Habitat takes Flight at Sanderson Field

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On Saturday, September 12, 2015, I was up early in order to meet other Sanderson Field RC Flyers(SFRCF) at Blondie's for a bit of breakfast. Blondie's is a favorite Shelton, Washington restaurant. After breakfast, we headed to Sanderson Field in order to participate in the Port of Shelton's "Habitat takes Flight" event.

We arrived at Sanderson Field just as the sun was beginning to rise above the eastern trees. The sky overhead was clear, but there was still low fog to the south. There were not, as yet, many aircraft on the apron. Among the aircraft present were Kapowsin's large Cessna 208B and Dehavilland DHC-6-100 used for carrying skydivers. A Huey and Mustang were also on the apron for display during Habitat.

The club's display trailer and a tent for the RC flight simulators were already in place. We began to assemble our model aircraft for the display. Later, other club members arrived with additional model aircraft and laptops for the simulators. Classic cars from the Yesteryear Car Club began to arrive at the airport.

In the glow of the morning sunlight, I decided to take a walk around the apron to take a closer look at what had already been set up for the event. On the apron, I stopped to admire the Kapowsin's Cessna 208B. Next, I passed the UH-1H Huey, on display from the Olympic Flight Museum, and then stopped to photograph the "Impatient Virgin," a beautifully restored P-51B Mustang. Security volunteers were standing by the field gate to open the gate to vendors. I stopped and talked with them for a while before moving on.

As I was returning to the RC area, I saw the first of many civilian aircraft taxying to the aircraft display area. The aircraft was a beautiful Cessna 172M that was made even more beautiful by the golden sunlight. I could not resist taking more photos of Kapowsin's Dehavilland.

I was in time for coffee and donoughts back at the RC area. Club members soon had the RC display and simulator tent ready for the public—and aircraft began to arrive at the airport one after the the other. I was amazed by the number and variety of the aircraft. The support of private pilots for the event was truly wonderful. The aircraft arrived for both display and as part of the Experimental Aircraft Association's "Young Eagles" program. The Young Eagles program provides a free flight experience for kids from ages 8-17. You can find out more about this program by clicking the links in the "Resources" section at the end of this gallery.

As the aircraft continued to arrive, Mason County Fire District 11 fire and rescue trucks arrived. The public was already lining up at the entrance gate and the music tent was ready for the first performer.

Once the entrance gate was open and the public began to arrive, I took another walk around the event. I stopped to talk with the emergency services personnel. Nearby, army soldiers were standing in front of their Humvee. In talking with them, I learned that one of the soldiers had recently returned from fighting the huge fires in Eastern Washington. Fire fighting and search and rescue are important missions for this group.

There was a lot to see. The Huey, the numerous classic cars, the Mustang display, the numerous aircraft--these were just a few things to see. I heard music comming from the music tent and sat, for awhile, on a hay bale and listened to the musician, Marty Brush. By this time, the Young Eagle flights were beginning.

I spent much of the morning photographing the pilots, kids, and aircraft participating in the Young Eagles program. After signing in for the free rides, the kids and pilots walked to the apron and to the aircraft. After a walk around the aircraft, the pilot helped the kids into the cockpit and taxied to the runway for takeoff. The smiles of the kids through the cockpit windows were wonderful to see. Next to the Young Eagles' tent, the Sanderson Field RC Flyers' flight simulators were in full use. Kids waiting for their flights could spend the time "flying" with the simulators. Later, the kids had the opportunity to fly actual RC model airplanes. Olympic Air was also offering paid-for helicopter rides and it was possible to hitch a ride in the Kapowsin aircraft for a nominal price.

From the unused runway at Sanderson Field (where we often fly our model RC airplanes), I have often watched skydivers—but only at long distance. During Habitat, I was able to observe Kapowsin up close. I was surprised at the speed at which the skydivers approached the ground—until the last minute. The sound of the skydivers as they approached the ground reminded me of a glider I once heard flying—with a surprisingly loud swish— over head.

At the end of the morning, I headed for the grass airstrip where flight instructors from the Sanderson Field RC Flyers were "buddy boxing" model aircraft flights for the kids. Between the flights with kids, Tom Strom Jr. had the opportunity to fly, as well.


About the Images

The images were taken with a Canon Rebel T3i. I used Canon EF 100mm macro, EFS 60mm macro, and EFS 18-55mm lenses for the images. All images received simple processing in Photoshop and were saved as low-resolution JPEG images that were optimized for the Web. See "A New Photographic System for an Old Photographer" for more information about my (now somewhat dated) photographic system.