The huge reduction in air travel – particularly long haul – has resulted in airlines taking a hatchet to their fleets. Lufthansa has been no exception with many jets parked permanently and others in long term storage with a significant question mark hanging over them. The A340-600 fleet is one such fleet. However, while a few of the A340-300s have been put out to grass, a good chunk of the fleet is still in use.
The 300 Series is an underrated airliner. The 600 has longer range and higher payload but it is optimized for the longer range missions and is too much for shorter flights. The 300 is a more versatile type as long as you are not pushing the bounds of payload/range. Consequently, it has hung around a lot longer than might have been expected. With reduced load factors, it is continuing to show its value despite it having been seen as on the way out for many years now.
Lufthansa has started using them on the Seattle run. They are coming in three days a week. The jet arrives around noon and two of the trips are Wednesday and Friday so work means they are hard to get. Sunday is the other day so I decided to give it a go. However, when I got up, flights were on a northerly flow which means no good locations to shoot from and a high and tail on light set up. Not ideal. However, by mid-morning, despite the forecast northerly winds, they had switched to a southerly flow. That meant a water tower shooting location was on the cards so off I went.
I got to the water tower in plenty of time only to notice a lack of arriving jets. Sure enough, they had switched back to a northerly flow. I now had to try and find a new location to shoot from and quickly. I had an idea for somewhere I hadn’t used before so decided to give it a go. I had time to try out on a preceding arrival and my post on that Asiana jet is here. Since things seemed to work okay, I stayed were I was and waited for the jet to arrive. Lufthansa had painted a bunch of their jets in Star Alliance colors but they are now reverting to the mainline livery and happily, that is what I was expecting. No idea how long they shall be around but I shall try again while they are coming here because they will be gone before too long I imagine.
Wandering through the grounds at Bloedel Reserve, we came across a bench for visitors. This bench did not look too inviting and I suspect it hadn’t been used for a while. Maybe this was due to the shutdown period when no one was visiting so no one was sitting on the bench. Alternatively, maybe no one ever sits on the bench. Whatever the reason, this bench has accumulated a decent layer of moss.
The bench is located in a shady spot near water so clearly it is a moist environment. A good place for moss to grow. The bench has plenty of surfaces on which things can get established. It isn’t in the least bit remote, though, so hardly out of the way of regular traffic. Still, with that much moss now on it, I think it is probably not an appealing place for people to sit. Consequently, the moss is going to remain undisturbed. I wonder whether they will clean it off or, if we come back in a year, the bench will be encased in a cushion of moss!
I have posted images of stored 737 Max jets at Boeing Field. However, there is limited space there for storage and far more of the jets have been stored at Moses Lake. I wanted to see how things looked over there which was part of my reason for visiting. As I got close to the field, it wasn’t hard to spot the jets. They are everywhere it seems. The east side of the field has a bunch of them parked up. There are also plenty on the south side of the airport.
I took some shots of them to make panoramas but the fence made it harder to get a good look and the light was on the wrong side by that time in the day. The south side of the field gave some better angles as did places along the road running around the airport. I quite liked the long view across to the large numbers of planes but the heat haze was really harsh so the shots, while giving an idea of how many planes there are, lose something from being so blurred.
The south side of the field had the best light angles and you were quite close to the jets so haze was less of an issue. I like looking through the rows of planes neatly lined up to emphasize just how many of them there are. It seems Boeing is getting closer to restoring their airworthiness so we shall see how quickly they can mobilize to get the jets ready again and how willing the customers are to take delivery at this point!
Heading out of Grand Coulee took me through a town imaginatively named Electric City. I had done a little Googling before making the trip and one of the things I saw in the area was the Gehrke Windmill Garden. I had no idea whether this was worth a look but since I was going to be there, why not stop off. It was a strange little installation. Next to a park, it was set in the middle of the parking lot. Fencing surrounded the garden and within it were a wide array of wind turbines made from anything that the creator could get their hands on. Water funnel, cups, bicycle wheels – you name it. They had been roped in to action as a windmill. All this was right next to the road. Definitely not something I would make a specific visit for but a novelty to check out while passing by – I didn’t even need to take a side turning to get there!
The test program for the Boeing 777X is gradually increasing and a third jet has been added to the fleet. I stopped by Boeing Field because all three jets were scheduled to fly on this day. Having seen the first two, I was hoping for the third since I haven’t got any shots of it and its livery which is different to the first two. Sadly, I was to be disappointed as they scrubbed the flight.
However, the first two jets did fly. They were both already airborne by the time I got there. The arrival times back for both were supposed to be pretty close but you can’t put too much stock in those times as things on test will be what they will be. I headed to the arrival end for the first of them. It wasn’t that late so the light wasn’t ideal but it was still a bit better as we were well passed the solstice and heading to the equinox. Happy to take the shot of course.
I moved to the other end of the field when the second jet came in. I wasn’t interested in repeating the shot I had already taken (plus I had shot this jet in similar circumstances before) so some images at the other end seemed worthwhile. They landed short but had clearance for a high speed run on the runway so that brought them down to where I was. Fortuitously, they took the exit directly in front of me. I missed the transition of the wingtips while changing cameras. The tips were down in one set of shots but were folded as they taxied off the runway. The wide angle view is a nice one to get of something so large.
My trip to Coupeville to shoot Growlers undertaking FCLP worked out well as described in this post. What I didn’t emphasize in that post is just how close the road is to the north end of the runway. While southerly flow is not normal, when that is happening, you are very close to the action. The pano at the top of the post is the view you get of the runway from the road and plenty of people will show up to watch the jets bouncing.
The fields around the runway need to be looked after. There was a tractor cutting the grass while the jets were bouncing and you can see what a good view the driver probably had of the jets. I assume he had good hearing protection on while he was working in those fields. I also include a shot of a jet coming low over the field. Hopefully that shows just ow close everything is to the road.
Not long after we first moved to the Pacific Northwest we made a trip to Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. No surprise to know that there is a previous blog post from that visit and you can see that here. As things have gradually reopened, the Reserve was open for visitors again under certain restrictions. There were timed slots only for you to reserve and the main trail had been made one way to minimize the encounters with other visitors. You didn’t need to wear a mask except when you where near to other guests. (If you have an issue with masks, please feel free to not tell me about it.)
The visit this time was really nice. Sure, it might be that we haven’t done very much in the last few months so the chance to get out and walk in pretty surroundings on a sunny day is welcome. Bloedel is still just a nice place to visit. The variety of grounds from mossy woodland to meadows to manicured lawns to Japanese gardens makes for a good visit. An advantage of the one way system is that it ensures you visit all elements of the garden and don’t miss out on parts of it. Some areas are closed off to visitors but, on the whole, you get a great experience.
The length of the walk around the main trail is not long. It is just over two miles. We were passed by a few groups of people. I’m not sure why they were in such a hurry. We wanted to enjoy the grounds at a leisurely pace to make the most of the effort to get there (the ferries are on a reduced schedule which doesn’t reflect the volume of vehicles making the trip) so took our time and savored the beauty of the location.
Bloedel Reserve is definitely a lovely location. The fact that they found a way to open up – even if only in a limited way – is a good thing. We were glad to be able to support them when things are clearly not easy for them and we obviously got the benefit of being out there on a lovely summer day in the Pacific Northwest. Now just remember it is always raining up here so you don’t need to move here.
I made a quick trip to SeaTac one Sunday for another visitor that I was keen to catch and that will have its own post. I ended up shooting from a sub-optimal location and one that I had never used before. I didn’t know exactly what I could expect. Fortunately, prior to the arrival, an Asiana A350 was due in. It was about 30 minutes ahead of the one I was after so, if things didn’t work out, I had time to try moving to somewhere else.
Fortunately, while heat haze was going to be a problem and the light angle wasn’t great, neither of these were things I could do anything about and the location did provide a reasonable angle on the jet. There were some lamp poles which I noted to be ready for next time and the jet went behind the trees as it crossed the threshold but it did seem like a usable location for the intended target to come.
I have shot endless hummingbird photos in the backyard at home. There was one shot that eluded me for a while. At a certain time of day, if a hummingbird is at the feeder, its shadow will fall on the post on the corner of our deck. I have seen it a few times when I didn’t have a camera handy and have had a camera when none came or the light moved around too quickly. However, I did finally get the combination I was after. I like the hint of the hummingbird without the actual bird in shot that it delivers.
One of the things I was interested to see at Moses Lake was the new testbed being fitted out for Rolls Royce. Rolls currently has a Boeing 747-200 that they use for airborne testing of their engines. I shot it at Tucson and posted about it here. They recently acquired a 747-400 from Qantas to use as a testbed and it was moved to Moses Lake for conversion by Aerotec. I don’t know the timescales for the conversion process but it will be interesting to see it when ready in house colors and hopefully with a big engine installed on one of the inboard pylons.