Monday, May 18, 2009

Smithville Ballooning

Balloon pilots Joe Reynolds and David Smuck attended Smithville Fly-in, with me as crew, on Saturday 16th May. The weather was bad enough around Austin to keep the other club members in their beds that morning, but over in Smithville it was quite pleasant. Joe decided to do a short flight demo for the 10-20 folks that had turned out in the hope of seeing balloons, so here is a 3 1/2 minute video of the events. The winds were light enough that I ended up driving the truck and towing the balloon back across the airfield which was an interesting and fun experience!

In case anyone is interested, the video was shot on my Sony Ericsson K850i phone and edited in Adobe Premiere Elements 5 (the first time I have used this). Animated images were drawn in Adobe Illustator CS3.

Airspeed at Randolph AFB

On Thursday 14th May I had the most excellent opportunity to visit Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, to photograph Steve Tupper of Airspeed Online, while he got a ride in a T-6A Texan II aircraft. Will Hawkins of Wilco Films was also there to video the whole thing.

The Texan II is the primary fixed-wing training aircraft of the US Air Force and looks like one heck of a ride. We were the guests of 559th Flying Training Squadron, the Flying Billygoats. Steve's callsign was 'Goat 7'.

Here's Steve kitted out in front of the plane:

Taking off:

Taxiing back in after copious amounts of aerobatics during a 1.25 hour flight:

And a visiting T-38 Talon:

More pictures and video will be showing on Steve's blog which is well worth a look.

Many thanks to Beverley Simas and Gabe Myers of Media Relations, and of course to Steve's pilot, Major Jarrett Edge, who was kind enough to give him his flight. All the folks at Randolph AFB were brilliant and looked after us very well indeed. Thank you!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A few random bits

Couple o' bits that may be of interest. Or not. But I'm posting them anyway so here we go:

Went over to Llano at the weekend, about 1.5 hours away, for a clay shooting competition. We stopped in Llano town first as we'd got there quite early. Found a very nice little coffe shop called Fuel, in which Alan enjoyed his usual quad espresso, in fact he complimented them on the coffee which means it must have been good. I had a huge peach smoothie which was delicious.

Here's the courthouse in Llano, it's quite pretty:

We moved on to the shooting club and plinked our way around a very hard clays course. There were 50 birds and only one guy had scored more than 40 by the time we left later on. Of course we didn't go anywhere until we had partaken of the immense barbeque feast that was laid on as part of the package. They have a coal-producing wood burner, they take the coal and put it in the smoker. The meat came out very tasty as only Texas BBQ can be. Add to this a huge array of home-made side dishes and desserts that all the locals provide and you don't leave hungry.

The wildflowers are out in force around Llano, they're really pretty at the moment, and the shooting club was no exception:

Lastly, I saw a huge snake today! OK, maybe not moster sized but easily the biggest I have yet seen in the wild. It was crossing the road when I was returning to the house earlier. I reckon it to be at least three feet long. It obligingly stopped long enough for me to grab this picture, before scooting into the verge.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Temple air show

Alan and I went up to Temple air show on Saturday. Here's a few shots from it. More will appear on my main website in due course.


Skyraider on takeoff

T-28 on takeoff

Huey with Vietnam War re-enactors

Two Hueys

AeroShell T-6


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Roller derby!

Rhinestone Cowgirls (red) versus the Holy Rollers (black/white)

We've never been to a roller derby before so were not sure what to expect. It's actually pretty rock'n'roll (forgive the pun) and very lively. Two teams of rollergirls compete against each other. As far as we can figure out, the main pack starts out at the first whistle (shown in the video above). The pack is led by a pacesetter from each team (with a stripe on her helmet). The second whistle launches the two sprinters (star on helmet) who have to get past the pack of blockers, complete a lap to get round behind the pack again, and then they get a point for each member of the opposing team they pass on this second encounter with the pack.

There seems to be a lot of finer points which we missed, penalties were being awarded for I know not what. I dare say there are rules about tackling/blocking/tripping people over or whatever.

It gets spiced up when spontaneous fights break out between girls; on more than one occasion two rollergirls would just break off the chase and start having it out amongst themselves!

Meanwhile, sometimes extra challenges are delivered to the teams, which seems to be driven by a wheel-of-fortune. This is usually a one-on-one challenge. We saw tug-of-war, arm wrestling and pillow fighting and I'm sure the list grows longer...

It was very entertaining!


First batch in Alan's new conical fermenter :-) Should be ready in about three weeks.