Monday, March 21, 2011

I feel the need for speed

I heard the sound long before I saw the speck. Like many objects, the sound of a big, vintage aircraft, powered by whopping big pistons with a straight pipe exhaust is unmistakable, you just know something wicked fast is headed your way, your blood starts to race as you try to discern what is making the ground start to shake. (Ladies it's a guy thing) My memory is pretty clear on the sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin, and Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp, but Friday I was hearing something new.
It was the weekend fly-in here in Omaruru where the Namibian flying community and sometimes pilots from the rest of the SADC come for a party, any excuse for some airtime is good enough, and if there happens to be some loud music, grilled meat and cold beer attached, so much the better.  Normally, it's a collection of small single engine, civilian aircraft, Cessna's, Pipers, and a motley mix of microlights. The sound of all these are familiar to me (and to you, even if you don't know it) Drifting into town, their tiny little engines screaming like a cage full of squirrels on crack, they float into our little dirt strip, pushed up and down with the winds, unable to mount much resistance in spite of their hopped up rodents.

Look don't get me wrong they're darling little planes, you can land them in a parking lot or on a dirt track if you have to and there is nothing cheaper to take to the skies with, unless you can sprout a pair of wings. Still though in a way, its very similar to the difference between a Hyundai Getz and a 67 Shelby GT 500. They both do the same thing, which, does it better, is a matter of personal taste and if the truth be spoke, wallet.  And so, a few moments after the little green bug above landed, this beast reared its head and said "Hi", at something approaching 300 kilometers per hour, about 3 meters off the deck.

This was new.... something I had never seen in all my hours of "research" on the history channel.  Turns out its a Nanchang China CJ-6A fully aerobatic  military trainer, based on the 1945 Russian YAK18, but believe it or not improved on by the Chinese, it is powered by a 9 cylinder radial air cooled engine. which is why it sounded and went far more like the Shelby then the Getz.

This somewhat primitive looking brute is owned by Jacques Jacobs of Bataleur Aviation in Swakopmund and he was in town for the above mentioned reasons and for the price of a decent meal, let people tie a white scarf around their necks and feel what it's like, if only for a few moments to rip the sky asunder. 

I suspect though that there were thoughts like these running through the new fearless WW2 fighter jocks frontal lobes...
Dear God in heaven, what madness has overtaken me and PLEASE O PLEASE let this guy  know WTF he's doing and SweetbabyJesus what possessed me to strap my sorry ass into something sporting this on its tail ??????

The answer to this rhetorical question lies in between this:

And this:

And looked a lot like this:

Post Script: No I didn't go for a ride, it had nothing to do the label and everything to do with my stomach. The worst thing about barfing in a plane is when you do and then you stall at the top of a loop, well you get the picture, and besides I'm a photographer and my job was to take pictures.......

Omaruru Monday 5:48pm

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Life in the big sandy

Greetings from a very wet, very green Namibia. It's been a long time since my last post, lots of substantial changes in my insular little world at the deserts edge. I have also been making photographs, a lot in fact.

I'll start with today, with the rains, we get a stunning array of wildflowers and bugs (taxonomically incorrect I know, but I'm sticking with the simple nomenclature) a youngster came into the gallery and asked me if I had seen "the big worm", "no" sez I, down the street we went, wrestled him into submission and back to the new studio, (I'll get to that) here he is, end to end stretched out 10cm/5in.  According to Guy this one turns into a big yellow butterfly that lives in the citrus trees.

 [ Please note, while I was napping this afternoon he made a break for it and is MIA]

A week ago yesterday I went to Windhoek on my own dime to photograph a fashion show. (it's the first one I have ever attended in person, I think it proves all the hours doing 'research' on FTV were not wasted.)  I had one image run in The Namibia Star, one in Allgemeine Zeitung, and seven, count 'em seven in The Namibian, the national english daily!  Now if only I can start getting paid for this @#$%.

Our ephemeral Omaruru river has been running non-stop for almost 6 weeks now, varying from a trickle to a bank to bank muddy torrent, we average 25cm/10in/year, with the rain that's falling as I write, we will push through 60cm/24in with months of rainy season to come!

Here's the thing though, if you live on the other side of the river like I do, most of the year driving to town is a 60 second commute, if the river is running and you are not feeling brave, [some would say prudent], it's a whopping 12 minute commute, most of us that live on the other side, sooner or later tempt fate, last week I got a call from Jane the newspaper editor, telling me the town's health inspector had gotten the fire truck buried to the door frames and didn't I want to take a photograph for the 'PlanetOm' yes Loretta, we have a town newspaper and flush plumbing too!   Here's Lion, stuck as advertised, I am unclear as to how he managed to drill it in so deep.

Each year we have a road race sponsored by Otto and Bobby who own the local Spar, the race is an eclectic mix of the serious and not so serious, the official looking fellow on the English three speed is Jonathan Church, a loyal subject of Lizzie 2, a fellow geologist and resident eccentric. [it takes one to know one] The other guys are Team Toshiba (duh).

This is Hansen, the superintendent of the Tubussis School, in the shadow of Erongo Mountain.

Jean Pierre and his, soon to arrive baby sister.

Omaruru has an internationally ranked cyclist, Dan Craven Jr. his team provides him with the latest state of the art kit, which allows him to be competitive near the highest levels of the sport, it is however my considered opinion that it is more the man then the machine.  Here are two of Dan, first the mad racer  and second the man on my Chinese one speed with Martin my long suffering domestic landscape engineer.

And this brings me to the news, I've begun to consolidate my working spaces, I have taken over half the old bakery building on the Main Street, which I have turned into my very own first ever dedicated gallery/studio/office.  A change I am immensely pleased with.

I do hope this finds you all well, wherever on the ball you may be, we should all take a silent moment in whatever way we choose to send hope and salvation to the people of Honshu & Christchurch.