Friday, September 07, 2007

Good To Go

Canon EOS with EF300mm IS - EF1.4x II @f4 - 1/250 - ISO800

Canon EOS with EF300mm IS - EF1.4x II @ f6.7 - 1/1500sec - ISO400

Every fighter-plane enthusiast in the Calgary area and beyond has been spending time at the Calgary Airport lately. That would be because for the past several weeks the airport is the place to see Tornado GR4 fighters from the British Royal Air force. Tornado's may be dull for British enthusiasts, however here in Canada they are a rare sight. The six Tornado's take off daily for Suffield where they are conducting simulation exercises with about 2000 British and Canadian soldiers who will be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the next six months.

Pilots and Navigators are conducting simulation exercises for the soldiers to practice communicating with aircraft in the event of roadside bombs or other attacks by the Taliban or armed insurgents. The 12(B) squadron that returned from Iraq lately are quite familiar with what the soldiers will be up against and can give them as realistic training as they can get before deploying. The exercises also give air crews an understanding of what soldiers that are on the ground are going through and what can be done to make the job somewhat easier.

For those of you who are interested in the Tornado's capabilities, it's two after-burning jet engines allow it to reach a maximum speed of mach 2.2(2335 km/h). It has fly-by-wire technology and has terrain following radar for fast low-altitude flight and can drop a bomb load up to 18,000 pounds. The Tornado can be armed with up to four sidewinder missiles on wing pylons and sky-flash missiles under the fuselage, as well as one or two 27mm cannon mounted on each side of the fuselage. This plane also has a aerial fueling probe visible to the right of the nose. Of interest is the sooty patches visible on the tail from the hot gases directed by the engines when the thrust reversers are deployed allowing the plane to land on damage shortened runways that it may have taken off from.

I have enjoyed the time I spent hanging out with other fighter-plane enthusiasts while shooting photos of the Tornados and its flight crews as well as the ground support personal, of whom without their support the planes would not fly. Its been a blast. Later

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