We were walking along the shore in Mukilteo on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I looked up and saw something large on the approach to Paine Field. At first I assumed it was one of the scheduled E175s but, as I pulled the camera up to my eye, I realized it was a 777. As it got closer, it was apparent that it was a China Airlines Cargo freighter on test – the first time I have seen one. The midwinter light made for a nice shot.
Two visits to Paine Field in close succession resulted in two times to view a Lufthansa Cargo 777F undergoing tests. Lufthansa Cargo is in the process of replacing its MD-11F fleet with the 777F and one of the jets was undergoing a number of pre-acceptance flights. It was shooting a couple of approaches while the 777X was getting ready to depart on one of the days and doing a little more flying on another. On the second day, it came in with the RAT deployed too which makes for a noisier aircraft!
Often, when the jets are on the approach, I use the 500mm to get the shots as it is further out and then switch rapidly to the 100-400 for the closer in shots. Having got a bunch of shots in nice conditions on the first day, I decided to stick with the longer fixed lens for later approaches to do something different. Some tight crops on the cockpit and some compression of the features of the plane were the goal. It made for something a little different and I was quite pleased with the outcome. I also got to see the crew wearing masks in the cockpit!
I was out one evening awaiting the arrival of something that currently escapes my memory. In the meantime, I was in position to get the arrival of a few widebodies. Since SeaTac tends to put the widebodies on the inner runway, they are the ones you can get from this park location while almost everything else (plus the occasional wide body!) goes to the outer runway behind you and through the trees.
On this evening, we had four widebodies come in. Condor brought their regular 767 flight. This were joined by an Air China Cargo Boeing 747-400F, a FedEx 777F and last but by no means least, a British Airways 747-400. The evening light was very favorable and this location is both easily accessible and pretty good for this approach.
Summer evenings can be a good time to visit Paine Field as flying seems to be busy and the light is often quite nice. On two separate visits, I saw this FedEx 777F flying. The first time it was on some acceptance flights and it flew an approach followed by a low go around. The gear doors had been blown down prior to this approach and the RAT was deployed. It then flew a pattern and landed.
Next time I saw it, it was heading off to Memphis on its delivery flight. They seemed to have a few issues with the transponder prior to departure which was fine for me as it delayed them until the light was a bit nicer. Not sure I would be so happy to take my new plane with a snag though! Memphis when empty is a piece of cake for a 777F so it made it off the ground pretty speedily.
A lot of freighters come out of Everett these days. All 747s are now freighters as are the 767s. The 777 passenger variants are a regular feature but there is quite a demand for 777Fs too. I saw one go to DHL not long ago. They have some aircraft already in service but they are in a hybrid scheme. This was the first one to be delivered in the full DHL yellow colors. It taxied out and went to the other end of the field for a northerly departure which meant we got a good view of it airborne. The short delivery flight across the US meant it was rather light so it got airborne quickly and was a long way up by the time it got to us again!
Ethiopian Airlines has been taking delivery of some Boeing 777F freighters for their cargo operations. One of the new jets was being readied for delivery while I was at Paine Field. Operations were in a northerly direction so, from the terrace on top of the Future of Flight, we were going to get a good view. I was hoping that a direct flight to Bole in Ethiopia would be sufficiently long to mean that the jet would be very heavy with fuel and would run long on take off giving us a good view of rotation. However, while there was a lot of fuel on board, the lack of any other payload meant it still got off the ground pretty swiftly. Still, it was a good view of the initial climb out.
Portland International is home to a paint facility owned by Boeing and operated under contract to them. It provides additional paint capacity for their jets assembled up in the Seattle area. One of the jets landed at Portland while I was there for the ANG open house. It was a 777 freighter. It landed on the runway closest to us and turned on to the taxiway just in front of where we were standing. It then taxied back to the opposite end of the field where the paint facility is located. The only clue as to what airline it was destined for was the rudder which had a small element of the future colors. My guess is Qatar but I’m sure someone can put me straight if that is wrong.
Nothing terribly timely about this post. These shots were taken quite a while ago during a visit to Chicago. (At least they are so old that they are from when I lived there.) There was a time when the 747 was the freighter of choice. There are still missions for which the 747 is still required but few loads require the nose loading and the most versatile of the big freighters these days is the 777. (It seems that the 777 is taking over everything that the 747 used to do.)
One afternoon at O’Hare included a couple of 777 freighters. AeroLogic had one of theirs in town. I saw it coming in and also got so see it head out again. I don’t know where it was coming from or going to. Meanwhile, Air France also had one of their freighters making an appearance. It’s a shame that the 747 is not so prevalent anymore. It is a cooler looking jet and the 777 freighter is barely distinguishable from the multitude of 777s on passenger duty. However, that is the way it is these days.