Jul 042013

Airpower 2013 - wide logo

Airpower 2013 - small logoI’m a bit late posting this, but there’s been lots of other trouble this week too. But here we go, with this years [Airpower]! Being Austrias biggest and greatest air show inviting people with free entrance, it’s the place to be, or was the place to be last weekend in this country. With a total of over 300.000 spectators it was massive once again, even though the organizers – mostly [Red Bull] and the [Austrian Airforce] – had decided to go from a 5 year cycle to a 2 year one in 2009.

I’ve actually already been to one of the first air shows in Zeltweg (where we have our military airport), when it wasn’t even called “Airpower” yet, as one of our teachers who was also a Major at the Armed Forces dragged us there. That was some time in the late 90s, and there was far less marketing and far less people at the show. Still, it was damn awesome even back then. It only grew bigger and better since the old days, and now it’s the single biggest event of all in Austria! Today it is being celebrated as a great and peaceful multinational event showing off air acrobatics, military maneuvers like air interception, vintage planes from the early days of flight and all kinds of stuff around planes and helicopters.

Enough reason for me to show you a few pictures I made while I was there last Saturday. Let’s start off on the ground though, so we can see a few planes before they took off:

What you can see above are three aircraft belonging to the Red Bull Flying Bulls, a Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair – legendary WW2 plane – a B-25J Mitchell with great chrome look, a small Bell helicopter and a Eurofighter. Most of these we will also see airborne in the next set of pictures showing off some of the Flying Bulls:

The first picture above shows a dedicated aerobatics plane, which should be the Corvus CA-41 Racer (if I’m not mistaken that is). That plane has been designed and built specifically to meet the Flying Bulls’ own requirements. Besides that we can see the Corsair and the shiny Mitchell airborne, alongside two Alpha jets. After that the Bulls also presented some sky divers, including two guys with wingsuits! Let’s have a look:

Above we can see the wingsuit guys diving down, and an interesting parachute maneuver, the vertical dive! They do this by connecting the two guys at their feet, then, right above the ground they would disconnect and split up to return to horizontal flight! It’s really awesome to see that, them diving down at high speed and then splitting just before things get dangerous! Now let’s continue with the helicopters, before we shall see the really loud planes:

See that helicopter flying a looping? That thing is the worlds only helicopter model that can reproduce basically every single aerobatic maneuver that a plane can also do, the Bölkow BO 105. You wouldn’t believe what that thing can do, before you’ve actually seen it for yourself! Also we can see a demilitarized Bell AH-1 Cobra belonging to the Flying Bulls again, and the most awesome and ugly beast ever to rise into the air, a Czech Mi24 HiND! Now, to the stunt flyers, we’ll see the Patrouille Suisse from Switzerland and the Patrulla Aguila from Spain, as I unfortunately missed the Italian Frecce Tricolori and the Turkish Stars:

First two are the Swiss guys, the rest is the Patrulla Aguila. Their most striking thing of course being their smokers drawing the Spanish flag into the sky! We also had two guys drawing a heart and arrow again, but that was just too big a frame to capture with my Nikon V1 and the 30-110mm lens. Now let’s switch over to the real military displays, with our own Austrian Eurofighters first. These pictures are both from the solo display as well as from the military interception maneuver, where two Eurofighters are supposed to intercept a Hercules and force it to land. One or two are also from the display flight that comes after the interception part:

Not bad, those beasts are loud and I love twin turbines! But there were two planes louder than even the Eurofighter, and those I’m going to show you next. First, an F-16 from Belgium and then my personal favorite at the last two Airpower shows and again this time: The Royal Netherlands Airforce F-16 fighting falcon with its cool and characteristic orange paintjob, showing us the color associated with the Dutch royal house “Oranje-Nassau”. To be fair and honest, according to measurements, the Belgian F-16 was even a bit louder, but well. ;) Unfortunately I only have one not-too-good shot of the Belgian machine, but here you go:

I just love the Dutch machine, what can I say? It’s my personal highlight! But there is yet another very special performance, that I’d like to show you a few select pictures from, a very, very slow, almost hypnotic one. It’s the Blanix team flying two LET L 13 Blanik glider planes. They’re using those silent planes to even show loopings and mirror flight, all at a bullet-time pace, while all the speakers at the show will play a very slow lullaby to go along with it. It creates a very special, dreamy atmosphere. One wouldn’t think that this is actually cool, but it’s damn cool, and a very sharp contrast to the other performances:

Now, I know my pictures can’t rival those of the spotter photographers or that of any random person with a decent DSLR and lens, but I hope you still liked it, I know I did! :) That’s it for now, I’m pretty sure I’ll be there for Airpower 2015 too, as it’s just one of the most impressive events you can attend to in Austria, in my opinion at least!

Jan 082013

Paris LogoRecently, a colleague of mine from Malaysia finished his contract at our university, and just before he’s leaving, he’s doing a lot of travelling all around Europe. One of these trips, dubbed the “Michelin trip” would lead him to Paris, France. Why “Michelin trip” you may wonder? Because the primary purpose was to visit some Michelin star restaurants and put the French cuisine – which is known as one of the best in the world – to the test!

So he asked me and some other colleagues if we would like to come, and I agreed. I have never been to France before anyway, so this should be fun I thought, which it was. Before showing you some pictures of the city, let me just say that there was one place which was especially exceptional when it comes to food: [Kei]. The chef there – a Mr. Kei Kobayashi – has learned his skills in France, especially from the 3-star chef Alain Ducasse. After 7 years of haute cuisine, he opened his own place, which has promptly received a Michelin star!

Let me just say – without going into too much detail – that Mr. Kobayashis surprise menu is a divine experience that you simply HAVE to make if you ever have the chance to visit Paris. Sure, it ain’t cheap, but for what you’ll pay, you get more than I would have expected. Not just stellar culinary compositions, but also a neat presentation of each dish, where the waitor will explain the origins of ingredients and parts of how it all comes together, while you’re being served. Also, the setting in white and light greys with silver cutlery for each course adds to the experience; Marvellous!

On top of that we also visited 35° Ouest, which is another Michelin star place focusing on seafood. Let me just say, it might not have the style and presentation found at Kei’s, but that was the damn tastiest and juiciest salmon I ever had! Plus some other neat stuff of course. And then there was Roger la Grenouille, not cheap either, but if you ever want to try frog legs, I suggest you pick the ones in garlic (right on the top of the frog leg menu), it’s actually quite awesome. ;)

Now, the pictures. A pity that you’re not allowed to take photos within the Musée d’Orsay (where some of my all time favorites from Monet can be seen, finally, I could see the originals!), but here are some impressions from around the city, and also from within the Musée du Louvre, where many masterpieces from past centuries and millennia can be found:

Well, that sure was one cool trip! Expensive, but cool. :)