The Puppy Spot SAAB 340 is a regular visitor to the Pacific Northwest but I had never shot it. As I was leaving SEA after the arrival facility trial, I saw that the SAAB was due in to Boeing Field in less than half an hour. It is not far between the two places but arrival time was going to put the sun right on the nose. No good options to shoot it – assuming the sun stayed out. I headed for Ruby Chow Park and was there in time to get it arriving. Light wasn’t great but I did finally check it off the list. Not sure what the story with the name is but I think they transport puppies across the country. Must be a lot of cash in the puppy business if air freighting them around the country is cost effective.
Lake Chelan is a really deep body of water. According to some charts I saw, it is about 1,600’ to the very bottom at its deepest point. The water level does seem to fluctuate a bit. When I was walking along the shore at the resort, there were some swimming rafts. One was in the water but another was up on the land. I then realized that the jetties were a long way above the water surface and, what I thought was just a sandy area, was actually a beach.
I assume the run off from the winter melts results in the water level increasing. There is also a power plant at the end of the lake so that can control the water level. At this early time of year, there is no pressure to have the water too high. You can easily see where it is supposed to be in peak season, though. Given how big a lake it is, that is quite a lot of water to bring the level up that much. I doubt I shall be back in the summer but maybe I will see it as it is at its peak at some point.
My cloudy Sunday afternoon included a bonus visitor. I saw that a turbo DC-3 was heading this way. Initial estimates had it coming in quite late but they were making good progress and would be in while I was there. The turboprop conversion means a better cruise speed on a long cross country and, since this flight was direct from Oshkosh, it was a pretty long trip.
I have shot plenty of DC-3s over the years but I don’t think too many of them have been turbine conversions. This was a nice surprise. It didn’t hurt that the weather was steadily improving during the afternoon and a hint of sun was showing up by the time it arrived. That hint wasn’t quite as strong as I would have liked but it was okay. I also got to see it on the ramp when it parked up near the Museum of Flight. I think Basler has a base at Oshkosh and, since they do the conversions of DC-3s to turbine power (along with a small fuselage stretch I think), I guess this must be one of theirs.
When we lived in Chicago, I first became acquainted with red-winged blackbirds. The red flashes on the wings are fine but they have a terribly annoying call and they get quite aggressive when you get close to their nests. There are a lot of them in Juanita Bay and I have to say that they are clearly not the sharpest tools in the shed. They build their nests very close to the heavily trafficked areas where people walk. There is a lot of space in the park but they build nests within feet of the boardwalk.
The result of this is that they are constantly freaking out about how close everyone is to their nest. They fly up on to the boardwalk, swoop around the heads of people and land on the handrails right next to you. It is quite fun to have them so close (except when they start with the calls) but you would think that they would have made life slightly easier for themselves by building a nest just slightly further away from everyone!
Is what I am seeing real or is it a Mirage? Sorry, pretty crummy pun usage. When I was going to Nellis for Red Flag, one of the things I wanted to shoot was the Mirage F1s of Draken International. It is a long time since I have seen an F1 – it was back when the Spanish Air Force was still flying them and they came to RIAT. Now that Draken is using them for aggressor support services, I was keen to catch one or two of them.
As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long. The first time I drove up to the base, a pair of the Draken jets were recovering. I grabbed the camera as they came in straight towards me before going over my head. I had not set up the camera as I would have intended but just turned it on and pointed it at the jets. Not bad luck and some of the shots came out okay.
I did get a couple more opportunities. These were departures at the Speedway. In one morning I had a pair of them heading out without flexing. The camo pattern they have is the same but the colors vary. The black and white scheme was interesting. However, I prefer the brown scheme and the last two jets I got to shoot before I headed to the airport were F1s flexing north. Top and tail the visit with Mirages!
The new international arrivals facility at SEA includes a long walkway that overlooks the ramp between the A concourse and the South Satellite. I was able to get a few shots as I wandered through there. A Delta A220-100 was taxiing by when I got there and there was another shortly afterwards. They are pretty common here these days. Since A Concourse is heavily used by Delta, no surprise that a lot of their jets were present. A few Southwest jets were over on B with some widebodies on the satellite.
Watching the bird flying around Juanita Bay can bring out the aero guy in me. I was watching some ducks flying across the water and coming in to land. While the wings were working hard, it was also possible to see the feathers fluttering on the back of the duck just below the neck. Clearly, the flow is separating in this location when they are maxing out the lift and the feather get disturbed by the separation. Does anyone else but me care? Probably not so maybe no one is even reading at this point!
When the arrivals at Nellis on on the 03 runways, it means a trip to Cheyenne. This is not the greatest part of the world to visit but it is a feature of a Nellis trip. The sun angles were still quite low while I was there so I decided to try shooting from further around the road than I have done previously. For the planes coming in on the left runway, I had a reasonable sun angle on them. For planes on the right, they were coming right over my head.
I quite liked shooting like this. The planes have a surprising amount of variety in their line up angles when this far from the threshold so, while they are all coming close to you, it is not a repeat of the same shot every time. Each pilot takes a slightly different line and some variation in elevation too. You get something akin to head on shots and then it is a case of rapidly swiveling around to get a shot from behind.
There is a lot of fencing and trees along that part of the road so getting a clean shot of everything is hard to achieve. However, it is still possible to get something a little different. With the light angles being less than ideal, rather than worry about shots that aren’t going to be very usable due to either glare or shadow, why not get something a little different. It does require some quick adjustments and it can get a touch noisy but it is still fun to try something a little different.
Anyone that has arrived in Seattle on an international flight will know that the arrivals facility was a bit cramped and unwelcoming. The airport has been building a new arrivals facility for a while now. It was supposed to open a while back but got delayed by a variety of things, not least COVID. The new building has been built alongside the A concourse in the main terminal with a bridge connecting the South Satellite to bring arriving passengers across.
The whole thing is due to have a soft open in April 2022 and be fully open by May. The airport requested volunteers to come and help test the systems to see how they handle a volume of people. You can do a variety of tests but the true test is when a load of people show up. This is still not going to be as much load as it will get when multiple international flights arrive at the same time but it is part of the process.
I volunteered to take part. Yes, I was happy to help out but I was also keen to have a nose around the new facility. I was hoping to get to see the new bridge and the view it provides of the ramp area but was to be disappointed. Everything we were testing was on the A concourse side of things. We did have a good view of the new bridge though.
We were given assignments for our run through the arrivals procedure. We had various elements that we needed to engage with and evaluate. I was arriving on a flight with Emirates and had to connect to a Delta flight. I needed to collect one piece of luggage and then clear immigration and recheck my luggage. At two locations, we had to complete surveys based on what we had experienced. We started at a gate waiting area and then entered the gate to turn on to the route an arriving passenger would take. The route is alongside the ramp area so you get a great view of the airport as you walk through. The new buildings are quite airy and spacious and very white!
Most things worked well enough. A few things could do with tweaking and it will be interesting to see whether the areas that got backed up for us will cope when the real passengers show up and staffing is increased. Hopefully it will be a lot nicer way to arrive in SEA than was previously the case. I would avoid it in the first few days since I imagine there will be some teething issues but, after that, it should be a welcome change.
For a while, I was able to shoot up at Arlington a bit. Our location there in the afternoons is close to the ramp used by Airlift Northwest. They have some Airbus Helicopters EC135s that they use for aeromedical flights. It is a nice looking airframe and theirs are painted well. (They have recently painted one in UW colors which I have only shot from a distance.). They seemed to be in action a lot while I was there so was able to get the teams crewing up, departing, arriving and shutting everything down. They are happy to give you a wave too which is nice.