The Man Who Flew The Memphis Belle

There are a lot of famous people in the world and most of the time it is that one thing that they did to become famous that we all know about and nothing else. Well sorry to say this was somewhat the case when I started reading this book. Robert Morgan was captain of a plane that most people have heard of, the Memphis Belle. This plane and it’s crew were the first ones to complete the 25 required combat missions in World War II in order to go home. The 25 missions was a change in policy given as a rewarded to flight crews that flew in the European theater. The hitch with it was that not many crews were able to survive that many missions early in the war. These guys were the first and became heroes for doing so. They were not the last.

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Robert Morgan lead one heck of a life. From growing up in North Carolina, to flying 25 missions over Europe only to return home for a few months before reenlisting in the Pacific to fly B-29’s against Japan where he flew 26 more missions! I’m usually not big on memoirs just because every memoir has it’s own unique writing style, some more technical then others, and it’s own personal message. The conflict I have with this is it’s hard to judge which ones are good and which ones aren’t. This one is a good read for anyone.

The Mighty Eighth

The whole theme of this years show was solute to the Mighty Eighth. The Eighth Air Force based out of several bases throughout England were responsible for breaking German manufacturing throughout WWII. The Eighth, although not the first to commit to daylight bombing operations, were the first to make daylight bombing raids effective. The British had tried daylight bombing and found that the losses were too great for the reward. With the need to keep planes in the sky over the enemy the British switched to night time bombing raids. Many considered this to be the best way to fight for night time bombing greatly reduced the risk for the bombers as they did not have to deal with enemy fighters. However, accuracy dropped during such raids so the USAAF, through much debate, stuck to daylight bombing. The main aircraft for such roles was the B-17 Flying Fortress.

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You can’t have a solute to the Eighth without these big birds and as luck would have it two showed. The B-17G Flying Fortress Sentimental Journey out of CAF Airbase Arizona and the B-17G Flying Fortress Fuddy Duddy out of Lyon Air Museum were at the Planes of Fame for the Airshow. Both days included a time slot where planes from the European theater flew. Besides the B-17’s, P-51’s, P-47’s, a P-63, a P-40 and even a Focke Wulf were up in the sky at once. It was pretty darn impressive to see how many planes were up in the sky. In total 52 warbirds were at the show.

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All of this was shot with a handheld D4, 200-400 VR and a SunSniper Strap. One thing to really notice and watch for when photographing planes with polished aluminum fuselages is how the light changes on such a surface and where the shadows are. Both of these planes have a polished fuselage and during the panning of the plane there was a time when you could see the light not curve around the plane but streaked across it which wasn’t as pleasant. When the skies are filled with planes and you don’t want to waste an opportunity training your eyes to know when to click and when not to is can really make a difference.

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Playing in the puddles

I really couldn’t think of anything useful to talk about today so I thought I would just have some fun. What better way to have fun then to play in some puddles!? I did it when I was a kid, I still do. Heck even this B-17 likes to. Sure it’s a little more tucked in with tarps over its cowlings but it’s out there. Only difference is, it’s reflection turned out better then mine.

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In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, Nikon AF-S 18-35mm, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

A New Bird in the Area

Just like last summer some of the warbird tours from various museums and groups come through Bozeman. This year we are very fortunate to have Collings Foundation to come through on their Wings of Freedom Tour bringing along their B-24, B-17 and P-51C. Unfortunately due to some bad weather in Seatle they arrived a day later than planned but they couldn’t have picked a better day to arrive in town as the weather was beautiful. Too clear if you ask me, the sky is pretty darn boring in the mid afternoon light. Not all the planes arrived before I had to leave but the beautiful B-17 “Nine O Nine” was there.

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In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 24-70 AF-S f/2.8, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

The Big guys fly high

Before we did the air to air flight with the B17, the group stood out on the ramp as the B17 and B25 did a fly by for the crowd at CAF in honor of veterans weekend. The B17 went up first and did one fly by. It was big, loud, and shined like nothing else in the sky. One of the best parts was seeing the bomb bay doors open and a guy looking down at us. The B17 flew high so belly shots were all we got, not a problem more was to come.

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The B25, being of considerable smaller size and noise, flew much lower providing for some nice side shots. Back to panning, it’s a lot more fun panning with planes then with gulls. Nothing like Big Bad Bombers.

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Images captured with D3, 200-400 VR, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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