I had not heard of Blue Air prior to seeing this Max on test. It is a nice thing about living near Boeing’s production facilities that you see jets that will be heading somewhere you don’t go. In this case, I read not long afterwards that this jet was the first delivery of a Max to Blue Air and that they are a low cost carrier in Belarus. I guess I now know about another airline that I previously was unaware of. Looked quite nice in these colors (when you consider how bland airline colors can be there days).
The Bell 206 JetRanger was an immensely successful single turbine helicopter and was ubiquitous for decades. However, the type was dated and more modern helicopters had come along and taken market share. Bell needed to come up with a solution and that was the Bell 505 which has since become branded as the Jet Ranger X. The project was not as smooth as intended but it has now entered more widespread service.
That didn’t mean I had actually seen one, though, until recently when I got to photograph one at Boeing Field. At this point, trouble has reached the program again with fatigue failures in the controls for the right seat meaning you aren’t supposed to fly one solo from that seat until a redesigned control is fitted. This will get addressed, of course, but it is another issue for the type. The example I saw was marked as Experimental so I wonder what purpose it was being used for. According to the FAA, it is registered to Bell but what it is doing is anybody’s guess. Putting aside its technical issues, my biggest problem with the 505 is that I think it doesn’t look very good. It reminds me of a tadpole and seems to have a slight feel of a toy design compared to the other types in this class (or the original JetRanger). That is not going to make or break it of course – just a personal observation.
I have posted a fair few things from an evening spent at Paine Field after work. Ironically, the reason for actually being there is the last topic to get a post from that visit. Boeing continues to build 777s ahead of the introduction to service (eventually) of the 777X. Almost all deliveries are of the 777-300ER. Its sister ship was the 777-200LR, a lower capacity plane with longer range to meet the need of extreme range operations.
None of these have been built for a while but one more was on order. (The 777F is a variant of the 200LR and it continues to sell well.). This final 200LR was order by Turkmenistan. Getting the last of the type was of some interest but an aircraft from Turkmenistan was more unusual so I wanted to see it. Turned out it was on a test flight in the afternoon when the weather was nice and it was due back at the end of the day.
I thought it was going to mess with me. When it showed up approaching the field, instead of lining up on approach, it flew across the approach path to the west. However, this was just a feint and it then came back and flew an approach. Not the most exciting of colors for an aircraft but the last of the line and an unusual country made it worth going – besides, it was a lovely evening so being out was worth it anyway!
Seeing a KC-46 at Boeing Field is not necessarily such a surprise. However, seeing one parked up at the FBO was more unusual. I am not sure whether the aircraft had been accepted and was ready for delivery or had actually come across country for a visit. Either way, a USAF crew was about to fly it back across the country. The size of the taxiways meant that it had to cross the runway to taxi up to the departure end where it could line up and head off on its way east. Was it a delivery? Who knows?
I stopped for lunch and to take some calls at Boeing Field. While I was eating my sandwich, a US Navy P-8 rolled out of the Boeing military ramp to head off on test. With Seattle on a southerly flow, the P-8 needed to taxi the length of the field for departure. It came past me so the sandwich had to take a pause while I got a couple of shots.
Prior to take off, they carried out a rejected takeoff and backtracked for the real departure. One a sunny day like this, the heat haze looking that far up the field is pretty bad so not real chance to get a good shot. The departure itself was a lot better. By the time it rotated, it was close enough to mean the haze, while still present, was a lot less troublesome. As soon as it climbed out, the problem went away. Its interesting that the low light angles of the winter are already being replaced with a transition to the harsher high sun but it is still worth being out.
In the run up to Christmas, I got to photograph the Asia Pacific Airlines Boeing 757 freighter while it was being used to supplement capacity for UPS. Prior to that, I had noticed it was operating a circular route from Seattle to LAX to Honolulu and back to Seattle. This seems to have started again. With a nice forecast for a Saturday morning and it due in early in the morning, I figured I would head out and get some shots in the nice morning light.
The jet was projected to be in to SeaTac at around 7:25 so I left a little before 7 to try and be there. The forecasts on the sites are often a bit optimistic but I still took my breakfast with me rather than risk missing out. I got to my intended location just coming up on 7:25 and, as I pulled in to the lot, I saw a Korean Air Cargo 747-8F on final approach to the inner runway. I grabbed the camera and, while it would be backlit, figured I would get a bonus. I took the shots and then looked on the iPad to see where my jet was.
An ad ran on the app for about 30 seconds which was annoying but I finally managed to search on the jet. Apparently, it was right there. It was almost directly behind me. I had intended to walk up the hill to get past the tree line. Instead, I just turned and shot as it passed through the one gap in the trees I had. Crap! If I hadn’t looked at the 747, I would have been fine. I went all that way and only got a side on shot. The light was really nice too! What a dope. Maybe there will be another opportunity – we shall see.
The evening departure of the C-32 was covered in this previous post. I hinted then about the arrival of some of the passengers. I’m not sure where they had been visiting but they returned Ina. Three ship of Black Hawks. Some of those who had been around earlier in the day had seen the departure and apparently it followed the same process.
The three ship of Black Hawks flew downwind on the west side of the field having approached from the south. They then turned to final in a stream, descending to a lower level and flying the length of the runway prior to setting down near the fire station and close to the awaiting C-32. Since it was late in the day, the light on them was really nice once they were over the field (conversely, they were seriously backlit while downwind).
After dropping off their passengers, they pulled up and departed back to the south, presumably heading towards JBLM. I haven’t seen any UH-60s for a while so this was a nice change from the norm. It was also fun looking at the crew on board with the helmet and face masks as they looked back at us. Hopefully they didn’t mind being photographed too much!
I decided to try a little experiment with my slide scanning. Having scanned a bunch of slides and negatives using a DSLR and macro lens set up, I had come across a few slides where the image just didn’t seem to work out very well. A big part of this is that the original slides were not very well exposed so I was starting from a less than ideal place. However, when editing the raw file, I found I wasn’t able to get a balance of exposures that I liked, despite slides supposedly having a very narrow dynamic range.
Since I could see some detail in the original slide, I figured an HDR approach might be of use. I took three shots of the slide with differing exposure – an inconvenient thing to do when tethered since the AEB function didn’t seem to work on the 40D in that mode – and then ran the HDR function in Lightroom on the three exposures. Despite the borders possibly confusing the algorithm, it seemed to do a pretty reasonable job of getting more of the image in a usable exposure range. This is not a great image and would not normally be making it to the blog but, as an example of getting something more out of a problem shot, I thought it might be of interest to someone.
A nice bonus during my evening photographing at Paine Field was the visit of a 777X test airframe from Boeing Field. They often file to go to Paine for a low approach and maybe some pattern work before returning to Boeing Field but don’t always follow through – sometimes just heading back to BFI. This time, they did show up. A nice evening with smooth conditions and they flew down the approach before powering up and going around as they cross the airfield boundary. A few shots in nice light are always welcome.
I put together a post about some interesting jet traffic at Anchorage from a visit I made long ago. While jet freighters are a big deal at Anchorage, the area is also known for its more unusual prop traffic. Some of these are vintage and others are types that have fallen out of favor elsewhere but continue to have a use in Alaska. Here are some shots of the various props I got to see while on that trip in the mid-2000s.