Monday, April 19, 2010

not yet an airplane

But I'm getting better with the tools, thanks largely to the Google SketchUp 7 for Dummies book. I haven't quite figured out the components feature yet, and I need some practice making more organic forms. Fun stuff.

The model of the Kodak Brownie Reflex may be viewed and downloaded from the Google 3D Warehouse

Sunday, April 18, 2010

chevy coupe

My grandfather was a First Class shade tree mechanic who loved Chevies. He had one much like this, which I think is a '51 model. He must have bought it in about 1955 when he gave me his '39 Chevy. Both were business coupes, which meant they had just a platform in back instead of a back seat.

I came across this one parked across the street from the Flying Star cafe at 8th and Silver in Albuquerque.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

just in time

I found these fine miniature Japanese kites this morning at a yard sale put on at the Harwood Art Center. So, I'm all set for kite month which is nearly upon us.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Albuquerque Visitors

The Collings Foundation planes flew into Albuquerque on Wednesday: a B-24, a B-17 and a TP-51. They were here as part of the Wings of Freedom 2010 Tour.

The event was hosted at Cutter Aviation.

In addition to these digital pictures, I shot a roll of film in my 1940 Kodak Brownie Reflex camera. A page about the camera and the images from it are at my vintage cameras web site.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

car culture

Every other driveway in my neighborhood seems to harbor an old car, sometimes two or three. There's usually an old dog too.

two views

These two images of the house we live in were made recently using tools which are quite widely spaced on the imaging technology spectrum. The photograph is from my Argus AF, one of the first American-made 35mm cameras which dates from 1937.

The drawing is a screen capture from Google's SketchUp 3D rendering program. I don't know if I'll achieve the skill level needed to produce something as complex as an aircraft design, but I'm pretty happy to have gotten this far with the program.

The SketchUp program is free for downloading, and Google also maintains an on line warehouse of images produced by users with impressive talent and skills.

The program has become the tool of choice for all kinds of model design. 3D building representations are being used to construct on line cities in Google Earth. Card modeling designers build aircraft in computer space and then use another program to unfold the surfaces for assembly. The computer generated designs can also be directly translated to real-world objects using 3D printers or computer-directed milling machines such as the one illustrated in this Daishin YouTube video.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

photographing war eagles

One of the things I miss about not living in southern New Mexico any more is the opportunity to visit the War Eagles Air Museum in Santa Teresa.

The dim light and a lot of planes in the museum's hangar made photography there an interesting challenge.

A few times each year, there are some opportunities to see the planes out in the daylight, and sometimes one or two are put in the air.

All of the planes on exhibit have undergone considerable expert restoration, and many are in flyable condition.

I had about as many old film cameras as there were planes in the museum, and I used most of them there. The P-40 was shot with my Kodak Monitor.

Most of the collection are military planes from WWII and later, but there are also some nice civilian aircraft from earlier times like this great old Waco.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

time travel

I alluded to this subject briefly on my other blog from a photo-aesthetic perspective. I want to elaborate the topic a bit further here because I think it provides a good illustration of some of the marvelous tools that have recently become available to historians, urban planners and all the rest of us.

I snapped the above picture recently during a morning bike ride. The focal point was the Mini-Cooper, but I was also conscious of the fact that Lee Friedlander had pictured the same place from across the street with a focus on a black dog in 1975 as shown below.

The Street View feature of Google Maps lets me see the scene from the same place and perspective that Friedlander witnessed about thirty years earlier. I believe the Google photo vehicle passed the site four or five years ago based on the way it portrayed the details of the house I now live in a few blocks away.

Google Earth allows a dynamic adjustment of the viewpoint which incorporates composite images built from satellite views, aerial photos and computer-generated 3D building representations.

One fact that emerges clearly in these pictures is that Albuquerque's urban core has changed relatively little over a period of three decades.

By contrast, zooming out a bit in Google Earth, one can see some of the vast suburban sprawl that grew outward to the horizon just since Friedlander's visit to Albuquerque.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

the last flight

I won't win any prizes for my model of the Grumman Duck bi-wing amphibian, but building it has been a nice way to tease out some memories of times long past. The Duck was the last single-engine plane I flew in.

The one I made my last flight in, like a lot of other old war birds, went to South America as war-surplus to haul cargo. A half dozen versions of the Duck were produced, the last having a 1,050 hp air-cooled radial engine.

In early 1960 I found myself just north of Colombia's southern boot heel at a mission outpost on the Mirití-Paraná River. I enjoyed my visit immensely, but after a month there I needed to get back to Leticia on the Amazon where I could get a plane back to Bogotá. The up-river trip in a series of increasingly smaller river boats had not been so enjoyable, and I was not looking forward to repeating that ten-day ordeal down to the Caquetá, and then up-stream on the Amazon to reach Leticia.

By good luck a tropical fish exporter based in Leticia was just then experimenting with the old Grumman Duck as a means of hauling his fish out of the rain forest so that they could be sent on to Miami, usually by means of some converted WWII bombers which made regular stops in Leticia. When the pilot of the Duck offered a ride to a friend and I, it was too good a chance to pass up.

We rode down in the cargo compartment, accessed through the square hatch just behind the lower wing. We shared the cramped space with some water-filled plastic bags for fish, and one large up-ended turtle. It was difficult to see out during the ride, but the view was not very interesting anyway -- just the unbroken green canopy of the tropical rainforest. With a cruising speed of 150 mph, the Duck got us to Leticia in a bit over an hour.

Judging from the Google Earth view, the place hasn't changed much in half a century.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Where no Cub has gone before...

There were versions of the Piper J-3 Cub with fat tires, skis, and pontoons. None, however, had the capabilities of my Google-assisted model.

The Moon


The Gulf of Mexico at -3100 feet

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fun with card models

I got the pdf file pattern for this MiG-15 for free along with a couple others from the Fiddlers Green web site just for registering a new account. I also purchased a float plane for a few dollars that I'm hoping to build soon.

I'm finding card modeling to be a lot of fun. There are a lot of simple, free model patterns which can be downloaded from the web to get you started. I've also found a friendly and helpful group of modeling enthusiasts at the Paper Modelers web site.

What I'm wondering now is where I am going to put a collection of models. My old cameras are already hogging all the free space in the living room.

The paper models weigh almost nothing, so I suppose hanging them from the ceiling is one good option.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Flying without the plane

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

Albert's Legacy

I renewed my membership today at The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. For $25 I get unlimited visits for a year, which seems like a great bargain, even if it were only for the great collection of Atomic kitsch.

What really interests me there, of course, is the small collection of old planes in the museum's back yard.

Up front are an F-105 and an A-7.

The B-29 and B-52 bombers were trucked over in pieces from the near-by Kirtland Air Base about a year ago and just recently reassembled.

While there is an over-all emphasis on Twentieth-Century nuclear technology development, the museum is mostly a memorial to the Cold War years. Having spent half my life in those chilly times, I feel a strong sense of familiarity among the exhibits. I wish they would dump the drippingly nostalgic WWII ballads that are played constantly in the background. There can't be many visitors anymore for whom such tunes have real relevance, and they really don't fit the museum's time-frame theme well. Elvis and the Beatles would really seem more appropriate, though I'd probably tire of them just as fast.