Red Bull Air Race 2008

May 5, 2008

US Navy and Coast Guard

The Red Bull Air Races were held May 3rd and 4th, 2008 in San Diego California. We were able to attend on the 4th and take many great pictures. Before the races themselves started there were many side acts and flybys. San Diego is home to many Naval Ships and has a huge military presence. I’ve been to air shows before but none of those compared to this in terms of how close we were to the action and how slow the flybys were. In this photo you can see the heritageHeritage Flight Formation flight formation where older aircraft fly side by side with the current generation fighter jets. It’s funny to think that the F-18 will soon be one of the old aircraft too. The first thing you notice here is that the other two planes are propeller driven. The F-18 can fly really slow. How slow? Well so slow you think it’s hovering when you are looking at it from the ground up. The pilot does this by flying at a high angle of attack. The F-18 has the ability to fly at an almost unlimited angle of attack. That means that the wings are pointed up in relation to the air stream and the movement of the aircraft. So why am I telling you all of this? Well of course because the pilot didLow-Speed F-18 Flyby such a low-speed, high angle of attack flyby. In this photo you can see the pilot tipping the wing right after powering up from the low-speed flyby.

The demonstrations were not limited to fighter jets though. The Coast Guard demonstrated a hoist rescue as you canCoast Guard Jayhawk Hoist Rescue Demo see in this photo. These helicopters are huge and being underneath one is like being in a small hurricane. I found this out first hand as one flew right by the shore and then leaned left. Jamie’s hat flew about 50 feet.

And last but not least is the crazy maneuver of the Navy divers who hook themselvesSeahawk with Divers on a tether onto a tether and get pulled out of the water by a seahawk while using no hands. All I have to say is that these guys are nuts! I also wonder how they get down from there. I guess I will never know. Now to the racing itself.

Smoke On!

When the planes prepare to enter the course the air control tells the pilot “smoke on” which tells them to turn on the smoke so the officials can see the flight line and to enter the course. The course is just over 3.5 miles long but it is contained in an area of about 1 square mile. Red Bull Air Race PlaneThese highly advanced aerobatic prop planes fly at or sometimes over 300 mph. This makes for a very exciting race. The course is defined by a series of air gates. These are conical towers made of a very thin nylon and inflated with air. If a plane collides with a gate it just bursts apart leaving the plane undamaged.

Here you can see what they call the “Quadro” where four air gates are used. The pilots fly through this group of gates twice in two different directions. The Quadro and a plane flying through itSince it was so bright outside, shooting these planes was easy… except tracking them was hard. These things moved really, really fast!

Here is a photo of the winner. His name is Paul Bonhomme Paul Bonhomme from Britain and he beat American Mike Mangold in the final by just over a second. See more great shots in the Gallery.

Fiesta of the Spanish Horse 2008

May 5, 2008

A Noble Event

Every year one event brings together excitement and horses and fund raising for a good cause. All the proceeds from each years event goes to the American Cancer Society, the USC Norris Cancer Center, and the Roy and Patricia Disney Cancer Center. The Extravaganza is where the best acts and the most polished Spanish horse breeds are shown off. Photographing this event is challenging. This year we sat in the box seats to get a close look. The Equidome is lit inside but it isn’t bright enough for say ISO 100 film or that setting on a Digital camera. Jamie and I shot ISO 800 film and shot digitally in both 800 and 1600 modes. This was in an effort to keep the shutter speeds above 1/90th of a second.

All the Excitement

The event is very exciting all the way through. We saw trick riders who rode their horses while hanging offTrick Rider flipping in front of horse the side of the saddle upside down or while standing on the saddle while using no hands. One of the two trick riders even swung in front of their horse to the other side and got back on. The crazy thing is the horses steer themselves when the riders are doing these tricks. So both horse and rider have to trust each other.

The other exciting thing to see is when the horses are taught to jump straight up in the air from a standstill. This is called a capriole. It’s not something you would see if you’ve been to a thousand horse shows but each year you can see it at the Fiesta. Shooting such an act is difficult as you can imagine. The photographer on the floor of the arena had a powerful strobe.Horse perfoming capriole Being in the stands meant not being afforded that option. Therefore we had to rely on a high ISO and a quick response on the shutter. If our camera’s had any shutter lag once the shutter had been pressed we would miss the shot. That is the thing I love about our XT and the Canon A2E I was shooting film with. Both of these cameras have little to no shutter lag.

“Awww, how cute!”

Every year the Fiesta trots out the newborn foals with their mothers. This year one of them was only 5 days old! The reaction of course is unanimous. “Awww, how cute”, is what I hear from the whole audience. Taking this picture wasn’t hard at all. Any shotFoal and Mare would do but I think this shot on the right demonstrates the interaction between foal and mare especially well.

I could write on for days about all the wonderful acts you can see at this show. I can’t show them all here though so be sure to head over to the Gallery to check out all the photos. We put them under the Horses category.