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Photographer's Note

I took this shot a couple of weeks ago in the Philippines. In this photograph of an old YS11 propeller aircraft landing at Baguio, it looks like the starboard engine is on fire, creating a stream of smoke behind the plane. In fact, this is a cloud formation behind the plane which you can see more clearly in the photograph that I took half a second before and which I have posted to the workshop. I was just lucky that I took this at the right moment to create this impression.

I had taken this plane up to Baguio from Manila three days before, and I took this shot from the side of the runway as it was coming into land for the return trip. When I bought my ticket on Asian Spirit (“the People’s Airline) I didn’t realise that I would be flying on a plane as old as this. At Manila airport I saw a BAe146 and a Dash7 parked outside the terminal building, and I thought we would be flying on one of those, but when they put us into the bus they took us over the back of the airfield where this old propeller plane was parked. As I climbed on board I noticed the fuselage around the door was patched up with a grey gunk, and there was what looked like a large steel plate welded under the fuselage as if to hold it together. When I got to Baguio (an unpressurised flight at 10,000 ft) I looked up the aircraft’s registration on my BlackBerry and discovered it had been built in 1969 and had been operated by ANA in Japan on domestic flights until 2003 when it was sold to Asian Spirit. Given the repairs that I could see on the fuselage, I wondered whether it had been in a crash at some stage, but an Internet search revealed that the only problem it had experienced had been in 1980 when it got struck by lightning, damaging the nosecone and fuselage, and shattering the rudder. However, it landed safely with no injuries reported.

The flight into Baguio involves a long left hand turn through a valley, skirting a few mountain ridges, and then landing on an airstrip cut into the side of the mountain with a pronounced downhill gradient. If I had known I would be flying into Baguio on a 36 year old plane, I might have considered taking the bus instead (but that is a 7 hour trip compared to 55 minutes by plane) but fortunately the weather was fine and the trip uneventful.

In the workshop photograph you will see a security guard standing on the left of the frame (which I have cropped out on this one). He is blowing a whistle at a jeepney that was about to cross the airstrip. The runway at Baguio has a road crossing the middle of it, and when a plane is about to land or take off, they blow a siren to stop vehicles and people crossing. However, people stand very close to the edge of the runway when the planes take off – just as well they aren’t jet aircraft or they might get blown away!

*** I have posted to the workshop a vertical crop as suggested by Kari. It looks better than the original. Thanks for the suggestion Kari ***

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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