Friday, September 19, 2008

Flight Attendance

Has Anyone Seen The Pair To This Sock?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


I was very little when my parents showed me a windsock at Calcutta’s Dum Dum Airport (yes, it really was called Dum Dum, after the suburb which gave its name to the infamous bullets, which were manufactured there). I was struck by the simplicity of the windsock and the line-of-sight information it instantly conveyed.

It’s not just pilots who use this simple device. Here in Australia, we still have windsocks along the Western Highway from Melbourne to Adelaide, to give drivers and truckers an immediate reference point on prevailing wind conditions over bridges and across valleys.

But I’d never seen a multi-coloured windsock until I saw this one fluttering strongly on the outskirts of Haines Junction in the Yukon. One of the many great experiences I had during the week-long trip organised by Yukon Tourism was an Icefields Discovery Flightseeing Tour over the Kaskawulsh Glacier and Mount Logan.

Just before our pilot, Andy Williams, led us to the aircraft, I walked over to the windsock but decided not to take a shot of it horizontally as it flew proudly from the mast. Instead, I figured it would be a more unusual view if I shot it vertically, from straight in front, looking through the windsock as its canvas surface whipped in the strong, crisp breeze off the mountains.

It crossed my mind that the red and white stripes of the windsock were patriotic and appropriate for a Canadian airfield. That’s when I noticed the national flag flying proudly a few metres away. Let me tell you, I had to work very hard to get the right angle on this shot below, with the flag seeming to fly over the snowy peak in the distance.


Was I proud of the fact that I "saw" this composition? Yes, absolutely, because it wasn’t immediately apparent - and that’s one of the challenges for any photographer.

I've also included a view of a mountain overlooking Andy’s aircraft. I used a vertical frame to emphasise the tightness of the frame and to utilise the diagonal shadows to best effect. There is nothing extraneous in this shot, because I guess it’s like a good speech - it gets straight to the point, while it includes details that attract attention.


Through the Perspex of the cockpit canopy, you can clearly see the headsets. These are vital for communication between the pilot and the passengers, because the engine noise drowns out normal conversation. I sat in the back seat at Andy’s instruction, so that I would be able to use both cameras to get an interrupted view through the port and starboard windows. As he pointed out, if I’d sat in front, in the right-hand seat, he would have obscured some of the best views on my left.

I was also interested in the confidence in his voice when he said the weather would soon start to deteriorate. There was clear blue sky above us before we took off, but he was spot-on. Less than two hours later, the weather was less photographer-friendly.

Back in 1999, Doug Makkonen, base manager of Trans North Helicopters, took me on a memorable flight above the Lowell Glacier. This time, as Andy flew us in from the other direction over the Kaskawulsh Glacier, I was in my element, shooting with both Pentax digital cameras, one with my Sigma 18-125mm lens and the other with my Sigma 70-300mm lens.

And Andy was right. I shot 520 frames during the hour-long flight, which is roughly one every nine seconds. They were all shot through the port and starboard windows, except the final shot below. Watch this space for glacier and mountain-top photographs taken during the flight, but in the meantime, here is my closing thought.

How richly blessed does one have to be to fly over two glaciers on two separate occasions?

For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.

42 comments:

San said...

That looks like the sock of the Wicked Witch of the East.

Your mountain shots are stunning, especially the Canadian flag. Yes, that must have taken some angling. Or fanagling.

Fine work, as always.

CrazyCath said...

Awesome shots... very blessed... so glad you share.

J has a windsock in the shape of a fish. Yet another post idea! Thanks!

Anna said...

Oh Canada, coool, before I saw the flag I was going to tell you that here in Toronto Pearson Int Airport we got many, lol. Thanks for sharing this story. Anna :)

Millennium Housewife said...

How richly blessed? About as much as you richly bless others. We make our own blessings, and one of the ways you make yours is to bring your blessings to a much wider audience so that we can enjoy them too!

Moannie said...

I was walking Milou this afternoon down by the beach and saw, coming towards me out of the east a bi-plane, white with a red and blue design. Of course I didn't have my [new] camera with me, and even if I had I would not have got it out of it's protective bag quickly enough [well it is new, David] and then 'cos it's new, I would have forgotten where the button is and would have missed it anyway. It flew about 50 feet over the sea. You my friend, would have caught everything, from the colour of the pilots eyes to the buff on his nails. I salute you.

John said...

Lovely shots for sky watch, David!
Great reading too.

Max-e said...

Hi David, nice shots and interesting commentary as usual.

Mushy said...

I don't know why you just didn't go with us...you did the exact same things we did!

SandyCarlson said...

Great stuff, David. I thought that was the private property of Dr. Seuss's cat at first! The Canada shot was wonderful, too. They all were--of course!

Photo Cache said...

Neat collection of shots.

Pretty Life Online said...

Perfect catch for skywatch! Happy weekend! Mine's up too hope you can visit my corner too...

Dewdrop said...

Wonderful shots! My daughter was young when she was introduced to the wind sock, and recently, at 10 years old, she saw one, assessed the sun and reported northeasterlies... that's my girl. :O)

Anne-Berit said...

Wonderful photos!

Sandi McBride said...

OHHHH San! She stole my comment! Since I had just done a post on Wicked, that's the first thing I thought of when I saw that photo.
Sandi

alicesg said...

Wow beautiful scenery from the view of the plane's cockpit. Have a nice weekend.

womaninawindow said...

Could there be a bad shot of the Canadian flag? (Don't answer that.)

marcia@joyismygoal said...

i pass the mate everyday at our local airport

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Interesting photos and commentary, David. I don't expect that I'll be flying around taking photos of glaciers and such anytime soon but your photography tips are always welcome.

Looks like the Wicked Witch's sock to me, too! :)

Deb said...

Hi ~ 'Knowing' that you are richly blessed is also a blessing. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

Dar's Foto Faze said...

Fantastic shots. Happy SWF

leslie said...

(G)O Canada! ;)

napaboaniya said...

I think the only airsoaks found in SG are at the airport :P
Happy SkyWatch Dav!!

p/s: F1's first night race is next week in SG!! But I couldn't get tickets :( All sold out..

Laura ~Peach~ said...

great pictures!!!!!!!

Arija said...

I hope you didn't get rsi in your trigger finger.
Do you really want to find the other sock? It probably has more holes in it than this one.
Hope you enjoyed your flight. Nice shots too.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Hi David... your Sky Watch post is great as all your posts are but I have a complaint this week...

The name of your pilot... it's started me off siging 'Moon River' and I just know it will be driving me mad all day now.. :O)
So from one 'Home Loving Man' to another.. I hope you have peace and quiet 'On the Street Where You Live' as I will be hearing a 1001 songs whizzing around my head now... 'Music To Watch Girls By' now theres another good one.. :O)

Jules~ said...

The colors in that wind sock made me think of "The Cat in the Hat".
For real?...an airport named Dum Dum? We have little lollipop suckers here that are called Dum Dums.

Maggie May said...

What wonderful photos that seem to get better & better. Is that possible?!!!!!
What a wonderful experience!
Getting that flag right WAS a work of art.

BTW, don't socks come in pairs? Where's the other one?

katherine. said...

I never knew why the bullets were named dum dum...

the flag pic is great....good catch

Merisi said...

Wonderful shots!
I have always loved the word "windsock" - they do use them along Austrian highways too, on bridges and other high wind prone areas, same in the USA.

I hiked the Dachstein glacier here in Austria, an incredible experience. And not only because of a winder wonderland in the middle of summer! :-)

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Love the Canadian flag, an iconic symbol for our family as we emigrated in '68..
fabulous as per usual..
just

RuneE said...

A perfect windsock-picture! Around here we have quite a lot of them on bridges - even multicoloured ones

RiverPoet said...

It's a good perspective on the Pippy Longstocking windsock! Love the shots of and from the plane, too. Great stuff!

Peace - D

Dianne said...

I love the flag shot and from inside the cockpit. My 2 favorites

gen/entry here said...

Hehhe pretty shot that's my first time i heard about the sock in your shot...Nice entry.

Carolyn said...

Can't go wrong with a Canadian flag photo. I was already a fan, but now you've won my heart!

Neva said...

What beautiful mountain shots...really some nice work!

fishing guy said...

David: Really neat photos of the Yukon Skies. This was a great trip to get some really neat photo opts. Thanks for sharing what you have captured.

Luiz Santilli Jr said...

Perfect photos!
Great captures!

Hope you have a nice weekend!

Santilli

Daryl said...

I hope the other one hasnt got a hole in its toe .. looks sort of like it belongs to Ronald McDonald

:-Daryl

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Fantastic piccies and opportunity David. Love the contrast of the flag against the mountain

Louise said...

Love these photos! My favorite is the flag over the mountain, and I believe you when you say it took some work. It looks like it was windy enough that the flag alone would have been hard to get just right. But you did!

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

Love them all, but the cockpit one is my favorite. I always come away with a new idea to try the next time I attempt a photo, thanks!