Flying the friendly skies of Kent and Antarctica

I think I will have to divide this blog into two soon, as I am now posting about two disparate hobbies since taking up painting pictures in addition to my original pastime of wargaming.

However, I guess today’s posting may just pass muster, as one of the subjects of my latest paintings is indeed military: an LC-130 Hercules of the United States Navy. By the way, the initial ‘L’ in the name refers to the fact it is a C-130 that is ski-equipped – how they got the ‘L’ out of ski-equipped, I don’t know!

I took this photo back in 1976 when I was employed as a mess attendant at McMurdo Station, Antarctica (I have previously posted about my time there).

This was one of three LC-130 Hercules aircraft that were recovered after they all suffered severe damage during attempted takeoffs from an isolated part of Antarctica called Dome Charlie. Following major structural repairs and replacement of engines in the field, the three LC-130s were flown to McMurdo, with 319, the last one, arriving back on Christmas Day, 1976.

I must say that I always wondered about the cost-benefit ratio of sending a team of engineers to one of the most inhospitable places on Earth to recover what were essentially just dime-a-dozen transport aircraft. I have heard a theory it was because the Americans were worried about the Russians obtaining the secret of the retractable skis – but surely it was something less prosaic than that?! Maybe there is a good wargaming scenario to be found in this story?!

For my painting I moved a mountain! I wanted a more interesting background than in my photo, so I added in Mt Erebus, with its wisp of smoke and halo of cloud. This isn’t entirely fantastical, as in real-life the volcano can actually be seen from the runway. It is just that from the angle I took my photo, it wasn’t in frame.

I also wanted something in the foreground, and what better than contrasting the modern with the old in Antarctic transport. This dog team would have come from New Zealand’s nearby Scott Base, as the Americans didn’t use dogs at this time. Nowadays you won’t find any dogs in Antarctica at all, after a clause added to the Antarctic Treaty in 1994 required non-native species to be removed. Dogs could potentially spread distemper to the native seals of Antarctica.

The above slideshow demonstrates the process I used to paint my picture. As with all my paintings, I used acrylic paints on stretched canvas.

Now let’s move from freezing Antarctica to the sunny skies of a summer’s day in Kent, England! Early in his flying career, my late father-in-law was a pilot for Skyways of London, based at Lympne Airfield just out of Hythe. I wanted to paint another of the aircraft he flew (I have previously posted a painting I did of his Constellation).

I came across this photo of a Skyways DC3 in Issue 19 of The Aviation Historian. Of course, there is no mention of who was piloting this aircraft on the day – but there is no reason it mightn’t have been my father-in-law! And I loved the view of the lane and farm buildings. So I just had to paint it.

The article included some great shots of the sky-blue-and-white Skyways colour scheme. That’s a lovely fuel tanker too – maybe another painting one day …

Funnily enough, my father-in-law eventually returned to flying DC3s after a long career flying jet airliners, piloting an old DC3 air-freighter backwards and forwards across New Zealand’s Cook Strait for his semi-retirement!

Again, here’s a slideshow that depicts how I put my painting together.

I’ve been asked several times if my paintings are for sale. But just as with my wargaming models, I have an aversion to selling what I put so much soul and effort into creating! However, I am investigating the process for getting art-quality prints made.

6 thoughts on “Flying the friendly skies of Kent and Antarctica

  1. Roly – here is a definition for the -L on LC 130 . I use GOOGLE normally but I obtained it on Duck Duck Go :-
    dictionary.sensagent.com/Lockheed%20LC-130/en-en/

    Lockheed LC -130: definition of Lockheed LC -130 and synonyms of …

    Basically the inclusion of an ‘L’ is a re-written batch or series number – see the article .
    Nicholas John Papadopoulos [=Facebook] , Auckland , New Zealand.

    1. Thanks. That was an interesting article. It also gives more detail about the three crashed LC-130s at Dome Charlie, one of which is the subject of my painting.

  2. Nice work with the art work by the way . Tell your overseas subscribers the significance of Mt Erebus to New Zealand Aviation . Also :- [just jesting …] are there any penguins near the airstrip…? You might like to add some if there are … NJP , Ak , NZ.

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