Category Archives: aircraft

Spirit of St Louis Replica

Arlington is the current home of a replica of the Ryan Monoplane flown by Charles Lindbergh across the Atlantic.  This is a detailed replica built over many years by a guy called Mike Norman.  It has flown a few times and they are increasing the hours on the airframe prior to taking it further afield.  I hadn’t seen it before but my friend, Bob, advised that it was due to fly on a recent Sunday morning.  The weather was looking nice if a little warm (heat haze) so I made the trip up to Arlington early on the Sunday.

They taxied out a little later than planned but not by much and certainly not when you are working with an experimental airframe.  They took off to the north and flew a couple of circuits.  We were a bit distant from it but not too bad.  I figured I would head to the approach end for the next circuit.  I got there just as they were on short final so too late to get a shot but I figured I would get the next one when they climbed out again.  However, the next approach turned out to be for the cross runway.  They flew close by while downwind but I was on the wrong side for the light when they were on final.

On the next climb out they left the circuit to fly up towards Bellingham.  This left a problem.  By the time that they were due back, the light would almost definitely be tail on down the runway.  I discussed with Bob the options and we decided to go to the south of the runway and hope they came that way.  As it was, they arrived back at exactly the time the light was aligned with the runway so the worst of options.  However, we were not far from the threshold and had a mountain backdrop on final approach so not too bad.  It is a lovely looking replica.  I hope to see it fly again, maybe in nice evening light.  I suspect it is easier to fly when the air is a bit less bumpy!

A Better Go at a Prime Air 737

In this recent post, I showed a shot of an Amazon Prime Air 737.  With a bit more notice and better timing from an availability point of view, I saw that another jet was coming in to Paine Field from Anchorage.  It was being delivered from the conversion line in China and would have the finishing touches taken care of by ATS at Everett.  I was there and set up in plenty of time – except… I had one camera ready to go but the other one had been previously used for some video at home and was on manual focus.  I was shooting with the 500mm initially and all was well.  As the jet got closer, I switched to the 100-400 and everything was wrong.  Nothing would focus.  It seemed like forever but I must have realized fast and flicked the focus switch because I was able to shoot it as it came level with me and crossed the threshold.  What an amateur mistake.  Fortunately, I got away with it!

Ryanair Subsidiary Buzz

Ryanair has a subsidiary based in Poland that it has been rebranded as Buzz.  I must admit I knew nothing about this until, on my way back home from a meeting south of Seattle, I stopped off at Renton to see what was on the flight line.  A Ryanair jet was parked up and next to it was a Buzz jet.  It still had some taped markings on it but it was basically finished in Buzz colors and registered in Poland.  Obviously it won’t be going to them for a little while longer but, once the grounding is lifted, it should be heading to Eastern Europe.

Wildcat Has Looked Better

In 2012, A Grumman Wildcat was raised from the bottom of Lake Michigan.  The lake has numerous wrecks scattered across it as a result of the training that was undertaken during the Second World War with students ditching their aircraft.  Many have been raised over the years with some being restored to flight and others ending up in museums.  The one that was raised in 2012 was the subject of a piece I put together for Global Aviation Magazine.

The airframe was moved to a hangar under the control of Chuck Greenhill (who had financed the recovery) at Kenosha Airport after it was raised from the water and this was where I got to see it.  Opening the hangar door was quite a shock because the smell was pretty overpowering.  The airframe was covered in various creatures that had attached themselves over the years and they were not doing well in the air of the hangar.  It was a tough smell initially.  You got used to it a bit and having the hangar door open helped to get some fresh air in there.

The airframe was in several parts.  The wings were laid out in place and the tail section, which had separated at some point during the accident, was laid out behind it all.  Obviously, there was lots of damage to the aircraft given that it originally had crashed and then spent decades underwater.  The recovery process was delicate to avoid inflicting any further damage.

The airframe remains the property of the US Navy.  It was originally going to go to Pensacola for restoration but ended up going to the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo MI in the end.  It is currently undergoing restoration there.

Piper Aztec on Floats

Tucked inside the fence at Renton was something I don’t think I have seen before.  It was a Piper Aztec on amphibious floats.  No reason why an Aztec wouldn’t be on floats but it isn’t something I have seen before.  I would certainly like to see it on the water at some point.  Sadly, because it was tight to the fence, my best option was to use the phone to get the shot!

Philippines Airlines Spot the Difference

Someone recently was after a picture of a Philippines Airlines Boeing 747.  When I looked up my shots of this airline, I came across a picture of one of their A340s landing at SFO.  It had an anniversary marking on the fuselage.  Just below it in the catalog was a 777-300ER which also had the same marking and was also landing at SFO.  The similarity of the aircraft in these shots amused me so here they both are in case something like this is of interest to you too.

RIAT 2010 Arrivals

I put together a selection of shots from the RIAT show of 2006 in this post.  It was another four years before I was back for my next visit.  This time I made a visit to the Park and View East rather than the west.  This was the end at which everything was landing, and it also provided a good view of some of the arrivals as they taxied to the ramp.

The weather started out okay, but it got steadily worse resulting ion a torrential downpour.  Some movements were in such low light that it was almost like shooting at night.  The stormy weather passed and then the flying could resume.  Given the variety of things that were showing up, I will focus this post on the arrival traffic, and we can add some of the displays in a different post.

Plenty of helicopters as well as the fast jets.  I had not shot at this location before and I was not prepared for how crowded it could be and the way you needed to be at the front.  That limited some of my shots unfortunately.  Also, there was a lot of heat haze in the air so some of the nicer angles on the approach produced shots that are not sharp enough.  Still, a fun day out.  Drying out took a while that night though!

Hawaii Helos

Anyone that has vacationed in the Hawaiian Islands knows that there are loads of helicopters around.  The sightseeing flight operations are extensive and there are a variety of types that are used.  The Astar was a big feature of these flights but the EC130 was developed to provide something best suited to these flights and it is now very widespread.  There are other types in use too.  I used a Robinson R44 for one of my flights for example.

There are the occasional MD500s around too which is what you expect to see if you ever watched the original Magnum PI TV series.  The helicopter area at Lihue was a busy place to be with a steady stream of operators moving from the different pads.  I wasn’t on vacation to spend time watching helicopters but of course I managed to slip a little time in with them!

Air France A380

The Air France A380s have gone away.  Their retirement had already been identified prior to the COVID-19 outbreak but it accelerated their departure.  I had shot them on a few occasions with SFO and LAX being regular destinations.  Since I won’t be seeing them again, here is a farewell tribute to the Air France A380.  Hope one or two of the airframes find a second life.

Royal Air Force Poseidon

My Renton visit also produced a P-8A Poseidon.  I have seen plenty of them over the years but this one caught my eye because it is the fourth airframe for the UK’s Royal Air Force.  Sitting on the ramp on a sunny day with heat haze is not ideal but it was still worth a shot since, once it gets delivered, I am unlikely to get much of a chance to see it again.