Lauderdale Air Show, 2012

•April 29, 2012 • 2 Comments

[I’m skipping a couple of air shows for now but will get to them eventually.]

The air show returned to Ft. Lauderdale this weekend, for the first time since 2007, only to be cut short by the weather. Acts that were scratched included: A-10 Warthogs, F-15 Eagles, Navy SEAL Leap Frogs and 101st Airborne Parachute Teams, and the Red Bull Helicopter.

At least we got a partial show even with these rough conditions.

The show opened with a flyby of two F-5 Tigers. The first performers were Rob Holland and Mike Goulian (not pictured) who were followed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard gave a search and rescue (SAR) demo. They demonstrated how they can drop a rescue swimmer into the water and extract victims via cable. The SAR demos are always great to see but these guys were definitely outdone by the Air Force’s SAR demo at the Cocoa Beach Air Show (2011).

Next, was the Black Diamond Jet Team. They are a civilian team that operates four L-39 jets and two MiG-17 jets. I don’t know the reason but I have yet to see all six fly together during one show (and I’ve been to three shows this year). The MiG is flown by Capt Dale “Snort” Snodgrass who is famous for his high-speed, low altitude flybys.

Lauderdale was lucky enough to get a flyby from one of the rarer planes in the air show circuit, the B-1B Lancer, aka the Bone.

This B-1B Lancer is a supersonic bomber and one of only 100 ever built. These bombers are still used by the U.S. Air Force and have served over both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rob Holland puts on one of the the best prop-plane performances while flying his MX-2.

I don’t know how to get any pictures that really express what he does, but it is incredible. The best way to understand it is to view the footage from his YouTube channel. Watch his 2011 year end review.

The Geico Skytypers (not pictured) followed Rob Holland but I’ve been struggling with them as well.

The next jet to take to the sky was the F/A-18 Hornet from the Navy’s TAC Demo Team. Piloting the F/A-18 was LT Ken “2Cent” Barnhart, who never fails to disappoint. Thanks to the speed of my new Canon 7D, I was finally able to catch that elusive vapor bubble. “The ‘vapor’ that is created happens at high sub-sonic speeds as well as when there is ‘g’ loaded on the aircraft (TAC Demo Facebook page).”

Mike Goulian (not pictured) was up next and put on a good acrobatic performance.

It started to rain again but members of the Red Bull Air Force still put on their unique parachute demonstration. Check out the wing-suits.

Mike Wiskus buzzing the Sheriff’s boat.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds were scheduled to perform next but were delayed due to heavy rain. Once they were up in the sky they made a few passes around the area and it was determined that it would not be safe to perform. The opposing solos did however make a couple of head-on passes.

The Thunderbirds arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday and the weather was beautiful.

Too bad the clear skies didn’t last.

Click here to view my Flickr page.

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Airshow Season is Here!

•March 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This weekend is the Florida International Airshow in Punta Gorda, FL! They have a great lineup and are featuring the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels. Other Performers will include the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet Tactical Demo Team, the Black Diamond Jet Team, and the U.S. Special Ops Parachute Demo Team. They also have an impressive list of static displays and I’ve got a photographer’s pass to get in early and beat the crowds!

Here are some quick pics from last year’s season.


Black Diamond Jet Team


F/A-18 Hornet


920th Rescue Wing


Thunderbird 8 “Drago”

My Flickr

Cocoa Beach Air Show

•November 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Saturday, Nov. 5th, 2011

It was supposed to be a nice day in Cocoa Beach, FL, but the weather refused to cooperate. With the scattered showers and high winds, I was surprised that the parachute teams still jumped.



Navy Seals, Leap Frogs Parachute Team


101st Airborne, Screaming Eagles Parachute Team


920th Rescue Wing, USAF
In my opinion, these guys were the stars of the show. It was incredible watching that Blackhawk helicopter come tearing in and then hover mere feet over the water. They made multiple passes and demonstrated two insertion techniques (dropping and fast roping) and two extraction techniques (rope ladder and cable winch).


F-18 Super Hornet, U.S. Navy
The F-18 flew in with a roar (no bang). It wasn’t allowed to break the sound barrier but was still a crowd favorite.



F-16 Viper, USAF


F-16 Viper & F-4 Phantom Heritage Flight
The F-4 was primarily used during the Vietnam War while the F-16 can still be seen flying over the skies of Afghanistan.


Geico Skytypers


Rob Holland and his MX-2.
Rob tore across the sky while performing all kinds of stunts and maneuvers. I could hear lots of gasps and one particular lady around me kept shouting “Oh my God” every time he stalled, flipped, and rolled his plane.








Black Diamond, aka Heavy Metal, Jet Team
I had never heard of this group before but I was impressed by their performance. They flew in a tight, four-man barrel roll, as well as some other nice, six-man formations. The Black Diamond Jet Team is a civilian aerobatic team and is composed of five L-39s and one MiG-17 aircraft.

Hopefully the weather will be better next weak when most of these performers return for the Stuart Air Show.

My Flickr

Dive! Dive! Dive!

•October 1, 2011 • 1 Comment

West Palm Beach Drift Diving

Today I found out why divers from all over the country love to dive off of West Palm Beach, FL. The water was a nice 81 degrees (27C), with visibility over 100ft (30m), at depths of 90ft (27m) . On the boat today was one guy that drove down from St. Augustine, FL as well as another who flew in from Long Island, New York. Our boat was the Republic IV, operated by Capt Mike, out of Jupiter Dive Center. This is Goliath Grouper season and WPB is one of the few places in the world where you can see these groupers by the hundreds (our biggest group today was reported to be 52).

The average adult Goliath Grouper is about 7ft long and weighs over 400lbs. They are an endangered species.

Goliath Grouper

For scale, that is a grown man just below and away from the Goliath. These things are huge!

The Zion Train Shipwreck

The Miss Jenny Shipwreck

Inside the cargo hold of the Miss Jenny

Sea Turtle

Moray Eel

Lionfish.

The Lionfish is an invasive species along the Atlantic Coast and every diver is encouraged to spear them on sight. Care must be taken though because they have spines on their back that will sting if touched.

Butch, from Long Island, spears a Lionfish.

Moon Jellyfish

There has been a thick population of Moon Jellies for the last couple of months. They’re not a problem at depth, but I had to bob & weave during my safety stops to keep them away. A couple of them got too close though and had to be finned away. For the non-divers, a safety stop is a pause during ascent at 13ft (4m) for three minutes to eliminate any harmful gases that may have built up in your body during the dive.

The following pictures were taken on 9/14/11, while diving the Double Ledges. Our boat was Sirena, operated by Capt. Kevin from Pura Vida Divers, out of Singer Island Florida.

Moray Eel

Spotted Eel

Lobsters

Sirena

I’m planning on getting a lobster permit so hopefully I’ll have a bag full of lobster after my next boat dive.

Dive! Dive! Dive!

-Mike

My Flickr

Juno Mission Rocket Launch

•August 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

These pictures were from the Juno Mission Launch Activities, at the Kennedy Space Center, between Aug 4-5. On the 4th, Dr. Bill Nye “the Science Guy” gave a special presentation on the Juno Mission. The presentation was both entertaining and informative, just as you might expect from the Science Guy. After the presentation, he opened up the floor to a Q&A session on anything science related. I’ve been a fan of Dr. Nye since I was a little kid and was thrilled for the chance to see him in person.

“We are so small…”

Aug. 5th

Kennedy Space Center gave the first 2000 people at the park gates free admission to the Saturn V Center, three miles from the launch pad, to view the launch.

This curious gator wanted to see what all of the commotion was about.

After multiple holds and nearly an hour delay, Juno lifted off at 12:25pm on it’s five year journey to Jupiter. Juno was launched into space courtesy of the Atlas V Rocket.

Thank You to KSC and Dr. Bill Nye for putting this great event together!

-Mike

My Flickr

Non-Diving Related Activities

•July 16, 2011 • 1 Comment

Cebu island is great, not only for diving, but for other outdoor activities as well. From Panagsama Beach, you are just a short drive from hiking, fishing, and scenic waterfalls. If you’d really like to enjoy the local culture, there are usually cockfights at least twice a week. You can see my post on the Badian cockfights by clicking here. Here are some of my recommendations.

My favorite destination would have to be Kawasan Falls, near Badian. I was there in February and had a great time swimming and diving off of the rocks. The water was pretty cold but it was refreshing. Stop by the Moalboal open-air market to pick up some food for lunch before heading towards the falls.

In the opposite direction, from Moalboal, is Barili and Mantayupan Falls. Mantayupan is larger than Kawasan, but not as suitable for swimming. To get up to the falls, you first have to get past the monkey guarding the entrance. Lower FallsUpper Falls

Right next to Mantayupan Falls is a nice little fishing spot. There you can catch and keep all of the tilapia that you want.I didn’t get off to a good start, but it got better.For the girls, Elsie & Angelica, anyways.

And Chris-lyn

And Anjun

I still had fun though

I may not have caught the most, or the biggest fish, but I still feel as if I earned my spot at the table…

Jenelyn, Angelica, Me …mostly because I paid for all of it 🙂

On the road to Barili there is a place called Heaven’s Rock. From there you can get a nice view of the beach and take a dip in one of the pools. There is also a nearby garden that you can walk through. Inside the garden you can find monkeys and talking birds that will blow your mind. If you’re looking for a place to unwind, then check out Moalboal Seaside Grill, where the videoke goes on late into the night.

Of course, the best place to hang out in Panagsama Beach, is at Chili Bar. They have a good menu, friendly & attractive staff, pool table, and great sea view.

Sheena & Je-Je

One night, as I was eating dinner, a local man came by and was selling balut. I couldn’t bring myself to try one but I really wanted some pictures, so I bought a round for the kids hanging out there. They really seemed to like it.

Elsie

Mae-Ann

This is a delicacy in many parts of the world. Maybe next time I’ll work up the courage to try one.

Until then, be sure to check out my Flickr

-Mike

The Road to Panagsama

•July 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been to the Philippines three times now and have always made it a point to visit Panagsama Beach. Panagsama is famous for diving but is minutes from Moalboal and a short drive from the attractions in Barili or Badian. The three hour trip from Cebu City will cost you about $50 for a private car or, like I prefer, $3.50 for the bus. The bus is usually crowded but it is much more interesting. If you get hungry you can buy a snack from one of the many food vendors that will jump on/off throughout the trip. To get off the bus, you’re supposed to tap a coin against the metal railing once you see your stop. That will get the conductors attention, who will then blow his whistle to tell the driver that he needs to stop. The first group of pictures was taken on the bus between Cebu City and Moalboal.

These trikes can be found anywhere and are a much cheaper alternative to taxis. The side cars are either attached to a motor bike or bicycle but they can be a little cramped for westerners.

After getting off the bus in Moalboal, it was a short trike ride to the beach.

Getting closer Now we’re talking

Of all the rooms along Panagsama’s one and only street, I prefer Savedra Bungalows because it is centrally located and right on the water.

The above was near high tide. Check out the difference as the tide goes out.

Next, I will show some of the non-diving activities that can be found near Panagsama Beach.

Until then, be sure to visit my Flickr

-Mike