One of the unexpected highlights for me each year at Airfest is Herb & Ditto. Herb is an acrobatic pilot well into his 70's, and Ditto is a Navy T-28 carrier training aircraft. That means it taught pilots how to land on aircraft carriers back in the day.
But none of that is what makes Ditto so impressive. Sure he can do the usual aerobatic tricks, rolling over, flying upside down, doing all sorts of neat things.
What's really impressive is that smoke coming off the wing tips. I know it doesn't look like much, but bear with me.
In most planes, the smoke is made by dumping a type of paraffin into the heat of the exhaust, vaporizing it into a white smoke. Note that there is no exhaust coming out the wing tips, so this smoke is being made an entirely different way.
The smoke from Ditto seems to be more cohesive than what you normally see.
It holds together for longer after the airplane has passed.
It twists and turns in the slipstream, and occasionally for some odd reason, it forms smoke rings.
The rings twist in on themselves sometimes, making figure eights which then sometime break into more rings.
Sometimes I quit paying attention to what Herb and Ditto are doing, and I just watch the smoke twisting and turning.
Still photos don't do this motion justice. I should have taken a short video. Maybe next time.
It's weird how the rings come together from what was originally a straight trail.
Whenever Herb sees one of these smoke rings developing behind him, he tries to turn Ditto around and fly through the ring.
Conditions have to be just right for the rings to last long enough.
Sometimes there isn't much a ring left, just a cloud of smoke where the ring was a few seconds before.
Herb flies through the rings and continues with the general flow of his demonstration.
I can only imagine how hard it must be to search for these rings as you're flying through the air only a few hundred feet in the air.
Whoops, he must be out of smoke. The tailhook is down, show's over. If any of this sounds familiar, it's because I've posted it all before. Several times, in fact. I think someone even asked my permission to feature some of these smoke pictures for their atmospheric phenomena page.