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!
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.
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.
I’ve posted shots of Omni’s 767s on the ground and on the approach at Boeing Field as well as showing up at Paine Field. This is a variation on a theme I guess since this one was arriving at Boeing Field after a short flight from SeaTac. This time I was up on the hill so was able to see it touch down from an elevated position. It’s nice to get wide body activity when up on the hill since you are a bit far away and a bigger jet is a clearer subject to photograph.
The day was fast running out and I was thinking about heading for home but one of the two 777X test aircraft out showed signs of heading home to BFI so I figured I would wait around for it. It looked like it would get back before the end of the light with a bit of margin so I decided it was good to wait. I have not shot a 777 landing from this location so wanted to get the shot.
However, while the time was looking good compared to sunset, it was not looking so good when thinking of the weather. There were some dark and stormy clouds off to the southwest and they seemed to be getting closer. As the 777X got to the city, I figured a coat was in order since it looked like the rain might arrive first.
Indeed it did and this brought the light levels way down. As it came down the approach, it was shrouded in rain and made for a less than distinct shape to shoot. Certainly not what I had been hoping for. However, why wait all that time and not take the shots. It touched down in the heavy rain but at least the reduced distance meant things weren’t as obscured. It rolled out and turned off the runway but I decided I was already done and headed to the car and dry warmth.
While awaiting the NOAA arrival, I happened to shoot a 737 that was coming directly overhead on its way to SeaTac. I don’t shoot much of these flights but every once in a while, I do like to try and get a symmetrical shot from directly beneath the jet just for the fun of it. As this one came over, I just assumed it was another Alaska 737-900ER since they come in all the time. However, when I looked closely at the shot, I realized it was a United jet and, more importantly, it was actually a Max9. Turns out it was on its delivery flight from Boeing Field so must have only left a few minutes before.
A big bizjet is an appealing looking thing to shoot but the unfortunate thing is that they are frequently quite blandly painted. If I owned a $60m jet, I probably wouldn’t want to draw too much attention to myself (other than by owning a $60m jet) so I guess it shouldn’t be such a surprise. However, when one is painted up in a colorful scheme, it is a nice change from the usual.
This G650ER is one I think I have seen before but it was making a trip from Boeing Field to somewhere, probably well within the range capabilities of the aircraft. Given how quickly it got off the ground, I imagine it was not heavily loaded. It taxied up from the south end of the ramp near Modern Aviation and then held for quite a while for arriving traffic and for its airways clearance. When it got on its way, it rotated abeam me which worked out pretty well.