Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Wild Blue Yonder

Things  come together in strange ways at times.  A few nights ago a woman arrived at our place a little early for a neighborhood meeting.  We talked for a bit about her recent trip to England which included a visit to one of the Brit air museums accompanied by her 94-year-old uncle who had been a WWII Spitfire pilot.  She said the weather was disagreeable, and it was disappointing to her that no one at the museum acknowledged her uncle's presence or his contribution.   So, not a great success.

The next day I dropped by a local thrift store and  found in a box marked "Free" a 58 page book about the history of the Spitfire.  It was full of  marvelous vintage pictures of the iconic fighter along with a thorough description of each of the many variants of the aircraft produced from 1936 to 1952.

In addition to the photos, there is a wealth of illustrations detailing distinguishing features of the evolving design, along with front, top, bottom and side view plans as well as many of the unit insignias of interest to modelers.  The book was copyrighted 1980 and was produced by Squadron/Signal Publications.  It turns out that the company produced a large number of similar books about historic aircraft, and many can be found on line, often at a price of about $10 each.  Certainly one of my better thrift store acquisitions.

Well, on the next day the sun made an appearance after several days of clouds and even a few snow flakes.  So, I headed across town to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History with its outdoor exhibit space which has a nice little collection of Cold War aircraft.  I took along the Leica IIIa mounted with the Summitar lens and loaded with Kentmere 100 film.  All of my old cameras eventually make at least a few pictures of vintage aircraft, and it seemed like a good opportunity to use the Summitar for that purpose before I send it back to its owner.

What caught my eye as I pulled into the Museum parking lot was a new addition to the aircraft collection, an early model of the MiG-21, a Mach 2.0 Soviet fighter first produced in the 1950s.

The fuselage of the MiG had been positioned next to a recently restored F-16.  I think it will not be long before the plane is fully reassembled, so I'll look forward to returning soon for some more pictures.  I was not particularly pleased with the combination of Kentmere film and Rodinal on this occasion, so I'm thinking I'll try the same subject with Pyro developer next time.  Of course, I had no complaints about the Summitar which turned in its usual stellar performance.

All of the planes on display and most of the other equipment in the outdoor area of the museum have new coats of paint and look marvelous.  The museum has also made some impressive additions and improvements to the indoor exhibits including a mock-up of a war-time Los Alamos lab, and there is currently a really nice exhibit of engineering technology from classic Greek and Roman times.


JR Smith said...

I wish I had been more involved in photography during my years in Arizona. I made frequent visits to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson and the nearby aircraft boneyard, but never took a single photo. I had various periods in my life when photography was absent.

Mike said...

Thanks for the reminder about Pima. I searched my blog for the shots from my many visits there and found that most of the picture links had been sabotaged by Photobucket. I've fixed most of those broken links.
Life does tend to get in the way of one's hobbies at times. I abandoned photography for about thirty years and only got back to it after I retired. I've tried to make up for the lack of pictures from those three decades by taking pictures of things and people that remind me of those times and that has been helpful to recovering some useful memories. I'm thinking you should take some of that Color Plus over to your local airfield.

right-writes said...

Hi Mike, I am sorry about the reception that your friend's uncle received, but let me tell you, that is not unique.

Whilst civil servants that do nothing other than gum our nation up receive knighthoods for their treachery, the 7 (yes seven) remaining Battle of Britain pilots have still not received any recognition, let alone knighthoods, despite several national campaigns, for what amounts to the single greatest battle victory of all history.

Our tiny emaciated little country defeated the nazi and paved the way for the Americans to finish the job a couple of years later. Without those brave men, there would have been nothing for the Americans to save.

Unfortunately, our country came under the same jackboot soon after the war, when the establishment basically chucked in their lot with the germans, who have done and are trying their best to continue grinding Great Britain into the dirt.

In this country, World war 2 is now described as the European war, and VE day is no longer mentioned, but the day before is known as "Europe Day", they have marches and parades in Brussels, in celebration of something called the European Union, which is a country that I have no feeling for, simply because there is no such place.

So again, I apologise for the rudeness of my younger brethren, who know no better, and pray that we can get out of that terrible soviet like EU thing.