Space Shuttle Discovery Makes Historic Landing in Washington

Space Shuttle Discovery

Days when the national news like CNN and Fox News actually cover something for more than a 3 minutes sound bite seems to be the huge exception to the rule today. That is, unless, there is actually something going on live they can’t manipulate into a proper commercial break spot. Lately I have come to loathe the repetition of information on the news and documentary-reality shows. This morning was one of those non-stop coverage points for the historic landing of the Space Shuttle Discovery, and an end to a space program, really the only one I have ever known in my lifetime.

Since this is really the only space program I have ever known in my life, it has been sad to me to see it being dismantled over the last 12 months, but I’m sure they know what they are doing and it’s time to move on. Being an average objective observer of the program over the last 30 plus years I certainly can’t offer any inside knowledge for anything NASA, I will just miss watching something I have known since I could was old enough to know what a rocket was. Discovery had a beautiful landing this morning on the back of that giant NASA Boeing 747SP-21 (see some pics here). Ben Cooper over on Airliners.net captured a great sunrise shot of the departing N905NA / 376 (cn 20107/86) captioned saying: “Farewell, Discovery! Shuttle Discovery departs Florida for the final time in history at sunrise, atop NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, bound for the Smithsonian in Washington DC.” Well said.

A Bumpy Ride but Arrived a Mile High in Denver

So we are in the Mile High city for a few days for the birth of our second grandson, Luke, but while we are here we get to take a side trip over to Colorado Springs and visit with a ministry group there. On a side note, there are an amazing number of ginormous ministry groups here in Colorado Springs, like Focus on the Family, Compassion International, Promise Keepers was at one point, and so on… amazing. We are going to get to talk about the kids in our sponsor program from Cornerstone like the girl you saw in my previous post. I’m always excited to get to talk to people when it deals with ministry and photography at the same time. It’s one thing to get to work in an area you are passionate about but it’s really fantastic when you get to combine two passions together, even if it’s just to talk about future possibilities.

So, quick photo of the day above, which is actually from yesterday. We ended up landing in Denver in horrible weather (which is rare out here). It’s also freezing out here, well, it’s not 100*F out here, but all the resort towns are expecting snow this weekend. Until next time…

A Long Flight but We Have Arrived in Amsterdam

So, yes, that was an incredibly long flight, wow, and only a 10 hour flight to go. We are sitting here at the gate all glad to be on the ground for a while, even if it’s only for an hour. Wouldn’t have been all that bad except for the several thunderstorms we trounced through out of Atlanta all up the east coast. One of the rougher flights I have been on in a while. Unfortunately a girl in the front of the plane lost it but we weren’t too close to her. I had a ton of pics to post but no plugs in Amsterdam anywhere (or on the plane for that matter) so I’ll post more later. Next stop Africa. Thanks for your prayers.

From San Francisco to Paris in a 2 Minute Time Lapse Video

I love this time lapse by Nate Bolt (@boltron on Twitter) who works/owns this cool looking media firm Bolt Peters, (also on twitter @boltpeters) that went viral recently. There are more details on specifics of how he did it on another blog post here too, along with ABC and I think CBS News, but this is such a creative look at what has become an every day thing (flying).

I love time lapse stuff but I love even more when people find ways to capture the mundane into new and creative ways. Hard to do today. Every time I think of something I think is creative or unique it has already been done by someone else. Bet he didn’t think this one 2 minute video would get so much attention while he was over in France, but it’s just that cool.

Sometimes I think those of us in the church land world give up on being creative because it’s all been done before, or it’s not necessary in order for our message to be heard, but that is our mandate given to us by God Himself starting in Genesis. Right now I’m walking through a new book called The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion by Tim Challies, and he puts it like this:

The Bible reveals that we are created and called to fulfill God’s mandate: that we go into all the world, faithfully stewarding the world God has created and the message he has given us… God has gifted human beings with remarkable ability to dream, create, and invent technologies that serve us as we serve him, technologies that enable us to better serve him.

I love that. If you haven’t seen the video below take a look, really neat shot of the aurora borealis about 15-20 seconds after takeoff. I would love to try this on my next flight but I would get kicked off the flight and placed on the no-fly-list in a second.

Air Force One on Takeoff for Tuesday’s Election

The photo of the day today is a shot I took of Air Force One on it’s takeoff run at Las Vegas McCarran Airport a while back.  With the elections taking place tomorrow I thought this would be an appropriate shot, but we are also trying to get to a place where we can watch the Space Shuttle launch tomorrow as well, so it served two purposes today.  If we get to the Space Coast I will post some photos on Twitter and here, but I am sure we won’t get as close to the shuttle as I was able to get here with AF1.  For additional aviation photos you can check out some of my shots at http://www.planephoto.net as well.

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules Flyover from Fort Benning to Montgomery

For the last several weeks these C-130’s have been flying directly over our property, at about 1,000 feet off the ground.  While they are not as loud as an F-14 with afterburners fired, they can really beat the surrounding air, especially when flying in pairs.  That’s just what they did last night at about 1:30am, felt like the windows were going to break.

This shot was taken about 15 miles farther into their flight path, almost directly over AUO (Auburn University Regional Airport) around 6pm.  I am only drawing the conclusion they are flying from Fort Benning to Montgomery, but it is pretty cool to see them flying overhead, just not at 2am.

Air Force One Photos and Obama's Inauguration

Air Force One in Las Vegas

Continental Boeing 777

British Airways Boeing 747

Some of you may not know that I was once (and still in a different way) an aviation nut, buff, fanatic, whatever you want to call it.  I did get my private pilot’s license, and I did work for and was hired by several airlines earlier in my life/career.  One of my most favorite types of photography that I ever attempted was aviation photography (made almost impossible after 9-11).  I started while I was still shooting film and moved into digital SLR’s to enhance my aviation photography.

Air Force One is probably one of the most recognized aircraft in the entire world.  I love the plane and have been to Boeing field north of Seattle to see the older Boeing 707 that Nixon and Kennedy flew on as President.  That plane is no longer in Washington state (I think it is now in the Smithsonian), but even at 30-40 years old it still evoked feelings of pride in a country that is still one of the only countries in the world that has a fleet of aircraft for its leader.

I use to watch Tony Blair get on a commercial British Airways 747 and think what a disgrace to put the Prime Minister on a commercial aircraft but I guess it did save quite a bit of money for the British people, but didn’t do a thing to create an iconic air force fleet like we did with the Presidential aircraft.

One of my favorite shots I ever took was a shot of this British Airways Boeing 747 about to take off for London in the middle of a storm with a Boeing 777 landing right in front of it (if you look at the close up, you can see the Continental B-777 at the end of the runway in front of the BA 747).  It was no different than any commercial BA flight that Tony Blair would have flown on if he was in Houston at the time.

I can’t really recall a time in history when the press or anyone else questioned when, why, or how, we used the military fleet like they are now.  For good reason, it costs a heck of a lot more to fly the military fleet than a commercial flight, but even so, I would never want to see Mr Obama get on a commercial flight while he is still in office.  Now that Air Force One is officially part of the Obama administration, it has been taken for a ride, and because of the economy, more and more people are starting to question why we are spending money in ways that just isn’t necessary any more.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

This week, Mr Obama flew Air Force One to Colorado and Arizona just for the sake of signing a bill.  As far as everyone can tell, the estimated cost for Obama to fly to Arizona (don’t know about the Colorado trip) on Air Force One to sign the so-called stimulus bill was about $700,000.  $700,000 for a flight that didn’t have to take place to sign a bill to spend $787 billion.  So I guess just a drop in the bucket compared to $787 billion, so who cares.

Well, the very next thing Obama said was that American’s needed to start living within their means and at the same time he told us to turn down our thermostats.  We have officially entered the “do as I say, not as I do” time.

Where Were You on September 11, 2001 :: 7 Years Later

Traveling to PA from Texas

It is amazing how fast time goes by.  It is hard to believe that today is the 7th anniversary of September 11, 2001.  It was of course one of those days when we will all remember where we were, what we were doing, and looking back today at what happened on the news, as always happens on each September 11, I was just thinking back to what my wife and I were doing that day, and what was going on in our lives, and what has changed.

A few days before 9-11 we were in Texas, on our way to a convention in Pennsylvania.  We often traveled with David and Georgia (Deborah’s parents) or met them in different campgrounds across the country going to or from a convention.  They would drive their motorhome out to the show where ever it was and help us setup, work the show, and break down afterward.  Here, we met them at a campground in Texas.

On the morning of September 11, 2001 Deborah and I woke up in a Walmart parking lot in Pennsylvania in our RV where we had spent the night.  We were on our way to Philadelphia and stayed, as we normally did, in a Walmart parking lot just a little outside Philadelphia.  As vendors, this was a convention we did each year but in years to follow would become less and less important because of the date (which sometimes fell exactly on 9-11) until the owners of the show finally moved it far away from 9-11.

Anthrax Attack on America

Anthrax Attack on America

I took these two photos of the news while watching the coverage from the back of our RV.  What is interesting to me is, if you look just to the right of the TV, we had already hung an American flag in the window of our RV (and these were huge greyhound bus windows), much like many American’s did at their houses.  We were living in the bus at the time, this was our home and we drove around the country for at least another year or more with that flag handing in the back window (one on each side).

I remember setting up for the show while running out to the motorhome every second I could to try and watch the news.  The show was a terrible one for the vendors as no one wanted to do anything in the way of shopping.  The restaurants in Philadelphia were closed when we would try to eat after the show each night, and we couldn’t wait to get out of there and on to the next city.

To the Grand Cayman Islands and Cayman Brac

It wasn’t but about two weeks later when we took our first plane flight out of the United States into the Cayman Islands.  This was a planned trip, planned months before 9-11 every happened.  We were going with Deborah’s parents, David and Georgia to a rented house on the small island of Cayman Brac.  I can remember every single one of us being very nervous about flying when we had never really be nervous before.  We had talked about canceling our trip, but decided we were going to do what we had planned on doing regardless.

I have very few photos of our trip down to the Cayman Islands.  I was not shooting with any larger format camera at the time and only had a very small (and free) 2mp digital camera from HP, given to me as a type of extra for buying a printer.  These were a few of the shots from that trip.  We sat many hours of that “vacation” inside watching the news coverage of the events at ground zero, it was one of the strangest trips I have taken, but we did enjoy each other’s company.

Deborah in Cayman Brac

Deborah, David, and Georgia in Cayman Brac

Now it is 7 years later and things are much different.  Time has a way of keeping thing moving.  I look at the photo above and remember by mother-in-law who is no longer with us.  In this photo she looks so alive and well, and Deborah and I both miss her.  The four of us in the photo above (counting me who is taking the photo) did so many things together back at that time.  We no longer have the business we had then, and part of it was the effect 9-11 had on the circuit of shows we were vending at for many years.

We now no longer have the bus pictured above that we lived in for more than 5 years.  We have different jobs, live in a different part of the country, have new and different friends, and of course are 7 years older.  One thing I love about blogging is the archives.  You can go back and see what you were doing and how things have changed in your life.  We started blogging in March of 2001, but have very few original posts from that time period, but it is interesting to see how we have grown and changed.

What were you doing on September the 11th, 2001?