A while back, I had a spate of photographing Lear 60s at Boeing Field. The Lear 60 is not a rare jet but nor is it particularly common so seeing a few in a short space of time, caught my attention back then. The 60 was Learjet’s effort to stretch as much as they could from what they already had. They took the existing wing and added a bigger fuselage. This was possibly the limit of what could be done with that wing.
I think it is a slightly disproportionate looking aircraft. The fuselage looks a bit chunky, the wing seems small for the fuselage, the undercarriage appears to have been carried over so the wheels look particularly small for the overall size. It is a bit of an odd one. Even so, I still like it when they show up. Since they have been out of production for a while, they will start to disappear. They will be around for a while but will progressively become less common. I wonder how many times I shall have so many encounters in a short space of time.
The Avantis that had been operating at Paine Field have relocated their base to Arlington instead. I think they are getting maintained there and so it is the new base of operations. One of them arrived while I was up that way and it parked up on the main ramp. I wandered out and chatted to the owner as he put the plane away for the evening and then, once he had gone, I continued to get some shots. The airframe is a selection of interesting shapes so I was trying to find good ways to shoot it.
The fuselage shape tapers aggressively, there is the front wing, the main wing and the tailplane and then there are the engines and their props. Lots to try and work with. The engines are interesting in that the exhaust from the PT-6s blows right on to the roots of the props. This heat must be a form of deicing but it also must require something of the blade construction to manage the heat. There is some sign of the particles in the exhaust in the dirt patterns that form across the blade roots.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Avanti is an amazing looking aircraft. The combination of cabin size and performance is unmatched by turboprops (and a lot of jets too). I wish it was more successful. Lots of people focus on its noise but that doesn’t bother me. However, having looked at those props in more detail, I can’t help but wonder how much of that noise is from the exhaust interacting with the blades rather than just the blades themselves.
Regular readers of the blog will know that there are certain types that I seem destined to struggle to shoot in decent light. It might be the nicest of days, but the sun will go behind a cloud just before the intended subject appears. I thought the Mitsubishi MU-2 was one of those types but, a few months back, I finally got lucky. One came into Boeing Field on a day with good sun. Not the perfect conditions but it was still a relief to finally get some shots when it wasn’t overcast!
I have been messing around with low shutter speeds for traffic at Boeing Field a lot this year. Some of those shots have made their way into posts on here. One sunny afternoon, I was at the field and there was a lot of business jet traffic but nothing terribly special. This provides a good opportunity to try different things. I had the polarizer and a neutral density filter. The polarizer is good on sunny days for taking down the glare and it also cuts the light. However, the neutral density can really pull the shutter speed down.
Since I didn’t care if the shots were a failure, I was willing to just keep bringing the shutter speed down and down. I compensated by cranking up the frame rate in order to increase the probability of getting a sharp one. This is an interesting challenge. Normally I spend a bit of time culling out shots that just aren’t sharp but, when playing with silly shutter speeds, you need to re-calibrate just how sharp things should be. What is a little off when zoomed in might be of no concern when looking at the full image. That is not an excuse to let plainly bad shots through though.
Here are some of the results that weren’t too bad. Even an average Challenger can look a little more interesting with a very blurry background!
Talon Air’s Hawker 4000 came to Boeing Field and my shots of its arrival have already had their own post. However, while I was reviewing the shots when I got home, something seemed a little odd between the shots. Something seemed to be flapping around on the lower rear fuselage. I zoomed in to the shots and there was an access panel that was unsecured. Its angle was changing between shots, so it was clearly moving around in the airflow. From what I can gather, this is probably where the fueling port is located. These doors are tough, so it was probably fine, but I wonder whether any damage was done on a long flight.
A few times a year, Boeing Field is treated to the arrival of a Hawker 4000. This was not a successful jet for Hawker and so they are far from common. I have shot them on occasions, and they have probably got blog posts when I did. I saw this one coming in one weekend so headed over to see it. When I looked up the operator, Talon Air, I was interested to see on their website that they have quite the collection of 4000s. I guess owning a bunch of them makes supporting them a little easier. Annoyingly, another one was at BFI while I was there and got towed near me before I realized what it was. It didn’t fly while I was there unfortunately.
Previous posts have shown that I like a bizjet that isn’t painted like all of the others and being painted black is even better. It won’t surprise regular readers, therefore, that when I got to see not one but two black Gulfstreams on one afternoon at Boeing Field, I was quite a happy chappy. The weather was not great, though. It was raining pretty steadily which doesn’t make for ideal conditions. However, it isn’t all bad. Sunny days with black jets can produce some harsh contrast conditions while overcast light is more even and soft so it might not be all bad.
Rain in the shots is still going to be an issue though. Depending on the shutter speed you choose, you may well end up with the raindrops being visible in the images. A bit of tweaking of the settings when processing can boost the contrast a little, but those raindrops are not disappearing. Still, the subject is an interesting one to me and that’s what counts.
The large exercise that was taking place in Alaska attracted a lot of unusual types and I have posted about the Hunters and the Northrop Grumman testbed heading up there already. They weren’t the only ones, though. Paine Field had a couple of transients too with a pair of Sabreliner jets heading north. This vintage bizjet is a pretty agile type and Clay Lacy used to display one on the air show circuit. These two had an interesting pod mounted under the front fuselage – presumably for some sort of electronic warfare role. I was able to head up to Paine Field that weekend to get them as they arrived. I didn’t have the time to get them departing although they weren’t around for long – just getting some fuel and then heading onwards.
They did route back through Paine Field when the exercise was done so I was able to get a second go at shooting them then but the conditions were much as before, so the shots are not too different. I did take a bit of a chance with my shots by dropping the shutter speed down pretty low to try and get some good motion blur – always a risk when shooting something new!
The Cirrus SF50 Vision is a strange little jet. It might be jet powered, but it isn’t a particularly high performer. Sure, it is quicker than a piston aircraft, but it doesn’t compete with the jets that are a little larger than it and it certainly isn’t huge. However, it does fill a niche. There have been quite a few of them around her recently and, with its bulbous fuselage, V-tail and dorsal engine, it sure looks different. It also helps that they often get painted in interesting schemes so I’ll get shots whenever I can. Here are some I have seen recently.
I posted about the arrival of some Hunters and, in that post, I mentioned that I was there for a Gulfstream test jet. A couple of years ago, I managed to get some shots of a G600 test jet and I had been hoping to catch a G700 at some point. When one of the test aircraft filed a flight plan for Boeing Field, I finally had my opportunity. I was waiting for it when the Hunters showed up. It wasn’t far behind them that my original target showed itself.
This is the fourth test aircraft. It is in a nice paint job typical for the average anonymous bizjet but it gives hints to its true purpose by having some of the windows replaced with instrumentation. I was able to get it as it came in from the south, albeit with the usual cluttered background that Boeing Field has. Fortunately, they were operating out of the field for a few days and I was able to come back at a later date to catch it on approach from the other end.