04-05 2010 Cleveland Air Show


I went to the annual Cleveland air show in the labor-day weekend.  The air show is held at the Burke Lakefront airport next to the downtown Cleveland.  It is an airport mainly used by general-aviation aircrafts, and it is very convenient because I can just park an airplane and walk straight to the downtown.  It has two nice runways.  It might have been a main airport for Cleveland used also by airlines, but I am not sure about the history of this airport.

There used to be a similarly convenient airport in Chicago called Meigs field.  Meigs field used to be the default airport of the Microsoft Flight Simulator.  However, a few years ago, a brutal Chicago mayor violently destroyed the airport and closed it.  It was done in uncivilized way.  That dictator mayor secretly brought heavy machinery in the dark of a night and destroyed runway and taxiway while general aviation community was trying to talk.  Now this place is used as a park.  I visited the park once, but I didn't see many people.  Building a park or a facility is a popular scheme used by a politician to legally pay money to companies who donate big money.

An airport is maintained as a part of the national airport network.  Particularly, if the airport has a wide and long enough runway to allow an airliner to land, the airport plays an important role for aviation safety.  One mayor doesn't have a jurisdiction of destroying it without consulting the Federal Aviation Administration.  What Chicago mayor did was a clear violation of the Federal Aviation Regulation in a broad daylight.  Chicago lost the economic benefit from the airport, lost airport-related jobs, and ended up paying big fine to the federal government.  I heard that the infamous Chicago mayor finally resigns this year.  I was surprised he was still in charge after giving that damage to the city.  That mayor leaving the office is a good news for us, and we are hoping to re-build Meigs field.  If AOPA spends money to lobby for re-building Meigs field, I will pitch $100 for it.  What I wanted to say here is I wish long live the Burke Lakefront airport.  And, I hope I can occasionally fly in to the airport and can visit for an air show every year.

This year, I visited there for the last two of the three days of the air show.  It was my second chance to take Blue Angels with my new camera.  My first day there was the best of the best weather condition for an air show.

Super Hornet taking off.  I used full-length of my tele photo.  But, due to heat haze, details are not clear. During the heritage formation with F-4U Corsair. B-17 appeared nice in the clear blue background.

Since this camera is relatively new, I didn't have a good sense of how long focal length I should use.  Previous lens was 170-500mm and the cropping factor was 1.5x, which is converted to 255-750mm 35mm-film equivalent.  Now, I am using 50-200mm plus 2X tele-converter, and the cropping factor is 2X, which is converted to 200-800mm 35mm-film equivalent.  I didn't have an intuition of how long I should extend for different airplanes.

I just made a rough guess and tried, but....
Air-rescue demo of the Coast Guard. Knife-edge pass of F-15E Strike Eagle in the perfect condition!  But, I missed the tip of its nose.  I should have shortened the lens just by a little bit.... 270-degree roll before pitch-up.  I missed the tail....

Oh no!  I missed potentially once-in-lifetime opportunity of a F-15E picture...... twice.

OK.  I still have Blue Angels.  I shouldn't miss good shots.
Solo taking off.  With 800mm tele photo.  It came out very nice. With 800mm, I can take a nice close-up look of Bonton roll.  From now on, I will go for it. Opposing maneuver of the solos.  I suppose everyone tries to take this shot.  Anyway, I feel lucky if I get two airplanes in one picture.
This is a kind of shot I've been avoiding.  My previous digital SLR cameras didn't have any defense against dusts sticking on the sensor.  I hesitated to aim high because it tends tolet the dust blown by the mirror movement settled on to the sensor.  But, now I trust anti-dust of my Olympus digital SLR, and I tried this. a a

Although I had nice Blue Angels pictures, I had a mixed feeling since I missed two very good chances of a F-15E picture.  I came home, and I started reviewing my past pictures.  I have all the information of focal length of each picture.  Every year, they use same reference in the same air show.  Most of the low-altitude fly-by is over the runway.  I should have calculated what focal length I should use based on that.  I wrote down all the appropriate focal length in a piece of paper and prepared for the next day.

Next day, I came to Cleveland with the memo of what focal length I should use.  I was ready to try again with F-15E, but....
These guys were flying through class D airspace of the airport without communicating the tower!  Hey!  You are violating the federal aviation regulation! The clear blue sky was gone.... Very dark compared to the day before.

In such a condition, I was hoping to see big shock cone around F-18E during the high-speed pass, but I didn't see to big a cone this time.  So, it was really dry, but just dark.  When the airplane is not exceeding the speed of sound, the air flow around the airplane may be accelerated slightly above the speed of sound that's when we see shock cone made visible by water vapor around an airplane.  If the airplane go beyond that point, we see a news on the next-day newspaper talking about broken window by the sonic-boom.

The weather forecast was predicting a dry weather.  At least it didn't rain, but I didn't have a nice blue sky like the day before.
A signature of the F-15E Strike Eagle is its conformal tank, which is visible in this picture. I trimmed this picture quite a bit, but I was able to read the serial number before scaling it to 1200x800.  I wish the sun was out. The focal length was perfect.  But, it was dark.
Despite my memo of the focal length, I missed a bit of tail.

Maybe yesterday was really my once-in-lifetime opportunity.

The sun didn't come out before Blue Angels.  The condition got substantially better though.
I aimed with 800mm again.  I like this shot. Double farvel.  All four pilots are visible in this picture.
Continuous shutter of my new camera is almost twice as fast as my old one.  It is much easier to take this type of shot now.

I couldn't take an eye-popping nice picture this time.  But, I'm getting used to my new camera.  I hope I have a perfect weather condition next year, and F-15E Strike Eagles flies in front of the clear blue sky next year (and I don't choose a too long or too short focal length.)

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