This weekend my fiancé, Niece, and I made a trip to the Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum. I have always loved aircraft of all kinds and since childhood, I have dreamed of becoming a pilot, so any trip to an air and space museum is a special one.

I didn’t realize this before our move to Denver, but Colorado has a long and rich history in the aerospace industry, and we actually live not far from where the Stanley Aviation Company and the Stapleton Airport used to be.

During our visit, I also had the opportunity to put the Canon EOS R and RF 24-105mm F/4 through their paces. The hanger’s mixed lighting made things a little tricky and the packed hanger meant shooting at narrower apertures was a must to keep everything in focus.

For most of my shots, I found myself shooting between 24mm and 50mm at either F/4.0 or F/8.0, while keeping my shutter speed around 1/30 of a second. Even still, I often found myself having to push my ISO as high as 3200.

Here are some of the highlights from our visit:

Vought A-7D Corsair II

First introduced in 1967, the A-7 Corsair II was an American-made light attack aircraft built by the Ling-Temco-Vought company. The plane replaced the aging A-4 Skyhawk.

The aircraft was known to carry the CBU -58 Cluster bomb, which was capable of dispersing 650 smaller bomblets, the AIM-9 air-to-air heat seeker and the MK 82 Snake Eye Bomb, which featured four folding fins that slowed the bomb, giving the pilot more time to escape the blast radius.

A-7D Corsair II Wide
A Vought A-7D Corsair II On display at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 50mm | 1/50 sec | f/8.0 | ISO 3200
Vought A-7D Corsair II
The exposed nose-mounted radar dish on the A-7D Corsair II enabled a new age of digital weapons systems. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 40mm | 1/50 sec | f/4.0 | ISO 1250
Vought A-7D Corsair II Landing Gear
The Corsair II’s landing gear was short, but stout in order to support the warplanes’ heavy payloads. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 50mm | 1/50 sec | f/8.0 | ISO 1600

North American Aviation F-86H Sabre

The F-86 Sabre first took flight in 1947 and officially entered service in the United States Air Force in 1949. The plane featured a swept-wing design that enabled to counter the Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights during the Korean War, where it saw extensive service.

The H variant, shown here, was converted into a fighter-bomber and featured the low altitude bombing system, otherwise known as LABS. This computer system would have allowed the pilot to release a nuclear bomb while flying away from the target.

However, like all Sabres, the F-86H featured the same four nose-mounted 20mm cannons.

One feature of the Sabre I wasn’t previously aware of was the plane’s air brakes, which allowed it to quickly slow down. Whether or not this was ever used by pilots to “tap the breaks and fly right by” as Maverik in Top Gun used to say, I don’t know.

North American Aviation F-86 Sabre Model H Nose
A North American Aviation F-86 Sabre Model H fighter-bomber on display at the Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 24mm | 1/30 sec | f/4.0 | ISO 200
North American Aviation F-86 Sabre Model H Canopy
The Sabre was one of the few planes in the museum that was open to visitors to take a closer look at its cockpit. Here, a visitor speaks with a volunteer about the plane’s history. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 80mm | 1/30 sec | f/4.0 | ISO 100
North American Aviation F-86 Sabre Model H Cockpit
The forward visibility out of the Sabre’s cockpit was was surprisingly limited. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 24mm | 1/30 sec | f/4.0 | ISO 1250
North American Aviation F-86 Sabre Model H Air Brake
One of the Sabre’s key features was an air brake system design to quickly slow the speedy MIG fighter. Pictured here is the control stick used to deploy the brakes. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 105mm | 1/30 sec | f/4.0 | ISO 1000
North American Aviation F-86 Sabre Model H 20mm Canons
As one of the last dogfighters, the Sabre was equipped with four nose-mounted, 20mm cannons. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 24mm | 1/30 sec | f/4.0 | ISO 160

Douglas B-18 Bolo Bomber

I do love me some stainless steel, especially when it comes to aircraft, so it should come as no surprise that the Douglas B-18 Bolo bomber was a favorite during my visit.

The medium bomber entered service in 1936 and largely served the U.S. Army Air Corps and Royal Canadian Air Force throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

During WWII, the plane was used in antisubmarine, transport and training roles.

Douglas B-18 Bolo Bomber Prop and cockpit
A Douglas B-18, otherwise known as the Bolo Bomber, was used during World War II as an antisubmarine bomber. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 24mm | 1/30 sec | f/8.0 | ISO 1000
Douglas B-18 Bolo Bomber Landing Gear
In order to support the massive weight of its bombs, the Bolo Bomber’s landing gear had to be equally stout. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 45mm | 1/30 sec | f/4.0 | ISO 320

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

The Starfighter is as distinctive as it is mired in controversy. The plane was at the center of a bribery scandal in which Lockheed paid out millions to secure the plane’s place in allied air forces.

However, worse than the scandal was the plane’s abysmal safety record. In fact, the accident rate in Canada exceeded 46% and still holds the highest accident rate of any Century Series aircraft in USAF.

Despite its horrific record, the plane’s narrow body, distinctive split inlets, and wing-mounted fuel tanks, certainly made it an iconic disaster.

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
A Lockheed F-104 Starfighter on display at the Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum. The plane flew in several Nato air forces but was wrapped in controversy and had a terrible reputation for safety. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 45mm | 1/30 sec | f/4.0 | ISO 320
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter Intake
The Starfighter’s distinctive intake’s and wingtip mounted fuel tanks made it hard to mistake. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 70mm | 1/30 sec | f/4.0 | ISO 320

Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler

While we’re on the topic of distinctive aircraft, it’s hard not to mention the Northrop EA-6B Prowler. Bulbus and covered in protrusions, the plane almost looks out of place next to the streamlined jet fighters and bombers at the museum.

However, the plane’s design isn’t without purpose. Hidden within its body and hanging from its wings is an armament of electronic countermeasures including high-speed anti-radiation surface-to-air missiles designed to target ground radar installations.

Introduced in 1971 and only just retired earlier this year, the Prowler has served the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps continuously for nearly 50 years.

Grumman EA-6B Prowler
A Grumman EA-6B Prowler on display at the Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum. The Prowler is capable of advanced electronic countermeasures including radar jamming missiles. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 24mm | 1/30 sec | f/8.0 | ISO 2500

Grumman F-14 Tomcat

Thanks to the 1986 hit, Top Gun, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat needs no introduction, after all, it is the “highway to the danger zone.”

The supersonic fighter saw service throughout the Cold War as a carrier fighter. Thanks to its variable swept-wing design the craft was incredibly fast, capable of speeds of Mach 2.4, or roughly 1,500 MPH.

Introduced in late 1970, the air superiority fighter served a variety of roles until it was retired in 2006. The aircraft was replaced by the F-18 Super Hornet.

F-14 Tomcat
With Top Gun 2 on the way, it’s hard not to get nostalgic about the massive F-14 Tomcat. I’ll admit to mouthing “highway to the danger zone” more than once during my visit to the museum. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 24mm | 1/30 sec | f/8.0 | ISO 2500

Martin EB-57 Canberra

First built by the English Electric aircraft company in 1951, the Canberra was licensed by the Glen L. Martin Company and served as the United State’s first jet bomber to drop its ordinance on a target.

Martin EB-57 Canberra
The Martin EB-57, better known in the United Kingdom as the English Electric Canberra, was licensed by Glen L. Martin Company and served as the United State’s first jet bomber to drop bombs during combat. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 35mm | 1/30 sec | f/8.0 | ISO 800

Rockwell B-1 Lancer

The B-1 Lancer is one of the few aircraft I photographed that are still in service today.

The supersonic strategic nuclear bomber first entered service in 1986 after a protracted development.

Like the much smaller F-14 Tomcat, the B-1 Lancer featured a variable swept-wing design that enabled it to fly at incredibly fast speeds while the plane’s stout airframe allowed it to do so at altitudes well below enemy radar.

Rockwell B-1 Lancer
Perhaps the largest plane hiding within the museum’s hanger is the venerable Rockwell B-1 Lancer, a supersonic swept-wing bomber designed to fly at high speeds below enemy radar and drop its nuclear-tipped payload. — Shot on a Canon EOS R w/ Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 at 105mm | 1/30 sec | f/8.0 | ISO 800

Share your thoughts in the comments

  • Have you ever been to the Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum?
  • How do you think the EOS R performed in these shots?
  • What are you shooting with and why?
  • Are you a fan of the aerospace industry? If so what is your favorite plane or spacecraft?

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