Out with the Old and In With the Nui

Sorry for the corny pun but I just couldn’t resist.  One of my favorite airliners to shoot has been the Air Tahiti Nui A340-300.  I have seen them at LAX on a number of visits.  Shooting them taking off on the south complex has been possible on a few occasions and I was super lucky to get one of them landing on the north complex when I was overhead in the helicopter.  The A340s are getting a bit old at this point, though, so their replacement has been ordered and it is going to be the Boeing 787-9.

One of the jets was in flight test at Everett so, with nice weather on a weekend and flying underway, I couldn’t resist a trip up to get the return.  I was too late for a takeoff shot.  The conditions were great.  A cold snap meant that the air was clear and the sun, while it disappeared for a while shortly after I arrived, was back in plenty of time for the return.  Consequently, as the plane came across the Cascades, I could see it easily prior to it turning north to come in on the approach.  Mt Baker was clear in the background as they made the turn to final approach.

The dark colors of the livery make it necessary to use a bit of shadow slider when processing the shots.  It was just after midday so the light was a bit on the nose of the jet but you could still get something good for the fuselage sides.  The touchdown was a bit firm providing a smoky cloud of tire rubber.  I wonder how much tread the airline expects to have at delivery?  Often the jets will come back for a rejected takeoff run but this time they went straight back to the ramp.

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Jimi’s Grave

We were heading towards SeaTac to drop a friend off at the airport.  We were coming in through Renton on a back road and had some time to spare so I made a quick diversion to a local cemetery.  This is the final resting place of Jimi Hendrix.  I had been meaning to check this out for a while and this was the first good opportunity.

It is a nicely laid out shrine to Jimi.  Some graphics of him are engraved in the stone of the structure and there is a guitar sculpture at its center.  A bunch of different picks are inserted in the sculpture by visiting fans.  Flowers are growing around the base of the shrine.  I imagine that there are plenty of visitors throughout the year although we were the only ones on this Friday afternoon.

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Virgin Atlantic Multiple Crosses at SFO

My last time shooting at SFO, I got shots of a Virgin Atlantic 787 arriving.  Crossing shots are not unusual at SFO as the jets on approach will often have departing jets in the background.  The Virgin jet had this.  It also had a second crossing shot a little earlier on the approach.  A jet heading over the bay to pick up the approach further down was directly behind the 787 just after it passed Coyote Point.

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Heron Hunting

On our day trip to Fir Island, one of the first birds we came across was a heron that was standing in the water near the parking lot catching lunch.  I am guessing that the fish in these waters were pretty small because he seemed to catch a lot but always was after another.  Must have been bite sized portions!  With the water so calm, his reflection was very clear giving a nice emphasis to the shape of the body.

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T-38s Only Fly on Cloudy Days

The Boeing T-38 chase jets are something I have not had much success in hunting down.  I have got some shots but they were not in great conditions.  I did have another chance recently when at Boeing Field but, guess what, the clouds rolled in at just the wrong time.  The T-38 flew nicely down the approach and provided a great opportunity but the light was not really playing ball.  Still, at least I got some shots, even if the colors are hardly popping.

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Coho at Work

There is a direct ferry from Port Angeles to downtown Victoria operated by Black Ball Line.  Their boat is an old ship called the Coho.  We have taken this route on a previous visit but didn’t use it this time.  However, the regular arrival and departure of the Coho meant we saw it frequently during our stay.  The ship has loading apertures on each side of the hull through which the cars can be loaded.  Otherwise it looks like a pretty normal ship.

It wasn’t hard to know when they were leaving as there would be a blast on the ship’s horn.  This was followed by swinging the boat around in the main harbor in order to be able to head out through the narrow passage to the open sea.  The Coho first entered service in 1959 so is clearly not a new vessel.  I have no idea whether there is any plan to replace her or whether, with regular refits, she will continue in service for years to come.

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787th 787

The current generation of wide body jets are being built at rates that would have been hard to imagine a few years ago.  Fourteen jets a month is so much more than would have been contemplated before.  That is the sort of build rate that the 787 and the A350 are achieving.  The result is a lot of jets being in service not that long after the fleet first appeared.  Boeing recently built the 787th 787.  It was a jet for China Southern and I got a shot of it returning to Everett.  I’m glad it was an Everett jet rather than a Charleston one.  I wonder who got to make that decision!

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Passing Through the Gulf Islands

To get to Victoria for our visit, we took the BC Ferries route from Tsawwassen.  This route crosses some open water but then it weaves its way through the Gulf Islands.  This makes for a really picturesque journey.  On the day we crossed, it was a cloudy day but the beauty of the islands and the waterways between them was more than enough to compensate for the gloomy skies.  Some of the passages are really narrow so you find yourself very close to the shore and looking at the houses and woodland areas along the water’s edge.

If you don’t mind being blown about a bit, standing out on the deck rewards you with great views.  The only problem is you can only see to one side at a time.  You need to nip through the boat to the other side periodically to see what is passing on that side.  Not such a relaxing way to sightsee!

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The Vision Returns

My first encounter with this Cirrus SF50 Vision was in this post.  It was scheduled for departure while I was on some calls and I hoped it would time its departure conveniently for me.  I was lucky and it headed out just after I finished a call and before I headed back to the eastside.  The skies were not friendly for getting a shot but it was still nice to see it in action and the flat light avoided any harsh shadows and deep contrast.

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Streetcar Opening Day

I used to make regular trips to Oklahoma City for a streetcar project I was working on.  I ended up having to pick up another project which meant I dropped the streetcar project when the vehicle contract had been approved and signed and my colleague took on the delivery phase.  However, I promised I would be back for the grand opening.  Mid December was the time when the system was opened up.

Fortunately, I was already within three hours of OKC for another project so I drove up for the celebrations.  The project team had a dinner the night before which was a great chance to get back together with some old faces.  The opening was on the following morning.  We had an early photo session with project team members at 7:30 on a chilly Friday.  The main opening ceremony started at 10:00.  It was still pretty cold but plenty of people had shown up for the evening.  Speeches from those involved and then it was time for the first rides.

I skipped the initial runs and instead went to have a look at the maintenance facility that had been constructed as part of the project.  It was a nice job that had been put together by all involved.  After checking it all out, I parted ways with my old colleagues.  Before heading home, it was time to ride the full route.  That will be another post.

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