Most West Coast??

The merger of the Virgin America operations into Alaska Airlines means combining the Airbus fleet with the Boeings.  Virgin America had ordered some A321neos and these are in the process of delivery just as things are being merged.  Alaska chose to change the livery on the next one off the line and adopted a scheme designed to reflect the number of flights they now operate on the west coast.  The Most West Coast jet has not been popular since it seems to lack branding of either airline.  It was at the gate when I landed in LA and I saw it taxiing out later that morning.  I wonder how long it will last in this form?

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Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Yaquina Head got two visits from us during our stay in Oregon.  We were in Newport on one of our early days and headed up to see it.  Shortly after paying to get in to the park, the rain started to come down.  I did a quick recce of the place but rapidly became more interested in the interior of a warm car (which Nancy had wisely elected not to leave in the first place).  The entry was good for a few days so, with better weather forecast for later in the week, we decided to come back.

The weather dutifully obeyed and improved and we returned on our next trip to Newport.  When its not raining, things definitely take on a more appealing feel.  We wandered up to the lighthouse and took a look around it and out to see where some gray whales were passing by, if a little distant and happy to stay below the surface most of the time.

From the headland, there were stairs down to the beach which, when the tide was out (as it was while we were there), revealed a lot of rocky tidepools.  People were encouraged to explore the tidepools to see the wildlife that is within.  You could go quite a way across them but, given the number of creatures that were clinging to the rock surfaces, I was a bit reluctant to go trampling across them.  Instead, I maneuvered around on the edges where I could avoid crushing some poor creature.

Plenty of things were living in the pools.  While the crustaceans were everywhere, I was particularly drawn to the anemones.  The way in which they close up when out of the water, keep themselves damp internally and then open up once they are back under water is impressive.  They are also so varied in their colors.  They are quite the interesting creature.

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Wamos – A New Airline for Me

There are many airlines around the world so plenty that you probably haven’t heard of and may never see.  Finding one in your backyard is a surprise though.  There I was hovering over LAX in a Robinson shooting pictures of the arriving and departing jets and a 747-400 appears on the approach.  Since they are becoming fewer and further between these days, this was a good thing.  When I saw the name on it, I had no idea what it was.

Wamos is apparently a Spanish airline.  They have been operating some flights to LA but, up until this point (and the subsequent research I did), I had never heard of them.  I guess we just never crossed paths.  A new airline and a 747 was a pretty sweet combination.  I was definitely on a roll on this flight as I got a number of treats.

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Juanita’s Resident Eagles

The presence of the eagles on Juanita Bay was something I have seen before but I had not been out with the camera before to catch them.  I saw one eagle hunting out on the water as I moved towards the bay and this startled the wildfowl as I mentioned in a previous post.  The eagle involved then flew back to one of the trees on the shore and perched there for quite a while.  I got to one of the boardwalks in the park where I could sit it waiting, a little far away and almost directly in the sun.  Time to wait.

I hung around for quite a while hoping this eagle would make a move.  It seemed to have more patience than me.  Meanwhile, I was looking around to see whether anything else was on the move – the swans perhaps.  Then my eye caught some movement coming across the bay towards me out of the background of the hills opposite.  I suddenly realized that it was another eagle.  It was already climbing as I realized and I tried hard to get the camera up towards it despite having the monopod attached.  I got a focus on it just as it reached the tree branch it was aiming for.  A great flare of wings and then it was perched, almost directly above me.

I got a bunch more shots of it as it found a comfortable position on the perch and there is remained.  I was getting pretty cold and the light was fading so I decided to head back around the park.  The last I saw it was still up there.

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P-8 Heads Out on Test

Every once in a while, you just get lucky.  I happened to be at Boeing Field on a sunny day with operations in a southerly direction and a bunch of cool traffic.  Most of the traffic shows up on Flightaware so you have a clue it might be flying but my recent experiences have been that the P-8 test flights have not been listed.  Consequently, I was a little surprised when a P-8 pulled out of Boeing’s military operations ramp and taxied for departure.  It came right past me as it made its way to the departure end.  A short while later it rolled.

The sun was out, the light was nice, they rotated at a good location to get some nice shots and then, as they climbed out, the clouds were really nice providing a mottled sort of background.  The colors looked great behind the grey jet.  What a great combination!

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Oregon Bridges

The Pacific Coast Highway runs along the coast in Oregon and passes through some towns with big harbors.  Rather than head inland around the harbors, the highway crosses the entrance to some of these harbors over bridges.  The architecture of some of these bridges is pretty cool.  They have a bit of a deco feel to them.  Sadly, some of the details are best seen as you are driving over which limits the ability to get pictures.

Get a bit further away, though, and you can see the bridges and get some shots.  Sunset on the bridge at Waldport made for a good view.  The bridge at Newport was one we crossed a number of times.  I only got to shoot it on the morning we drove home.  A quick diversion down to the area near the brewery meant I could take a couple of pictures before getting on our way for the long drive home.

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Wingtip Treatments

Richard Whitcomb was an aerodynamicist at NASA who pioneered a number of technologies that benefit the aviation world today.  One of those was his development of winglets.  These are the wingtip treatments that improve lift to drag ratio and climb performance without significantly extending the wing.  While his work was clear, it took a while for them to be implemented widely.  Now, most aircraft involve some sort of wingtip extension.  However, the first aircraft to replicate his design approach was the MD-11.

The MD-11 had a split winglet with a larger extension upwards and a smaller one downwards.  This reflected some of Whitcomb’s original drawings.  Strangely, after this, the focus was on upward winglets only (although the Airbus approach for a while was what they called a fence on the wingtip which was something more in keeping with the Whitcomb approach).  Recently, there has been a return to the original with APB introducing the Split Scimitar and Boeing producing their own Split Winglet design (not as elegant as the APB approach in my mind.

Most airliners and many business jets now incorporate a tweaked wing tip configuration.  Maximizing the aerodynamic performance requires squeezing as much as you can out of the design within the space constraints you have.  The following pictures are examples of the different types used.

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Supermoon Rising

The combination of the Super Moon, the blue moon and the lunar eclipse was something a lot of people were interested in.  Sadly, we were due to have a cloudy night so none of the excitement was going to be on show.  As the sun was setting at the beginning of the evening that this was all due to happen, I was walking out of the office at the same time the moon was rising.  At this point we still had a clear sky.  I hadn’t planned anything but I did have a camera to hand so grabbed a few shots for the hell of it.

I decided to try and bracket for an HDR shot.  The twilight meant there was something closer to an even exposure between the foreground and the background than you normally manage with a moon shot but it was still a wide range.  HDR gave a bit more to play with.  Then I headed home and the clouds rolled in.

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Tahiti Nui Comes Up Trumps

A favorite airline of mine is Air Tahiti Nui.  I have never flown with them but they have a colorful livery and they still fly Airbus A340-300s so they get points from me on two fronts.  The only place I ever get to see them is at LAX.  Normally they operate off the southern runway complex and I saw a couple on the ground while I was there on a recent trip.  While I was doing my flight over the airport to photograph operations, I knew the timing was right for one of their flights to come in.  However, things were pretty busy that day and we were reluctant to move over to the southside to get them arriving as we feared we might not get back into the center area to shoot arrivals on the northside again.

I was resigned to not getting them when my lucked took a very positive turn.  For some reason, and I don’t know what it was, the controllers brought them in to the north runways.  They came to me!  I didn’t have to do anything to reposition and I hadn’t even been aware at first that they were coming that side.  Needless to say, when they appeared on final, I was pretty stoked.  I imagine these jets will be replaced before too long so I was delighted to get these shots of them airborne.

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Who Scared You Guys?

I was walking along the edge of the lake in Juanita carrying the camera.  Juanita Bay is popular with bird life and I saw a lot of the wildfowl suddenly burst into life and start flying towards me.  I pulled the camera up and started shooting.  I wasn’t sure what was going on but figured I could try and work that out later.  Meanwhile there were a lot of birds coming at me.

It was soon clear what was occurring.  There is a pair of bald eagles that frequent the bay and one of them was soaring across the bay.  It pulled up and landed on a pole out in the water and very close to the birds.  This obviously spooked them and they all bolted for the shore and, perhaps, safety.  The eagle didn’t seem to bothered about them to be honest but they are not averse to a change in diet once in a while so I understand why there was such a reaction.

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