There is plenty of the 777X on this blog. The delays for the test programs and the likelihood that service entry will slip in to 2024 means that test aircraft are all that is going to be available for a while yet. Even so, with four test aircraft in use, there is plenty of test activity underway. One of the more dramatic testing processes is the minimum unstick testing.
The test is to determine the maximum lift at takeoff in various configurations. This allows calculation of the required take off speeds and the runway distance required. The test involves accelerating the aircraft more slowly than usual and pulling the noise fully up. The tail is dragged along the runway and the aircraft will then get airborne once it reaches sufficient speed.
The test requires a decent runway length and, presumably, nothing much off the end should anything go awry. To protect the aircraft, a tailskid is fitted to the rear fuselage to allow the crew to drag it along the runway surface without damaging the airframe. The skid frame is a metallic structure but I am not sure what the wearing surface is for the 777X. In the past, wood has been used as the abradable element.
WH001, the first 777-9 airframe, is the one that is going to be used for these tests. It has been fitted with the skid. I’m not sure whether the testing is already underway or whether it is ready for future use. I shot it on departure on a couple of occasions.
An unusual operator is a good reason for a trip out. I had seen some 757 flights in and out of Seattle that seemed to be running a circular route including LA and Hawaii. The airline was called Asia Pacific Airlines and was flying 757s. However, I didn’t have the opportunity to get to see them while these flights were underway. Jump forward to Christmas Eve and I had a day off and they were coming in to Boeing Field. This seemed like it was worth a trip.
They appeared to be providing additional capacity for UPS which was dealing with the big rush in the last days before Christmas. Although the jet was due in a bit later than ideal, I was definitely hanging around to see it. I had got everything done for Christmas so I wasn’t under pressure. The green and white scheme is an interesting change from the usual UPS colors. It landed and taxied to the UPS ramp where the ground crew went to work unloading and reloading it. I didn’t wait for departure, though. Christmas was coming!
Back when we lived in Chicago, I went to Kenosha to photograph the Grumman Wildcat that had recently been lifted from Lake Michigan. While I was there, I also got to have a look around the hangar which housed the collection of Chuck Greenhill. His airworthy planes were stored in the hangar but it was also busy working on restorations of some Grumman amphibians.
His Duck was in the hangar and it was a great looking example. I was disappointed that I never got to see it fly. It looked immaculate. I understand it has been sold and is now in Texas. There were also two Mustangs parked in there. One of them, Geraldine, they claimed to be the most authentic Mustang example in the world. I don’t know how you would measure such things but they seemed very confident claiming this. It even included a full, working armament so you could head up and shoot someone down if you were so inclined.
The amphibian restorations were very interesting. Bare metal fuselages and the wings off while they were in work. It would have been good to make regular visits to see how things progressed but I was not able to go back again so couldn’t do that. Even so, pretty cool to see the workmanship on these airframes.
The UPS traffic at Boeing Field was busy in the run up to Christmas. As the light was starting to fade and the day end, another UPS jet taxied for departure. It got airborne and headed off to its next destination as the sky in the background had a nice warm look to it.
With the grounding order rescinded but the FAA, Boeing was getting Max jets ready to go for customers that were in a position to take delivery – namely US airlines and those that use US registered aircraft. United has a bunch of Max 9 jets on order and one of them was making a test flight just before Christmas. I got to see it return from its test. It taxied back in the south entrance to their ramp past a bunch of other test airframes awaiting acceptance.
I was working through some shots and came across a sequence a little before a bunch of shots I have used a lot in the past. It was of B-2s on approach to Nellis just before sunset. I had some clear shots of them in the distance including as the gear was traveling. Here is one of those shots. I just liked it and thought I would share it here.
In the run up to Christmas, online retail had clearly been very busy. UPS runs their Seattle flights to Boeing Field and, while I was there, the traffic levels were well above the norm. I have posted the Asia Pacific 757 freighter in a previous post but UPS’s own fleet were really moving. Arrivals and departures were pretty frequent. As soon as the jets were on the ramp, the team whirled into motion getting the containers off and loading up the outbound loads.
While the Comet may have been the first jet airliner, it was a configuration that was not well suited to development. Boeing put together its development approach to the jet airliner through a project called the Dash 80. The shape of the airframe may look familiar but this was a one off. It was a hand built aircraft and undertook development that then migrated into two further airframes. One was what became the C-135 family while the other was enlarged and became the Boeing 707.
The Dash 80 get used for all sorts of things but finally ended being donated to the Smithsonian and ferried to the Udvar-Hazy facility at Dulles. That is where I got to see it on a visit there in the mid 2000s. I haven’t been back since and would love to check this place out again. Here are some old shots of this historic jet.
Quite a few years back, I was at Van Nuys when the Children’s Hospital Sikorsky S-76 flew over on final approach. I found out a little while later that this helicopter had been donated by Helinet. I found this while talking to Alan Purwin who ran the company prior to his death. It was a nice looking helicopter which isn’t hard since the S-76, while an old design, is a sleek looking machine.
I made a detour recently to Anacortes airport, purely because I had never been there before. Nothing much was going on but, stored at one end of the airfield was this S-76. It looked exactly the same. The registration had been changed but zooming in on the airframe, I could just make out the outline of the old numbers. Sure enough, it is the same airframe. Clearly, it isn’t looking like it is going anywhere soon but it did provide years of good service.
We were walking along the shore in Mukilteo on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I looked up and saw something large on the approach to Paine Field. At first I assumed it was one of the scheduled E175s but, as I pulled the camera up to my eye, I realized it was a 777. As it got closer, it was apparent that it was a China Airlines Cargo freighter on test – the first time I have seen one. The midwinter light made for a nice shot.