Category Archives: Pacific Northwest

Tailskid On A 777X

There is plenty of the 777X on this blog.  The delays for the test programs and the likelihood that service entry will slip in to 2024 means that test aircraft are all that is going to be available for a while yet.  Even so, with four test aircraft in use, there is plenty of test activity underway.  One of the more dramatic testing processes is the minimum unstick testing.

The test is to determine the maximum lift at takeoff in various configurations.  This allows calculation of the required take off speeds and the runway distance required.  The test involves accelerating the aircraft more slowly than usual and pulling the noise fully up.  The tail is dragged along the runway and the aircraft will then get airborne once it reaches sufficient speed.

The test requires a decent runway length and, presumably, nothing much off the end should anything go awry.  To protect the aircraft, a tailskid is fitted to the rear fuselage to allow the crew to drag it along the runway surface without damaging the airframe.  The skid frame is a metallic structure but I am not sure what the wearing surface is for the 777X.  In the past, wood has been used as the abradable element.

WH001, the first 777-9 airframe, is the one that is going to be used for these tests.  It has been fitted with the skid.  I’m not sure whether the testing is already underway or whether it is ready for future use.  I shot it on departure on a couple of occasions.

Unusual Patterns on an Old Log

I was walking along the shore and saw a log that had clearly been in the water and then out of it for a long time.  All sorts of things had happened to the wood.  Some of it looked like it had worn away while other marks suggested that creatures had been chewing their way through.  Some wildlife was still clearly living on the surface and in the nooks and crannies.  It was such an unusual looking log I just couldn’t avoid taking some pictures.

Asia Pacific 757

An unusual operator is a good reason for a trip out.  I had seen some 757 flights in and out of Seattle that seemed to be running a circular route including LA and Hawaii.  The airline was called Asia Pacific Airlines and was flying 757s.  However, I didn’t have the opportunity to get to see them while these flights were underway.  Jump forward to Christmas Eve and I had a day off and they were coming in to Boeing Field.  This seemed like it was worth a trip.

They appeared to be providing additional capacity for UPS which was dealing with the big rush in the last days before Christmas.  Although the jet was due in a bit later than ideal, I was definitely hanging around to see it.  I had got everything done for Christmas so I wasn’t under pressure.  The green and white scheme is an interesting change from the usual UPS colors.  It landed and taxied to the UPS ramp where the ground crew went to work unloading and reloading it.  I didn’t wait for departure, though.  Christmas was coming!

Guemes Island Ferry

Since aviation photography has been limited over the last year, I am finding myself photographing passenger ferries a lot.  Having photographed some, I now am finding out about different ferry operations in the area and checking them out too.  Anacortes is well known for the Washington State Ferries terminal that serves the San Juan Islands and Victoria (when the border is open) but it also has another ferry service.  Just across the water from Anacortes is Guemes Island.  The only way to get there is via a ferry.

The crossing is not a long one and you can see across to the other terminal with ease.  The ferry is a basic boat with a car deck for vehicles and a small structure for the operators.  I assume there is some shelter for foot passengers too but I didn’t spot it immediately.  With such a short crossing, there are no special facilities.

As you come down the hill, you look along the loading ramp and straight at the other terminal.  I saw a bunch of cars lined up to cross.  It didn’t appear that they would all get on so I guess they shuttle back and further pretty regularly.  It appeared to be half hourly.  As they made the crossing, the boat seemed to roll quite a bit.  It didn’t look like the smoothest of crossings.  I guess the boat is designed to be sufficient for the sheltered waters but I wouldn’t like to be on it in rough weather.  Then again, the crossing is short so you could suck it up if it was rolling about.  Maybe I will take a trip across some time and explore the island.

BNSF Along The Puget Sound Shore

The terrain around Seattle is pretty undulating which is not ideal for railroads.  Consequently, a good amount of the track is along the shoreline where you can be guaranteed to be flat (provided you do a little work).  Mukilteo is part of the BNSF line and it runs between the houses on the hill and the water’s edge including the new ferry terminal.  There is a station there too for the commuter trains Sound Transit runs.

The majority of the traffic is freight traffic.  Double stack containers or oil tank cars are a regular feature.  I was there to look at the ferry traffic and the wildlife but, if a train is coming, I am not going to ignore it.  One came through while I was in the station while another came through a little later when I was up at the grade crossing.  For people living the US, long freight trains are not that unusual.  For friends and family in the UK, the length of a US freight train can be quite a surprise.  The leading locos can have disappeared off into the distance but the rear of the train hasn’t even come in to sight.  A curving coastline like that along Puget Sound means it is easy to be unable to see each end.

Sunset UPS Departure

The UPS traffic at Boeing Field was busy in the run up to Christmas.  As the light was starting to fade and the day end, another UPS jet taxied for departure.  It got airborne and headed off to its next destination as the sky in the background had a nice warm look to it.

Corvette C8

Corvette’s latest model is a big change from their previous designs and got a lot of attention.  While walking along the shore, I saw this example waiting to catch the ferry.  I had the big lens on at the time which was way more than I needed.  At least a bunch of shots can be stitched together to make a pano.  When I got up on the walkway, it was easier to get a simple shot down on it.  It’s a nice looking car.

United Max On Test

With the grounding order rescinded but the FAA, Boeing was getting Max jets ready to go for customers that were in a position to take delivery – namely US airlines and those that use US registered aircraft.  United has a bunch of Max 9 jets on order and one of them was making a test flight just before Christmas.  I got to see it return from its test.  It taxied back in the south entrance to their ramp past a bunch of other test airframes awaiting acceptance.

Eagles on Camano Island

There were a few bald eagles hanging out on Camano Island during our trip there.  There was one in a tree near the shore when we first got there.  It didn’t seem in the least bit interested in us as we walked below it.  If an eagle has recently eaten, it is quite likely to hang around for a long time doing nothing so we didn’t wait around to see what it did.

When we came back there were now two eagles in the area.  I’ve no idea whether one was our original or if these two had come along since.  A third flew past at one point getting the two quite agitated.  If you have never heard the noise a bald eagle makes, you might be quite surprised.  They have a high pitched squeak which doesn’t seem in keeping with their size.  It is easy to identify though.

I wandered around trying to get the two of them in shot together.  They were quite offset distance wise which meant getting them both in focus wasn’t practical.  I did try and little Photoshop focus stacking when I got home though.  It’s funny that bald eagles are so common in this part of the world but it is still exciting to see one and everyone seems to respond the same way.

Demolition of the Old Mukilteo Terminal

With the new terminal open and operational at Mukilteo, the construction crews have turned their attention to the demolition of the old terminal facilities.  The redevelopment of the waterfront includes returning this old space for new usage.  The old terminal building was not a particularly impressive structure but now it looks very sad as everything is taken down.

Across the road, the old lanes for holding the cars prior to boarding are still visible but some of the area has already been cut through by the new access road construction for the terminal.  One side of the old lot was briefly the home for one of the toll booths which looked rather feeble on its own.  Next time I was there, it was gone.

The old span that connected to the berth has been lifted out.  It was sitting on a barge on my last visit.  A large floating crane had been brought in for the large lifts where a smaller crane had previously been in use.  The structures were in the process of being removed.  The concrete top to one side had been removed and the posts showed the damage from the cuts.  The other side had a crew preparing the lifting lines to take that side off too.

It won’t be too long before all trace of the old terminal is gone and then it will be very hard to remember what it looked like at all.