Video of the AeroShell Ride and the Saturday Performance at Battle Creek

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As many of you know, I got a ride with The AeroShell Team at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow and Balloon Festival this year. Although I’ve posted some frame grabs, I hadn’t been through all of the video.

The video of my ride itself was pretty good, especially considering the fact that it was the first time I’d held the camera and not mounted it.. Even a 17-ounce rig gets pretty heavy at four Gs, especially if you’re holding it out at arm’s length to capture more in the shot.

But the real treat was the video from the performance on Saturday. In an Airspeed first, the AeroShall Team agreed to fly the camera in the No. 2 ship (which, in the AeroShell Team, is the right wing). I mounted the camera that morning, ran out onto the field and turned it on that afternoon right before the flight, and then retrieved it when the team returned.

Holy crap, was the footage exciting! It was an unexpected perspective. A performer’s-eye-view of the show. The formation part was beautiful, but the real surprises were after the first break, where you can see other aircraft mixing it up. This is a perspective that I had not even imagined and I just kind of sat there staring at my computer screen as it unfolded.

I rarely devote more than about 20 seconds to a shot. It keeps things moving along. But there are sequences of almost a minute in this video because the surprises just keep happening. Worth the time and the bandwidth, says I.

It was a gray day and I’ll bet that some sunshine would have made it look positively amazing. But I’m not complaining.

As cool as this is, It’s made me think about the possibility of adding another camera to the rig. Same camera and lens. One pointed out the front or back at the pilot and one camera pointed over the wing. This could get really cool.

As long as nobody decides that they don’t need to fly the producer at some point . . .

Many thanks to Vimeo for having such huge free bandwidth and storage that allows me to post a full 16 minutes (an 183MB file)!

Also thanks to The AeroShell Team for flying me and the cameras.

Frame Grabs from the AeroShell Team’s Performance on Saturday at Battle Creek

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

As I tweeted during the show, the AeroShell Team, in addition to giving me a formation acro ride on Friday, offered to fly the Airspeed camera during its performance on Saturday.

I’ll be turning these into an Airspeed video episode, but wanted to post s few frame grabs as well for everyone. Would have been cooler to ride along and shoot, but one can only hope for so much.

A pretty gray day and most of the photos were awful in terms of lighting. Almost all aren’t usable, so having the video is pretty helpful in telling the story.

It’s always weird positioning a camera that you won’t be able to adjust later in the process. Especially on a taildragger that’s going to be a few degrees nose-down from its standing position once it gets the tailwheel up and flies. I took a guess at it and got the No. 1 and 3 ships (the AeroShell Team reverses the numbering for the wings with 2 on the right and 3 on the left) pretty well, except where 1’s smoke obscures 3. The slot aircraft comes into the shot at a couple of points, which was nice. Not a bad aiming job overall!

The light seemed to be best for the descending side of most of the maneuvers, like in this one. I’m in the picture there somewhere.

This shot was a little unexpected and pretty cool. The AeroShell Team does a squirrel cage maneuver that amounts to staggered loops or barrel rolls. The smoke looks pretty cool from the ground, but it turns out that it looks even cooler from the air. The aircraft had separated from the formation and Mark is maneuvering to rejoin. The camera caught this view of the smoke over the show line.

I mounted the camera in the No. 2 (Mark Henley’s) ship on the ramp at Duncan in the morning. Mark has a ball mount already in the aircraft, but it didn’t work for my mount. A couple of other mounting points proved suboptimal because of proximity to the canopy or the placement of the canopy reinforcements. So I mounted it on the dash pointing to the left.

They then moved the aircraft out to onto Runway 13/31 for staging of the performers. I talked security into letting me out to the staging area to turn the camera on just before the flight and then I recovered the camera after the team came back in. You can see it behind Mark’s head in this shot.

Many thanks to the AeroShell Team for the opportunity to get up close and personal. I also got audio interviews that I’ll be releasing on the show soon.

Formation Acro with the AeroShell Team

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

It took some maneuvering (of the logistical kind), but I got up on a flight with the AeroShell Team yesterday.

The show had apparently nixed all non-balloon media rides that required the show to pay for gas. And, being that that includes all non-balloon media rides, it was looking like a dry year at Battle Creek. But not to worry. Capt Force made phone calls and checked in with the FBO and arranged to come out of pocket for 16 gallons of 100LL for the lead T-6.

I launched with Brian Regan at around 4:00. We were going to do a one-ship flight so I could get a sense of that the T-6A’s granddaddy is like to fly. I was a little blue because I was looking forward to being in a four-ship flight, but that’s okay.

But, after a little maneuvering, we got the No. 2 ship, right wing Mark Henley, on the radio. Mark was inbound to arrive at the show and he joined up with us for a couple of maneuvers before heading back to the airport.

I hand-held the camera on this ride and it turned out to be good that I did. I was able to position it to capture the join-up and then Mark on the wing for the maneuvers.

I’m also heading over this morning after the briefing to see if they’ll fly a camera during the actual show today.

I’ll be doing a video episode featuring this material and you can probably expect to see it on WGVU-TV in western Michigan when its documentary on this year’s show comes out.

Off to volunteer with CAP for the day and then it’s back to the Airspeed patio for some more writing and editing tomorrow.

Listening to the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team

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We all know that the best formation aerobatics teams fly great formations and match each other with great precision. But have you listened to a really good team? The formation maneuvers match pitch beautifully and the series maneuvers not only look the same but sound the same.
Here’s some audio from the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team’s performance today.
Aeroshell Aerobatic Team website: