Been a While Since I Saw a BOAC Jet

When I was very young, BOAC still existed but it was soon merged in to British Airways.  I remember model kits being for BOAC jets and I have seen some preserved aircraft in BOAC colors.  As part of British Airways’ 100th year celebrations, they have painted up four airframes in legacy colors.  The first to appear was a 747-400 in the BOAC scheme.  I saw a bunch of shots of it online and was keen to see it for myself.  It appeared on the schedule for an evening arrival at SeaTac so I made sure to be down there.

They were making a southerly flow that day and the evening is not a good time for that approach path as there are few locations to get good shots.  However, I was “lucky” in that it was a crummy day for weather.  The water tower location would normally have been horribly backlit but, since there was no sun, it might just do.  I did get the shots and, by virtue of shooting quite heavily overexposed and then pulling back in post, I was able to get something I was reasonably pleased with.

I did really want the sun though and, not two weeks later, the jet was back on the SeaTac run.  Again the evening arrival but this time it was sunny and the flow was northerly.  This provides some opportunities for getting the iconic SeaTac arrival shot with Mt Rainier in the background.  I was certainly not alone as she came down the approach nicely illuminated by the evening light.  Thank goodness for time changes and being done with work by then!

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National Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride

Located in Jackson WY is the National Elk Refuge.  This is a huge tract of land that has been set aside for the elk to winter in as other parts of their territory have been encroached upon.  During the winter, thousands of elk make their way down from the higher ground and feed in the refuge.  Elk are very skittish creatures and will not hang around if people are nearby.  However, they are also not the sharpest of animals and, if a person is within something else, they don’t recognize that they are there.

Consequently, it is possible to take tour groups through the refuge on sleighs.  These open sleighs are drawn by a pair of horses and carry about 20 people each.  If you were to step out of the sleigh the elk would be off but, provided you stay inside, they don’t much care about you.  They may look at you as you pass by but it doesn’t stop them munching.

The sleigh ride is a lot less comfortable than you might think.  Despite the deep snow, things are very uneven and you lurch and bump along as you traverse the refuge.  There was a large herd quite close by (no doubt courtesy of the food that is periodically laid out) and we were able to make a loop around the whole herd without disturbing any of them.  We could have conversations at normal levels without a problem.  Just don’t drop anything out of the sleigh.  Getting out is forbidden.

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Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender

Do you ever see an airframe and think to yourself “That isn’t a real aircraft.  It looks like something left over from a movie shoot.”  That was exactly what was in my mind when I visited the Air Zoo museum in Kalamazoo MI.  They have the sole remaining XP-55 Ascender.  It looks like something that was included in Raiders of the Lost Ark with its unusual configuration.  However, it is a genuine program that was part of US experimentation with unusual configurations in the hope of boosting performance.

A number of types were developed for this program but the arrival of the jets soon rendered the concept moot and they were cancelled.  This sole example found its way to Michigan where it is kept in great condition (at least it was years ago when I visited so I hope that is still the case).  It has a really cool look to it and, while that era is not my specialty, I am still pleased that you can come across some surprises from that period.

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Recovering a Crashed Card

I was downloading shots from two cards into Lightroom when one of the downloads seemed to hang.  I have seen this before and on those occasions, removing the card and starting again did the trick.  This time it didn’t and, when I reinserted the card, the computer said I needed to reformat it.  I thought I would try it back in the camera to see if that was okay but no joy.  Time for RescuePro Deluxe again.  I wrote about using this previously.  I had an issue with it one time when I tried a recovery and the same thing happened this time.  The card drive letter doesn’t show up (nor do any of the others).

There is a simple fix to see them all which is to press the H key.  However, I hadn’t made a note of that previously and couldn’t remember.  Fortunately, their help desk gave me the code and the pictures were all swiftly recovered.  (I jest.  The program works well but recovering everything it can find on a 64Gb card and then working through that to find the files you really want rather than something from months previously is a bit of a slow process.  Still, it is a lot better than the alternative of having no shots!)

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Janet is Local!

I have photographed Janet 737s operating out of their hub at McCarran International in Las Vegas before.  They have made it on to the blog too.  However, it turns out I can get them a lot closer to home.  Normally when they leave Las Vegas, they fly for a while and then disappear to wherever they are headed.  In the case of the destination being Paine Field, no need for such subterfuge.  Like a lot of operators, it seems they use ATS for maintenance.

I knew an aircraft was in as they had been filing flight plans for a number of days but never going anywhere.  The weekend came around along with another flight plan so I was skeptical.  However, when they got airborne, I figured it was time to be ready for the return.  The weather was doing its usual thing.  Clouds everywhere but with sun regularly popping through.  Could we get the same thing? 

Hardly surprising that a big cloud rolled in as they were lining up on the ILS.  There was still hope of light further up the approach and the cloud was moving fast.  In the end, we had good light far out, a lot of gloom for most of the approach and then sun just over the threshold.  Not perfect but it would do.  The flight must have been successful because the departed for Las Vegas later the same day.  We have had some before so hopefully there will be more.  The 737-600 is pretty rare anyway so this is one of the few times I get to see one.

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Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal

When taking our trip to Victoria, we took the ferry from Tsawwassen just south of Vancouver.  The ferry terminal is built on a man-made spot of land that juts out into the water, presumably to reach the deeper water offshore.  All of the car waiting areas and the terminal buildings are at the end of this spit.  It is pretty exposed a place to be on a cold and blowy day!  I guess it is a good spot for fishing because we saw a bald eagle sitting on one of the light posts as we drove in.

Once we were aboard the ferry, I stepped out on deck to see the ferry terminal as we pulled away.  Ferries got from here to a number of destinations and I imagine on a busy summer’s day, this place could be pretty packed.  A chilly November Thursday is unlikely to be peak time, although there were plenty of people on our ferry.  We quickly left the terminal behind us and headed across the water.

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Juggling the Pegasuses

While the UPS freighter had enticed me to Everett, I was interested to see that Boeing was busy moving KC-46s around.  They have a hangar at the south end of the field where they work on the Pegasus aircraft and they were taking on out of the hangar.  To do this, they needed to move a bunch of them out of the way so they had a juggling act underway putting different planes in odd locations while they all were moved.  They stuck a row of them down by the Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum.

The plane came out of the hangar and was rolled off to park.  Then, one that had been sitting outside for a while was moved back inside.  I wasn’t going to hang around to see if they moved them all back that evening but I did go across to the museum side to see them parked in this odd location before leaving.  At this time the Air Force had halted deliveries due to loose items in the received airframes so I guess the chance of more airframes stacking up was back on the cards.

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Moose Munching

I’ve not had a huge amount of luck looking for moose on previous trips.  We saw two in our previous Yellowstone trip.  When we went on our wildlife excursion in Jackson Hole, I was hoping to see some more.  We didn’t have to wait long.  We had barely left town when we saw a male munching away off the side of the road.  A short way further up the trail and we found a mother and calf in the bushes feeding happily.  They weren’t too bothered by us so we watched them for a while.  A couple of people we met had actually seen one walking through a gas station forecourt in Jackson itself so I guess they are not that hard to find!

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737 Max8 Heads Off For The First Time

I stopped off at Renton one Sunday morning to see what was on the flight line.  (This was prior to the groundings after the Ethiopian Max 8 crash.)  There was a first flight showing up on the flight plan so I kept an eye out for any sign of activity as I walked along the park trail.  Sure enough, the sound of an engine start reached me when I was down near the bridge between the factory and the flight line.  This is a bit far away from where I would want to be to photograph the take off but this is a first flight.  There is plenty to check before they go flying unlike a regular flight, so time was on my side.

I made my way back along the river in plenty of time for the jet to move.  Prior to flight they accelerate and brake to a stop.  They did this along the runway the opposite direction to that in which they planned to take off so they actually taxied up past me, turned and accelerated before turning again to make the actual take off.  This gave me plenty of views of the unpainted jet.  They climbed away and then redeployed the gear, possibly to cool off the brakes a bit.  They then turned off on their departure heading.  Moses Lake will have been part of the test plan but the flight will have ended at Boeing Field.

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Otters Snacking on the Bank

A sunny Sunday afternoon seems like a good time to go for a stroll.  It was not supposed to be a wildlife photo trip.  I did have the little M6 with me in my pocket, though, and, since the 55-200 is pretty small, I took that along too.  I was rather glad I did too as, while walking along the river, we saw a family that were peering in to the river.  There were ripples on the surface so we stopped to see what they had seen,  Soon we could see the outline of a pair of otters swimming about.  We watched for a short while and were about to move on when they swam down towards us and climbed out on to the bank.

One of them had caught a fish – a pretty big one in comparison to the otter itself.  It started crunching noisily in to the meal while the other otter seemingly stood guard.  They were on the bank for ages so we watched them for a while and then left them to enjoy their lunch.  A short distance further along we came across a couple watching another otter so I guess this stretch of the Sammammish is pretty popular with otters!

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