The heat haze was a bit of a problem on this day so I was hoping that they would roll out a bit long to get into usable range. They couldn’t have been more obliging. It turned out to be a US Marine Corps KC-130J. They didn’t exit early for the taxiway even though they could have done so with ease but instead rolled all the way to near me before exiting and taxiing back to the ramp in the other direction. This was very kind of them. I got them close enough in to have little in the way of heat haze and to get a decent look at them.
I have plenty of photos of Gulfstreams and a few photos of FAA jets – mainly flight checking Learjet 60s. However, the FAA Gulfstreams have not been something I have seen a lot of. I did have a nice chance to shoot one at Washington National many years ago, though. I did see the jets on the ramp at the south end of the field occasionally but I think this was the only time I got one airborne. It was shot from Gravelly Point so I was nice and close to it as it was on final approach. That is a great place to shoot from (or just hang out and watch the planes) and I will have to get back there at some point.
My trawl of the archives is also including airlines that have disappeared. Today’s subject is Midwest Airlines. They operated out of Milwaukee which was not far from me when I lived in Chicago but was not a place I frequented much. The only time I think I shot there was during an open day at the ANG tanker unit based there. I did get some Midwest movements that day. I actually saw more of their jets and Washington National as it happens. It wasn’t an airline I have many shots of in total but here is a selection of what I did get before they disappeared.
This 737 was sitting on the ramp at Boeing Field, apparently getting ready to move. It showed up online as a variety of possible owners including Aramco. However, I thought I knew who it really belonged to and it did indeed turn out to be used by the Federal Government. I think it is part of the US Marshal service and I suspect it is being used to transport individuals that are not popular with law enforcement to a new location. I don’t know whether that is internal transport or deportation but I suspect I don’t want to be on one of those flights. They certainly don’t divert any funding to painting the jets!
The 747 was still the mainstay of many long haul operations when I started shooting digital and SFO was a place that was served by a bunch of airlines using the type. I used to go to SFO quite a bit when I lived in Chicago because work brought me to the Bay Area frequently. That meant I got some opportunities to shoot the movements there. Of course, in due course we moved to the Bay Area so I got more chances but, by then, the 747s were swiftly disappearing and the 777 was becoming dominant.
Before the F-16s became the drone target conversion of choice for the USAF, the F-4 was the jet. The contract for conversion was run by Tracor which ultimately ended up being part of BAE Systems at the time I saw these jets. They did the conversion program at Mojave Airport in California. We were a bit of a distance from the ramp where they were parked but it was early in the day and the heat haze was not yet a problem so a long shot was feasible. Looking at these, I think they were both RF-4C jets that had either been converted or were about to be.
While at Boeing Field, you get a steady stream of traffic for SeaTac overhead. With Delta’s substantial presence at Seattle, the right time of day can mean a few widebodies. The A330 is a big part of their operations and we currently get the old and the new with the -300s and the -900 neos. The conditions looked pretty clear above me but there must have been a lot of moisture around because the jets seemed to be pulling a bit of vapor with them and going in and out of clouds that they seemed to hard to see without them there.
I was at BFI one day looking to get some other interesting visitors and I had got what I came for. I was just contemplating whether to go home or do something else before returning when I saw something on the approach at the other end of the field. It looked big, smoky and a prop so I thought I should wait a little longer. A look through the long lens told me it was a C-130! It was a Linden Air Cargo airframe, sadly unpainted in their colors which are very nice. I was most glad that I hadn’t been in a hurry to get on my way!
Another airline retiring another type. This used to be an occasional topic on the blog but the massive reductions in airline service means I could probably almost pick one a day. In this case it is American Airlines and the Boeing 767. The 757s have also been grounded but they are not definitely retired yet so we’ll wait for a while. Of course, by the time this post hits the page, that might have changed!
The 767-200 fleet went away a while back but I am going to include them here. The 767-300s have been around until now. I didn’t travel in them very much but have made the occasional trip. I think I took one from Chicago to Manchester in the UK and definitely had a ride from SFO to JFK once. There have probably been other times that I don’t now recall. It has been quite a while since I was a regular with American.
All that aside, the fleet is now done. Some may find a second life – possibly as freighters – but probably the majority will end up being parted out. We might suddenly find 767 parts are not as in need as they were until recently but there is still a sizable fleet of freighters and there are still in production so maybe there is some value.
Another day, another retro post. I am pleasantly surprised by what I find as I go through old shots since I am not able to get any new shots while we are all self-isolating. In this case it was a visit to Edwards AFB that was a pre-symposium trip ahead of an ISAP meeting. I think Richard was the one that organized it all. Anyway, the Edwards test fleet includes a bunch of F-16s. Some are from the test pilot school and some are test program assets or chase planes. There was also a Danish jet that was supporting the F-35 program.
We got to hang out on the ramp as see the jets under the shelters as well as get up close and personal as they were heading out for a mission and recovering. We later went out to shoot near the runway which was fun but not ideal from a shooting perspective because of heat haze. Who would have thought the Mojave Desert would have heat haze! Still better than a day at work of course.
Here are a bunch of shots from that day. I haven’t been through most of these for ages so it is interesting to see what upgrading them to the latest editing algorithms of Lightroom can do for the processing results. I have yet to find one that doesn’t look better with the new processes applied.