Piper J-3 Cub

Facing the likelihood of being drawn into WWII, the United States formed the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) in 1939 to increase the ranks of America’s trained pilots.  The CPTP adopted the Piper J-3 Cub as it’s primary trainer.  Of the 435,000 new pilots who learned to fly in the program, three quarters of them were trained on the Cub.  By the end of the war, 80% of American military pilots received their first flight training in Piper Cubs.

This Cub, painted in the famous chrome-yellow-with-black-lightening-bolt color scheme, soars in the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Dulles, Va.

Lockheed P-38J Lightning

Back to the Udvar-Hazy Center today with the kids.  My goal was actually to get images of two other planes, but as I was walking across the central catwalk, I saw this.  I’ve shot this plane before, but for whatever reason just never got an angle I liked until now.

The P-38 saw service in both theaters during World War II, and is credited with downing more Japanese aircraft that any other U.S. fighter.  The four Browning .50 caliber machine guns and 20mm canon mounted in the nose gave the Lightning a definite edge in combat, and it’s speed, range, and handling made it a favorite among pilots.

Three exposures culled from a single RAW, then processed in Luminance HDR, with some finishing in Topaz Adjust 5.

North American F-86 Sabre

In the early days of the Korean War, the Soviet-built MiG-15 outclassed all UN-based aircraft, ruling the skies.  When the North American F-86 Sabre arrived in December 1950, it leveled the playing field considerably.  Of the 41 American pilots who earned the ace designation during the war, 40 of them flew F-86 variants.  This specimen, an F-86A, resides at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles, VA, and wears the livery of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing.

No HDR this time, just a black and white conversion followed by a copper-and-blue split toning effect in PS7, and some detail enhancement in Topaz Adjust 5.

Fulton FA-2 Airphibian

The Fulton FA-2 Airphibian was designed in 1946 by Robert Edison Fulton.  After detatching from the wing assembly, the propeller could be removed and the passenger compartment could be driven on the road.  A limited number were built by Fulton and his collegues in Danbury, CT between 1946 and 1950.  This particular specimen, designated N74104, was licensed for flight by the CAA (forerunner of the FAA) in 1950.  It was also licensed for road use by the state of Connecticut.

Manned Maneuvering Unit


Another image from my Christmas trip to the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, this is the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU).  The MMU was a backpack-like device that allowed astronauts to move about in space untethered.  The MMU had two adjustable arms with thruster controls; roll, pitch, and yaw were on the on the right and directional controls were on the left.  Propulsion was provided by two tanks of gaseous nitrogen, which could produce a velocity of about 80 feet/second.

The MMU was used in 1984 to recover two communications satellites that did not make it to the proper orbit, and was retired later that year.

The Concorde

Tonight I dug into the archives for a trip to the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center.  I love this place!  My kids love it as much as I do, so it makes for a great Saturday outing. I could wander around for hours looking at planes, reading descriptions, and taking photos.  The planes make a great subject for HDR photography, and the hanger environment has a tremendous amount of background detail that really pops with careful tonemapping.  If your ever in northern Virginia, drop me a line and maybe we can take an excursion.