SNJ-6 of John Schonhorst

I was delighted to meet John Schonhorst and passenger US Navy veteran Bob May who visited Springfield in late afternoon October 31, 2016. I understand from Greg Vallero, who taught John how to fly this Texan, that JS is veteran pilot with two military services and more. Bob — believe it or not — soloed for the first time in a US Navy SNJ on October 31, 1956! He went graduated into TO-1, F9F Panther, FJ-4A and B, A4D (as they were called in 1961) and F8U Crusader! He’s the gent with sunglasses and the cane. What stories he could tell! I had just a few minutes with him while JS was paying for the fuel. John visited AeroKnow Museum briefly and promised to return. Bob did not see AKM  but said he hopes to  see it when he can. To give maximum impact to the pictures taken October 31 and about 9:00 am November 1 and are shared in a thumbnail grid. Click on any for a larger pic., I’m not captioning these. I’ll be happy to answer questions and read your comments.

AeroKnow Museum recently moved our WELCOME Room which we occupied for more than six years to a new location that includes the new WELCOME Room and an adjoining Models On Display Room. Things are still being arranged as this post comes together, Look for pictures of the new rooms in a future AKM Gallery of Flight.

Monday afternoon

Tuesday morning


Commemorative Air Force — Part 2

Please read the introduction to Part 1 to understand what I’m doing here.



Commemorative Air Force Visit #1 — C-45 pt.1

The Commemorative Air Force AIRPOWER TOUR began arriving at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport Monday, August 8, 2016. Their C-45, PT-13 and T-34 were first on the ground; the B-29 arrived a little after 1:00. This series of Gallery posts will present every picture I thought of acceptable quality. To better serve visitors each installment will “focus” on each CAF aircraft starting with the Beech C-45. Additional galleries will feature additional aircraft photographed when I was on the ramp during the CAF visit, and a final installments will share broad views showing CAF activity and a display of a restored US Army Jeep and a one-morning display by a local re-enactor’s organizaion.

Sincere THANKS to the Commemorative Air Force whose visiting personnel grated me “carte blanche,” permission to AeroKnow Museum and me to photograph their priceless aircraft  when they were present at our airport and away from the airport as well. Without their most generous cooperation, many of the pictures you will see in this series, posted  every six or seven days, would not have been possible.

Pictures were taken by Job Conger, Director AeroKnow Museum, and are shared in a thumbnail grid format, up to 25 pictures at a time.  Click on any for a larger image and back to return to the mosaic. Questions and comments are welcome.

If you like what you see here, please support AeroKnow Museum.

Beech Staggerwing . . . . . part 2

These pictures were taken the morning of August 4. As with they August 3 post, they are presented in a thumbnail grid. Click on any for a larger picture. All photos by Job Conger, founder/director AeroKnow Museum.

Beech 17 Staggerwing…part 1

This former US Navy GB-1 (what the  USN VIP transport Staggerwings where called) visited Springfield August 3. Pictures taken August 4 will posted in part 2 of this series of 2 next Thursday. I was privileged by pilot Pat Napolitano to photograph it on the ground the overcast early afternoon when it arrived and the sunny morning when it took off. I did not obtain any photos of the panel or interior other than what you see here. I  didn’t want to inconvenience the cordial visitor. Pictures are presented here in thumbnail format. Click on any for the full picture. If you have questions, additional information about this aircraft or questions, please contact photographer Job Conger at AeroKnow Museum, Springfield, Illinois —  Sincere thanks to Pat Napolitano, Regional Service Representative for MidContinent Instruments + Avionics of Wichita, Kansas for courtesies extended to yours truly and AeroKnow Museum.

Dassault Falcon 7X

These pictures of two visiting 7Xs are shared as thumbnails. Click on any for a larger image. All were taken during May, 2016. I hope you like them.

N250LG  arrived May 15

N496AC  visited May 25

and was photographed again, this time from the ramp, on May 26

President Obama’s February 10 Visit to Springfield, Illinois – Part 4

The day after President Obama’s visit was ideal with weather and timing of the final C-17 visit. Unfortunately for me, it was parked next to the terminal where I knew the chances for prime photos were slim. I ALMOST didn’t bother to try. After I changed my mind, I walked over to the terminal’s north side where I had phot’d another 17 earlier in the wee.As I waited for the 17 to park, I saw a Falcon in Canadian registry take off.

Above is my view of the 17 after it parked. I was not interested in taking the same sub-nominal pictures of this bird that I had taken earlier of the President’s VC-25A so I walked to the other side of the terminal to see what I could do from behind the fence.  Here is what I saw as I walked across the parking lot to my new destination.

The ground next to the ramp on this side had obviously hosted the  media and other heavy gear the day before. By the  time I arrived here, the VH-60N and the rest, unloaded from a C-17 two days earlier had been loaded aboard. Just one crew member as engine start was initiiated. I  had seen the smoke before, but had not photographed it. Against the blue sky it was especially interesting. The fellows with the truck and flatbed trailer had just arrived and were removing the chairs that remained from the day before.  That didn’t take long, and soon they had exitedd via the secured gate nearby. outside.

When he turned left onto the taxiway heading southwest to take off on Runway 4, it was clear  I HAD TO BE back where I started, behind the fence on the other side of the terminal. I  have not run as fast as I ran (ran, jogged, walked, ran, jogged, walked) since I was a much younger hombre, but to get the pictures I wanted, the other side was where I HAD TO BE.
I arrived JUST IN  TIME. He had completed final checklists and was turning onto the runway. Here are the pictures taken, intentionally long into the climbout because the  light and aircraft were so perfectly positioned.

So ended the media-credential-less tussle with unhappy circumstance. In retrospect this fate-rendered poop-in-my-face motivated me to try harder to capture some moments worth remembering, so I  suppose, I’m grateful for that. I hope readers of this AeroKnow Museum Gallery of Flight blog like what you’ve seen. If 10 people will leave comments, including constructive criticism, in the comments section that follows BEFORE MARCH 19, I will extend this series to a Part 5 which will be, in one post, all the photos I took on the day when I was GIVEN MEDIA CREDENTIALS for President Obama’s first visit to our city’s Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport aboard  VC-25A “Air Force One” on February 9, 2009.

Thank you for reading this post. Please support AeroKnow Museum. Have a great day.

President Obama’s February 10, 2016 Visit to Springfield, Illinois – Part 3

Late in the day we were informed at Horizon Aviation that the president would be returning soon. We were also told something we were NOT told as the VC-25A, radio call sign Air Force One, approached to land that morning: that the lockdown declared for people occupying buildings adjacent to the tarmac and the prohibition against any ground vehicles moving during the approach and until the motorcade had departed the airport had been CANCELLED!  That explains why we saw so many cars and trucks  in motion that morning and again when the entourage returned. Once we knew the new reality, Horizon’s front door was unlocked, and I was permitted to walk over to the fence facing the VC-25 on the other side of the obstacles and join the 20 or so spectators already gathered there.

It was a happy bunch. Without asking anyone to move, I snuggled into a open spot next to the fence and apologized to three or four close by for taking up so much space. I said “You have as much right to be here as I do.” One replied that I wasn’t in the way, she and her family had been waiting by the fence four hours, and everyone was glad to be there and for the only slight chill in the weather.


The challenge awaiting me in the next five minutes was to double check shutterspeed and to fanagle, which is to say gently step, unhurredly to the left corner of the fence to be ready at first glimpse of the airplane to frame without the fence wires in the way and take what I could as fast as I could. If the fence got in the way, my pre-auto-focusing at infinity would be wasted effort since the auto-focus would re-engage and cost me precious pieces of seconds to recover from that. Another factor was that the airplane would be so quiet, even at takeoff power as it approached the obstructing terminal from the right as it accelerated, that I had to listen to the crowd whose reaction would help me be ready and then do the best I could as fast as I could.

It’s a MIRACLE that my first picture was in focus. And I consider myself extremely lucky with the second picture. I had deliberately NOT set the shutter in rapid-fire mode because I  wanted to SEE the picture and like it, before I pressed the shutter release. I have heard too many stories of how good photographers missed “the money maker picture” because the camera was cycling to the next picture.


The  last picture was a “Hail Mary” desperate snap that worked out okay. Nothing was cropped, and the angle of the slightly tilted horizon was not adjusted to true horizontal because I feel the angle contributes to the picture. Again, Lady Luck was riding on my shoulder!

There will be parts 4 and 5 of this series.  The next will share the departure of the C-17 which visited the same terminal ramp to pick up equipment delivered to the 183d Fighter  W ing, Illinois Air National Guard facility about a week before the presidential visit. Part 5 will be every picture I took during the president’s visit to Springfield February 9, 2009. Those pictures were taken following my SUCCESSFUL ACQUISITION of media credentials. The difference between what I  took on that joyous occasion and the most recent will astound you.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading this post.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Have a terrific day.

February 10 Presidential Visit to Springfield – Part 2

About lunchtime February 9, another C-17 from McGuire arrived and shut down across the field at Standard Aero. Barricades barring vehicles from parking between terminal and ANG fence had been erected, but I walked around them to take photographs directly behind the fence that separated the parking lot from the rest of the airport. I hoped that if the airport security officer — which  I saw watching me from an airport safety vehicle — wanted to discourage my presence on foot, he would call my attention to my intrusion. He did not. It was snowing, the Globemaster III was parked a half an airport away from me, we knew each other from previous encounters, and I was present there less than  10 minutes, so everything seemed okay. THANK YOU AIRPORT SAFETY OFFICERS.

On the morning of February 10, the Eurocopter UH-72 Lakota, based with the Army National Guard in Decatur, Illinois arrived a few hours before the scheduled appearance of the Boeing VC-25A bearing radio call sign Air Force One when the president of the United States is aboard. I made no connection of the Lakota with the auspicious event, but later it became clear. First picture shows the Horizon people pushing a visiting Cirrus into a hangar. The only flying machine on the ramp was the distant helicopter.


An advisory distributed that morning instructed everyone to remain inside the Horizon Aviation building during a “window” of time reserved to maximize security.  During that window, no one from Horizon, no one in the Horizon building including me, would be permitted outside. Pilots nation-wide knew the details. It was just SOP. Though I had covered the president’s 2009 visit for Springfield Business Journal, my effort to obtain media credentials for this visit was unsuccessful for reasons not shared with me by those “in the know” — or in my case, “in the NO.” I was given permission to photograph through the lobby window.

The motorcade swiftly motored the chief executive to his speaking engagements in beautiful downtown Springfield.
During the events in the city, the Lakota crew visited the WELCOME Room of AeroKnow Museum, and I was given permission to photograph the helicopter’s takeoff from the better side of the fence when it was time to return to the air. The following pictures were taken at that time.

Part 3 of this series will include pictures of President Obama’s return to the VC-25A and his takeoff. Stay tuned.

And if you appreciate the effort it took to take and process these pictures and to share them with you, please support AeroKnow Museum. Contact photographer/museum director Job Conger to learn how —

February 10 Presidential Visit to Springfield

I thought the first C-17 support aircraft visited Springfield December 5, but I learned from a friend that I missed the first which came earlier. I was working in AeroKnow Museum’s Intake Room and happened to see this bird rolling out after landing on Runway 4. By the time I had retrieved both cameras from my office and hiked across a healthy expanse of parking lots’ concrete, the aircraft had been parked across the field at the StandardAero ramp. As you can see when you click on the images. this 17 was from Memphis.

Two days later, I was again working in the Intake Room and noticed a large arrangement of military trucks, parked nose-to-tail on the near side of what used to be the aircraft parking ramp of the 183d Fighter Wing, Illinois Air National Guard. There were a few people and other vehicles in motion in that area, so I concluded there must have been another presidential support transport inbound. I walked over to the fence between the terminal and ANG ramp about 11:40. And waited. Activity — vehicles in motion between the two ramps began to increase at a trickle. It convinced me that something was about to happen. I stood where I knew I’d be very visible; didn’t want anyone watching me to think I was sneaking around. About 11:2o I saw the distant silhouette of a C-17,made sure everything on the Canon EOS 20D was ON and set.  As he approached, I KNEW the fence would be between 17 and camera,  but I was resolved to DEAL with it. It would be as much a part of the event as the airplane.


As it taxied in, the driver of an SUV caught my attention, opened the security gate and motioned me in. It was my  friend Tim Franke, and I was deLIGHTED to see him! He invited me to get in, and I did. For the next 30 minutes, Tim helped position me for some PRIME photographs!

As the crews began to unload, we checked with Air Force people to learn what I could photograph. I was told that pictures of the containers on four wheels, which came out first and were lined up behind the main  landing gear should NOT be taken. Yes, when the Sikorsky VH-60N came out in maybe 20 minutes I could photograph it as long as there were no boxes and wheeled gear nearby. Okay, excellent. In the meantime, Tim wanted me to take some pictures of City of Springfield fire trucks across the airport. I can’t remember if the pictures I took were “classified,” but I won’t risk it here. He drove over the McClelland Aviation’s ramp, and I took some pictures. As we departed to return to the 17, I saw an incredible view of it and asked Tim if I could get out of his vehicle and take a few pics. He said “yes,”  bless him. Here they are . . .

We knew the Sikorsky would be coming out soon, and Tim had to be elsewhere away from the airport. He left me in the care of another member of the airport security team. The VH-60N was a surprise. I had not seen one with everything folded for airborne transport.

While the 17 was made ready for the flight home, I took some more pictures.


His departure was awesome.

Part 2 of this series of three, maybe four, will be posted in a few days. If you like these pictures and the effort by photographer Job Conger to share them with you, please support AeroKnow Museum. For more information, e-mail  and please comment about what you’ve seen so far.