31 July 2009

Blue Angels

It's hard to take a bad picture of the Blue Angels, but it's also hard to take a good one. It's surprisingly easy to take 144 pictures that all look more or less the same. (Click pictures to embiggen.)

These are the best that I got today (link to gallery) watching the Blue Angels "practice" over Lake Washington. It's not really a practice -- it's a full show, but tomorrow's the Big Day when Seafair is going on. It'll be so busy that I couldn't stand to be anywhere in the vicinity, but today was lovely -- had a little picnic in a beach park over on the Eastside, the boys played in the water, not too crowded. It was just perfect.

This is why I love digital pictures, not that anyone needs to hype digital over film any more. But in the old days, 144 pics would be about 4 rolls of film, which cost a fair amount of money and also cost a fair amount to develop & print. And if you used a commercial printer, the end result didn't look particularly good. If you wanted nice prints you had to develop them yourself -- which I learned to do. It was fun and creative but very labor intensive. With digital, the images are free (excepting the cost of disk space, which gets cheaper every day) and within an hour of getting home, I'd gone through them all, color-corrected, cropped and tweaked every image with any promise. Apple's iPhoto makes that brain-dead easy. If you want to do serious imagework you still need Photoshop, but for simple stuff iPhoto is easier and more than adequate.

On a more technical note, if you look carefully at the above photo you can see that they are using two #7 aircraft (the two trailing planes in the #3 and #4 positions). You can see, faintly, the "7" on the vertical stabilizers and they have larger canopies as these are the two-seat versions of the F/A-18, which are not typically used in shows. Last year's show was noteworthy, since the #6 plane had a mechanical problem after takeoff and had to turn back and quickly switch to the #7 plane. I don't think they allow ridealongs during the show, since they pull something like seven g's without pressure suits! Perhaps they just have two aircraft with mechanical problems...



  1. When I was in the Marines I got to ride aboard Fat Albert, the Blue Angels' C-130.

    One of the pilots told me that they don't use G-suits because the plane automatically inflates and deflates the suit based on the G load of the aircraft. He said that the way they fly, the suit could bump the stick inadvertently as it inflates, causing a "catastrophic deviation in the flight path".

    I told him I'd keep my M-16 and leave that shit to him.

  2. Just thinking about pulling seven G's gives me a migraine! I thought racing cars was a thrill (it certainly ruined me for boring old rollercoasters) but this is another world altogether, the navigating of which requires a level of skill few humans can even imagine, much less attain. Wow, wow, wow.

    These are fantastic photographs, Dr., especially given how fast your subjects are moving.

  3. I miss those days leading up to Seafair. Nothing says Summer like the sound of the Blue Angels and unlimited hydros to a Seattle native.


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