Monday, June 29, 2020

A Brief Bit of Spotting

So last week, I decided to go for a brief bit of planespotting.  I was hoping to catch a UPS 757, Fed Ex 757 and DC-10 (or MD-11).  It turned out that I didn't start in time to catch the UPS 757, I saw it landing and I couldn't get a good spot to catch it.   The DC-10 wasn't coming until way later.  It seems that cargo flights are on their time sometimes.
 I ended up having to go by the McDonalds on Merriman to do my spotting.  They were using 22L for landing.  I think they were doing something with 22R and my normal spot wasn't good enough.  As you can see, it was a little on the windy side.
 It turns out that this was a Bombardier Global Express.  I'm not sure where it was coming from but it is a pretty neat looking plane.  It was a pleasant surprise at any rate.
 It was followed by the plane I was really waiting for.
 Until the passenger 757s come out of layup, this will have to do for me.  It is still nice to see it.
 This particular 757 was coming in from Indianapolis.
 When she headed out, she headed to Memphis.
While passenger service is down, I think cargo planes are making up for that.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Seeing the Navy's Newest Ship

As I said in the last post, I saw that a new littoral combat ship was coming down.
 The ship in question was listed on AIS as "Government Vessel 19" but it is known as the USS St Louis.
 She is named after the city of St. Louis and is the seventh Navy ship to be named such.   I believe she is the ninth ship to be completed by Marinette Marine in Wisconsin.  Supposedly there will be seven more built after this but I'm not sure as the class is being replaced by a frigate.
 The first St. Louis was a sloop of war commissioned in 1828 and de-commissioned at the end of the Civil War.  The second one was an ironclad gunboat commssioned in 1861, she was sunk by a mine in 1863.  The third St. Louis was a troop transport built in 1898 and served until 1920.  The next St. Louis was a protected cruiser that was in service from 1906 to 1922.
 The fifth St. Louis was a light cruiser of the Brooklyn class that served in the Pacific Theater of World War II.  She was very active and earned 11 battle stars.  She was present at Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941.  She was making preparations to get underway at 8:06 and at 8:20 she had shot down her first Japanese plane.  She was on the open sea by 10:00.    She participated in several battles afterwards.  In 1951, she was transferred to Brazil and served there until 1980.  She sank on the way to the scrappers.
 The next St. Louis was an amphibious cargo ship that served from 1969 to 1991.
 This St. Louis was launched and christened on December 15, 2018.  She was acquired by the Navy on February 6 of this year.  Eventually, she will find her way to Jacksonville where her fitting out will be completed and she will serve in the Second LCS squadron.
 I think these are cool looking ships but I think the Navy is still having issues with them.  In fact, I read an article not too long ago that they are mothballing a couple of them.  Given that Navy ships typically last about 20 years, that is big, I think.
 She pulls away.  I think she stopped in Cleveland for fueling.  I'm not sure where she is right now.
 She shows off her helicopter deck. 
One more shot before heading back home.

Catching the John G. Munson

So I'm trying to catch up with my posting.  This is from Sunday June 21, 2020.  I wasn't going to do anything that day but then  I saw that a Littoral Combat Ship was coming down.  I still wasn't sure if I wanted to catch her or not so I headed to Belle Isle first since the Munson was coming down.
 I think the Munson was coming down from one of the stone ports near Alpena.  I don't remember which one exactly.  I think she was delivering to Detroit which meant she was going partially up the Rouge River.
 I like it when I catch downbound ships because they are usually loaded.  I think ships look better when they are loaded because they sit lower in the water.
 the Munson is a particularly nice looking ship.
 I hear that there are quite a few other ships that are laying up because they are still keeping some steel mills close.
 I'm pretty sure the Munson wont be laid up because she hauls stone quite a bit.  The Covid pandemic has not slowed construction since that part was reopened.
 A beam shot.
 she continues down the river.

 I think she would be about an hour away from her destination.
 I think that is a power plant behind her.
One more shot before moving on.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

A Visit to the Toledo Airport

I decided to visit the Toledo Express Airport last Saturday after I heard that the F-16s there might be conducting twilight flight operations.  I've seen pictures of what an F-16 looks like at twilight and I thought I could get some cool pictures.

Sadly, I wasn't able to catch them conducting flight operations but I did look around the airport for a spot where I could get some pictures at a future date.  I was able to get this picture of their hanger and some F-16s hanging around outside of it.

Toledo is the home of the 180th Fighter Wing and these planes are part of 112th Fighter Squadron.  The squadron has its roots from the 117th Aero Squadron which was formed in 1917 for World War I.  In 1927, it become the 112th Observation Squadron and is one of 29 original observation squadrons for the National Guard formed before World War II.

In 1962, the squadron was authorized to expand to the group level.  The 112th become the units flying squadron.  It is also the home of the 180th Headquarters, 180th Material Squadron, 180th Combat Support Squadron and the 180th USAF dispensary.  If activated, it becomes a part of the 121st Tactical Wing in England.

The Wing received its F-16s in 1992.  Prior to that it flew F-100s and A-7s.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Aftermath of the Dams Breaking

A little bit of background for these pictures.  Water levels have been up considerably in Michigan for the past couple of years.  The Great Lakes are higher than I've seen them in a long time.  Many of the inland Lakes are also experiencing in high levels.  Mid-Michigan was experiencing heavy rains April and early May.

Eventually, those rains caused the Edenville Dam to fail on May 19, 2020.  This caused water to be released into the Tittabawassee River which then flowed into Sanford Lake which then toppled the Sanford Dam.  This caused massive flooding in Midland and Saginaw.

Well it turns out that Federal Regulators realized that there was an issue with the dams back in 2010 but the private owner failed to do the required upgrades (in fact, he demanded that the people who lived around the lakes should pay for the repairs).  His dam license was finally revoked in 2018.  It was then that the state of Michigan tried to get the repairs.

I hate to think of the cost of the damage created by these dams but I have to believe it is extensive.
 This is one of the bridges out of Sanford.  As you can see, it sustained quite a bit of damage from the flood waters.  Sanford Lake was a man made lake that was created by one of these dams.  Now it is barely a river.  There are a ton of houses around it that are no longer lakefront property, so I would imagine property values in the area will plummet.
 Another view of the bridge.
 The flood waters washed up several trees.
 Many of those trees crashed into this former railroad bridge.
 Another shot of that.
 I'm not sure if this railing was toppled by the flood waters, but if it was, if gives you the idea of the tremendous power of water.
 Another shot of that.
 I think this used to be Sanford Lake.  If you see the dock near the back, that is where it used to go to.  I think the plan is the refill the lake but that will probably take a few years.
This is the Edenville Bridge.

As a result of this incident, it was determined that a large number of dams in Michigan structurally deficient.  It was also determined that many of those are in private hands.  If the owners of those dams are like the owner of these dams, the dams should be seized and the owners should be forced to pay for all of the necessary repairs.

At any rate, I am pretty sure this story is not through as I'm pretty sure that many of the people that own houses along this lake will sue.  And that will probably lead to the dam owner filing bankruptcy or something.....

Herbie the Love Boat Passes Through My Hometown

One of the places that I wish I could catch ships more often is my hometown of Bay City.  three are quite a few places that make a nice backdrop and sometimes I see that the Saginaw River is almost glass smooth and it makes for a nice shot.
 Anyway, AIS showed that the Jackson had a destination of Bay City-Saginaw.  I figured that meant she had a split load for the stone docks in both towns so I took a chance to go catch her.  When I arrived in Bay City, she was docked at the Wirt Stone Dock and there wasn't a good spot to catch her.  I ended up going in the office to ask if I could take a picture of her from the dock but they told me no.  So then I asked when she was leaving and the person at the desk wasn't sure.  When I got back in the car, I saw that she was leaving.
 So I drove over to Veteran's Park because I figured that would be a good place to catch her and based on these pictures it was.  She is passing through the Liberty Bridge in this shot and she is passing by the railroad bridge (but I'm not sure what railroad).
 The Liberty Bridge was completed in 1986 which is the year before I graduated from high school.  It built to replace the Third Street Bridge which collapsed in 1976 after a freighter hit it.  (The freighter is believed to be the Niagara but it was never officially determined).  The Third Street Bridge was a two lane swing bridge and the replacement required four lanes so it couldn't be built in the same spot.  The Liberty Bridge is three blocks to the north.
 The Liberty Bridge is a bascule bridge and if I remember correctly it is radio controlled.   I think there are plans to make it a toll bridge in order to get much needed repairs.
 The Jackson had just unloaded some stone at the Wirt Dock which is near the Independence Bridge.  The Independence Bridge was built in 1976 to replace the Belinda Street bridge which was nearby.  The Independence Bridge is also a four lane bridge and I think there are plans of making it a toll bridge in order to get much needed repairs (I'm sensing a theme here).
 The Jackson would be heading to the stone dock in Zilwaukee which is near the Zilwaukee Bridge.  When I-75 was built, the Zilwaukee Bridge was a draw bridge.  On busy weekends, the traffic on I-75 would get backed up for miles if a ship had to pass.  The drawbridge was replaced by a bridge which was tall enough to allow ships to pass underneath.  If I remember correctly, that bridge was one of the first to use epoxy in construction.  Because of that, there were several delays in its construction but once they worked the kinks out it would probably be one of the strongest bridges in the state.
 I think she is passing a new development in this picture.
 Another shot of that.
 A surprisingly clean  shot.
 She approaches Wenonah Park.
 If you look in front of her bow, you can see a band shell which is in the process of being built.  There used to be a fairly nice band shell before but I think it was falling to disrepair and had to be replaced.  It was being replaced by a more traditional band shell.  In the summer, they will play all sorts of concerts in the park.  With all that is happening, this is probably a good summer to be replacing the shell.
 The building behind the pilot house is the Jennison Building.
 Another shot.
 A shot of her bow.  You can see some flags flying behind the pilot house.  The top flag is the Interlake House Flag.  Below that is the US Merchant Marine Flag.  Below that is the POW/MIA flag.
 Another shot of her pilothouse.
 Her deckhouse.  If I remember correctly, her crane was added at Defoe Shipyard in Bay City.   I think some other things happened to her.
One more shot.