Doin' It Hot and Noisy!
A Blazing Report From The Other Side of the Runway
Midland CAF Airsho 2005 -
There are three things a photographer craves most. 1. An interesting subject.
2. Great light. And number 3. ACCESS! Thanks to an introduction by Pat Wilson I was granted a rare treat to go with the Blastards to the other side of the runway during Sunday's presentation of the CAF Airsho 2005. There were actually three organizations represented to help bring off the spectacular show- the Blastards, the Explosive Ordnance Detachment and the Tora Bomb Squad.
The primary ingredient of the show is plain old gas. Steve Hanson gets a fill up from the gas man.
Each bag contains about three gallons of gas. Lester Townsend takes his turn in line to fill up yet another bag. Over 900 bags of gas were used in the two days of the show.
Gary Branch is seen here loading the bags into a four wheeler so they can be driven out to their positions. The crew are all thoroughly trained before they can join in the fun.
This line of bags will go off as a wall of fire 800 feet long. There are approximately 160 bags all hooked into the same length of primacord that sets off the explosions.
Rhonda Burke arranges her lines to produce a simulated bomb explosion. She was the shooter for Bomb Spread #2.
Mary Ann Drennan, Richard Shull, June Robinson, and Rhonda Burke discuss the placement of the charges and the gas bags so that everything will go according to plan. The events on the ground must be timed perfectly to coincide with the safe locations of the airplanes that will fly above.
An explosive charge gives the explosion its noise
Sandy Farris holds her specially designed shooting board constructed for her by Randy Skinner.
Rod Robinson was the Shooter-In-Charge for the show.
Robinson is a veteran of many explosive shows. He's been involved with the EOD since 1986 and the leader of the group
for the last 4 years.
Mixed in with the chance to be blown sky high is a sense of dry humor that the team members share. Here Randy Skinner holds a replica of Frank Wilson who couldn't make it this year in person so he was there in effigy. Each year one of the group is immortalized in some way, generally for something they goofed up on.
And then the real fun begins! Bruce and Susie Day act as a team to set off explosions in their zone.
Susie wears the fashions of the day, safety goggles, a military helmet and a walkie talkie. Team members keep in contact throughout the day to coordinate the show and keep everyone safe.
Blastards Second-in-Command David Linebarger poses with Wiley Coyote, a very temporary sculpture made up for today's show. Very soon Wiley will emulate a scene from one of his cartoons and be blown to kingdom come.
The explosions make for a dramatic show as the bombers pass overhead.
An antique plunger is still used to set off explosions.
This explosion was as close as I care to get. It knocked me back on my rear!
Jack rabbits usually have this part of the airport all to themselves. For two days out of the year it's a different story.
This fellow was obviously freaked out by the activity and explosions going off all over his territory. He laid low as long as he dared and then bolted when we got about ten feet from him. It was a good idea, charges were set to go off very near by. Still, I didn't see any fried rabbits during my day with the team so I guess they all got away.
The highlight of the day is a huge explosion designed to look like an atom bomb's mushroom cloud.
To see the explosion from start to finish, move your mouse over the blue bars. Once they have fully loaded you can move your mouse back and forth over the bars to control the explosion. To really control an explosion, leave the job to the Blastards.
Thanks gang, for allowing me the chance to hang with you for the day!!
Max Haynes

Click here to see more pictures from the Midland CAF Airsho.