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Posts Tagged ‘helicopter’

When I am out taking photos at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I often hear helicopters passing overhead. Generally the helicopters are green in color and probably belong to the US Army aviation unit at nearby Fort Belvoir.

I was a little surprised last week, though, when I spotted the a distinctive “White Top” helicopter, which meant that it probably belongs to the unit that provides helicopter support to the President, the Marine Helicopter Squadron One “Nighthawks.” The unit is based primarily in Quantico, Virginia, further south along the Potomac River from where I was located. This helicopter seemed to be by itself, which makes it very unlikely that it was Marine One, the designation given to the helicopter carrying the President.

“As a security measure, Marine One always flies in a group of as many as five identical helicopters. One helicopter carries the president, while the others serve as decoys. Upon take-off these helicopters shift in formation to obscure the location of the president. This has been referred to as a “presidential shell game,” according to Wikipedia.

Helicopters often make me think of dragonflies, because of their general shape and aerial flight capabilities. I recently went to see the new “Dune” movie and was totally blown away by the “ornithopters” that play a centrol role in the movie—they look even more like dragonflies than a “normal” helicopter does.

According to an article on motorbiscuit.com, “Director Denis Villeneuve instructed the team to base them on dragonflies while still making the military vehicles appear “muscular.” As a result, the aircraft look like part helicopter gunship, party huge insect.” For the record, I really enjoyed the “Dune” movie, which combines some of the storytelling of the Matrix and Star Wars movies with the stunning desert cinematography of “Lawrence of Arabia.”

presidential helicopter

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I stood at the waterfront in Georgetown last Friday, I heard a rumble approaching. Was it an aircraft? Was it a helicopter? Suddenly a loud, slow aircraft appeared low in the sky above the Potomac River. It was probably the strangest looking aircraft that I had ever seen.

I had read about the MV-22 Osprey, but had never seen one. The Osprey combines the functionality of a helicopter with that of an aircraft and has tilt rotors that allow it to perform vertical takeoffs and landings.

This Marine Corps aircraft was at the tail end of a small flight of helicopters that was heading toward the White House. Perhaps it was providing additional security, given that it was September 11 when I took the photos, or may have merely been transporting part of the President’s entourage.

The first two photos show the Osprey in flight. I was pleased to be able to get these shots despite the fact that I had only a 24-105mm lens on my camera at the time. The third shot is of one of the other helicopters in the group. The “white top” helicopters are usually associated with the Marine Corps detachment that supports the President. The final shot shows a couple of the presidential helicopters as they fly toward the White House.

I thought about cloning out the small jet in the first photo, but decided that I like the way that it almost looks like the Osprey is stalking the jet.

MV-22 Osprey

MV-22 Osprey

presidential helicopter

presidential helicopters

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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