Ever since I was a baby, probably before I was even aware of it, I have been a plane spotter. I had grandparents who lived under the flight path in Adelaide, and the head office of the family business was also directly under the flight path – as in planes flying over so close you could almost touch them. My Nanna and Poppa were both crazy for planes and every single member of the family inherited this craziness.
There is just something special about a plane flying. The magical scientific mystery that it is even possible at all – that tonnes of metal can be lifted into the air – is awe inspiring and breath taking to watch.
So, Qantas were retiring the first 747-400, and they decided to donate it to a little known outfit known as HARS – or the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society – little known unless you are a plane spotter like me and thousands of other plane geeks in Australia to whom HARS is a well known awesome band of volunteers who have kept the Connie and many other planes flying or in tip top shape to be displayed to the public for many years now.
HARS have an excellent museum at the Illawarra Airport which will shortly be made all the greater for having the 747-400 VH-OJA “City of Canberra” on display.
This event was hyped up in the media and full respect to HARS because they deserve every single bit of media attention they can get.. but unfortunately, people are crazy and what happened was an example of sheer and utter lunacy.
It is not HARS fault, they had a plan. And they announced that plan very clearly in the days leading up to the event – where people could and could not be. However plans are just that, and there was no way in heck that anyone could have moved these people from the spots they had arrived at in the early hours of the morning.
We also had a plan, thinking that every man and his dog would want to be close to the end of the runway, we were going to the carpark of Hungry Jacks at Yallah. But when we got to the Yallah turn off? Gridlock. Nobody could go anywhere. The exit from the highway and the road that leads to Hungry Jacks was a carpark.
Though you cannot see it in the image, there were cars and people stopped on the bridge that goes across the highway there. It turned out that there were cars parked all through Haywards Bay – I bet the residents there were super pleased! People parked their cars and then walked off in search of what they thought was the best vantage spot.
Cars were just parking wherever they felt like it, including in the no stopping lane on the highway, or like this one we spotted as we were leaving – that black car there is parked, there is no owner with the vehicle. SRSLY?
I hate to be the one to tell these would be plane spotters – many of whom arrived at the airport this morning from 3am onwards in order to secure a decent vantage point – just one hour down the road in Sydney, large planes like this plus the A380 are landing all day every day, and you can get a lot closer and it is not nearly so crowded.
Anyway, we ended up next to a field in the middle of nowhere and yet not very far from the end of the runway, and we did get a couple of semi-decent shots.. though we had a lot of electrical wires to shoot around.
I’ve been flown over by all kinds of planes many times, so I was perfectly fine with not being right at the end of the runway for this one. We will go back to see the plane close up once they open it to the world. HARS estimates this will be in a month or so. I will be able to fulfill one of the items on my bucket list, which is to stand right next to a 747.
While we were there to see the plane fly over, my parents were at home expecting to be able to view this on news channels who had spoken about bringing the landing live to everyone – and when it came time for the landing? Nothing. They were airing a speech by Barack Obama instead. KTHX Obama, I know you are fascinating and all, but this was a special local moment which should have gone live to air.
Later on they discovered the landing was on Sky via the multichannel where you press red to see extra channels, and all you get is a tiny image and you can’t record it. Not cool, media people. Not cool at all.
Here is a video – they actually closed the highway for the landing and I think that was a good idea not for plane safety reasons but for people safety reasons, because there were just SO many people there.
It might be just me, but I still have great concerns about the apparent inability of people to enjoy a moment without having to use their phone, iPad, or various other means to capture it. And another video which gives you an idea of the large amount of people –
A while ago I asked The Other Half to build me a white photography box. And eventually, enough time went by, and he created it. You’ve seen some things photographed in it, already.
It has 12 LED lights at the top, set in the silver thing you can see at the very top of the box – I can’t show you a photo of the lights because they will destroy your retinas! Retina burn, not fun. :) But here you can see the shadows from the LED lights.
He also made me a shoe ramp, which can be used to mount smaller items to photograph as well. I will likely get some white cloth to use in the box, as well.
And here is a photo of something sparkly, just because.
The LED’s are awesome to photograph with, and if you set the aperture low, you can get these little sparkly stars of light.