“Bird” photography in paradise

30 July, 2017            “Bird” photography in paradise

“Wherever my travels may lead, paradise is where I am.” – Voltaire

A week ago I put up a blog post called “Guest ‘bird’ photographer – Mediterranean Sea – 1959”. This weekend – I only got home late this evening – my friend Pat and I went to Pensacola, FL to visit his son Daniel, who used to take us flying in this area. He’s now learning to become a Marine pilot at Pensacola, and he and his wife Mary were our gracious hosts this weekend. Mary was also our gracious photographer, and she took these two pictures of Pat and Daniel and me inside the National Naval Aviation Museum aboard NAS Pensacola. Here are a couple of the pictures Mary took:

One is obviously a pilot (Daniel). I obviously have a brace on my leg. In the center is the pilot’s father Pat. Photograph by the pilot’s wife Mary. Thanks Mary! F-14 Tomcat in the background. 

See caption above to identify humans. The plane is an F4U-4 Corsair, one of history’s  greatest fighter aircraft.

If you looked at the “Guest ‘bird’ photographer” link above, or at the USS Saratoga (CVA 60) link at the top of this page, you’ll see pictures my Dad took of Navy fighter jets (and one propeller plane) in 1959. Incredibly (to me) I saw several of those planes in the museum! Yesterday! My Dad took pictures of the actual aircraft on board an actual aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea in 1959, two years before I was born. And I was photographing the same planes fifty-eight years later! I hope you’ll forgive me; I’m going to put a couple of last week’s pictures in here, with pictures I took yesterday for comparison. We saw an F3H-2M Demon in the museum. Here’s the picture in the museum yesterday:

F3H Demon

Explanatory plaque:

F3 Explanatory plaque

Picture my Dad took of an F3H Demon – in 1959:

USS Saratoga, CV 60 – McDonnell F3H-2 Demon – picture taken by my Dad – 
Mediterranean Sea – 1959                 I just cannot stop being amazed

It was moving in the strangest way to look at that actual plane just a week after I discovered my Dad’s pictures. It was moving in a good way and unsettling in a good way. Unsettling as in, the odds of a sequence of events like that occurring are so unlikely. But so fantastic.

Similar situation with a Douglas AD Skyraider. Here’s one in the museum, from the front:

Douglas AD Skyraider (front) in museum

Explanatory plaque:

Explanatory plaque for Skyraider

Pictures my Dad took of Skyraiders – in 1959:

Middle: Line of Douglas A-1 Skyraiders – picture taken by my Dad, 1959

I have too much stuff! It’s overwhelming, in an excellent way, like being locked in a room filled with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and ice cold bottles of fresh milk. Not exactly like that, but overwhelming in the most rewarding way.

But wait – there’s more. Because when you’re going to be overwhelmed, you might as well be really overwhelmed. As a Primary Flight Training student, Daniel is flying the T-6B Texan. We didn’t get to see Daniel fly, but there were T-6’s parked everywhere. 148 on the base, Daniel says. And guess who didn’t take a single picture!? What can I say. Just as we got there, one was doing touch-and-go landings and it flew over our head in the parking lot. I snapped this image just by luck:

T-6 with student pilot and instructor

Anyway, more luck than that. Daniel was able to spend time in the T-6 simulator Saturday and he invited Pat and me to watch. It was huge – actual sized – and it was so realistic it made you dizzy – in the best way, like a fun rollercoaster – to watch. Here’s a picture Pat took of Daniel in the simulator:

Daniel in T6 simulator

Daniel was a civilian flight instructor before he joined the USMC. He talked Pat and me through the maneuvers he was doing. Daniel is a superb instructor but I am only a fair listener. I think he said this was a spin. Pat took the video. Some viewers may find it vertiginous:

Daniel and Mary have a sweet dog named Jack; I’m always happy to meet a new dog during my travels. He’s a handsome little boy:

Handsome Jack in the backyard at the home of our gracious hosts in Florida yesterday morning

I’m going to bed! Daniel and Mary and Jack, thank you for your invitation and incredible hospitality this weekend. Pat, thanks for inviting me along! Have a great week,



About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Aircraft carrier, Birds, CVA 60, Fun, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), USS Saratoga and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Bird” photography in paradise

  1. Jackie says:

    What a great way to spend the weekend, looks awesome!

    • Thanks Jackie – it was fantastic! There are closer beaches than Florida, but none with as many cool planes. Plus free lodging! Excellent food too. Thanks for the note, talk with you soon,


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