Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wings over Houston, and Pearl Harbor -- 11/1/2014

After leaving the PNW about a month ago we take the long way back to the Rio Grande Valley, now spending a few days at Advanced RV Park in Pearland TX just south of Houston.  Our son-in-law Neel (Patrice's husband) from Boston brings his drone to fly in the competition held in conjunction with Wings Over Houston Air Show at Ellington Field.

It is windy, so we have jackets; sunny, so we have hats; a long day, so we have chairs.

Roxie and Ed join us at the registration desk, and Neel shows us the copter, explaining the procedure for competition. 

A close-up shows the drone with the control panel in the foreground.  It is a DJI Phantom 2.   He has it outfitted with a Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal that holds the GoPro Hero 3+ Black camera.  

Note the four propellers.

Ed and Roxie get a closer look while waiting for the competition to begin.

As with any public event, there are vendors, exhibitors and so many things to catch our eye. 

The witch flies her broom on Halloween weekend.

F-4 memories from Herb's Marine Corp days....


And a "pre-game" show with the US flag indicating 20 knot winds.  The remote controlled plane ascends, hovers, then is walked off the field by its owner.

We are next delighted by a helicopter and hear applause from the crowd.

Our attention is now turned to the netted arena where Neel's competition begins.  He places the copter on the take-off and landing pad.

He wears sunglasses here, but has goggles called 'First Person View' that allow him to see what the drone sees, and helps in his maneuvering the copter.  If you look at the orange pole about halfway up, you will see the copter in flight after take off.

Let your eye follow the white copter.

First, find the copter....look where Neel looks.

He follows as the copter (about knee high) moves forward.

Beginning to rise for the first obstacle in the obstacle course.

 Near the blue pole, seen about half way the pole's height.

Neel steps to the side of the arena as the copter moves out to fly through the blue uprights.  Copter seen just to right of Neel.

Now near the net wall and will turn to go through the blue uprights.  Copter still to the right of Neel about his waist high.

Flies low.

Roxie captures the action with her camera.

On this photo I have to search a long time to find the copter, but finally see it between the blue square frame and the blue upright, the blade appearing to touch the sleeve of a man on its right, (Ed on the left) but appearing to be on top of a white cart.  It is aiming to go through the top blue square.

Neel shows his expertise when he directs the copter to rise, then in the next photo, it descends slightly and goes through the top square.

Safely through now and moving toward a ring near the orange post on the left.

Seen even with Neel's head.

Approaching the ring.

 Through the ring!

Turning now to go toward the landing pad.

Safe landing!  Neel, I would say you are a winner!

The arena is enclosed with a netting for safety of spectators in case of malfunction of any equipment.

Among the stunts and entertainment RE/MAX sponsors this skydiving act with a finale of jumpers.

B-52 Bomber - 
 Maximum takeoff weight 488,000 lbs. 
 Wingspan 185 ft.  
 Speed 650 mph. 
 First flight April 15, 1952.

Coast Guard helicopter Aerospatiale Dauphine "Dolphin" HH-65D lowers and lifts the passenger, demonstrating a rescue.

Oh, the awesomeness of these stunts!

The Shockwave Jet Truck shoots out fire and smoke to demonstrate the jet engine -- in the second photo fire from the exhaust is not very visible as the truck rolls past at 300 mph.

The V-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor aircraft with capabilities of both a vertical takeoff and landing and a short takeoff and landing.  It uses the functionality of the conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed crusing of a turboprop aircraft.

It is so amazing to see it switch by moving the props to point ahead or upward.

As it circles back around, its props face forward to perform as a conventional plane.

Now a helicopter again and can hover....

Takes a bow!

We are treated to a parade of planes, some representing the Zero long range fighter aircraft.    I learn its name comes from "0" being the last digit of the Imperial year 2600 (our 1940) when it entered service with the Imperial Japanese Navy.  

The Flying Tigers' shark-faced fighters were a combat unit of World War II, first seeing action a few days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Another air fighter rolls past -- L 484872 X, with Texas Raiders emblem on the nose.

More stunts --

From NASA the Super Guppy Transport --

The Super Guppy, designated 377SB-201, has a cargo compartment that is 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide and 111 feet long.  It can carry a maximum payload of more than 26 tons.  The aircraft has unique hinged nose that can open more than 200 degrees, allowing large pieces of cargo to be loaded and unloaded from the front.  (

Leaving the exhibits, we return to the viewing area by the runway.

The loudspeaker is silent for a moment, then a solemn voice asks us to "stop what we are doing, close our eyes and pretend it is December 7 of the year 1941.  People are happy with not a care in the world.  Then they hear the planes."  

We hear a recording of the voice of Franklin D. Roosevelt: 

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."   

I look forward onto the air field where all the action has been.  I see nothing unusual.  Then I hear folks around me shout and point behind.  I turn to see planes coming from that direction, flying in formation toward the field. 

Then they begin to peel off and bomb Pearl Harbor.  It is loud.  It is smoky!

More and more planes, more and more bombs, more smoke and now we see the fire from the explosions.  So humbling to see the reenactment.

Planes continue to fly over the crowd and field, filling the air with bombs.  The noise is deafening and now I know why we were advised to bring earplugs.

Speeding toward the target --

More Zeros....

There is a hush over the crowd as the last plane flies and no more bombing is heard.  Tora! Tora! Tora!  Complete surprise has been achieved.

December 7, 1941 -- Pearl Harbor

  Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Saturday, November 1, 2014

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