Multimedia Frenzy time! Here's a bunch of random pics and videos from a trip we did to Texas and Arizona recently. I'm still getting the hang of my new camera, but the initial results are a lot better than my old one. I'm mostly happy that the speaker on the new camera doesn't freak out every time there's ambient noise.
My baby in Fort Huachuca (Waa-chew-ka) AZ. Half the airport is a military base and the other half is civilian. They launch unmanned predator drones here to patrol the border, and the base is primarily military intelligence. We saw some pretty crazy aircraft coming and going - King Airs with tip-tanks and bristling with literally dozens of antennas. I didn't take pics because I don't wanna wind up in Gitmo.
Watching an airliner pass a thousand feet above us while in cruise. We approached each other at about a thousand miles an hour, so it's a fast clip :)
The flight school in Nogales AZ offers maps, headsets and energy drinks. That's actually pretty smart marketing, I wonder why more pilot stores don't have cases of Red Bull in stock.
Departing Goodyear, AZ. Without irrigation this place would look like the surface of the moon. It was +43c when we took off - normally our plane takes about 2000-3000 feet of runway to take off, but hot temperatures really suck the performance out of the plane, and it took us 5,110 feet before we got airborne.
Gratuitous cloud shot! Note the thunderstorms in the distance. They will become more relevant shortly.
Our onboard XM weather system is the cat's ass. In the pic, the pink triangle is us, heading east. You can see Albuquerque and Las Vegas NM to our south. See all those pink/purple dots by KTAD? (Trinidad, Colorado) The dots are lightning strikes emanating from a storm cell. This one was impressive, but we saw some truly amazing storms a little further down the line.
This is what the storm cell looks like out our window. The top rises at least twenty thousand feet above us. Not many aircraft can climb that high, so we plan to avoid it laterally by a fair distance. Thunderstorms like this have more than enough energy to remove the wings from our aircraft, which I respect on a fundamental level. On the left hand side of the storm cell, see the cloud shelf coming from the main mass and extending to the left? The overhang might look clear but that's where storm cells spit hail out, so we never fly under the overhangs. An acquaintance of mine got suckered into flying under a similar overhang a few weeks ago and the resulting hail damage to the wing skins of his aircraft cost just under 250k to fix. He didn't tell me how much it cost to clean the pilot seats after that flight.
Eventually the lunar landscape gave way to the prairies of Kansas.
We made our way past that storm and then found ourselves paralleling a truly spectacular one. This was in Kansas, just between Oklahoma City and Wichita. This one was still building while we flew past it - you'll see the video I took shortly that shows it was up to 65,000 feet, but it eventually built to 70,000 feet up. Storms like this can have more energy than a small nuke.
Here's a video showing the uber-badass thunderstorm.
Another video showing some clouds, some traffic above us, and an added bonus at the end!
After a while we passed the evil thunderstorms and were left to happily cruise between some cloud layers.
After a while it got dark and the sky turned silver and blue.
Passing by Chicago on our way home. It is duly noted that my new camera sucks at night shots :)
We made it back to Toronto after 5 hours of flying, tired but happy to be home.