Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Moon On Halloween

Here's a picture of the almost-full moon tonight. It's not quite full, but I think that's going to happen tomorrow. I haven't shot the moon in quite a while, but there it was tonight, almost daring me to try and take it's picture. So I did.


Not much of a sunset this evening, I'm afraid. I expected more, since it is Halloween and all. This is from Fort Desoto and that's Egmont Key out there on the horizon. And the little spot of light would be the lighthouse on Egmont Key.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Air Force One

When I first arrived at Sarasota International Airport this afternoon, this was a view. A big 747 sitting there, all decked out in blue & white, labeled United States Of America on the side. There were a few hundred people gathered on the side of the road watching. Technically at this point, you're looking at just another plane. Just another really big plane, though. SRQ isn't a big airport, and most of the little Delta jets that flew out while I was waiting were dwarfed by this big guy.

By the time I took this shot, the plane was officially Air Force One. President Obama had transferred from his Marine One helicopter into this plane. It's only officially designated Air Force One when the President is on board. And take it from me, unless they pulled the old switcheroo while I wasn't looking, Obama was on board this plane. From the time he got on until they began to taxi was less than two minutes. I guess being the President has it's perks.

And once they taxied, they turned and took off. No delays for this bird.

This is the second time I've seen Air Force One. The first time was 1979 when Jimmy Carter was running for re-election against Ronald Reagan. He flew in and out of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, and my Mom took me out of school to go see him. I've got pictures of that somewhere, I wonder if I can find them...

Marine One

As I mentioned a second ago, I spotted President Obama as he passed through Sarasota today. He flew back into our little airport aboard Marine One, the designation for the helicopter in which the President flies. I was having a hard time figuring out which chopper was actually Marine One because all of a sudden there were five Marine helicopters landing. I knew the President was on one of them because they had closed the road in front of me to traffic seconds before they came into range. The first two helicopters landed and disgorged 10-15 people each, but none of them looked important enough to be guarded. Then another chopper landed over near me next to a back-up bird that had been there since I arrived. A fourth and slightly smaller helicopter then flew in, landing between the first two. Only a few people got out of that one, and it wasn't met by many people. The fifth and final whirlybird took a slightly different path than the others, so I figured that was the one. All of these pictures show that helicopter as it came in and landed in front of Air Force One.

Look close at this picture and you can see a Marine standing at attention and saluting as President Obama prepares to exit the helicopter.

The President Of The United States Of America

Care to guess who came to town today? You probably won't be able to tell from these pictures, but trust me when I say that President Barack Obama is in these shots. He flew into Sarasota this morning to visit the new solar power plant in Arcadia, and I caught him after he was flown back to the airport, during the short walk from Marine One to Air Force One. I would guess he was on the tarmac no more than a minute. That's him in the center of the photo above, in front of the satellite truck for channel 8. Marine One is to the right.

As you can see, Obama was moving on. I don't think he even stopped to wave at anyone during his walk. These pictures are crops of much larger shots, and I really couldn't see what he was doing as he walked. In fact, I wasn't even certain I'd caught him. But I went by the comments from the folks around me who had binoculars and better eyesight. We were all observing from an access road behind the airport, maybe a quarter mile away. You can see the nose of Air Force One intruding in on the picture above.

I hadn't planned on going up to the airport at all, but after lunch I decided that I needed to at least ride by to see what I could see, and I was glad I did. My timing couldn't have been much better.

One thing that I didn't think of as I was shooting these pictures was the heat rising from the runways. Most of the distortion you see in these shots is due to the hot air rising from the tarmac that I was trying to shoot through. But this is probably as close as I'll ever get to a sitting president with my camera. I shook hands with Bill Clinton once when he visited UF, but I didn't have a camera at the time.