Crummy weather and a lack of light is not usually a recipe for heading out to shoot planes. However, I was up in Everett getting the car serviced and, as I prepared to leave when the work was done, I figured I would have a quick check on what was moving up the road. Turned out ATS had another Janet 737 out on a test flight.
I have shot the Janet 737s at Paine Field in far better conditions but I figured it was worth a quick diversion before heading home. The wind was very strong and from the southwest. As the 737 came down the approach, it was pointing in my direction as it compensated for the crosswind. A short while before it arrived, we had experienced some nice sun poking through the clouds but, sadly, this had gone by the time it arrived so it was dull lighting. This somehow made the airframe paint seem a little warmer than I recall previously.
I posted about the hot air balloon over our town in this post. At the end of that post, the balloons was descending behind the trees for a landing and I was driving off to find them. It turned out that I had forgotten about a field between the rail tracks and the highway. I came around the corner and the ballon was on the ground but upright sitting in the field. It looked pretty incongruous.
I was clearly not the only person intrigued by this as a bunch of vehicles had gone down the normally quiet road alongside the field. The team was actually still burning as they maneuvered the ballon to the edge of the field to give themselves space to deflate it. Most people got bored with the view, but I decided to try and get photos and video of the whole sequence of deflating the balloon. The light was fading rapidly at this point.
A bunch of the crew grabbed the lines to the top of the balloon as the top vent was opened up. The balloon started to sag rapidly but, once they pulled it over to a certain point, the vent was too low to let the warm air out. Then they waited while another person gathered up the envelope and squeezed the remaining air out. Finally, it sagged to the ground and the final gathering up was quickly completed. By now it was quite dark, and I figured it was time to go home. I am not aware that they use the field to land normally. I wonder if this was a bit of an urgent landing as the light was fading fast and the low winds were limiting options.
While researching some old images of mine from the experimental hangar at the USAF Museum in Dayton OH (the collection of which has since been moved into a new, custom build display hangar which is far more spacious), I saw some shots of something which, to be honest, I had no idea what it was. I took a look at the website of the museum to try and identify the type. It is a Fisher P-75A Eagle.
I did not knew Fisher existed and discovered it was part of General Motors. The configuration of the aircraft is quite unusual. The engine is mounted in the middle of the aircraft driving a contra-rotating propeller. The cockpit is further forward that on other single-engined fighters of the era since there was no space allocated to the engine up front. The underside includes a pair of inlets. The airframe is finished in polished metal rather than paint. Overall, it looks quite impressive. From what I read, another type was not deemed as necessary so development was terminated and they used the airframes for engine development work. Funny how I saw it on the visit and took photos and then promptly forgot about it.
NOLF Coupeville was scheduled for FCLP training and strong winds from the Southeast were forecast which suggested the right runway would be in use. I also had a day off scheduled. While the rest of the weather was potentially not ideal, I figured I would make the trip. Why. Not? They were due to be flying from late morning but, as seems to be usual, it was just after noon by the time things started to look active.
I was worried about the low cloud base but it was actually not a problem. The wind was really strong gusting 20-30 kts. This was giving them some interesting flying. Early on, there was a hint of sun sometimes which really helped the photos. As they climbed out after each touchdown, the skies behind made from interesting backgrounds and showed off the heat haze from the exhausts as well as the streaming tip vortices courtesy of the damp conditions.
After a while, I got a visit from the Navy Police. The young lad informed me I wasn’t allowed to photograph the jets. I pointed out I could be he was most insistent that I couldn’t. Rather than have trouble I decided the stop shooting. As it happened, the conditions got a bit worse anyway so I had got the best of what was on offer. I just watched the rest of the flying which included quite a few bolsters and some sketchy touchdowns as the wind got stronger.
A sunny but cool Sunday afternoon with a bit of spare time on my hands meant I headed over to Kenmore to see whether there was any floatplane activity. The answer was not much. However, I did get something a little larger overhead. Traffic in to Paine Field was running on a northerly flow. A Dreamlifter made an approach and was followed a little later by a 747-8F destined for UPS once test flying is complete. They both turned on to approach overhead the north end of Lake Washington so I got shots of them both.
Heading home on Sunday afternoon, I saw a hot air balloon overhead Woodinville. Passenger flights are a regular feature here but I was interested to see if I could work out where they were routing. I decided to follow them. I managed to get a couple of places where I could stop and get some shots as they flew above. One of these was not far from home. At this point, they seemed to be descending quickly. As they dropped below the trees, it was clear that they were landing. I wasn’t sure where this could be but jumped in the car again to see. Where they ended up. More to come…
Any airport in North America on any given day will have a reasonable chance of a Bonanza showing up. Them come in all vintages, shapes and sizes but they usually come! I’ve therefore shot tons of them over the years. However, I think I may have had a first in that I recently shot a turbine Bonanza. It was on the approach at Paine Field and it was obvious that there was something different about it. The noise was clearly a turbine and the tip tanks had been fitted with winglets. Given the location, I assume they are for drag reduction since they wouldn’t add much to directional stability. Tip tanks are probably a must given the rate at which turbines burn fuel compared to pistons. It was a smart looking thing with the revised nose shape looking quite graceful. Sadly the landing wasn’t as graceful but floating is fine when you have 10,000’ ahead of you!
In this recent post, I had an RAF Poseidon flying over the house. A little while later, I was at Boeing Field when the same jet came back from a test flight. Here are some shots of it as it rolled out after landing. It wasn’t long after this that the jet was delivered to the RAF and made the trip to its new home in Lossiemouth.
While at Boeing Field on a sunny day, I was pleased to see a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk flying along the runway. MH-65s are the local Coast Guard helicopters so a Jayhawk is a nice change. Having seen the MH-65s doing a fly through before, I was hoping that we would get the same but they actually pulled up and turned in the the FBO. However, once on the ramp, the kept rotors running so I knew they would be out again soon.
When they did come out, they actually back taxied to the far end of the field. I would have been a lot happier with them making an intersection departure closer to me but that wasn’t to be for some reason. Consequently, they had gained a fair bit of altitude by the time they came level with me. A belly shot was not what I was after but never mind. The underside view gives a good view on the three external tanks that the Jayhawk can carry. That gives some serious range when heading far offshore to rescue someone in need.