Sunset to Night in Brookville Lake, Indiana

A day late and about $200,000 short, sunset to night Brookville Lake, IN. 12/20/16. (The first two frames are essentially the same, one wide lens, the other long lens.)

Spontaneous Chevron Formation

I don't know whether these pilots were trying to instigate a spontaneous chevron formation like the geese that passed over Brookville Lake at sunset or if the pilot of the prop driven smaller plane just wanted a closer look at this jet (i think, I'm no expert it could be a turbo-prop. I don't know it it was some sort of airborne inspection, flight training or just somebody who isn't familiar with FAA regs. It turns out the FAA regulations for commercial aircraft is 1,000 feet vertically and 3-5 miles laterally depending on speed and altitude (the higher a jet flies the faster it goes, so above 10,000 feet it's 5 miles.) The rule for general aviation aircraft is comically vague: Reg 91.111: (a) No person may operate an aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard. (b) No person may operate an aircraft in formation flight except by arrangement with the pilot in command of each aircraft in the formation. And just for fun Reg. 91.13: No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.

Pilots flying under IFR are subject to the same kinds of rules, and are still responsible for maintaining separation from other traffic when in visual conditions. The rules are the same: the pilot is given the discretion of deciding what a "safe distance" is. (I used to ride motorcycles in formation with as many as 20 guys or more. We all had tons of experience and trusted one another with our lives running two abreast at 80 or 90 mph on two lane roads with somebody five feet in front of you, another guy five feet behind you and another a foot or two to your left or right. It was not smart (and that was given with many of these characters) but it felt like the earth shook and the incredible roar of the engines through straight pipes rattled your internal organs. It was fun. Now when I see even two people riding abreast I just shake my head. And, of course, we never wore helmets) Frankly I was hoping the pilot of the prop plane would open up with a .30 caliber nose-mounted machine gun (plane looks to small for a .50 cal.) and I'd get some photos (or video) of a dog fight. Unfortunately for me they banked right and were soon out of sight. I'd be curious if anybody out there knows what was going on here. And what type aircraft these are.

Winter 1994

Winter without snow sucks (and yes this photo has been made a million times, now a million and 1 times.) I am cleaning and pitching the last 23 years of my life and discovered a 22-year-old photo of a man named Nate Whitsel, who was disabled, leading National Guard rescue troops with food and medical supplies through post-blizzard snow to his home in rural Owen County, KY. Phone lines were down, I-75 was closed and he had not been able to reach his family for two or three days. He was at work in Williamstown when the blizzard hit. Kentucky State Police and other agencies had blocked southbound roads. Accompanied by reporter Sheila McLaughlin (the only woman I've ever known who, as a matter of course, swore as much as I did in daily conversation and was lots of fun). I managed find a route around the roadblocks (imagine that) and onto southbound KY 25. I was driving a front wheel drive Dodge Spirit; I had deflated the front tires slightly to increase traction. The snow had been preceded by an ice storm and the roads were coated with ice. We got lucky in Williamstown (about 35 south of Cincinnati) where we found the National Guardsmen about to depart with Whitsel. They were traveling in trucks with dual rear wheels and some four-wheel drive vehicles. I declined an offer to ride along as one of my few rules is do not get separated from your vehicle unless there is no alternative. I managed to get as far as they could on the roads. We got within a mile or two of his home and had to walk from there. (The text with this photo-which is a very poor copy-says there was between 24 and 30 inches of snow) In order to shoot it I had to cut the trail through the snow so I could get far enough ahead of them to shoot it with longer lenses. Sheila was behind guardsmen. At one point Whitsel, whose face displays his determination to get to his family, fell in the snow. His family was okay. I made a photo of the reunion and of Whitsel collapsed on a bed. Sheila did her interviews. It was dusk by the time we got back to the car. Craig Ruttle was the night photo editor (a photo editor, at night no less, imagine that), deadlines were early. We were probably using two way radios, I don't remember. I had to drive some distance before I could reach him. I believe it was the only time in my life I ever told an editor I had a Page 1 photo before I processed the film. (Sorry about the quality of the copied photos and if stuff like this is boring. I stumbled on it a few days ago and I shot the cliche tree photo yesterday out of boredom. When I wrote Winter without snow sucks, i remembered the Whitsel photo. Trying not to spend too much time on Memory Lane but it beats anything I'll do today. And if you're out there Sheila, I hope your having fun in the sun somewhere)

The Westside Bentley

The westside joke, dating to the '70's, went something like this, I've been told: How do you know Pete Rose's (first) wife, Karolyn, is on a shopping spree? Easy. Her Rolls Royce is parked in the lot at the Western Hills K-Mart.

As a devoted gearhead and one who despises the retail experience, I was sliding in a four wheel drift, fleeing the parking lot of one of Sam Walton's monstrosities where I stopped-under duress-to pick up a few items when I spotted it at the end of the row near the exit. Is that a Bentley Turbo R, base sticker price in 1985, $195,000? I accelerated and simultaneously slammed on the brakes and turned hard left, executing a 180 degree turn, so I could check to see if it was indeed one of 7,230 produced in various configurations between 1985-1997. 
It was. And considering its heritage it has endured a rough life. I'm not enough of an expert to know what year it was produced but had valid tags so someone apparently drove it there. Absent the current tags it could be mistaken for an abandoned vehicle as is evident in the photos. These monsters weighed 5,200 pounds, had a 6.75 liter Bentley V-8 and were about 12 feet long. If you could afford one, mpg was not a concern. (The $195,00 figure is from a few internet sources; I was only shopping for a DeTomaso Pantera GT5 that year so I don't remember what Bentley were going for)

Sun Fails to Rise, Cold, Darkness Likely

I wasn't going to do it, but I did. Glenn Frey's been dead damn near a year but it was Just Another Twitter Sunset. So I did it. It so taxed my abilities I'm probably going to have take the rest of the day off. Wait a minute. I already had the day off. But that was involuntary. If you didn't see tonight's sunset with your own eyeballs, this is what it looked like. You can see it rise tomorrow morning and set again tomorrow night, probably. If it doesn't it'll be a helluva story; the photos and video will look like the image at right.