Dreary Skies and Amazing Planes

One thing you never know for certain is what the weather is going to do.  When I scheduled my trip to Rome, Georgia for the Wings Over Georgia Air Show, I thought fall would be a fantastic time for it, not too hot, not too cold.

F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor

Well, the closer it got to air show weekend, the worse the weather began to look.  There was a hurricane in the Atlantic heading for North Carolina, and I thought it wouldn’t impact us all the way to Georgia.  It didn’t come inland, but a low pressure system had settled in over Georgia and when the two weather systems began to build on each other, it sucked the rain in and decided to squat over North and South Carolina all the way to Georgia.  It was some of the worst rain the area has seen.

B-17 Memphis Belle
B-17 Memphis Belle

Friday was supposed to be the practice show, but it was wet and the ceilings were too low to fly in the morning.  It had rained all night and was still drizzling Friday morning.  There were only three planes sitting out in the display areas.  Most were hold up tight in the hangers and not accessible.  Several planes were stuck and couldn’t even get to Rome for the show.

F-18 Hornet
F-18 Hornet

A handful of us aviation photographers had shown up, and decided to wait it out to see if they got in the air later in the afternoon. Fortunately, the weather improved enough to get some of the planes in the air.  Because it was so moist, I saw some of the most amazing vapor form on the planes I’ve ever seen.  I had no idea they would make that much in these conditions.  As disapointed as I was at the weather to begin with, I have to say that some of my favorite shots have come from this show under these less than ideal conditions.

C-17 Globemaster
C-17 Globemaster

While we were waiting to see something fly, we were excited to see this gorgeous C-17 Globemaster make an amazing entrance and surprise us.  To park it, they reversed the engines and began backing her up.  When they did this, the large amount of moisture on the ground began to be sucked up into the engine and it created this crazy vortex you see in the picture above.  I’ve never seen this, nor did I know it could happen.  How about that for a ‘wow’ moment?

Blackhawk UH-60
Blackhawk UH-60

Shortly after the C-17 arrived, we got another treat seeing this UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter come in to land as well.  They look and sound menacing when they come hovering in.

F-18 Hornet
F-18 Hornet

When the F-18 Hornets took to the air,  we knew we were in for a treat.  Since there were only a handful of us out there to watch the practice show, and we all had our cameras out, they seemed to be excited to put on a show for us.  Well, at least that’s how it felt.

F-18 Hornet
F-18 Hornet
F-18 Hornet
F-18 Hornet
F-18 Hornet
F-18 Hornet
Osprey V-22
Osprey V-22

One of the most exciting things for me was getting a chance to see the Osprey V-22 up close and personal.  I’m fascinated with this beast of an aircraft.  How it operates, how it moves, it’s just incredible.  Their show gave me an opportunity to take some amazing shots of it.  I’ve seen them fly many times when I’m at the North Carolina coast, but never this close.

Buck Roetman's Pitts
Buck Roetman’s Pitts
Mike Wiscus in his Pitts
Mike Wiscus in his Pitts

Awe, but who doesn’t love a little biplane aerobatics?  Buck Roetman and Mike Wiscus showed us what can be done with a biplane even on a nasty day.  It’s unbelievable to see what these modified planes can do in the air.  They make my heart skip a beat.

The biggest surprise of the day came at the end of the practice when an F-22 Raptor showed up from the nearby base to give us a little taste of what it can do.  This was the first time I’ve seen one, and what a treat it was!

F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor

Although the weather was incredibly challenging, I have to say that I was very pleased with the pictures I managed to get from the show. I wish it had gone better, and there would have been at least one good day, but there’s always next year.  I’ll probably be complaining because it’s too sunny and hot next time, but I’m learning to adapt to shoot in whatever weather presents itself.

The aviation photographers
The aviation photographers

3 thoughts on “Dreary Skies and Amazing Planes”

  1. FWIW: Regarding that ‘vortex’ you photographed on the C-17, you occasionally see that on C-130’s as well, around their propellers, when they are “throttled up”.

    Great photos!

    – Allan, a.k.a. “RocKiteman”

      1. You’re Very Welcome! The weather has to be right to form those vortex-thingies, but if you watch C-130’s long enough, you will see it….

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