The Air France A380s have gone away. Their retirement had already been identified prior to the COVID-19 outbreak but it accelerated their departure. I had shot them on a few occasions with SFO and LAX being regular destinations. Since I won’t be seeing them again, here is a farewell tribute to the Air France A380. Hope one or two of the airframes find a second life.
I was at SeaTac one Saturday afternoon for the impending arrival of an AN-124. The Ruslan was due in later but I was checking out the flightpaths for the inner runway. An Air France A330 was due in so that was my test aircraft. The light was nice and the angles worked well. I was pretty happy with the result. Sadly, the light wasn’t hanging around for the Antonov and conditions were not as good when it came in.
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.
The jets approaching SFO have their gear down long before they reach Coyote Point. However, if you look into the distance, you can see them lower the gear somewhere around the San Mateo Bridge. The A380 has a gear sequence that involves the outer gear coming down first followed by the body gear. I figured I would shoot at long range and then animate the sequence. Heat haze was not great but I think it shows the way things work. Maybe in the winter I will try this again and see if I can get a cleaner image.
There is a steady stream of Boeing 747 fleet retirements right now. This month another one occurred when the last Air France 747 flight took place. I have not seen a huge number of their Jumbos over the years but they have cropped up from time to time. It turns out that the best shots I have got have all been at SFO although these were mainly taken long before I moved here.
You might not think a really windy day was going to be a great time to head out and take photos with a long lens hand held. This certainly is not ideal but there are some advantages that a really windy day can bring. The purpose of the trip was to catch the new Virgin 787-9 service coming in to SFO on a Sunday afternoon when I didn’t have anything else planned. While the wind was very strong, the light was nice so I gave it a go. What I didn’t realize was that, while it was windy at home, it was really windy at SFO! Everything was operating on the 28s because the wind was above 30kts and gusting to well over 40kts. This also meant that departures got airborne quite quickly given that they started with over 30kts after zero takeoff roll!
The heavy jets were frequently airborne before the intersection of the runways and this included an Air France 777-300ER. Consequently, I was able to get a clearer view of the gear during rotation than I have managed before. Above are a still of the gear during rotation and also an animated GIF of the rotation in progress. I think I shall consider myself happy with this. It is the best I have got. Unless I get to spend some time out by the runway while one is departing, I doubt I will get a better chance than this.