Category Archives: Pacific Northwest

Rowing Near the Locks

A cold but sunny winter’s day at the locks in Ballard did not make me think that being on the water would be fun.  However, someone clearly had a different idea.  While I was walking around looking at the boats and the wildlife, a guy was out sculling in his boat.  He came quite close to the overflow from the sluice gates and had to work to position himself with the flow and turbulence from the water as it headed towards the sound.  It seemed like a very cold time to be out there, but I guess he was enjoying himself?

Lockheed 12 Heading East

Airport roads can sometimes throw up interesting surprises.  I was driving around Paine Field one weekend and came upon this fuselage sitting on a trailer.  I had a chat with the guys loading it up.  It is a Lockheed 12 and was heading to Minnesota for restoration to flight.  They suggested a lot of work was needed and it would be a while before it was flying again.  However, I was just taken to see it sitting beside the road as I happened to pass by.

Trumpeter Swans Along the Road

The snow geese are famous visitors to Skagit County in the winter, but they are not the only large birds to show up in big numbers.  The trumpeter swans also appear and, while they might not be in the large flocks of the snow geese, there are still loads of them around.  They also don’t seem to mind being close to the humans.  I had seen a bunch of them as I was driving around and pulled off the road at one point as so many were in the adjacent field.

The fun thing about photographing swans is getting them taking off.  Two or more of them flying at low level as they build speed is pretty cool.  You might normally wait for ages for this to happen but, with so many of them around, it seems as if there is almost always a take off occurring.  Consequently, while some might seem distant, you know another will be closer in before too long.  (I do like the head on look but that does require getting to more inaccessible spots usually.)

After shooting at the same spot for a while, I continued south.  I was getting back to an area south of Mt Vernon when I came across even more swans sitting right by a side road.  They were ridiculously close to the road and, when I pulled up and stopped, they did start to drift away a little.  I guess even swans can be slightly circumspect when it comes to humans arriving.  However, they quickly got used to me and I got some shots of them too!

The Hawk 115 and I Are Aging Together

Not a great shot, in this case, but one that means something to me.  When I went to the Abbotsford Air Show, there was a Hawk 115 in the static display.  It was in an interesting color scheme but the lighting was a bit tough and it was surrounded be people.  The reason I liked it was that I was involved in the Hawk 115 program when it was first underway.  I left the company before the first jets were completed so I never actually saw one.  This might actually have been my first encounter with one.  Since they have been in service for nearly 25 years, they are probably nearing the end of their time so I did leave it a little late.  It looks in better shape than me!

Grab It While You Can – Or Will I Be Wrong?

UW had some success with their football program this year which meant a few charter flights took place.  Some of the charters that they arranged were with New Pacific Airlines.  This is a relatively new airline that originally was going to be Northern Pacific until BNSF Railway, which owns that name, objected to their using it.  Their plan has been to operate transpacific flights via Anchorage in a similar model to that of Icelandair.  Things have got off to a slow start.  They are doing some domestic US flying but those routes have been erratic too.  The fleet is a pair (I think) of Boeing 757-200s so hardly cutting edge.  I think they might not last long.

Consequently, when their jet showed up at BFI, I figured I should definitely get photos since I might not get the chance again.  Winter conditions are not going to be the greatest, but I was able to get a few that I was pretty happy with.  I don’t wish the airline any harm at all, but they don’t seem to be giving off the vibe of a great success story.  Let’s hope the charters can fill in until they get something more solid going.

Layers of Hills South of Kelowna

As we were walking around the winery in Kelowna, we had a lovely view to the south across the lake and to the hills beyond.  The weather was quite clear but there was same haze in the air.  This did a nice job of distinguishing between the hills based on their distance with the farthest hills getting obscured the most.  With the warm winter light on this haze, it made for a very attractive view of the terrain in the distance, and I grabbed a longer lens for a quick shot.

The End of The Forge

Across from Boeing Field is the site of Jorgensen’s Forge.  This facility was created in the Second World War by the Isaacson company and later sold to Jorgensen.  It has since gone through a variety of ownership but ceased trading a few years ago.  It has been siting idle for a while but recently the demolition of the plant commenced.  The whole area is a Superfund site which should be a surprise for a large foundry that has been in operation for decades.  I don’t know what the plans for it now include but here are some shots of the skeleton of the structure from one weekend when it was being taken down bit by bit.  A sad end to a location that provided many jobs and supported multiple different industries.

Sampling the Air in Detail

The time that the NASA DC-8 spent up in the Pacific Northwest was a ton of fun for the aviation enthusiasts.  Since I did get to shoot the jet a few times, I got some closer shots of the airframe to show the various sensors that cover the jet and are used for the sampling work that has been its specialization.  There are plenty of them on the top, sides and bottom of the airframe.  Here are some shots.  I wonder what will replace the jet and whether it will have a similar array of probes?

Struggling to Get the Owls

My Skagit trip was primarily looking for geese, but I was also going to see whether the short-eared owls were back out and about.  I ended up in East 90 again which has a solid reputation for the owls.  As I pulled up, various other raptors were flying very close by, so I knew the chances of seeing stuff were going to be good.  Unfortunately, the owls were not playing ball.  There were loads of them flying but they seemed to have staked out their interests further across the fields and away from the road.  The northern harriers were the ones close by.  The owls seemed to be wheeling about each other off in the distance so I had to make do with longer range images of them and get some of the other residents instead.

Last Good Paint on a Lufthansa A340

The A340 is a plane that keeps on going despite repeated claims it was done.  The 300 series jet is actually not as inefficient as it is popular to suggest (the 600 series is far less competitive) and it is still working for a few airlines including Lufthansa.  This winter the jet is back on the run to Seattle which has pleased me.  Most of the jets have been repainted in the new livery which is not that thrilling.  There are also Star Alliance liveried jets but there are one or two of them still in the older Lufthansa colors.  This is a better look from my point of view.

I did have one of them come in one weekend when the light was good and the wind was favorable for the shots I was after.  The landing shots were more of a struggle because the plane landed at noon and the lighting angles were not helpful.  Departure was mid afternoon and so this was slightly better.  They have been back occasionally since but not on days with a) good weather and b) me being available to be there.  I hope I get more chances before they finally head to the desert.