The boys and I made a pilgrimage to Fleet Week 2011 in San Francisco this past weekend. Selected photos are here. We drove to Pier 30 and parked, where we started with a tour of the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), which was well-provisioned with a nice selection of Marine vehicles and aircraft. Among other things, the boys got to check out a HiMARS truck, where thanks to Marine Cpl. Lamb from the great state of Tennessee the boys got to see a cellphone video he took of a fire mission in Afghanistan; a V-22, an AH-1Z Cobra (which I hadn’t seen before), and a variety of crew-served and individual weapons. The boys also got to hear an unusual call on the 1MC: “Man down, man down, man down on the flight deck!” A visitor tripped over a tiedown chain, so the Navy surged a bunch of corpsman to make sure he wasn’t hurt. They liked that quite a bit.
A quick taxi ride took us over to Marina Green for the airshow proper.
Having learned my lesson from last year, I’d rented a Sigma 50-500mm lens from LensRentals.com. I figured that this lens, which was every bit as big and heavy as advertised, would do a better job of capturing the action than my own 70-300. Sure enough, it did, but with a couple of caveats. It turns out that it’s a lot harder to take pictures of fast-moving aircraft with a telephoto lens than you might think. This problem was compounded by the fact that autofocus on the Sigma is fairly slow. Accordingly, I had a hard time getting pictures that were both well-framed and well-focused. However, some of them came out quite well.. I deleted the others, that being the major advantage of a digital camera. Tom and I between us took almost 600 pictures, about 150 of which were good enough to make the initial cut. I’ve posted a few of the better ones on my Flickr “airplanes” set.
Side note about LensRentals.com: I could not have been more pleased with their prices or service. I will definitely use them again, possibly for the Veterans’ Day airshow that the Blue Angels traditionally put on at NAS Pensacola. I recommend them highly.
The taxi ride on the way back might have been the highlight of the show: we had the same crazy, gravel-voiced, wrong-side-of-the-road-driving-on driver who scared the stuffing out of us last year. The odds against getting the same driver two years in a row must have been very high but… well, there it was. We survived, barely, and the four of us laughed uncontrollably for several minutes after exiting the cab. Whether the laughter was from relief at our survival or amusement at running into the same guy two years running, I couldn’t say.