Friday, June 3, 2016

Blue Angels Pilot Lost in my Hometown

Blue Angels have arrived!
   Yesterday, June 2, 2016, the Blue Angels, the elite air demonstration team of the United States Navy, arrived in Smyrna, Tennessee for the Great Tennessee Air Show that was to take place this weekend. They flew over downtown Nashville, then headed down to Smyrna, a suburb about 20 miles southeast. They arrived at Smyrna Airport right about 10am. At noon, other performers began pre-show practice. The Angels were scheduled for 3pm. Within a minute of their take-off, the #6 jet crashed. The pilot was USMC Captain Jeff Kuss. The jet went down in a field about a mile southeast of the runway. It was several hundred yards south of an apartment complex. It a few hundred feet from the Sam Davis Home. He did not survive.
This image was taken from Google Maps, I have marked the crash site. In some images you can see a barn and a log building just beside the fence and tree line that he crashed into. This is the log building:
Sam Davis birthplace
   This is the birthplace home of Sam Davis. Sam was a local hero who was killed during the American Civil War. His home is a local landmark. This log home where he was born was originally located about 5 miles away, but was moved to this site in the 1980s when a subdivision was being built near the intersection of Interstate 24 and Almaville Rd. You can see the fence just to the right in the photo. The photo below is the Sam Davis home, the log home is about 50 yards behind this house.
Sam Davis Home, Smyrna, TN
    That is the "news" view of what happened. Here is my view of the day:
  I live about 4 miles from the airport. Seeing the planes come and go is normal. Seeing the jets from the air shows is also quite normal. The Air Force Thunderbirds routine takes them right over my house several times. In the past though the Blue Angels routine never brought them that close. This next photo gives an idea of how close they are with houses for scale:
10/365 Blue Angels from my front porch
   Yesterday morning I had a dentist appointment scheduled. My dentist is located literally across the road from the Sam Davis House cotton field(to the right of the word Google in the image above). However my appointment was cancelled, so my husband and I decided to go shopping. We went to Walmart, located just to the southeast of the image above. Right at 10am we heard them, the whole building shook as they flew in and we knew it was them. We quickly ended our shopping and headed towards the airport. The planes park on the tarmac near the hangers, and it really isn't all that easy to see them from the road behind the hangers. So we went to the road that runs to the west, it leads to the private hangers and a car rental agency. The Breitling Flight team was parked there(same spot that the #7 Blue Angel is in the top photo).
Smyrna Air Show 2016
    We admired the jets, took a few photos(I only had my small Fuji, not the Canon with the zoom lens), talked with an older couple who were also looking at the planes. We could see the Angels across the runways, but my camera just wasn't good enough to get any photos. I intended to come back today with the better camera. We left after a few minutes, stopping at the Thornton's Gas Station, also seen in the above aerial image. Then we headed home. With my husband and daughter both home(school ended last week), we sat down to catch up on a few movies. We watched Mad Max:Fury Road, then Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was during Star Wars that we started hearing the planes. Stopped and took a peak outside and saw the F-22 Raptor in the distance. Back to the movie that was only somewhat interrupted by the sound of jets. My husband is former Air Force, we love the sound of jets. And we knew that we would hear them again on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
   And then near the end of the movie, we heard them really low and loud. We looked at each other because we knew that wasn't normal but shrugged it off, perhaps they had changed their routine. The movie ended, but I hadn't had my phone near me. I don't get texts often, and usually only from the people sitting in the room with my at the time. But kiddo checks her phone and says that my mom has been trying to text me-a Blue Angel has crashed. WHAT?! I race to the computer and to the local news channels and find that it's true. I am stunned. I am in shock. I am heartbroken because the pilot did not survive. I had feared this ever since we moved to Smyrna and found out about the air shows here. I love to watch them, but they terrify me. I will write more about that tomorrow.
   Today I want to pray for the soldier's family. And think back to the other times I have seen them here at the air show. Here are a few photos from past years:
Blue Angels
Blue Angels
Blue Angels, Great TN Air Show
Blue Angels 2014 TN
Blue Angels, Great TN Air Show

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Caney Fork & Western Railroad Bridge

Caney Fork & Western RR bridge
Located in McMinnville, Tennessee over the Barren Fork River. The railroad bridge was built by the Caney Fork & Western Railroad. The dam is a masonry dam built in 1902 for hydroelectric power(the power plant is now abandoned).

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

General J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Ave, Richmond, VA

JEB Stuart
   Located along historic Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. This sculpture was done by Frederick Moynihan and unveiled to the public in May of 1907.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Armour Meat Packing Plant, East St Louis

Armour Packing Plant-gone
Armour Packing Plant-gone
Armour Packing Plant-gone
Armour Packing Plant-gone
Armour Packing Plant-gone
The Armour Meat Packing Plant was built in 1903 when the company wanted to expand outside of Chicago. There was already a large railroad yard nearby, so a massive complex of stockyards and packing plants grew up in this area north of East St Louis, Illinois. For a number of reasons, the plant shut down in 1959 and sat abandoned for over 60 years.
On April 16, 2016, the plant was imploded. Interstate 70 had been rerouted nearby a few years earlier.
Gone but not forgotten. These photos were taken in March 2011.
--->Link to video of implosion

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Confederate Monument

Confederate Monument
   This is part of the Confederate Monument at Greenwood Cemetery in Clarksville, Tennessee.

I am going to focus on Civil War sites for awhile, unless I comes across something more interesting in my travels that I want to highlight here. I am hoping to photograph every Civil War soldier monument in Tennessee(not all are Confederates!). If you know of any that are not well known, please let me know where it is!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Research Phase

    I have not posted much lately because I have been more busy in the research portion of my "job". Writing up my own 'book' of interesting things to see in Tennessee, county by county, town by town. Well, interesting by my own personal taste and point of view. Not everyone cares about old buildings or water towers or weird signs. With every find of a hidden gem, I come across major disappointment. There is a Google Street View feature that allows you to sort of "time travel" by looking back in time at previous versions of that street view(if there are any available). And sometimes it is painful to see what is now missing.
   One town I just looked over, their whole downtown area, two blocks of a road along the railroad tracks and a few buildings up the main street, are now all completely gone. How sad is that? To just wipe out any sign that there was ever a town there. It hurts my heart in a way that I am sure most people do not understand. And it is why I photograph places. Because you never know when they will be gone. Because some day, someone like me might come along to research a place and wonder what it looks like-or used to look like. It is a shame when there is no proof that something ever existed.
   I am just sad now. But also bolstered by the places I 'discover' that should be remembered. And I will do my best to remember them.