Getting an unusual visitor to SFO is worth a look. In June 2017, Finnair are going to be starting regular service to SFO from Helsinki. Ahead of that, though, there was a tech event taking place in Helsinki that meant a bunch of Silicon Valley types would be heading over. Finnair ran two charter flights to SFO, one ahead of the event and one after. More interestingly for me, while the service next year will be operated with an A330, the charter used one of their A350s. Since they won’t be coming back for the foreseeable future, this was a limited chance to catch them.
I only found out after the first flight so the second was my only chance. Fortunately, the weather was more cooperative. It was clear and sunny. However, the wind was over 20mph steadily and gusting stronger than that a lot of the time which made holding a long lens just a little tricky. The timing of the arrival was just late enough to make it a reasonable time to get some shots. Winter in SFO means that morning arrivals don’t have the problems of backlighting in the same way that there is in the summer but early arrivals are still not great. However, it arrived just late enough to have a chance of some reasonable light.
The conditions were clear and you could see the jet as it came over the top and then as it came onto final near Coyote Point. Another aircraft was lining up for approach out behind it and showed up clearly as a result of the clear air. The wind had subsided a little when they made the approach but not much. Consequently, I was fighting with the sail (as the lens became known that day) to keep a steady panning motion on the jet. Plenty of light certainly helped by keeping the shutter speed up.
I wanted to get some departure shots. I waited around when the plane was due to taxi out. However, I did have an appointment to get to and it was clear that the plane was not going to head out in time. In the end, I accepted the timing was against me and headed off. I actually drove by the airport on the way to the city and the taxiing jet came past me as I drove off. No way that I would ever have been around in time for departure. Oh well, at least I got it flying when it came in.