Walking Through History at the Grissom Air Museum

This past summer I went a few miles out of my way to see the Grissom Air Museum. It had been over twenty years since my previous visit so I made some time before covering a Kokomo Jackrabbits game. It really is amazing to walk around and see what our heroes used to defend us over the course of the last 100 years or so. From the brave crews of the B-17 bombers to the two men crews of the F-14. You are not only fighting the enemy, but also the laws of nature up in the air. There is no room for mistakes. Here on Veteran’s Day I think that it is important to look back at what brought us here. All across the United States today there will be celebrations for those who have served. Go out and join one of them to thank a Veteran for what they have done. While you are at it you can do it the other 364 days of the year too if you are so inclined.

The War Photographs of Robert Capa

While not exactly a veteran in the military sense Robert Capa walked right alongside the men fighting in many wars. The last of those ultimately cost him his life. His iconic photos of the D-Day invasion put the viewer right in the middle of that scary scene. Just imagine what could have been had we been able to see his entire take from that day. He made 106 photos of the invasion, but only 11 survived an accident in the Life developing lab. Imagine risking your life in a V boat charging a beach with only a camera in your hand. Then imagine doing that, and most of your take is ruined before it is ever seen. Many have risked it all to bring back images of the war since it was first done in the Civil War. Robert Capa may just be the most famous to have done so. It takes a special person to risk it all to document the war. I don’t think that I could do it. Thankfully there are those that can so that we have a record of just how brave our soldiers really are.


Seeing the F-14 at the Grissom Air Museum

Part of the fun of seeing the planes up close at the Grissom Air Museum is seeing the planes that you recognize from the movies. I am not that into aviation so that is the only way that I know certain planes. With so many planes out there I don’t know how people can keep up with all of them. Of course Top Gun made me aware of the F-14. As a kid I made a few models of the plane. It is an impressive craft that the pilots could really push to the limit. They have since been retired, and now you can only find them at shows and museums like this. This particular plane is made up to look like it belongs to the VFA-11 squadron or The Red Rippers as they are called. This plane also has the markings of the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy. A little light reading about the squadron shows that they were deployed off of the Kennedy. A close up look at the plane reveals the call signs of the two members of the crew. “Chi-Chi” was the pilot with “Wedge” behind him. The squadrons and call signs are all very cool to someone who is just looking in from the outside. I can only imagine that the squadron you are a part of you identify with the rest of your life. Below are a few more photos of the F-14.

Continue reading “The F-14B Tomcat”

Seeing a B-17 Bomber Up Close and Personal

If you follow me on social media then you know that I was at the Grissom Air Museum last week. I had a great time seeing some of the history of flight and photographing them. For some reason I am drawn to the older planes more than the newer planes. It was cool to see the F-14 up close, but I loved this old B-17G. I like the idea this team of men going into battle together. Each person had their job to do on the plane. This was not the original Miss Liberty Belle. The original did not make it out of the war. This was a replica that has also gone by the name Flak Jacket and Tarnished Angel at the base. I am guessing that the museum sought this name change due the similarity between it and the Mercury capsule Liberty Bell that Gus Grissom took into space. Reading a bit about the subject I found that the painting on the side is a replica of what the pilot was sending to be put on his plane except for one small change. A bathing suit was put on the woman because of the children that would see it. The crew was not so worried about who would see it during the war.

The Story of the Real Miss Liberty Belle

As I said above this is not the real Miss Liberty Belle. The real craft crashed near its base in England in 1944. The craft had taken too much damage to make it all the way home which is something considering how much damage these planes could take. The pilots could have put the plane down in the village while getting themselves out in time, or they could try and get it out of harms way for the people of Wymington and face much dire circumstances. They chose to try and steer the plane out of harms way, and in the process hit a tree that sent them into a spin. Seven of the nine crew members died in the crash. The town has erected a memorial for those that gave all to save their town as well as the members of the town that helped pulled the two survivors out of the burning wreckage. When you read about the exploits of men and women during that time you know why they were called “The Greatest Generation.”

Continue reading “Miss Liberty Belle”

Western Wins a Heartbreaker for the Second Time This Season Against West Lafayette

Sometimes things are just not meant to be. Last night it took regulation and two overtimes to decide the sectional opener for Western and West Lafayette. There were times in the last minutes of the game that it looked like both sides had the advantage to take the victory. Then something would happen that would switch the momentum back to the other side. If I was at the game clearly as a fan I would have been excited that I had just seen a fantastic game. I was not there as a fan though. Even though you shouldn’t as a photographer I had a clear rooting interest. It is amazing how far I have come in the last few years. When I moved here I didn’t know where each team was. Now I clearly have a rooting interest for West Side. Sometimes that can come back to haunt you though as it did last night. What will also haunt me was a terrible call at the end of the game that ended up costing West Side the ballgame. The refs called a foul on West Side on a play that could have gone either way. Then they gave Western a basket on a shot that occurred way after the spot where the foul did. That foul shot was the difference in the game. A normal no call late in the ballgame turned into a game winning three point play. A long time ago I learned from Ron Luciano the famous baseball umpire a little secret. The more animated the referee during a call the less sure they are of the call. When he was not sure he would sell the call. Both referees really sold that call letting me know that they were really not sure of it. Maybe they just wanted to go home after two overtimes.

West Side Goes Down, But Not Without a Fight

Every player has an end to their playing time. Last night the five seniors at West Side had their season end. Senior Trev Parker did not play due to injury, but the other four seniors all had a great senior moment to go out on. This ride was going to end sometime. That was inevitable. It could have ended last night, or at the state finals, or anywhere in between. Someone was going to walk out of that gym disappointed last night, and it was West Side. As I said though each of the seniors had a moment where they brought the team back. While spelling Nai Carlisle for a stretch senior Kyle Gick made a great acrobatic layup while being accosted by two Western defenders who were much taller than Kyle. Jared Snoble had his hustle moments as well as a key three to get West Side a bit closer during a comeback. Bradley Bittles had what I call a Bittles moment a few times during the game. He is the master of the putback in traffic. He saved a lot of possessions with his rebounding. He finished the game with 18 rebounds. The biggest senior moment last night had to come from Tyler Nycz. With West Side down two he nailed a three from near the top of the key. The referees declared that he was fouled after the shot so West Side was awarded the ball out of bounds. After a small stretch of play Tyler was open in front of the West Side bench where he nailed another three. Six points in one trip down the floor, and the door was now open for West Side. That was a huge moment in the game when it appeared as if Western was going to start to pull away. Tyler finished his final game with 12 points. This was a great senior class. They will be hard to replace for West Side. I enjoyed watching them play for the past three years. Seeing the emotion displayed by Coach Wood after the game I think he would agree with me.

The Underclassmen Do Their Part

I don’t want to short the underclassmen here. They played a big role in the game as well. They are also the future of this West Side team. Nai Carlisle is clearly the star of this team. This team is bigger than its star, but he is the star. He was fouled hard early in the second half, and I don’t know how well his shooting arm was after that. He was definitely in some pain for the rest of the game. He still tried his hardest to give West Side the win. While Tyler Nycz will be leaving the team his brother Charlie will be back next season. That fact alone may be reason enough for me to come back and shoot a few games. Charlie is the type of player that a photographer loves. He does many things that look great on camera including diving on the ground for loose ball. He is a hustler that makes me look good as a photographer. He played his heart out for his brother last night. The emotion between the two Nycz boys after the game just reminds you how much these kids have invested in it.

Bonus Photos

Here are a few photos from the game last night that I liked for one reason or another. I have a gallery of over 200 posted on my website here. This may have been the longest that I have gone without looking at my sports photos in a while. Last night I just was not quite ready to relive that game again. Today with a little perspective I went through the photos trying to find some great moments for these kids. So here is the final round of bonus photos for the West Side Red Devils this season.