These shots aren’t particularly nice but, at the time I took them, I didn’t realize that they would be a bit more significant for a friend of mine. He was a skipper for Virgin Atlantic and making his first run to Seattle. I went out to get his arrival despite it being a bit gloomy. We met up afterwards for a beer and some food. He flew back the following day.
Since that time, the airline business (along with many businesses) has taken a bad turn and Virgin Atlantic has been getting rid of staff. My friend was eligible for retirement and decided to take it. Consequently, this flight turned out to be the last landing he made in his commercial flying career. The return leg landing was made by another member of his crew. It would have been nice if the conditions were better but I am glad I was there to see it. Happy retirement Chris and see you soon I hope!
When airlines take delivery of new jets, they tend to try and space them out a bit. The ability to add a bunch of jets at once is limited so you don’t often see a lot of jets from the same airline on the flight line at the factory. However, there has been a cluster of Vistara 787s at Paine Field recently. I think they were originally assigned to another carrier that couldn’t take delivery of them – perhaps Hainan. Consequently, they have been reallocated at short notice and Vistara is the customer. Here they were sitting together in Everett going through the final phases of testing. I’m not sure whether some will be stored and delivered later or whether they will all go in a group.
Boeing has marked up a 787-9 is a special color scheme to reflect their internal charity organization. It is a jet that was supposed to go to Hainan Airlines but the financial issues with the airline means that they have not taken delivery of a number of jets. This is not a paint scheme but is a giant vinyl wrap. It looks very impressive. The jet has been used for flyovers at events Boeing has sponsored and it is also going to Dubai for the air show (which will be in the past by the time this post goes live).
I was picking up some family members that were coming to stay. I got to the airport a little ahead of their scheduled arrival time and, since it was some time near an airport, I figured a bit of photography wouldn’t go amiss. They were coming in on a Virgin 787-9 so I knew I would shoot that. The heavies come in on the inner runway, but the rest tend to go to the outer. You can still get them, but it isn’t so close. I figured a few shots on a cloudy day was worth time to experiment with exposing high and playing with the shots in post.
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.
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
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!
A nice early winter sunny day is a pleasant surprise in the Pacific Northwest and I was able to head across to Everett to see what was happening. Boeing is busy building Dreamliners too though and a couple were on test flights while I was there. One was Oman Air. The scheme is an interesting change from the boring white liveries. You can certainly hear the jets as they land because the test flight involves the deployment of the Ram Air Turbine and it buzzes away when they go by. The other arrival will deserve its own post.
I caught this Gulf Air 787-9 as it returned from a test flight to Paine Field. It was at the end of the SkyFair event so the crew will have noticed that there were a lot of people on hand to witness their landing. Not a particular problem of course but probably one of the few landings of the Boeing production tests to get a large crowd.
Qantas has decorated previous aircraft with liveries that encompass aborigine art. Their Wunala Dreaming aircraft was well known around the world and, in an age when airline liveries tend to be rather bland, these colorful jets are a welcome change. They have taken a similar route with one of their new Boeing 787-9s and I saw it at Paine Field during test flying. It came in from the south and executed a go around from relatively low level.
Then they caught me out by heading north to turn and make an approach from the opposite direction. This required some rather swift repositioning by me. In fact, I got to the parking lot as they were on final approach and, rather than park, I just pulled to the side, ran up the bank, grabbed the shot and then got back in the car to park properly. It was tight but it worked out okay.