October 02, 2012

The 2012 Grand Junction Airshow

This post is part 1 of a 2 part article… This initial post will focus on the Airshow in Grand Junction Colorado… Part 2, will focus more on the “Cattle Baron’s BBQ and Tailhook Gathering.

The weekend of September 21-23 I found myself on the western side of the Rocky Mountains to attend the Grand Junction Airshow.  I had received a “Media Pass” to the event due to my affiliation with The Tailhook Association as the Editor of “The Tailhook Daily Briefing”, the association’s online blog presence.  Now, ‘Media Passes’ sound all glamorous and preferential and all… but in reality all they do is allow for access to the field on the Practice Day and then grant me early access to the field on the Show days with preferred parking.  (hmm maybe that is preferential…)


As a certified “Aviation Geek”, I look forward to this event every 3 to 4 years, it is really too bad this is not an annual event because the venue is fantastic!  Grand Junction Airport is nestled up against the “Bookcliffs” Mesa, with Mt Garfield providing an appropriate bookend to the range.  These cliffs provide for an excellent backdrop to photos taken at the show.

Also, Grand Junction’s Airshow is still small enough to have that wonderful ‘Down Home’ feel to it. It is reminiscent of the older style of airshows, much more intimate with attendance measured in the thousands instead of the 100’s of thousands like Miramar.  Never the less, it was still quite beneficial for an aviation photographer like me to have access to the flight line the day before the crowds align the rails.

Friday morning, Ginger, Ken Schoeni (who had flown in the day before from his home in Seattle) and I all piled into the GMC and began our roughly 4 hour trek west along I-70 over the Rockies.  The drive was splendid… Vail Pass was decked out in all of its Autumn Glory, the aspens presenting explosions of gold among a sea of evergreens.  We arrived at the Hotel in Grand Junction right on time, checked in and headed to the room to deposit our bags.  Ginger had some work to follow up on so she took the opportunity to hole up in the room and catch up.  Ken and I headed over to the Airport.  Actually, since we were close enough, we walked the mile from the hotel to the West Star Aviation Terminal where I had been told my Media Pass would await.

Inside the terminal lounge, a variety of people were milling about.  Many were West Star employees trying to finish preparations for the show, coordinating everything from fuel for the birds to beer for the spectators.  But also loitering were the various airshow performers including a couple of the ‘civilian’ acts, the Navy Super Hornet Tactical Demonstration guys of VFA-106 outta Oceana, and the V-22 Osprey folks from VMM-166 “The Sea Elks” from Miramar.  I took a few minutes to introduce myself to the crews, toss about some casual conversation and then proceeded to the counter to inquire about my media credentials.

The young lady (fresh outta high school by my estimates) behind the counter greeted me politely, but then her look rapidly turned to one of confusion.  Apparently not an uncommon look these past few days.  They seemed to embrace their disorganization more as the status quo than the exception.

“Um… What Media list?” was the response I received from young blonde…

Rather than try to explain what should have been there behind the counter, and apparently wasn’t (…I’ve tried that pointless action before only to end up right back where I started, shorter on patience and 5 minutes closer to my death than I had been…), I simply excused myself for a brief moment to make a phone call.  To the Director of Marketing for the show.  Within five minutes, the media list was delivered to the girls behind the counter, with my name clearly in attendance.  “Sorry for the mix up Mr. Carmichael, please go right ahead…”  And off to the flight line, camera gear slung over my shoulder I went.  I had Airplanes to photograph!

There is something very surreal about walking onto a flight line that is fully decked out in preparation for the masses to attend, yet few people are about.  A photographer’s dream, not having to muscle your way to the front, fighting for a vantage point without obstacles, like speaker stands, trash cans, umbrellas, kids!  Nirvana I’m tell’n you! 

V-22On the apron static displays abound.  Dominating the landscape is one of VMM-166’s V-22 Osprey Tilt Rotor Aircraft.  In its shadow, a WWII vintage TBM, looking very well preserved considering her age, a great testament to the love and care provided by her owner.  I crawled all through that TBM and with the exception of an oil leak from the cowling… which in these aircraft simply means, “She ain’t Empty!” it was immaculate!

TBM Cockpit HDR

Further down the line were many more aircraft and helicopters, like this CH-53E pictured below. DSC_0304a

But alas, I was here for the flying!

The first to go for the Friday practice sessions was VFA-106’s US Navy’s Super Hornet Flight Demonstration crewed by, LT Tony “Neon” Rizio and LT Jacob “Rooney” Lerner.  And I had front row seats!  --- of course, in hindsight, that might have been poor planning on my part!

Neon and Rooney

Ya see… their crew chief directed them out for what was to be a "Right Turn Out"... Which, woulda been fine with me...

What none of us expected was the 170 degree right turn! As I was filming, I realized in a classic "Ahhhhh Craaaap" moment that the Blowers were about to point right at me, just as the "Need for Speed" - (Taxi Speed anyway) came upon the crew. Lemme tell ya, that zephyr is hot! And quite gusty!

F-18 cans

I maintained my stance amazingly enough (well, I took a knee actually!), but the VIP folding chairs behind me got blasted all over the Grand Junction Apron! Oh and so did the rest of my camera gear including 2 lenses that happened to be sitting on one of the now "Gone With the Wind" chairs!

Yard Sale Yard sale 2

I captured and assembled a little video (amateur as it is...) that shows the initial taxi, the turn , and then some stills of the after... The video concludes with stills from the debrief where 'Neon' and 'Rooney' are told of the carnage.  [Link]

Ah well, the hazards of Naval Aviation!

The only real casualty of having that big blow dryer pointing at me is that my big lens, the 70-300mm, took a tumble and pretty much has given up the ghost.  I know what is now on my Christmas list!

DSC_8675The crew chiefs of VFA-106 were really cool however, and after “Neon” and “Rooney” were well on their way down the taxiway, they came over to help reset the chairs and pick up my yard sale of lenses and other photographer paraphernalia.  Also, when the second crew taxied out for their practice hop, the Crew Chief had already briefed them of “Hurricane Neon” and recommended they keep the right turn to 90 degrees… “Grippy” and “Trig” obliged. 

VFA -106 Grippy and Trig taxib

The rest of the day was uneventful… well except for the Sound of Freedom from the Super Hornets, the V-22 Osprey, and oh yeah… the Blue Angels!

VFA -106 Grippy and Trig low transition touch n go

VFA -106 Grippy and Trig low transition touch n go 4

VMM-166 Sea Elks V-22 Taxi-a V-22 Forward Flight

Fat Albert

Fat Albert Landing  Fat Albert Banana Pass

Blue Angel #1 Greg Mcwherter 2

Blue Angel #1 Crew Chief  Blue Angel #1 Greg Mcwherter Smoke Check


Blue Angel Diamond Practice 1

Blue Angel Fortus

Blues #5 Sneak Pass

Blue Angel #5 Min Rad Turn

Blue Angel #5 high speed

Blues Crossing

More images from the show can be found on my Smugmug pages here: [Link]

Part 2 Soon to come… The Party!

October 2, 2012 in Aviation, Navy, Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


March 07, 2012

Talk Among Yourselves

LexIt is with heavy heart and tear filled reddened eyes that I write this post this evening.  I am not sure exactly when I will press the “publish” confirm on this as the news has not yet been made public.  Of course, by the time you read this the news will have been.  But right now, I need to write…

This evening I learned of the death of a fellow Blog Buddy and writer extraordinaire Neptunus Lex (Captain, Carroll LaFon USN(Ret.)).

Article [Link]

My words this evening I’m sure will not come easy, which is somewhat ironic considering that for Lex the opposite always appeared to be the case.   I first started reading Neptunus Lex some nine years ago now, back in the early days of the Blogosphere… There were fewer of us then and his prose stood out as something to take note.  He used polysyllabic words in proper context and could offer up a Latin phrase without consulting wikipedia!

Truly a renaissance man, his blog became a regular daily read for me and… as the years advanced, for literally thousands of others.  I first found myself drawn to his Blog due to his fantastic yarns of Naval Aviation daring do known as Rhythms.  It wasn’t so much the plot, as I have heard many a similar tale over the years, but more in the way he spun the words.  Rather than bringing the story to you, he brought you to the story.  It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, yet Lex could create a picture in far fewer.

Lex died this morning doing what he loved to do, fly!  We knew this as his love was so skillfully rendered in his years of digital pages, and we were captivated by his love affair.  We all anxiously awaited his next post telling us how his flying day went.  There will be no more posts…

Lex’s writings were not solely dedicated to Naval Aviation, no… as I said Lex was truly a renaissance man, he shared with us philosophic insight few scholars can match.  He had a way about him to boil down what many of us were thinking about an issue but we lacked the vocabulary or literary dexterity to convey properly in prose.  Lex nailed it time and time again! 

One of my favorite posts of his was on “Belief” and exactly what he believed in… http://www.neptunuslex.com/2003/10/22/beliefs/.  I walked away from that post concurring with… well hell… All of it!  Wishing I could learn to write well and assemble my thoughts a little more productively.

Another perhaps a proper legacy is Lex’s account of Ulysses… the hyperlinks are important.

I will miss him.  I know I will catch myself looking wantonly at my links in the left pane here of Carmichael’s Position looking for Lex’s next post… knowing grudgingly it will never come.  I will resign myself to reading his archives once again, enjoying his legacy, his advice, and his turn of a phrase. 

A few days ago, Lex himself expressed concern and prayers be shared for the victims and their families of a tragic helicopter accident in the training grounds of Yuma Arizona.  Little did he realize just how prophetic his words would be…

“It’s a dangerous business even in peacetime training, but you never quite grow used to this sort of thing…Prayers for their families, if you’re the praying sort.”

My prayers are surely with, The Hobbit, Son Number One, The Biscuit, and Kat.  His family… and thanks to his words… ours too!  We have always been here for Lex, now we are here for you!

God Bless… And thank you for sharing him with us all these years, you are not alone in your grief!

On days when Lex did not have the time to publish profound works of art, he was always kind enough inform us that his posting would be sparse for the time being.  He often would throw us a bone in the form of a controversial news link and then allow us all to voice our commentary in his comments section.  His final words would be “Talk Amongst Yourselves” as he proceeded to carry on with his life.  Now we are left to only… talk amongst ourselves, but you know he’ll be following the threads.

Thank you Lex… Here’s to you, and those like you… damn few left!

For more tributes to the man… (recommend having a hanky handy) might I suggest:

March 7, 2012 in Aviation, Current Affairs, Navy | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack


September 21, 2011

Interview Help

No I’m not looking for a new job…

I am starting a project, of both a personal self-interest as well as an historical interest.  As most of my readership is aware, I am the son of a fairly successful Naval Aviator.  Recently dad was approached by a friend of his who was interested in his “History”… he,  having been there done that and owning the tee-shirt.  Dad has never been one to share too much about his Naval Aviation history, it was simply a job after all… However, this particular query got dad to thinking that he is indeed willing now to regale us with a few of his tales and share some of his hard earned knowledge of how things were, how things should have been, and what we may learn from the experience.

To wit, he has asked his #1 son for my help.  As you know, him being a proud father and all, has some misguided thought that I am a proficient writer who despite never having worn the wings of gold, nor trapped upon a 98 thousand ton aircraft carrier is still a slightly knowledgeable Naval Aviation Historian who can assist in this pursuit.  Helping him remember critical dates and event in which he was personally involved will help jog the memories of long past exploits, will be my charge.

Obviously, I am going to leap at this opportunity.  In the ides of October we(Ginger and I) are heading back to Jacksonville for a few days to assist Mom and Dad in Mom’s requirement to return yet again to Tampa for her quarterly CT scan and ongoing cancer treatment follow-up.  I plan to use this time to begin in earnest to capture and document pieces of the Hoagy Carmichael and Carmichael family historical record.

Where I need your help faithful readers, is asking what should I ask? 

Dad flying VA-35 1969 lgWhat is most interesting in understanding the personal insight of a Man who was always there in the thick of historical events that even today continue to shape our nation’s decisions.  Events like the Iranian Hostage Crisis, where as Commanding Officer, his ship USS Midway was first on Gonzo Station, the Mayaguez Incident in May of ‘75 where his Airwing (CVW-15) was called upon to strike Kompong Som on the Cambodian Mainland, or numerous critical airstrikes in and around Hanoi in 1971.

I lived though this history, yet was not personally involved.  He lived, making this history, and I think it will be an interesting opportunity to see and hear though his recollections what it was really like, in a more human and personal way.  Not just hardware, tactics and timelines, but from a human perspective of friends, family, squadron mates, ship mates and the ever present politicians. 

What do we want to know?


September 21, 2011 in Aviation, Biographical, Military, Navy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


September 17, 2011

Now that’s a Week of Variety

Finally back at home after  10 days of serious “Jet Setting”. 

Started last Thursday with a trip to Reno for the annual Tailhook Symposium and Reunion.  That whirlwind trip included a trip up to Lake Tahoe, a Winery Tour, a 4 hour Mixer with 3,000 of my closest flight suit clad friends, an awards luncheon where two very close friends of mine – Hans and Kathy Schmoldt- won “Honorary Tailhookers of the Year”, various symposiums, a couple of trips to In and Out Burger, more than a couple of trips to the “At your leisure Beer Taps”, and finally a banquet with 1,800 in attendance where Senator John McCain was the Keynote.  All in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Naval Aviation!  Trust me… a great time was had by all!

Lake Tahoe Sunset 2

Lake Tahoe Sunset

John McCain and Rabbit at Tailhook 2011

John and Ginger at Tahoe DSC_0883

Then, back home to unpack and re-pack for my trip to New York for work… 

Monday I was up with the dawn patrol, wheels in the well at 0700 for my monthly visits with clients and co-workers.  Non-stop from the moment I touched down until I was once again wheels in the wells headed back to the Mile High City.

In New York I visited Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, White Plains and then in New Jersey I saw the lovely towns of Phillipsburg, Elizabeth and Newark (tongue firmly in cheek for those last two… those two towns couldn’t find lovely if it bit them!)


Verazano at Sunset

One break from the usual fare of client visits came in the form of a company outing to Citi-Field to take in a Mets Game!  Despite being a bit of an on-again off-again rainy day we had a blast! I had not been to Citi-Field and was pleasantly impressed.  Still can’t get over the air traffic passing in close proximity as they shoot the Expressway 34 approach into LaGuardia.





werth at the plate




It was all fun and productive, but lemme tell you, I’m glad to be home…

September 17, 2011 in Aviation, Just Plain Cool, Navy, Photo, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


August 28, 2011

Rocky Mountain Airshow 2011

Went to the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (formerly Jeffco) open house and airshow today.  It afforded me the opportunity to exercise the new Nikon D7000 for a few 100 rounds.

Still plowing through the images to identify the best of the litter but here’s a taste:



And then, so far my only HDR to turn out well (again no tripod and holding the camera perfectly aligned for three exposures is a bit of a booger)… I give you the Surreal Super Hornet!


More to come…

August 28, 2011 in Aviation, Navy, Photo | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


May 20, 2010

There Oughtta be a Law!

Now I’m not one to go around lightly stating “There Ought to be a Law” about damn near anything… I am especially against laws that state you MUST do something!

However, as a constitutionalist I am for a number of laws that protect our ‘right’ to do something.  Speak, Practice whatever religion we want, etc…  One law I would like to see passed, and I’ll probably have to wait another 3 years to even have a chance at this one, (and unfortunately it would probably have to be an amendment to the US Constitution…) but pending that I would like to see the states pass individual laws that simply state:

“No government, no organization, no business, no association, can lawfully prohibit an individual  from reasonable display of an American Flag, a State’s flag or a Military Service Flag.”

“Reasonable” meaning appropriate size for the venue and properly affixed to ones residence or property.  Limits on free-standing flag poles will be exempted.  But certainly we can come up with a law absolutely granting a right to fly a flag 4’x6’ or smaller.

This would insure that all peoples desire to show their individual patriotism, alliance, support is protected.  And it would help prevent home owners association presidents from making complete asses of themselves!

HILLSBOROUGH, N.H. -- A Navy veteran in Hillsborough will now be allowed to fly his U.S. flag outside his apartment building.

Hillsborough police said an agreement has been reached to allow residents of the Maple Leaf Village complex to fly flags.

Joe LeVangie, 88, and his neighbors had been told to take down the flags because they were displayed in violation of a policy set by the management company. LeVangie is a World War II veteran and said he flew his flag to honor troops serving overseas.

Police said that under a preliminary agreement reached with management company EJL Management, the Hillsborough Police Association in partnership with American Legion Post 59 agreed to keep an eye on the flags and make sure they are in good condition. If not, the police association will talk to the owner of the flag to see if it can be replaced.

If the owner can't replace it, the police association will cover the cost to replace the flag at no cost to the town or owner of the rental property.

Police said all parties are in agreement, and the details will be worked out with the property custodian.

LeVangie's story gained national attention after it was first reported on News 9. Many viewers who saw the story on-air or online said they were shocked by the order to remove the flag.

Here’s what the original stink was about [link]

Veteran Ordered To Remove Flag From Outside Home

Management Company Says Flag Displays Violate Policy

 EJL Management said the flags violate a blanket policy prohibiting such displays. A letter sent to LeVangie said a letter sent to him by the company said it was part of a policy that also prohibits lawn ornaments and grills.

The company said that to honor residents' patriotism, a flag was placed at the entrance of Maple Leaf. But LeVangie said a single flag is not enough.

"Why should it be sufficient?" he said. "Is the one in Concord sufficient for the state of New Hampshire?"

LeVangie's rent is subsidized by the federal government. A representative from the Department of Housing and Urban Development said EJL is complying with the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005.

Its that last paragraph that pisses me off… If flying a flag in front of a residential community satisfies the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005… well than that act doesn’t go far enough!

May 20, 2010 in Current Affairs, Idiots on Parade, Law, Military, Navy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack


May 07, 2010

Shouldn’t have even seen the fluorescent lights of a Courts Martial

But at least the outcome is the right one… In my mind.

Va. military jury finds Navy SEAL not guilty

 image A military jury in Virginia found a Navy SEAL not guilty Thursday on charges of punching a suspected Iraqi terrorist.

Jurors deliberated about an hour and 40 minutes before returning their verdict in the court-martial of Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe.

The 24-year-old Perrysburg, Ohio, man was tried at Naval Station Norfolk on accusations of assaulting Ahmed Hashim Abed, who is suspected of plotting the 2004 slayings of four U.S. contractors in Fallujah.

The prosecution's key witness had testified he saw McCabe deliver a right cross to Abed's midsection. However, several defense witnesses contradicted portions of that testimony.

A Navy prosecutor said in closing arguments that SEALs were trying to protect one of their own.

"They circled the wagons," said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Grover. "They don't want Petty Officer McCabe to be held responsible for this."

A defense lawyer said he found that suggestion offensive.


“SEALS trying to protect their own…"  You don’t think that’s because the NAVY and the Nation they’ve sworn service to was not… do you?

Hoooo Yaaaa snake eaters! As you all know, your enemies are not always in front of you.

May 7, 2010 in Navy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


April 24, 2010

Sweet Home Sandy Eggo


Dawn broke on Friday, and I found myself back in my favorite places, San Diego.  Ginger and I are here for a special dedication of an A-6A on board the USS Midway by the Squadron Members of VA-115 “Arabs” in the name of Mike McCormick and Alan Clark, the last two Intruder Aviators killed in action during the Vietnam War.


For as solemn of an event as this sounds, it certainly affords all of the squadron mates of 115 to rejoin from the corners of the nation for a great time of comrade and remembrance.  This is a great group of folks!  Loving, caring, supportive, fun!  And the stories to hear! 

I’ll be posting more on the dedication over at Tailhook this week.  So keep your eyes there as well for the details.

As for the rest of this weekend, Ginger and I are playing tourist!  Between obligations yesterday, Ginger and I headed to probably one of the best seafood places in San Diego… Point Loma Seafood, for a great serving of Swordfish Tacos and a fresh Alaskan Halibut sandwich… mmmm… mmmmm.

Gin had some school work to finish up (no rest for the Master’s student), so I took the opportunity to walk a few miles along the embarcadero looking for a few photo ops.  Snapped a few that I’ll be sure to post shortly.


Last evening we were invited to rejoin the Arabs, for a cocktail gathering at the Se San Diego.  Again an incredible get together to share stories, jokes, remembrances.  Just being allowed to interlope among these heroic individuals is a privilege I do not take lightly.

Today, we’re off to the Zoo.  Even having lived here for a great portion of my life, I visited the zoo rarely, and the last time I was there was probably 25+ years ago, so I’m looking forward to that.

More to come…

April 24, 2010 in Aviation, Biographical, Navy, Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


April 14, 2010

Duke Cunningham Went to Jail for this Stuff!

John Murtha… We name a United States Warship after…

Really… can’t make this sh!t up… who’d believe me?

More on Duke for those interested.

Cunningham resigned from the House on November 28, 2005, after pleading guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes and underreporting his income for 2004. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion. On March 3, 2006, he received a sentence of eight years and four months in prison and an order to pay $1.8 million in restitution.

April 14, 2010 in Idiots on Parade, Navy, Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


January 18, 2010

The United States Navy Should Always have a USS Enterprise!

And you can help…

One of my fellow contributors to the Tailhook Association’s Blog The Tailhook Daily Briefing”, is a well respected military blogger in his own right and goes be the nom de plum of Stealjaw Scribe.  He’s the brains behind many of the more historical in nature articles.

He, and I and thousands of other US Navy enthusiasts have a request for your imagesupport.  Many of us are tiring of Congress and the Navy naming our Aircraft Carriers and other ships for politicians.  We all know the behind the scenes reasons, and for as distasteful as we find this, somewhat understand the reasoning… nothing ever happens in Washington without politics… can anyone else out there tell how a US Nuclear Attack Submarine receives the name USS Jimmy Carter?

Anyway, there are winds blowing out there recommending that the next US aircraft carrier (CVN-79) be named the USS Barry Goldwater.  Now, don’t get me wrong, as most of you know my political affiliations lean far more in the direction of Goldwater than toward say… a Pelosi and I would think naming a Ship of the Line after a man like Goldwater makes more sense than the Jimmy Carter naming, but there comes a time when enough is enough.

We Naval Nostalgics would like to see a return to more traditional naming conventions of our prize warships, to wit our fleet is missing a number of historic names from our registry… Ships like: USS Lexington, USS Ranger, USS Saratoga, USS Coral Sea, USS Midway are all great names to be rekindled, however one name continues to rise above all others, and many do not realize that within a few short years the ship who current possesses the name “ENTERPRISE” will be decommissioned leaving a void in US Naval Tradition many of us would like to avoid.

Here’s where YOU my loyal readers can help… add your name to a petition many of us have already contributed that states:

Be It Resolved 

That the next nuclear aircraft carrier to be constructed (CVN-79) should bear the name USS ENTERPRISE in recognition and honor of the fighting men and women of the United States Navy who have sailed in her namesakes through the centuries. 

We The Undersigned: 

Call upon the Congress of the United States to remand H. CON. RES. 83 and replace it with a resolution supporting the naming of CVN-79 or the next nuclear aircraft carrier to be constructed, the USS ENTERPRISE.

  Call upon the Secretary of the Navy to support this petition of the tax-paying people of these United States and name the next nuclear aircraft carrier to be constructed the USS ENTERPRISE.

If you would like to lend your voice, to our drive to return legacy and tradition to US Naval Aviation please click the image below, and add your name to the thousands of others.


Thank you.  (More details can be found here and here.)


January 18, 2010 in Aviation, Current Affairs, Military, Navy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack