Photo File – The View From Up Here + Rare Aircraft Intermezzo

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

Having noticed recently that my last post here was dated August 2017 (!) – and that my backlog of topics stalled for lack of information has been growing steadily larger – I decided it would be high time for me to dig through my collection of fresh photos and finally get a move on with my posting. Unfortunately though, not much had actually happened since August 2017, meaning that my GA inbox was pretty much empty. However, having spent quite a bit of time in the air lately, I did realize that I have a bunch of interesting aerial shots available – which could be turned into a perfect (and visually pleasant) distraction until something in my post queue actually started moving forward… 🙂

Those wonderful autumnal pleasures: a light aircraft, a deep anticyclone, an open window – and a full spectrum of colors outside. Enjoying the calming and serene view as we hop between the peaks of southern Slovenia’s Kočevje Hills – in years past, interestingly, a strongly-enforced no-fly zone due to the proximity of a major Yugoslav People’s Army military installation.

Yet more aerial splendor as we follow the western face of the Kočevska Mala Gora hill line. What better way to relax after a busy working week than hop into the skies in a light aircraft with the sole purpose of enjoying the low & slow view…

Winter is definitely not coming (despite it being December) as our little red Citabria zips past two of Pula, Croatia’s most notable landmarks: the Kaštel medieval Venetian fortress – and the Arena, one of the best-preserved amphitheaters in this part of Europe (even today the country’s most popular concert venue).

The moment you realize that no, you cannot keep up with the sun in a turboprop, and that it’d be best to just return back to course. Another deep anticyclone, a quick vector by ATC to clear us of traffic nearby – and just a tiny bit of luck and timing is all you need to make a sunset aloft all the better!

A transit of southern Germany under unbelievably clear skies – or a cheap knock-off of the Universal Pictures opening animation? You decide!

Real planets have curves – which are obvious even at turboprop altitudes. A soothing and humbling view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, with the distant horizon broken only by the sharp mountains of southern Corsica…

Bonus content: even though the GA season has (so far) been a complete and total bust – not an interesting lighty to be seen in six months – there nevertheless still are a few silver linings to this dark cloud. Having been all over the place during the winter, I had found myself with plenty of opportunity to snap some large turbine machinery, among which were several fine examples for my “boy did you take a wrong turn somewhere” file… 😀

Despite having given us such classics as regulation governing the size and shape of cabbage heads, the spiritual capital of the EU – Brussels (BRU/EBBR) – still does have some good use… for where in Europe could one so easily stumble upon a VIP Mad Dog from – of all places – Chad? At one time operated by Austrian Airlines as OE-LMO, TT-ABC is one of several jet aircraft owned by the Chad Gov’t, and is – sadly – rarely to be seen outside the Francophone world.

It’s not often that the same Il-62 appears twice in front of your camera at the same airport – especially if it is one of only two airworthy freighter conversions in existence. Parked at Zagreb (ZAG/LDZA) for three days now, EW-450TR of Belarus had naturally been an instant hit with the locals – so much so that we could reconstruct it from photos alone! Interestingly, it’s fast becoming a common sight in Europe, despite being as clean as a Victorian coal mine and as quiet as an 80s The Who concert…

And talking about taking wrong turns: an Mi-8 from Southeast Asia on the Adriatic Coast. Flying from Laos to Croatia – 8,500 km as the crow flies – in a 20+ year old Mi-8 at speeds barely above 100 knots, the crew surely must have some fascinating stories to tell! Interestingly, 34245 had flown into Zadar (ZAD/LDZD) direct from Brest in Belarus (BQT/UMBB), some 1,100 km away – a hop made possible thanks to long-range tanks mounted on top of the fuselage. Indeed, Zadar would turn out to be just a technical stop to top up with fuel and get some shuteye; 34245 would be seen departing for Palermo (PMO/LIPJ) already by noon the same day. Note also the absence of the Mi-8’s characteristic dust filters on the engine intakes, usually characteristic of early civilian members of the Hip family.

Photo File – The Right View

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

Back during Achtung, Skyhawk!‘s early days in the years around 2010, I had every once in awhile tried to liven things up by posting short collections of in-flight photos taken from a variety of light aircraft above northern Croatia (and occasionally beyond). Dubbed, somewhat unimaginatively, “The View From Up Here”, the three-strong set (Parts 1, 2 & 3) had been quite well received by readers, prompting me to – belatedly – put together a new & improved batch to keeps things rolling 🙂 .

However, since the time of 1, 2 & 3, most of my flying had taken me onto bigger machinery, having landed a job in the right seat of the Dash 8 Q400 a little over a year ago. While the “straight & level” nature of airline operations might suggest that interesting, unusual and attractive shots – as possible in GA – would be few and far in between, the realities of life aboard a turboprop – operating at lower levels, day & night and often in the weather – had meant that I had pretty quickly managed to amass quite a nice heap of interesting material.

Sprinkled additionally with a handful of ground shots that had taken my fancy, I am thus glad to be able to present – for more-or-less the first time – “the view from the right”… 🙂

An unusual perspective of QC as it soaks up the last sunlight of this beautiful summer day at Munich Airport (MUC/EDDM). The day must had also been interesting for the four handlers sitting in a pushback truck behind me, wondering why was this guy with a big camera clambering all over a baggage trolley…

An old aviation book I have – printed back in the late 70s – states that “a fascinating range of vehicles can be seen at any airport”… somehow I doubt they had had this in mind!

You know you’re at Zagreb (ZAG/LDZA) in the winter when the tail of a 30 meter long aircraft starts disappearing into the fog… the bane of the Balkans, the winter fog is often more than a passing nuisance, and can persist – with little variation – for days on end.

When you don’t have a tripod on you, you have to use whatever you have at hand – even a main gear tire! CQA is seen waiting about for one of its last flights of the day as company traffic further out prepares to taxi out for a short hop north.

The colorful cockpit of the Q400. The yellow panel floods, white switch backlighting and green sidewall map lights really give a lot to play with when you have a camera on you!

A snap I’d borrowed from a previous post – but one I just couldn’t leave out. Saluting the setting sun on another beautiful, calm and crisp summer evening. Traversing southbound above the Northern Adriatic Sea – just off Pula Airport (PUY/LDPL) – we were treated to this fantastic view by a large high pressure area that had been parked over the region for several days…

Waking up at the crack of dawn does have its advantages! A telltale sign of the approach of winter on the Balkans, thick morning fog and layer upon layer of stratus cloud often conspire to make aeronautical operations rather… interesting. At least while we’re up here – in this instance just above northeastern Albania – we do get a nice consolation prize!

The importance of being at the right place and right time… soaking up the stunning view outside as we enter a high-level cloud bank somewhere over eastern Belgium.

Blue skies, dark clouds, a fiery sunset above the silhouettes of the Alps – and Innsbruck, Austria in the distance… not a band end to another anti-cyclonic day above Europe!

When one little cloud is all that stands between calm heaven above and fiery hell below. Enjoying a smooth ride (for now) above southern Germany as far above an A380 races past to points west…

Having covered everything from the Baltic to the Adriatic in one day – flying across eight countries in two legs – we prepare to bid the final day of 2015 goodbye as we race the sun on our way back to base… of interest, many will note that in most shots taken from the cockpit the wipers will be parked in the upright position. While their normal “resting stance” is horizontal and outside the field of view of the crew, in that position they cause quite a bit of wind noise – up to 5 dB according to unofficial measurements – leading most crews to park them vertically during cruise.

Breaking through the cloud deck at speed as we cross Croatia’s Velebit mountains on another early morning run. Even though summer may be far more enjoyable down on the ground, the odd winter weather patterns of the Western Balkans sure make for better views aloft!

A momentary escape from the rain and grayness below as we speed homewards at 25,000 ft above the eastern edges of the Alps.

Yet more cloud hopping above the Alps as we skip along this pristine altostratus in the company of our shadow and the resident halo effect…

Photo File – Traveler’s Tales

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

Having recently gotten into a position where I do a fair bit of air travel (to put it mildly!), I had suddenly (and somewhat unexpectedly) found myself being served with ever-increasing opportunities to snap – up close – various flying machinery operating out of Europe’s major airports. While these naturally tend to be of the airliner variety (and therefore not the default topic here), every once in awhile I do come across a true gem, something so fascinating, rare and unusual that it immediately warrants a feature at Achtung, Skyhawk! 🙂 .

Even though snaps of these machines are still few in number – with my definition of “fascinating” mostly to blame 😀 – I feel they are nevertheless numerous enough for me to cobble together a short, but hopefully interesting, post for my viewers’ pleasure. For a bit of added “weight”, I have also decided to add a couple of shots taken “en route”, showing that the journey to the destination airport can indeed be half the (photographic) fun!

As a tool for doing business, a 737-200 bizjet may not really be the best of choices; but as a statement of style, very, very few machines come close! An absolutely stunning 1981 classic, VP-CAQ had – interestingly – never seen a day of passenger operations, having been delivered with an executive interior straight from the factory. Often seen flying all over Europe (despite the EU’s stringent noise regulations), at the time this photo was taken CAQ had already been parked at Dubrovnik Airport (LDDU) for several days, likely waiting on a client…

A photo that perfectly encapsulates a popular Croatian saying: “to have more luck than brains”! It’s not often one gets a spontaneous chance to photograph a VIP military transport on the apron of a major European aerodrome – without someone trying to chase you away! Enjoying the early morning sun on one of Vienna Airport’s (LOWW) remote aprons while waiting for Mr. John Kerry (who was in town to attend some nuclear talks).

An interesting visitor from the north easily standing out among the Citation and Falcon crowd at Zadar’s Zemunik Airport (LDZD). Operated by Germany’s Central Command for Maritime Emergencies, 57+05 is normally based by the North Sea and is used (as can be inferred from the titles on the fuselage) for detection and monitoring of sea pollution. Interestingly, this machine is not a classic Dornier-built example, but the NG model, produced in India by Hindustan Aeronautics and assembled in Germany by RUAG (the owner of the Do-228 type certificate).

Nature showing off what it can do as we maneuver around a growing towering cumulus near Zurich (LSZH), Switzerland. Easily visible are little pouch formations hanging beneath the cloud called “mammatus clouds”, which are an early indication that this cloud could eventually produce a heavy storm.

Enjoying the charming (and unbeatable) atmosphere of the cockpit at night as we cruise southwards across the Alps, roughly halfway between Munich (EDDM) in Germany and Klagenfurt (LOWK) in Austria…

Saluting the setting sun on another beautiful, calm and crisp summer evening. Traversing southbound above the Northern Adriatic Sea – just off the Istrian Peninsula and Pula Airport (LDPL) – we were treated to this fantastic view by a large high pressure area that had been parked over the region for several days…