Alaska Air is going through a re-fleeting process in the near future. They are consolidating types in service with some aircraft disappearing. The Airbus fleet is on the way out which is no great surprise to anyone. The Horizon fleet is also getting some changes with a focus on the Embraers and the Q400 turboprops also going away. The Q400s have been ubiquitous in the Pacific Northwest for so long that I didn’t always pay them much attention. Now I need to think about them a bit more.
One of the fleet has been painted in a retro paint scheme for Horizon’s days gone by. Despite it being a plane that should appear at Seattle multiple times a day, I had never seen it before. Therefore, I was very pleasantly surprised to see it at Portland when we were down there. Our photo location was directly above the ramp that the Horizon planes were operating from and the south runway, which was their runway of choice, was convenient too so I was able to get a bunch of shots of it in action. How long before this plane and all of its sisters are gone from the area.
We took a visit to the locks at Ballard on the 4th July weekend. We had anticipated a ton of boat traffic for the holidays but we were wrong. Maybe everyone was at home with family members. The result was very limited traffic through the locks. They were just using the smaller lock. One boat that did make the traverse was a rather nice looking old wooden sailing boat. I imagine it requires a fair bit of upkeep but it looked like the sort of boat that you could make relaxing trips in if you had a load of spare time.
I watched this Maule pull out of the hangars on the west side of Boeing Field. It was given taxi instructions by the tower which involved a right turn to taxi south on Bravo. For some reason, they turned left and taxied north. It didn’t take long before a gentle reminder was provided and they did a quick 180 and taxied to the correct end of the runway for departure. As they climbed out, I could see their markings next to the cockpit. They had some mission marks that suggested they may have fought for the Rebel Alliance against the Empire. The Maule is a nice little plane but it is hardly the Millennium Falcon!
Nancy has been busy planting in our back yard at home and one of the plants she has gone with is a lavender plant. Some of the plants take a while to get established and even longer to attract the wildlife but the lavender seems to be an instant hit. It has had a steady stream of bees visiting it as well as other creatures. Bees are the focus today.
I spent a little time lying on the ground by the plant with the macro lens fitted. This is not necessarily an ideal choice as my macro is not a high end lens and it has pretty slow focusing motors. The camera tries to drive it but often it can’t keep up. However, stick with it and you can get some shots that work out. One of the things I had not anticipated was the proboscis that the bees have. Maybe they tuck it away when not on plants but, as they move between parts of the plant, it stays out and it is rather an intimidating looking item!
I recently posted about the flights of the first Korean P-8. Next customer down the line is New Zealand. The P-8s are built at Renton but fitted out at Boeing Field so their first flight is to move across and then they go in to the hangar for a while to have the mission equipment installed. The first New Zealand jet has emerged from the paint shop at Renton and I saw it one weekend as it sat on the flight line awaiting completion for its first flight. I doubt I shall see that happen but I will try and catch it once it is undertaking test flights. I also have the second at Renton for good measure.
The high point – literally and figuratively – of the North Cascades Highway is Washington Pass. If you aren’t heading to the other side of the Cascades, this is also likely to be the point at which you turn around and head back the way you came. There is a parking area and trails at the top to allow you to wander around and take in the view of the pass including the highway far beneath you as it starts its descent.
It was July when we were there and the sun was out and the conditions warm. There were still hints of snow on some of the more sheltered slopes but the summer plant life was making its presence felt. The views up there when the air is clear are really lovely. I think I have posted images from here before but it always changes so here are some of my recent shots.
While driving around the back of Renton, I saw this nice floatplane. It is a SIAI Marchetti 1019 – a utility aircraft with a turboprop powerplant. Based on the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog, it had a decent military career and now plenty of them have found their way into civilian hands. A short while later, I saw pictures of this airframe at Oshkosh for the annual EAA gathering. Our paths were to cross again, though, when it showed up at Boeing Field, making an approach to the short runway. A bit further away than ideal but definitely cool to catch it again.
I was down on our project site having a look at the progress that is being made. Most of the large columns for the elevated sections have already been built but one more needs to be done later than the others because it goes where a temporary road had been placed. They are now getting to it and the rebar has been put together that will go inside the column to reinforce the concrete as it is poured and sets. Looking through the tunnel of this rebar as it sat on the ground awaiting the pour, I loved the pattern that it formed.
Until recently, I had only got one good shot of a Hawker 4000. This was Hawker’s effort at a larger bizjet and it also made extensive use of composites. It originally came under the name Horizon and the development program was very long requiring a couple of extensions to the certification application because it was expiring. The plane did not sell well and it was discontinued. They are so rare, the first time I shot one, I didn’t even realize what it was and figured it was a Challenger 300. Aside from one high overhead, I hadn’t seen one since.
When I saw one was due in to Boeing Field on a Sunday, in figured that was worth a trip on its own. I didn’t have anything going on so I headed over. As it happened, there was plenty of interest at BFI that day so the trip was very productive. However, even if that hadn’t been the case, it would still have been worth it to catch this unusual and rare type.
I spent the Friday of Seafair down at the shore of Lake Washington watching the flying demonstrations (and taking the occasional work call). The planes weren’t the only aviators over the lake though. Despite a TFR being in place, a local osprey decided to ignore it and cruise along the shore line. I never saw it actually dive after any prey for the whole time I was there. Instead it would just start towards the south end and gradually drift northwards. After it had completed the leg, it would return to the start and repeat the process.
Fortunately, it was very close to the shore and nowhere near the display box so there was no risk being posed to the performers in the show. However, it was quite a distraction to everyone around where I was and we would turn to watch it rather than the display aircraft each time it came through. Initially it was a little offshore and a bit of a reach with the long lens but it came progressively closer in and was right overhead on a number of occasions.