Our first visit to Hawaii included a few days on Oahu. We were staying out on the west coast of the island and our hotel was pretty close to the approach path for the jets coming across the Pacific. It was a serious hardship to sit on the shore in Hawaii watching planes fly overhead. The amount of traffic from Japan is significant and so we had some large jets coming in at that time. If we were there now, the 747s would be gone but ANA has taken A380s for this run. Not sure that they are flying right now but they are likely to be back given the traffic that should ultimately return.
While production Max jets awaiting delivery are all over Moses Lake, they aren’t the only 737s stored there. Coming up on the south side, the first jets to be visible were Delta Airlines 737-900ERs. I assume these have been stored here while a substantial portion of the fleet is inactive due to the massive downturn in air travel resulting from the pandemic. No idea how long these jets will be here but I guess Delta will pull them out as they increase the schedules.
Boeing Field always has the possibility of something interesting going on and a P-8 test flight for a US Navy jet was on the cards while I was there a while back. Even better news was that it wasn’t a long flight that they had planned. Consequently, I was going to be there for both departure and return. Since the jet was lightly loaded, takeoff was not labored and they were well up by the time they were close to me. Still, not a big angle on the jet with the light as it was.
I didn’t head to the approach end for the return as I was waiting for something else. It did mean I was closer to the jet as it rolled out on is landing run. The military ramp for Boeing is at that end of the field so the jet rolled to the end and turned off. Heat haze is always a problem at this time of year but things looked surprisingly good considering.
The Growlers weren’t the only things flying at Coupeville while I was there. A bunch of bald eagles were also flying in the vicinity. They were crossing the approach path for the FCLP training which had me a little concerned. I thought they would get lost when the jets showed up but they clearly weren’t very concerned and were used the the jets. They might have got close but they seemed to stay just far enough away to avoid any conflict. A bird strike with a bald eagle would probably be messy for all concerned.
The huge reduction in air travel – particularly long haul – has resulted in airlines taking a hatchet to their fleets. Lufthansa has been no exception with many jets parked permanently and others in long term storage with a significant question mark hanging over them. The A340-600 fleet is one such fleet. However, while a few of the A340-300s have been put out to grass, a good chunk of the fleet is still in use.
The 300 Series is an underrated airliner. The 600 has longer range and higher payload but it is optimized for the longer range missions and is too much for shorter flights. The 300 is a more versatile type as long as you are not pushing the bounds of payload/range. Consequently, it has hung around a lot longer than might have been expected. With reduced load factors, it is continuing to show its value despite it having been seen as on the way out for many years now.
Lufthansa has started using them on the Seattle run. They are coming in three days a week. The jet arrives around noon and two of the trips are Wednesday and Friday so work means they are hard to get. Sunday is the other day so I decided to give it a go. However, when I got up, flights were on a northerly flow which means no good locations to shoot from and a high and tail on light set up. Not ideal. However, by mid-morning, despite the forecast northerly winds, they had switched to a southerly flow. That meant a water tower shooting location was on the cards so off I went.
I got to the water tower in plenty of time only to notice a lack of arriving jets. Sure enough, they had switched back to a northerly flow. I now had to try and find a new location to shoot from and quickly. I had an idea for somewhere I hadn’t used before so decided to give it a go. I had time to try out on a preceding arrival and my post on that Asiana jet is here. Since things seemed to work okay, I stayed were I was and waited for the jet to arrive. Lufthansa had painted a bunch of their jets in Star Alliance colors but they are now reverting to the mainline livery and happily, that is what I was expecting. No idea how long they shall be around but I shall try again while they are coming here because they will be gone before too long I imagine.
I have posted images of stored 737 Max jets at Boeing Field. However, there is limited space there for storage and far more of the jets have been stored at Moses Lake. I wanted to see how things looked over there which was part of my reason for visiting. As I got close to the field, it wasn’t hard to spot the jets. They are everywhere it seems. The east side of the field has a bunch of them parked up. There are also plenty on the south side of the airport.
I took some shots of them to make panoramas but the fence made it harder to get a good look and the light was on the wrong side by that time in the day. The south side of the field gave some better angles as did places along the road running around the airport. I quite liked the long view across to the large numbers of planes but the heat haze was really harsh so the shots, while giving an idea of how many planes there are, lose something from being so blurred.
The south side of the field had the best light angles and you were quite close to the jets so haze was less of an issue. I like looking through the rows of planes neatly lined up to emphasize just how many of them there are. It seems Boeing is getting closer to restoring their airworthiness so we shall see how quickly they can mobilize to get the jets ready again and how willing the customers are to take delivery at this point!
The test program for the Boeing 777X is gradually increasing and a third jet has been added to the fleet. I stopped by Boeing Field because all three jets were scheduled to fly on this day. Having seen the first two, I was hoping for the third since I haven’t got any shots of it and its livery which is different to the first two. Sadly, I was to be disappointed as they scrubbed the flight.
However, the first two jets did fly. They were both already airborne by the time I got there. The arrival times back for both were supposed to be pretty close but you can’t put too much stock in those times as things on test will be what they will be. I headed to the arrival end for the first of them. It wasn’t that late so the light wasn’t ideal but it was still a bit better as we were well passed the solstice and heading to the equinox. Happy to take the shot of course.
I moved to the other end of the field when the second jet came in. I wasn’t interested in repeating the shot I had already taken (plus I had shot this jet in similar circumstances before) so some images at the other end seemed worthwhile. They landed short but had clearance for a high speed run on the runway so that brought them down to where I was. Fortuitously, they took the exit directly in front of me. I missed the transition of the wingtips while changing cameras. The tips were down in one set of shots but were folded as they taxied off the runway. The wide angle view is a nice one to get of something so large.
My trip to Coupeville to shoot Growlers undertaking FCLP worked out well as described in this post. What I didn’t emphasize in that post is just how close the road is to the north end of the runway. While southerly flow is not normal, when that is happening, you are very close to the action. The pano at the top of the post is the view you get of the runway from the road and plenty of people will show up to watch the jets bouncing.
The fields around the runway need to be looked after. There was a tractor cutting the grass while the jets were bouncing and you can see what a good view the driver probably had of the jets. I assume he had good hearing protection on while he was working in those fields. I also include a shot of a jet coming low over the field. Hopefully that shows just ow close everything is to the road.
I made a quick trip to SeaTac one Sunday for another visitor that I was keen to catch and that will have its own post. I ended up shooting from a sub-optimal location and one that I had never used before. I didn’t know exactly what I could expect. Fortunately, prior to the arrival, an Asiana A350 was due in. It was about 30 minutes ahead of the one I was after so, if things didn’t work out, I had time to try moving to somewhere else.
Fortunately, while heat haze was going to be a problem and the light angle wasn’t great, neither of these were things I could do anything about and the location did provide a reasonable angle on the jet. There were some lamp poles which I noted to be ready for next time and the jet went behind the trees as it crossed the threshold but it did seem like a usable location for the intended target to come.
One of the things I was interested to see at Moses Lake was the new testbed being fitted out for Rolls Royce. Rolls currently has a Boeing 747-200 that they use for airborne testing of their engines. I shot it at Tucson and posted about it here. They recently acquired a 747-400 from Qantas to use as a testbed and it was moved to Moses Lake for conversion by Aerotec. I don’t know the timescales for the conversion process but it will be interesting to see it when ready in house colors and hopefully with a big engine installed on one of the inboard pylons.