Finally a VLJ Makes It

About a decade ago, the very light jet was the hot idea.  Everyone seemed to have a design and they were bringing tons of investment in to make the planes and sell them in quantities and at prices that had previously been unthinkable.  As it turned out, there was a good reason why it had been unthinkable and the projects either never made it to production or made a few before bankruptcy followed (sometimes more than once).  Eclipse did better than most in making jets before they folded, later re-emerging in a slimmed down form.

Cirrus is one company that stuck with it and didn’t go bust.  It did benefit from a lot of Chinese investment and the fact it had a successful piston lineup to generate some income didn’t hurt.  Their approach was the SF50 Vision, a single engine jet.  It was a slightly unusual design but not a bad one and it has finally made it to certification and production.  This example is a regular at Boeing Field so maybe it lives there?

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Blending to Remove Traffic

During a previous visit to Vancouver, I experimented to blending images of the same scene to remove objects I didn’t want included.  When photographing the bridge at Deception Pass, I decided to have another go at this.  The bridge was very interesting but I found the traffic on the bridge to be a distraction.  Looking at some of the shots afterwards, it wasn’t as bad as I thought at the time but, even so, I decided to try processing the shots.

This was the same approach as before.  Load all of the images into Photoshop using the Statistics function and use Median to average things out and hopefully remove the items that I didn’t want to appear.  It seemed to work pretty well.  The top shot has the output while the one below is one of the input shots cropped in along with the final result to show what was removed.

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DoJ SAAB

Unmarked aircraft are conspicuous by their effort to be inconspicuous.  I saw this SAAB 2000 parked up at the Clay Lacy ramp and, before too long, it taxied out and departed kindly backtracking passed me in the process.  SAAB 2000s are not overly common anyway so that was the first thing to notice but, since it was completely white, I figured it might belong to someone not advertising their presence.  Sure enough, it belongs to the Department of Justice.  I wonder what it was doing here?

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Deer That Don’t Care

Fort Casey had a bunch of deer that were chomping their way around the grounds while I was there.  These deer seemed pretty fearless.  I guess there are tons of people coming through the Fort, most of whom will not be any trouble to the deer so they must get pretty used to people in close proximity and know that they are not in any threat.  Consequently, I found that my efforts at getting a photo were pretty straightforward.  If I tried to get too close, I figured that they would move off but I could be close enough without affecting them.

The one creature that did seem to spook one of the deer was a cat.  Sitting up against a wall was a ginger cat that was sunning itself.  It didn’t seem to be interested in doing anything at all but the deer was aware of it and seemed to be quite nervous.  A number of times it would jump, presumably because the cat had twitched in some way.  It seemed pretty clear that it was not moving for anyone though.  I guess the deer is going to have to get used to it.

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Low Level Departure by Learjet 31

This Learjet 31 was heading out of Boeing Field on a lovely afternoon.  The pilot obviously liked a bit of speed because, after rotation, instead of climbing out, he kept it on the deck and built up some speed.  Then, as he got further along the runway, a more aggressive pull into a “zoom” climb.  I appreciated the effort because it meant the jet had some ground behind it as it came past which is a pleasant change.  The color scheme was pretty cool too.

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Varieties of Tulip Shape

I thought tulips came in one shape.  I was wrong.  Walking around the gardens at RoozenGaarde in Mt Vernon, I got to see so many varieties of tulip and I was amazed at the different shapes and sizes.  Color varieties was something I expected but I didn’t realize just how large some blooms were and I was even more surprised at some plants that, had I not been told that they were tulips, I would never have known.  Fringing of the petals, curvatures that were totally different to the norm and all sorts of variations in between were eye opening.  I guess tulips are a complex subject!

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Aussie P-8

With the progressive retirement of P-3 Orions around the world, the Boeing P-8 Poseidon is starting to take over as the dominant maritime patrol aircraft.  The US Navy is the principal customer, but Australia was relatively quick to order the type too.  They are now in the process of being delivered and I happened across one coming back to Boeing Field at the end of a test flight.  Since it was operating from their military ramp, it taxied back along the field after landing and right by giving me a good look at the configuration the Aussies have gone with.  India has been another customer and, before too long, the first of the RAF jets should make it through production.

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Decaying Warehouse

We stopped in La Conner for lunch after checking out the Tulip Festival.  It is a very pleasant little town with some nice shops and some excellent food options.  Sitting by the water eating freshly prepared food is not a tough job.  We walked along the main street after lunch and, at the end of the street, came to a disused warehouse.  Situated alongside the water, it clearly used to be busy when the town had a more commercial port but now it is out of use and gradually disintegrating.

The way sections of the structure are starting to collapse while the building, as a whole, looks reasonably okay from a distance tells you how much you can be wrong about something if you don’t get closer.  The open interior space seemed to have so much potential but I guess this place will not be saved.

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More FCLP at Coupeville

My buddy Mark let me know that some more FCLP training was scheduled for Coupeville on a day with a good weather forecast.  Sadly, the wind suggested they would be operating in the opposite direction to that of my last visit (as discussed here and here) but there was the possibility of some morning flying which might mean the sun was on the right side for a while, even if a bit on the tail of the jets.  Unfortunately, the unit didn’t get the memo and they showed up in the middle of the day for the first round of flying so, while the conditions were okay, they were working against us.

Still, there are a lot worse things to do than watch Growlers bouncing through FCLP training.  You can move along the fence line at Coupeville to try and vary the angle, so Mark and I were zipping to and fro in order to try and find something different.  There are some bushes on the field that can be a touch inconvenient when looking to capture the moment of touchdown but a little experimentation and you could get a good result.

The jets appear to come through a tunnel in the trees as they are on final approach and the trees provide a nice backdrop for touchdown.  As they power up and away again, the light angles are most favorable so you can get a few good shots.  However, they end up pretty samey pretty quickly.

We expected a second batch of jets in the early afternoon so headed to the other side.  Here you are a lot further from the runway so the jets on the ground are rather distant and heat haze is a bit of a problem.  We got a few movements and then headed back to a nearby park where the jets tend to turn over the top of you as they enter the downwind.  The light is a bit better here but, again, the shots are pretty repetitive.  The only change is when the jet is done and it climbs straight out cleaning up as it goes.

With a decent amount of shots made, we decided it was time to try our luck elsewhere.  The Growlers would get back to Ault Field pretty quickly but we were going by car so it was a little longer for us.  However, there was much to justify the trip and that will be apparent in some upcoming posts.

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Mount Rainier Aerial Tour

Another trip and another flight out of SeaTac.  I was sitting on the left side of the plane without having given any thought to what I might see en route.  As it happened, we departed to the south and then, after a short time in the climb, we turned on course for our destination.  It just so happened that our turn brought us around the south side of Mount Rainier.  I was sitting on the side that happened to have a great view of the mountain as we turned.

I was sitting down the back of the plane so, for a while, the wing was in the shot.  I wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed by this or to have something to give some perspective to what I was shooting.  Aerial photos of large landscapes usually lack a sense of scale and I doubt the wing altered that, but it was worth a try.  The cloud banks that lay on the surrounding foothills are probably rather large, but they seem almost insignificant against the scale of the mountain.  A lucky day to be heading the right way, sitting on the right side of the plane, turning where we did and then not having the whole thing shrouded in cloud!

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