Each year a series of small air displays form part of the off-track activities at the Clipsal 500, V8 Supercar race in Adelaide. This year the performances by ‘The Roulettes’, an elite formation acrobatic team from the Royal Australia Air Force (RAAF), were cancelled due the majority of the PC-9 fleet being grounded after an engine fire incident earlier in Februrary.

This left the performances up to a lone McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, undertaken by an Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) F/A-18B (B model being a two seater variant), flying out of RAAF base Edinburgh.

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (F/A-18B)

The weather was absolutely terrible on Sunday, but I was determined to test out my new camera, a Canon 7D, on the Hornet returning to Edinburgh after it’s performances. I arrived at a vantage point on public land, which proved a popular spot amongst like minded aviation enthusiasts. With my RF Scanner tuned to the local Air Traffic Control (ATC) channel I had the advantage of remaining in the car out of the rain until I heard the Hornet radio ahead it’s imminent approach.

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (F/A-18B)

Attached to the camera was a Canon EF 400mm f5.6L lens and the camera was setup in Shutter Priority (Tv) mode such that I could specify a desired shutter speed of 1/1250 to adequately capture the fast moving aircraft. I haven’t had much opportunity to experiment with the 7D’s autofocus system yet, especially on fast moving subjects so I went for a conservative center grouped Zone AF setting, in AI Servo mode which I found to work really well overall even in the poor weather and light conditions.