Navy Helicopters At Sunset On Coronado

November 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Helicopter On Silver Strand Coronado At Sunset

Navy Helicopter Against A Coronado Sunset

    The area around Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) on Coronado is always buzzing with helicopter activity. To the south of the base in Imperial Beach is the Naval Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) so choppers are always flying around as training for pilots and Navy SEALs takes place. There is an area adjacent to the giant “Dinosaur Cage” where Navy personnel can be seen practicing combat exits from hovering helicopters, sliding down a rope to the beach below. Earlier this year they were training at sunset so it made for a great photo opportunity and a chance to test the limits of my camera.

Faux Night Shot Of Helicopter On Silver Strand Coronado At Sunset

Helicopter And A Sunset Made To Look Like A Moonset

    When the sun is directly behind your subject there are two things you need to be aware of. The first is that your subject will be a silhouette and the second is that you need to be careful not to go blind from staring at the sun as you are setting up your shots! Obviously the sun is the brightest light source you will ever have to contend with so having it in your frame means you will most likely need to allow the minimum amount of light to reach your sensor as your camera will allow. For me, that meant using a shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second and a tiny f-stop of 32.

Navy SEAL Exits Helicopter Silver Strand Coronado

Navy SEAL Exits A Helicopter

    Something that I hardly ever talk about is white balance. Yellow light looks warmer which is why the time around sunrise and sunset is referred to as “golden hour” and always has a nice warm feel. Blue light looks cooler and has more of a nighttime feel to it. By playing around with the white balance you can completely change the feel and mood of a photo. All three photos in this post were shot at sunset, but the middle one looks a little different. That’s because I adjusted the white balance to the blue end of the spectrum, robbing the sunset of it’s warm light which makes the setting sun look like a nighttime full moon. There are a lot of filters that people use to change the look of their photos, but as a person that grew up in the age of film photography, I prefer to stick with white balance adjustments, the ORIGINAL filter. Cheers!

Navy Gunfire Lights Up Coronado

April 1, 2011 by · 4 Comments 

navy night time gunfire on Coronado

Navy Gunfire Behind The Dinosaur Cage

        I was treated to a distant yet colorful photographic treat when the navy had a training exercise that involved exploding a lot of ordinance and shooting a lot of bullets. I was a least a half mile away but it was still neat to see and pretty loud. The fireworks suddenly started at 10:35pm in the pitch black so this was a 6400 ISO mission for me… I just wish I had been closer.

Black & White image of night time navy gunfire

Lighting Up The Night In Coronado

Dinosaur Cage On Coronado During Night Time Navy Gunfire

South Bay, Dinosaur Cage, Coronado And The Navy

        It lasted less than 15 minutes so I was fortunate to be around. Cars were stopping on Hwy 75 and people were piling to the north end of 7th St. to get a look at the action. Below is a video with the audio from the event as the soundtrack. Cheers!

More Planes, People & Helicopters From The Centennial Of Naval Aviation

February 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Finale At Centennial Of Aviation Airshow On Coronado

Centennial Of Naval Aviation Grand Finale

        A few posts back I showed some photos from the time I spent at the Centennial Of Naval Aviation Airshow on Coronado. In looking back at the post and after going through the photos I took at the event, I realized that I had Jurassic Parked myself. You see, Jurassic Park is a great movie, I liked it when I saw it in the theater and I still like it today. The concept, the action, the set-up for sequels were all awesome. I only had a problem with one thing in that movie… There weren’t enough dinosaurs! This problem was fixed in the subsequent movies, but I digress, I did the same thing in my first post about the Navy’s celebration of 100 years of naval aviation. I didn’t have enough pictures in my last post! I think what you’ll see in this follow-up post will help give a much better idea of the vast scale the celebration was on, as well as all the trouble the Navy went through to make sure everyone had a good time. This post will have many more photos of planes, people and helicopters that I should have included in my first post.

Holding Camera Lens Like A Penis At Centennial Of Aviation Airshow On Coronado

You Hold Your Camera Lens Like Its Your Penis, Sir

Hooters Girls Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Hooter Girls On Coronado

People At Centennial Of Aviation Airshow On Coronado

WWI Bailout Demo Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Navy SEAL Parachutists Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

        There were a lot of people at the airshow, but the base is huge so it wasn’t crowded. The lines for concessions and bathrooms were unbelievably long. I managed to not break the seal, but I did have a $7, 20oz iced coffee because, for some reason, the coffee cart was the only concession that didn’t have a line. Food and drinks were the same price as at a ballgame, so be prepared for that.

B17 WWII Bomber Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

B17 WWII Bomber

B25 WWII Bomber At Centennial Of Aviation Airshow On Coronado

B25 WWII Bomber

Navy Planes Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Navy Planes At Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Helicopters Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Helicopters At Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Helicopters Mid Air Refueling Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Helicopters Refueling At Centennial Of Naval Aviation

Helicopters Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Helicopters At Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Hovering Plane Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Balboa Park’s Tower Behind San Diego’s Skyline

Sailors On Duty At Centennial Of Aviation Airshow On Coronado

Sailors On Duty During The Airshow

        The photo above has a very metaphoric and nostalgic feel for me. 20 years ago, it was me that was in the Navy and on duty on a sunny Saturday afternoon with incredible access to a great event, yet I wanted to be anywhere but there. These sailors were not separated from the action by a chain-link fence like me, yet none of them had a camera and none of them seemed happy. It reminded me of the time I was stationed in Hawaii when President Bill Clinton came to the island for a Pearl Harbor Memorial anniversary thing. People came from all over just to get a glimpse of the president, but I was required to attend, and I was bitter about it because I would rather have gone to the beach, or get drunk or something. Ah, the sweet memories of a 19 year old sailor!

Helicopter Rescue At Centennial Of Aviation Airshow On Coronado

Mouseover Photo Above To See The Rescue

        Above we see a man about to jump out of a helicopter so we could witness a rescue with another helicopter. Roll your mouse over the image to see a different photo.

Bikes And Traffic B25 At Centennial Of Aviation Airshow On Coronado

Bicycles Are The Way To Go

        I mentioned in my earlier post that I should have ridden my bicycle to this event. I think the photo above helps to illustrate that point. Seriously, for the next big event that I cover in Coronado, I’ll be a biking fool!

Centennial Of Naval Aviation On Coronado

February 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Plane Montage Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Centennial Of Naval Aviation On Coronado’s North Island

        This past Saturday, Coronado hosted the Centennial Of Naval Aviation on North Island Naval Base. As of this year, the United States Navy has been flying for 100 years, and this celebration paid homage to just about every single aircraft that has flown in service of the Navy.

Navy SEAL Parachutists Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Navy SEAL Parachutists

        Navy SEAL’s made up a big portion of the warm-up activities, entertaining us with skydives and colored smoke.

Navy SEAL Parachutists Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Navy SEALS Descend Onto Coronado

        From an altitude of around 4000 feet, Navy SEAL’s jumped out of a helicopter and glided down to the northern edge of Coronado’s North Island Naval Base.

Navy SEAL Parachutist Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Parachuting Down Onto Coronado

Giant Canon Camera Lens Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Bad Child Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

        Men, women and children of all sorts turned out for the show. Some people brought really big lenses while others brought very small children. By the end of the day, I think they may have been wishing for each others life. Personally, I’ve noticed that the “better” I’ve become at photography, the smaller my lenses have gotten.

Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue In San Diego Bay

        There were a lot of helicopters at this show, and one of their demonstrations was a water rescue. The pleasure ship in the background had the best seat in the house for that event!

People Watching Helicopters Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Helicopter Hovering Over Other Choppers Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Thinking Person At Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

        Besides the obvious aircraft watching, there were a lot of people worth watching at the show as well. A lot of people brought children, little boys in particular that no doubt were just as excited as I was at that age whenever I happened to be lucky enough to go to an airshow. For some reason, when I was young and preparing to join the navy I thought knowing all the different types of naval aircraft, ships and trivia would be pertinent to my military career. As we all know now, I should have spent that time learning to chip paint instead!

Traffic On North Island Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

Traffic On North Island Naval Base

        Traffic on base, around Coronado and across the bridge was a snarled nightmare for the entire day. It’s really not the Navy’s fault… The street infrastructure of Coronado flat out can’t handle a crush of people on a regular weekday, let alone special event days like this. I took public transportation into Coronado and walked onto the base which meant I had to do a lot more walking than those in cars, but I’m sure I shaved at least 4-5 hours off my commute time by doing so. The photo above is the line of cars coming into the base after the airshow portion was already over. Can you believe that? I was there and it still don’t. So, what did I learn from this outing and what tidbits of advice do I have for anyone attending a special event on Coronado in the future? Don’t drive, take the bus or ride a bike instead. Eat beforehand, bring your own water and wear sunscreen. Military bases are big so be prepared to do a lot of walking even after you get there.

Navy Blue Angels Centennial Of Naval Aviation Coronado

United States Navy Blue Angels

1945 Helldiver SB2C-4 Plane Raised From Otay Reservior Lake

August 22, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Helldiver Plane Raised Out Of Otay Lake In 2010

Photo by Stephen G. Hurlbut Jr.

        This weekend, my parents were in San Diego and my dad was able to grab some photos of a local event I was not able to attend. The event was the raising of a plane that crashed into Otay Lake in 1945. The plane is Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver Dive Bomber.

Hellfire Plane Raised Out Of Otay Lake In 2010

Photo by Stephen G. Hurlbut Jr.

        On May 28, 1945, Navy pilot E.D. Frazar, and Army gunner, Joseph Metz were on a training mission in the air above Otay Reservoir in their Helldiver SB2C-4 when the engine cut out, as the Helldiver planes were prone to do, for reasons that have never been explained. Frazar, made the immediate decision to ditch the plane in Lower Otay Reservoir. Both Frazar and his completely-by-chance gunner, Metz had plenty of time to get out of the plane once it was in the lake. They swam to shore and hitchhiked back to their base. Ah, the 1940’s.

Helldiver Plane Raised Out Of Otay Lake In 2010

Photo By Stephen G. Hurlbut Jr.

Helldiver Plane Raised Out Of Otay Lake In 2010

Photo By Stephen G. Hurlbut Jr.

USS Fletcher DD-992, The People

November 27, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

Mess Cranking USS Fletcher DD-992

Mess Cranking Is 4 Months Of Sleep Depravity

        This post will be similar to my previous post because it will also contain photos taken while serving aboard the USS Fletcher DD-992 from 1993 through 1996. Specifically, all the photos will contain images of my former shipmates and I… Nothing but people for this post. So, the above picture shows, from left to right, McClenndon, Smalls & York.

Captains Birthday Cake USS Fletcher DD-992 1993

1993 Captain’s Birthday Cake USS Fletcher DD-992

        I was mess cranking in the wardroom for this event. For you non-navy people, mess cranking is a joyous time of washing dishes, serving food and washing dishes… For four months. The worst time I had in the navy was while I was mess cranking. The wardroom is where officers eat, so it was the cushiest mess cranking job but it still sucked balls. The cook on the left is MS3 Galan, and the other cook I only knew as “Lucky.”

USS Fletcher DD-992 The Mighty Warship Mata

Mata At Rest

        Once I was done mess cranking, I was sent back to 1st division for a life of chipping and painting. From time to time, shipmates & I found hidden areas to relax in.

USS Fletcher DD-992 Robo The Cook

Everyone Has To Paint In The Navy – Even Cooks

        I knew this cook as Robo. It was impossible for him to have a bad day or take it out on some one else if he was. It was always fun to have him around.

On Watch USS Fletcher DD-992

After I Mess Cranked I Stood Watch

        If you do not have a rate when you enlist in the Navy, you will be a part of 1st division, and we are the ones that chip and paint all day. If the ship is out to sea, then you ALSO get to stand watch for four hours at a time. That’s me on the left and McClenndon on the right.

Sweepers, USS Fletcher DD-992

Sweepers, Sweepers, Man Your Brooms

        Everyday, twice a day, in port or at sea, the ship got swept. If it was raining, you had to sweep “standing water.” Yep, we swept up water as it fell from the sky. Uh, yeah. Asher is seen here sweeping up some deadly dirt from the ship.

Aft Lookout Watch USS Fletcher DD-992

Aft Lookout On The Mighty Warship Fletcher DD-992

        I found that a lot of my pictures were taken while I was on watch or taken of other people on watch. I carried a small point and shoot camera around with me a lot in the early days of my navy career, but nothing above the level of “snapshot” was ever produced.

On Watch Under The CIWS USS Fletcher DD-992

Workman Pointing Out A Contact

        Being out in the middle of the ocean is fun, but when you are standing watch and looking for contacts out there, it’s not like finding birds in the park. The ocean is so big and anything on it is barely a speck. It is tedious and boring to stand watch, but it was to be done, day & night everyday.

USS Fletcher DD-992 Majuro, Marshall Islands 1994

Marjuro, Marshall Islands 1994

        Majuro was my first exotic port during my time on board USS Fletcher DD-992. The drink in front of me has whiskey in it. It wouldn’t be for another week or so that I would discover rum, which would be drink of choice for years after that. I’m on the left, McClenndon in the middle & Pannkoke on the right.

USS Fletcher DD-992 Majuro, Marshall Islands 1994

Marjuro, Marshall Islands 1994

        Going to exotic places and sipping cocktails in beachside bars was something I really looked forward to doing while in the navy. There were a few shipmates that were deep into hobbies like scuba diving, golfing and sailing, but most everyone else would hit bars and clubs in every port. It was so much fun to do that, and there are so many things to do in all these ports around the world that there never was a dull moment when you are on a Western Pacific deployment. Above, from left to right are: Hanrahan, James, Coleman (Big C) & Pannkoke

Majuro, Marshall Islands 1994 USS Fletcher DD-992

Sailors From USS Fletcher DD-992 Marjuro, Marshall Islands 1994

        My trip to Majuro in 1994 has always been especially etched into my memory because it was my first port of call in the Navy. It was a very friendly place, and there were children that would follow us from time to time. The image above has three shipmates in it and one mysterious hand that I just cant explain (in the the right/center part of the pic). They all loved having their picture taken. McClenndon is at the top/center, Hales in the middle, and unknown on the right.

Serving In The Navy Onboard USS Fletcher DD-992

November 23, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

President Bill Clinton @ Pearl Harbor Hawaii 1993

President Bill Clinton In 1993, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

        This post contains photos I took in 1993 & 1994 with a variety of different point & shoot cameras. I was serving in the Navy at the time, so these pics are of the “look where I am” variety as opposed to trying to create art. The military is not conducive to independent or free thinking. Looking back, it really didn’t permit thinking of any sort. The photos I present to you in this post are presented in the order I took them, to the best of my recollection. The photo above was taken in July of 1993. President Clinton is in between the two white uniformed people in the center of the photo. I think one of those people is Admiral Charles R. Larson, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command at the time. All of the sailors you see on the forecastle of the ship on the right of the photo were in the Persian Gulf less than a year later. As a 19 year old teenager serving aboard the destroyer USS Fletcher DD-992 at the time, it didn’t seem weird to me that men (no women) that would be dead in less than a year were kept at such a great distance from the president, while the men ( again, no women) that sent them to die ate breakfast and shook the hand of President Bill Clinton.

19 Year Old Sailor, USS Fletcher DD-992

Self Portrait Taken Moments After President Clinton Was Out Of Sight

        In the photo above, I was bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to go to war for President Clinton and my country. At the time, I had no concept of war other than WWII Navy movies. I hadn’t seen Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, or Apocalypse Now, just the romanticized navy & war flicks that came out during the two decades after WWII. Mr. Roberts, Operation Petticoat, Victory At Sea and The Sands Of Iwo Jima were all made when America was still swelling with pride and patriotism, and so was I when I saw them. There was no such thing as an anti-war movie back then, so I bought it hook, line and sinker.

Making Ready For War

Before We Made War, We Painted The Ship

        With or without war, the Navy has a weird compilation of priorities. Appearance to outsiders is the biggest one. The Dog & Pony Show is what happens when a non-military person in a position of authority is expected on board a naval vessel. Those of you that had to clean their rooms when grandma was going to visit may understand what I mean. The bed you sleep in was always fine, until that one day when your parents beat the shit out of you for not making it because Grandma is due for a visit. Since your superiors ASSUME you know what they know, they ALSO assume you know WHY you are having the shit kicked out of you for not having a clean room.

Navigation Detail

The More Enlisted Men You Have, The More People You Can Blame

        There is one very important thing you must understand about the military… SHIT ROLLS DOWNHILL. For those of you that don’t understand what that means, I will simplify it for you: If you are the new guy in the room, you will feel something being shoved up your ass when something goes wrong.

USS Fletcher DD-992 Fantail Watch, 1994

Standing Watch Provides A Scapegoat

        If we imagined ourselves as amnesiacs instead of patrons of American evening news, our involvement with Iraq began in 1989 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Without elaborating on that point, we have been at war with Iraq for 20 years. Iraq has the third largest OIL RESERVES on the planet, while America is the first largest CONSUMER of oil on the planet. With consumption like that, you need to have young men, standing a visual, naked eye watch on the horizons of war zones. That way, you never have to blame failures of any sort on equipment, or those friends of government officials we call contractors that manufacture that equipment.

Kwajalein, Marshall Islands 1994 - USS Fletcher DD-992

USS Fletcher DD-992, February 1994 Ported At Kwajalein, Marshall Islands

        Kwajalein was a great place to visit. USS Fletcher-DD992 was there as part of a WWII anniversary celebration, but I was there as a teenage sailor, looking to make trouble. I had to limp back to my ship by 10 or 12 pm (I forget what time curfew actually was) and even though I was late, my division officer was the Officer Of The Deck at the time, so he let me slide.

Phuket, Thailand 1994, USS Fletcher DD-992

Anchor Detail Onboard USS Fletcher DD-992 Phuket, Thailand

        When you are 19 years old, like I was when I snapped the pic above, logic and reason are not your strongest points. Even if you have the temperance of age, and the logic & reason that age and experience bring, The Navy has a way of reducing it to alcohol and whores. For example, my ship’s last port, before heading to do battle in The Arabian Gulf was Phuket, Thailand. Phuket has no piers, facilities or reason to accommodate a Spruance class destroyer, yet in early 1994, USS Fletcher-DD-992 was parked 1000 yards or so off the coast, and for three days our “Liberty Launch” shuttled American sailors to the beach and turned them loose on the bars and women of the city. At the time, I didn’t care why we were allowed free reign in a tropical pseudo-paradise infested with drugs, whores and alcohol, I just knew that in a week I would be in a warzone, so I better live it up.

Standing Watch, USS Fletcher DD-992

Asher, Mata, Workman & I

        Here is the ironic thing about my time in the Navy… I was at the pinnacle of my vanity. While I was serving, I felt the urge to do my own thing more than I ever had, before or since. My hair was way longer than regulations allowed, and I was already beginning to understand just how easy it was to manipulate the military to get my way.

Steel Beach Picnic, USS Fletcher DD-992

Steel Beach Picnic, USS Fletcher DD-992

        The fantail is the ass end of a ship. On my ship, USS Fletcher DD-992 it was a good 3600 square feet, so it was a natural place to have a picnic. The ship is made of steel, so if we imagined the ocean around us as the ocean and our ship as a beach, you wound up having a STEEL BEACH PICNIC.

50 Caliber (I think) USS Fletcher DD-992

After We Ate, We Spread Democracy

        Being in the Persian Gulf was a little bit different than other places than Navy had taken me. For starters, there is nothing there but oil, so we were there for no other reason than oil. Reason? The 90 days my ship spent there as part of the Carl Vinson Battle Group was for the sole purpose of defending America’s oil interests. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself except that we were told at the time that ensuring the liberation of Kuwait was our reason for being there. Do you hear that world? If you have oil, America will send it’s citizens to die defending your sovereignty. If you don’t have oil, we will report your troubles for 16 seconds on the evening news.

USS Fletcher DD-992 In Arabian Gulf Port

Now Muster A 30 Man Working Party On The Pier

        The Persian Gulf, The USS Fletcher DD-992 and sand comprised the 3 months I spent in the Persian Gulf. Just to give you an idea of how stupid the military is, I offer the following. When visiting dignitaries of ANY creed, culture or race came to my ship, while in port, American sailors were made to sweep the sand off of the gang plank AND the pier! As the winds of the Arabian desert blows sand ALL THE WAY to North America, American teenagers had to ensure that Arab Sheiks and American Congressmen had a sand-free path from their chauffeur-driven Mercedes Benz cars across the pier to my ship.

Personnelman 1994 USS Fletcher DD-992

A Haircut And A New Naval Job

        Strange things happened to me just as we reached the Arabian Gulf in March 1994. The first was my new naval rate, personnelman. No more chipping and painting for me, at least on the OUTSIDE of the ship. I got a haircut and dove in to learning my new rate. The strange artifact of working the new job in the ship’s office was some regularity in my schedule, and day to day routine. Sailors with no rate (job) in the navy spend their days working in 1st division. This division is controlled by boatswain mates and you never know what you will be doing from one day to the next BESIDES chipping and painting. 1st division does all the lookout watches, anchor details, line handlers and anything else that requires late hours and heavy lifting. All that changed when I started working in the ship’s office because it was a regular 9-5 type gig. The actual hours were longer than that of course, but I didn’t have to stand watch anymore and quitting time was at the same time everyday.

USS Fletcher DD-992 Screws In Drydock 1995

USS Fletcher DD-992 In Dry-Dock 1995

        My new rate, along with the mighty warship being mired in dry-dock following our return from the Persian Gulf is what ultimately turned me into a person that didn’t like the navy. It was really sad because I thought the USN was going to be different in the way it handled employees compared to the civilian sector. A ship in dry-dock is absolute murder on the crew. We stood fire watch for 12 hours a day, lived on a barge on duty days, lived on an island on non-duty days, and that didn’t change for 18 months. The navy just doesn’t care about wasted potential. I begged my command to allow me to go on a deployment with another battle group that was leaving about the same time my ship entered dry-dock, but was told no because my replacement would not know the ship’s routine as well as me. Firewatch was the ship’s routine. My replacement would not be able to watch a civilian contractor weld for 12 hours as well as I could. It was at that moment that I realized how stupid the navy is, and just how naive I had been.