Tag Archives: aircraft

FedEx Caravans

The FedEx freighter fleet is extensive and includes a variety of jets.  However, the feed of packages to those big jets is partly the role of a bunch of less glamorous types, a significant one of which is the Cessna Caravan.  These planes shuttle cargo from out stations to the larger airports and then distribute packages back out to those same stations.  It’s not the most exciting flying in the world but it is a valuable job.  Here are a few Caravans from FedEx’s fleet that I have seen (relatively) recently.  The Cessna Skycourier made its first flight recently and it is intended to replace these guys in the coming years.

When Will We See You Again?

With long haul travel having almost vanished (other than a lot of use of passenger jets for freight movements), some of the regular visitors to Seattle and now a distant memory.  Virgin Atlantic was a regular visitor and they had migrated from other types to the 787-9 recently.  Here was one heading to SeaTac while I was at Boeing Field.  With the reduced size of the airline post COVID (and assuming it survives), will they be coming to Seattle again any time soon?  I hope so.

Turkish Delivery (You Didn’t Think I Would Say Delight Did You?)

Boeing was ready to deliver a 787 to Turkish Airlines.  Normally these take place from the Delivery Center which is a nice building justifying the large wedge of cash that has just been handed over.  Boeing crews usually taxi out from the ramp but customer flights seem to get towed to the ramp entrance.  Maybe they don’t trust the customer pilots in amongst all of their expensive jets.

The departure was to the north so they taxied to the south end of the field before lining up for departure.  A flight to Istanbul is a decent length but, without any payload, it still doesn’t take long for them to get airborne.  Judging by the distance to go boards, they were off in about 4,000’.  Consequently, they had reached a decent height by the time they came by my location.  They headed off to the north to start the long trip home.

Bones Retrospective

The B-1B Lancer (or Bone to almost everyone who cares) is an impressive piece of hardware.  It might have some performance limitations resulting from the redesign it underwent from the original canceled B-1A to the B-1B – changes that might not look that obvious but run quite deep – but it is still a very capable jet.  The blended airframe shaping really appeals to an aero guy like me while the swing wing is now a concept that is disappearing as other types retire so it is becoming the last of the line.  Add to that four afterburning engines and you get something that makes an impression.

It used to be a regular performer at air shows but these days you don’t see them as much.  However, it can still turn heads when it makes fast passes and plugs in the burners.  A bit of vapor can also be pulled as they get the speed and load on.  Seeing them launch from close to the runway is always worthwhile.  They are such an imposing jet.  Sadly, their limitations and the cost of supporting them will probably mean they get retired long before the B-52s that they were once considered to replace.  Here are some shots of my Bone encounters.

Pueblo Museum

Well over 10 years ago, I was invited by a rail vehicle manufacturer to an industry event that they were holding to promote one of their vehicles.  It was held at the TTCI test facility outside Pueblo in Colorado.  Pueblo also has an aviation museum so it was inconceivable that I would go all that way and not check it out while I was there.

Most of the exhibits are outside in some pretty harsh sun so they are rather sun-bleached.  There is an interesting mix of old types on display while a few are indoors and look in better condition.  Helicopters and vintage fighters are always going to be good for me so hopefully there is something in here you like.

BFI’s Corporate Visitors

I haven’t shot at BFI for quite a while now.  I do look forward to getting back there before too long.  Since BFI is closer to downtown, it gets a lot of biz jet traffic.  There are some high net worth individuals and big businesses in the area so some of these jets are at the higher end of the range.  Here is a selection of the more recent corporate jets I shot prior to the curtailment of my excursions!

The Significance Wasn’t Known at the Time

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!

JetSuite X

I have been noticeably unsuccessful when shooting JetSuite X aircraft.  When we lived in the Bay Area, they were running flights out of Concord.  I did see some aircraft on the ramp but they were not convenient to shoot and I never saw them move.  I have seen them a few times at Boeing Field but the conditions have always been less them impressive.  Finally, I got to see one landing on a nice day!

Their schedules are easy to track so I knew it was going to be coming in.  It wasn’t why I was there but you will take any opportunity!  The white with red stripe livery is a slightly odd one but, on a sunny day, it looks pretty nice.  I have often pondered what they are re like to use but have not found out to date.  I don’t know whether they will survive the current crisis so maybe the opportunity is gone?

B-2 At Fairford

I was thinking back to previous RIAT shows when I was putting together the 2006 post here.  RIAT was my first encounter with the B-2.  I recall it showing up to a show one year for a flyby without landing.  It flew through accompanied by a pair of F-15Cs, one on each wing.  Then, another year – maybe the next but I don’t recall for sure – one was actually deployed to the show.  It was parked up so close to everyone on the flight line.  I took quite a few pictures of it because it was so new and interesting.  (A few pictures in the film days was a let less than it became in the digital days!)  Even now, I think a show would consider it quite a coup to have a B-2 on the ground.

Dreamlifter Reflections

The idea for this was spotted by my friend, Paul, during a visit of his but we missed it at the time.  It was early in the morning and the water was calm as a millpond.  However, the jet was beyond the water before he spotted it.  I have missed the chance since or there was not water.  However, while the conditions weren’t ideal, when I saw the Dreamlifter taxiing back to the ramp, I realized the opportunity was going to be there this time.

The water wasn’t quite still and I had the long lens on the camera but a phone is a good second best these days.  The jet taxied in with Mt Rainier in the background before reaching the north end of the field and crossing over.  Then it was time to be ready.  The phone has the added advantage of being able to shoot through the fence with no interference.