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VFA -14 is Home (March 2010)

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Additional Photographs Available Here

Usually it is the news media that covers the homecomings of our military personnel and since the general public isn’t usually invited I don’t often receive the opportunity to express my gratitude to them in person, I don’t often have the nerve to just strike up a conversation with someone that I believe is in the military and thank them for their service. Truth is however that the men and women that serve in the military are just like the rest of us, well for the most part anyway.

I was contacted through my sister who has lived the last 4+ years as a wife to a Navy pilot, though she wasn’t attending the homecoming herself at the Lemoore Naval Air Station one of her friends wanted to have some photographs taken of her and her husbands reunion. The pilots had been separated from their family for the last 8 or more months, serving to fight for the freedom that we enjoy everyday.

Upon arriving at the base I had to check in through “Pass and I.D.” to ensure that I had the correct credentials to get me onto the base, this operation went more smoothly than I had expected and I was quickly on my way to the Op’s side of the base with my pass in hand. After finding a parking spot near the hanger I quickly grabbed the gear that I had brought with me, mainly everything that I own, and headed into the hanger. Through everything that I had learned the homecoming was supposed to be something small when I walked into the main hanger I was greeted by something much larger than something small. There were rows of seats set out for people to sit in while they waited for the pilots return, many of which went unused throughout the event.

Fast forward a bit, I met up with my sponsor for the day and waited for the pilots return, they were to go out past Lemoore and fly straight toward the opening of the hanger in formation and that they did, it was an amazing sight that moved many to tears of anticipation for the return of their loved one.

Now at home with their loved ones I am left with only photographs and the great memory of watching our soldiers/pilots come home. Though the entire event was short and most people returned to their homes quickly it won’t easily be forgotten by the pilots and their family. Photographs to help in the remembrance of the reunion can be found here for viewing and purchase.

Porterville, Ca Airshow Eagle Mountain

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For those who wanted to brave the early summer morning chill and give up possibly the only day that they are able to sleep in on a weekend the Porterville Air Show at the Porterville Airport was the place to be if you had a young son, daughter, grandson, grand-daughter, neice or nephew visiting and wanted to capture this attention and allow his imagination to wonder what was really out there to explore.

This weekend last weekend Saturday, June 13, 2009 Porterville, Ca hosted to the Eagle Mountain Airshow. Unlike many other airshows this one offered early risers the opportunity to walk around the planes, gates opened at 6:00 am with a scheduled hot air balloon lift off just after 6:30. I was able to take photos in the early morning light and talk with some of the owners/pilots. Many of the air crafts featured in this airshow were older than myself and had interesting stories about how it was that they were purchased or restored, this airshow was a car show for air plane owners, with many highly polished planes on display.

Though the hot air balloon’s never made it off the ground one company was brave enough to put theirs together in hopes that the winds both at the higher altitudes and along the ground would subside allowing for a launch and safe landing. There is something peaceful about the loud roar of a hot air balloon in the morning, perhaps it is the peacefulness upon which they would soon float given the correct conditions and the time of the morning that plays host to the hot air balloonists often in the air before many have even rolled out of their bed’s or had their morning cup of coffee.

I wasn’t able to stay long but for the time that was there I was able to see and partake in the portions of the airshow that I would find enjoyible. For those interested there were bi-plane and helicopter rides, there was pleanty to look at without looking at it from above.

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The Traveling Photographer

Unlike traveling with children on the airplane traveling with camera gear is much more easy than even I thought that it would be. Even with the size of my collection of equipment and it’s weight traveling to Oregon for the weekend has been a breeze and I would expect the same on any other travels, no matter the distance. I in fact think that my camera equipment travels better than I do as a six foot plus body really isn’t meant to be in the poorly designed plane seats.

Understanding the rules and regulations of travel with anything is key to traveling well. Pelican and other hard case makers understand the need for professionals of all types to travel with their gear, keep it safe, and arrive with it in hand. To that end Pelican has created a case, with wheels, that is the maximum size that most, and I have to emphasize MOST, airlines will except while traveling. Always check with the airline that you are going to be traveling with to ensure that your method of packing will comply with their regulations. I have linked some regulations pertaining to flying with gear below.

Going anywhere with camera equipment is a balancing game of wants versus needs to capture the experience, if you’re going to the mountains to photograph the tree’s you probably won’t be needing a telephoto lens unless you want just the tops or plan on shooting from one mountain to another. Likewise if you are going out to shoot wild life you won’t need to take your fisheye lens, unless you are out to photograph macro’s of some of the smaller biology in the forest. Take into account anything that could happen where you are going as well, will you be on a boat and will your camera float, or will you be dust storms, sand, or extreme heat. Under each condition your gear will take on different shapes and may have different limitations.

Often as photographers, hobbyist or even professionals at times, we will arrive at a location not knowing what would be best to have along, for situations like this you may find it best to have a small point and shoot that can accomplish a good cross section of the functionality of your gear while offering the size and portability of something that will fit in your pocket, you wouldn’t show up to a wedding with a point and shoot unless it was for a very specific purpose, likewise you wouldn’t go to photograph your third cousins’ twice removed birthday party with a full digital SLR kit unless you were really good friends or were being hired to do so.

Keep it light and keep it simple, that is the best way to travel with photographic related equipment. But always way sure that you have what you feel you may even want and if you find yourself packing anything more that one camera and one lens you may want to consider something with wheels.

Lemoore Naval Air Station Bouncing

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Invited out by my sister and brother-in-law, I spent the evening with my family out watching the jets “bounce”, no this isn’t some sort of top secret rubberized plane that they want to see how high it will bounce after being dropped, it is the term used for practicing landing. Growing up nearby the Lemoore Naval Air Station in Visalia as a kid I often day dreamed about getting a ride in one of these jets and begged for any opportunity to visit the air show, now canceled, now I have stood right next to them as they land, what a powerful experience.

Pilots just like everyone else require lots of practice to hit the deck of an air craft carrier in the middle of the ocean and this is just the start of it. During the next couple weeks these pilots will be doing drill after drill during different times of the day to ensure their readiness to go out to the aircraft carrier and get their qualification for this particular air craft. Deemed the super hornet this jet is one of the most prevalent carrier vehicles used today.

These pilots work hard to ensure the freedom of the United States and her citizens, please join me in thanking them for the tireless work they put in to do so.

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Family’s come from throughout the United States to see and support their pilots training and watch them bounce, understanding that they may never see them land on a carrier. These parents came from Florida to see their son (pilot in plane in background) fly the super hornet, before being deployed to a carrier. Photographs from the evenings events are available here for viewing, download and purchase. I look forward to many more opportunities to photograph these pilots and jets.

Please note that photographs can be downloaded by right-clicking and selecting “Save as…” and print prices have been set to my cost.