Lockheed 12 : End Of Day
This is a vintage 1939 Lockheed -12. It is similar to what Amelia Earhart flew all those years ago, it’s just a bit smaller. This aircraft has gone through a 5 year restoration and is valued at over $1.5 Million, I understand. The owner flies the plane to air shows all over the country, and comes in first place in the vintage restored aircraft category every time he shows up at a show.
The mechanic in the shot is Jim, who is the chief mechanic for the plane. The airport administrator for Chino airport has been very generous to me, and is loaning me the use of this old, temporarily empty hanger for a couple of my art shots. It adds greatly to the shot I think. Next week I'm going to try and shoot a classic P-51 inside this same hanger.
Some of the background story you might find interesting is that the plane specifically has a lot of history. It was built at the Lockheed plant in Burbank, California in 1939 and was immediately given to Britain during the Lend-Lease program of WWII. Originally serving as executive transport, then later it saw action in Africa and did take several bullet holes in the wings and fuselage. (As a matter of fact, they are pretty sure that Winston Churchill had flown aboard her.) During the restoration, they found the patched holes on the skin and underneath the skin in the structure. After the war, it was sold to the French, and again saw action as an executive transport in Vietnam during that country’s conflict with the French and Vietnamese. The plane again sustained battle damage and took a couple more 88mm anti-aircraft rounds in the wings and fuselage. On the walls of the hanger where she was restored, the guys saved all of the skins that had the original holes in them. Later on it was sold to an American oil company and flew around the southwest for the next 30 years or so. The mechanic, Jim explained to me that at that time the philosophy for dealing with mechanical problems with the engines and systems was to just pour more oil on the problem areas and keep on flying. When they finally got a hold of her, she had not been given any serious repair or mechanical overhaul in almost the entire 70 year life span of the plane. To say it was in desperate need of TLC was an under statement. It's fascinating to see all the aluminum skins hanging on the hanger walls, with those 50 year old bullet holes from that time in history. Most of the aircraft had to be re-skinned, so it was a massive job to restore the plane, from the ground up.
Les, the man who owns this beautiful aircraft, knows a guy who owns a restored P-51, which I'll maybe shoot soon. These guys run around in different circles than most of us I think.
Anyway, I hope you like the shot, I gave it my all, and did a good job I think. During the evening of the shooting, while still sick with walking pneumonia, I had major sweats (changed my clothes 3 times during that night shooting) and chills, all the while I was coughing up green goo from my lungs. Not a pretty sight. However, I did get the shot as agreed upon and am feeling better now. For me, all that matters is the photo. It was important to shoot the plane on that night specifically, as the guys had just flown back from another air show in Florida 2 days before. They agreed to not clean up the exterior so it would have a slightly duller sheen for the photo shoot. I was concerned that the plane is so verrrrrrrry shiny and would make my job of lighting the metal skin almost impossible. That’s why I chose to view the plane from underneath and the front. Red painted surfaces and silver painted undersides are easier to light with my floodlights. If you look carefully at the shot, you can see that the side of the fuselage underneath the cockpit windows are very polished metal. The whole rest of the plane has that surface. Even in that little area of bare polished metal, I used over 7 different shots, all overlaid together, to get the look of "regular metal".
Captain Kirk, chief pilot for this aircraft, explained to me that the one most common question he gets asked from people at air shows where they are presenting her for display is, “ how fast does she go?” 192 MPH true air speed. That was in the days before Knots per hour. She has a service ceiling of about 21,000, feet, but is most often cruising along at about 10,000 feet for the comfort of everybody on board. The owner, Les Whittlesey, mentioned that she burns about 50 gallons per hour at cruise. My observation of,“Whow! Isn’t that a lot, and very expensive?” His response, “Well, not really, it depends on who’s paying for it.”