Category Archives: Aviation

Paragliding at Tunkalilla

Back in January I visited a friend on his farm near Parawa on the southern edge of the Fleurieu Peninsula. After departing in the late afternoon I took the local gravel roads down to Tunkalilla Beach for a quick sticky-beak before heading back to Adelaide. It’s a rather quiet spot well away from the path of the typical day-tripper.  It is a known location though for hang glider and paraglider enthusiasts. Rolling hills rise to an elevation of several hundred metres immediately behind the beach, turning sea breezes into ideal updrafts for soaring.

On my arrival there were four paragliders in the air so I proceeded to capture the action with a macro lens (as you do!). Why a macro lens you ask? Shortly before arriving at Tunkalilla, I’d put my early 1980’s Pentax M 100mm macro lens on the camera, having stopped to photograph some of the roadside flora. It was also the only longish lens I had with me, so that’s what got pressed into use. Despite manual focus and manual exposure control (and terrible flat and dull lighting from lots of mid-level cloud), I managed to grab some half decent images, which I share with you in this post.

Paragliding at Tungkilla

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Skywhale: A Strange Beast Indeed

One more post with the Pentax DA 10-17 fisheye zoom before I migrate back to some of my other lenses. And for this post, rather than looking to use the ultra-wide angle field of view solely for creative purposes, the 10-17 zoom became the go to lens simply on the basis that I needed it to fit the subject into the frame.

Adelaide is currently in the middle of ‘Mad March’, the early autumn period where we squeeze almost every cultural event imaginable into the gap between our summer heat and the onset of autumn rains.

One of the less known events is the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art which I must say would have passed right by me (and so revealing myself as a cultural pygmy) except for one hard to ignore exhibit.

For one Saturday morning only, the Biennial brought Skywhale to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Skywhale is a hot air balloon commissioned for the Centenary of Canberra events held in 2013. Conceived and designed by Australian sculpture and contemporary artist Patricia Piccinini, Skywhale is intended by Patricia to be an exploration of the wonder of nature and its extraordinary capacity to find ways to adapt to any environment.

Skywhale is a little hard to describe, being something resembling an unlikely mating of a whale, a dairy cow and a chook.  I’m sure it sparked many a conversation when it first took to the skies in Canberra (which, for non-Australian readers, I will point out is the capital city of Australia and located approximately half way between Sydney and Melbourne).

So maybe, I’ll just move onto the pictures…

Skywhale in Adelaide

On approach to the exhibition area, what do we have we here? Observation number one: it’s big! And reminiscent of the back end of a chook.

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South Australian Aviation Museum

South Australia’s annual Port Festival was held on the weekend of 19-20th October.  The festival is held in suburban Port Adelaide, the location of South Australia’s primary commercial shipping facilities. There were activities of all sorts, providing both arty/cultural experiences and opportunities to explore the history of the Port Adelaide district (which dates back to the original settlement of Adelaide in 1836).

What caught my eye while reviewing the list of events was an offer of free entry to three separate museums that respectively record South Australia’s aviation, maritime and railway histories.  Having immersed myself quite deeply in old sailing ships over the past few months (as you may have noticed from my September posts), I decided to pass on the maritime museum and give the aviation and railway museums a visit.  In this post, I’ll cover the South Australian Aviation Museum and return in later posts to the railway museum.

Please note that I’m trying out WordPress’s multi-page post functionality for the first time and have spread this post over three pages to help with page loading speeds. You should find a list of page numbers at the bottom of each page below the Share and Like buttons. Use these to navigate to other pages. I’m not overly keen on how WordPress displays the page links so far below the main body of the post, but apparently it’s embedded pretty deeply in their programming.  I’d be interested in hearing your comments about this and whether I should use this functionality again in future posts.

South Australia Aviation Museum

Overview of the museum’s main hanger. The combination of the Port Festival publicity and free entry drew a good crowd.

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Classic Planes (Part 2)

This is the second half of my Jamestown Air Spectacular photo set.  I’ve broken the set into two posts to keep page load speeds reasonable for viewers with slower Internet connections.  If you’ve just arrived here, maybe go back to Part 1 first by clicking on this link.

But if you’ve just come from Part 1, well, let’s get on with it.<!–more–>

I’ll resume with another aerobatic aircraft.  This time, the Pitts Special ‘Super Stinker’ of Chris Sperou.  Chris is a South Aussie local and an aerobatics legend in Australia.  I have seen him a number of times over the years, and I thought the display he put on at Jamestown was as good, if not better, than any I have seen.

Jamestown_Air_Spectacular

Accelerating down the runway, about to get airborne. For Chris, that means going near vertical within moments of the wheels clearing the tarmac.  What I hadn’t previously noticed until posting this photo was the amount of bracing used on the tail-fin and horizontal stabilisers.

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Classic Planes (Part 1)

Last spring, a classic aircraft airshow, the Jamestown Air Spectacular, was held in South Australia’s mid north.  Jamestown is a modest sized rural town approximately a three hour 200km drive north of Adelaide, and located in prime cropping country.  I day-tripped up from Adelaide, making a long but enjoyable day.

Jamestown airport has a single 1350 metre runway which was sealed in 2009 as the result of a lot of fundraising by the local aviation club and with support from the local council and businesses.  The airshow is held once every three years.

For an event held far from a capital city, it received wonderful spectator support and showed off a good blend of enthusiast aircraft types.

All the photos in this post were taken with my Pentax K-x dSLR using a Pentax DA 55-300 zoom lens.  While there were a few photo opportunities that would have benefited from a shorter focal length lens, there was a reasonable amount of dust in the air which I did not want entering the camera body while changing lenses.  My sensor already had a few blotches of gunk on it and I had no desire to add more!  So, I just stuck with the 55-300.

I used a monopod extensively to reduce camera shake.  A welcome side benefit was relieving me of the need to hold the camera and lens up for the many hours of photo opportunities that the Spectacular provided. I really recommend a monopod when using longer focal length lenses – much more portable and convenient that a tripod while still offering a considerable camera steadying benefits.  I own a Manfrotto 776YB aluminium monopod fitted with a 234RC tilt head. The 234RC is fitted with a convenient quick release plate. The same quick release plate is used on my tripod, keeping life pretty simple.

Throughout the day I roamed the general admission area, but for keen attendees, there was also a premium viewing option which was situated by the aircraft hard standing area.  Some accredited photographers were out on the airfield itself, enjoying close up, obstruction free viewing.  Lucky devils.

It was a great day both for flying and photography – a light northerly breeze running straight down the runway and a clear cloudless sky.

So, onto the planes.

As we were walking into the spectator area, this little number was just finishing its routine and in my first photo of the day was photographed  returning to its parking area.

Jamestown_Air_Spectacular-041

DR107 aerobatic special. Built by the owner from 50 blueprint plans. Capable of eye-popping +10 to -10G turns, and a complete 360 degree roll in under one second. Finished in stunning metallic blue paint.

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The Australian War Memorial (Part 3 – Warbirds)

Today’s post is the third and final installment covering a recent visit to the Australian War Memorial, and explores the Memorial’s aircraft displays.  It was these displays that drew me to visit the Memorial in the first place, being something of a closet plane/train spotter. Continue reading

Full Size Photos

Ok, first attempt to upload photos and insert one into a post.

Harvard T6 trainer at the Jamestown Air Spectacular in regional South Australia

Full sized as loaded (1024 x 680) and auto scaled down by WordPress to match the theme’s column width.  But it seems like the Chrome browser ignores the 960px theme width.

Specified as 960 pixels wide which I thought was the Twenty Twelve column width without Sidebar. But displays smaller on desktop screens than the prior image???

Ok, now as WordPress medium sized image (300 pixels wide)