Category Archives: Chicago

Whose Trains Are These?

Chicago was a stop off on a work trip.  We were on final approach to O’Hare and I was looking out of the window at the industrial areas that surround the airport.  There are rail tracks scattered throughout these areas so seeing trains is not a surprise.  However, I was a little caught out by what appeared to be some old Metra commuter cars parked up in one space.  They have clearly been out of use for a while.  If anyone knows who they belong to, please let me know.

Chicago Suburbs From Above

Dropping in to O’Hare you get to overfly lots of neighborhoods.  The lower you get, the more you see each individual house.  I find myself wondering about each of the house and who lives there.  Since they clearly have a lot of planes flying over them every day, do they get annoyed by my passage or are they oblivious to each passing jet given the frequency with which they appear?

Astar Over My Head

These shots are from a few years ago.  I had the privilege to spend a day with the late Alan Purwin during the filming for one of the Transformers movies in Chicago.  I got to fly with them on some of the shoot but I also was on the ground when they went off on part of the filming.  I put myself directly ahead of the Astar when they took off and Alan buzzed me.  I noticed when going through the images that the cameraman was tracking me with the stabilized mount on the nose as they flew over the top.

Rusty Discoloration

The Riverwalk along the Chicago River takes you under the bridges.  Each bridge is on a cycle for refurbishment so, while they are repainted regularly, they do progressively show signs of weathering.  Some of them are rather old structures with the iron and riveting being something of a period long gone.  I stopped for a while to look at the different colors that the gentle corrosion created.  Nothing too drastic but an interesting contrast with the original paint color.

Bridge Perspectives

Walking under the bridges along the Riverwalk in Chicago provides a very different perspective that that which you get from above.  Some of the bridges have solid deck and others have gridded metal decks which allow light through (and anything else someone might drop).  The lattice structures under the deck are ornate yet grubby.  They are obscured from most views and get covered in the grime that washes down from above.  I am not making this sound very appealing but I find them very cool to look at.  The noise of the traffic above is there but slightly isolated which adds to the atmosphere for me.  They do put a curved stainless-steel cover over the walkway itself so you are not vulnerable to anything from above ending up on your head which is something I am grateful for.

Riverwalk – I Wish This Had Been Here Before

When we were getting ready to leave Chicago, the city was in the process of extending the river walk.  This had originally gone along the river up to Michigan Avenue.  The first phase extended the walk to State Street and this was in place by the time we left.  The plan was to take it all the way to the branching of the river.  A few years have now passed and the plan is now a reality.  To get from my hotel to my meetings took me along the river so I checked the walk out.

This proved to be a bit more tricky than I expected as it had snowed the night before and the surface alternated between clear, crunchy with frozen snow and slick with ice.  Just what you want when walking close to a river!  On the way back, things were warmer and a lot more relaxing.  It is too early in the year for all of the businesses to be in place but you can see what will be there.  One wine bar was open though with clear plastic igloos to give you some privacy and, more importantly, warmth.

You can now walk from the lake all the way to Lake Street.  This is a great improvement and is a lot nicer than walking along Wacker and having to cross the streets at each bridge.  Now I just need to find a reason to be back during the summer so I can hang out down there when it is warm!

Wolf Point Development

Wolf Point sits at the place in the Chicago River where it splits into the north and south branches.  When I lived in Chicago, it was a park.  It sat in front of the a building with a Holiday Inn and the Sun Times located within.  It had a great view along the river in all directions.  That view was obviously too valuable.  The park is gone a some towers are now going up.  One was already there when I visited and work is underway on the others.  I’m afraid this is a shame to have lost a nice location.  Also, if you were in the building across the river that had a view along the main branch, I imagine you are not too pleased to have lost your view and instead be looking at another tower!

Southwest Scimitars and the Inaccuracy of Online Truths

Online forums can be a great source of information.  They can also be full of rubbish.  With the introduction of the split scimitar tips on the 737 fleets, Southwest was an early adopter on their 800 series jets.  However, I read that they had not been happy with performance and had stopped adopting them.  They definitely weren’t going to have them on the 700 series.  Above is a 700 series with split scimitars.  A number of airframes have now been fitted including this one so I guess those people were not the most accurate source of info!

Inlet Vapor for the Heavies

More shots from a fun shoot a while back.  If the wind is coming from the west, evening departures from O’Hare provide plenty of opportunity to get some shots.  The heavy departures to Europe leave later in the afternoon and in to the early evening and, as the sun drops down things are getting better and better.  The nice thing about this day was that we got a combination of good conditions.  Earlier in the afternoon, while the light wasn’t as good, a storm had not long passed through and there was plenty of moisture in the air.

The result was a lot of vapor in the inlets of the jets as they climbed out at high thrust settings.  Some of them had clouds sitting in the inlets for long periods of time.  Others would just pulse with the vapor as they climbed away.  They would also puff up little clouds over the upper surfaces of the wing as they fought to gain height.  As the afternoon wore on, the air dried out a bit and the vapor went away.  However, the light was then getting better so no reason to go just yet!

777 Freighters at O’Hare

Nothing terribly timely about this post.  These shots were taken quite a while ago during a visit to Chicago.  (At least they are so old that they are from when I lived there.)  There was a time when the 747 was the freighter of choice.  There are still missions for which the 747 is still required but few loads require the nose loading and the most versatile of the big freighters these days is the 777.  (It seems that the 777 is taking over everything that the 747 used to do.)

One afternoon at O’Hare included a couple of 777 freighters.  AeroLogic had one of theirs in town.  I saw it coming in and also got so see it head out again.  I don’t know where it was coming from or going to.  Meanwhile, Air France also had one of their freighters making an appearance.  It’s a shame that the 747 is not so prevalent anymore.  It is a cooler looking jet and the 777 freighter is barely distinguishable from the multitude of 777s on passenger duty.  However, that is the way it is these days.