At quiet times, I browse through older shots to see what I have shot in the past that might not have been the most interesting subject of the shoot but was worth another look. I had been photographing with a bunch of guys at O’Hare a few years back as the evening was drawing in. We were out at the west side of O’Hare and the evening light was great. An Embraer E175-E1 took off and turned overhead us. The low light angles picked up the underside of the aircraft as it turned. The bottom of a wing has a lot of complex curvatures to it and the low light angle really emphasizes that shape. This shot really appealed to me for that reason.
Airlines come and go but there are some that seem immortal, despite the fact that they really should have died. Alitalia was one such airline. It had gone through financial crisis after financial crisis. All sorts of EU rules were broken with the government propping the airline up and then they got support from another airline which probably regretted it very quickly. It now seems that they have finally gone. The failure of an airline is obviously traumatic for the people that work for it and I am genuinely sorry for them. However, Alitalia really needed to go. There is a new airline in Italy and they have bought the rights to the name. They paid less than half of the minimum bid that the people selling the rights said they would take. It looks like it was just to stop someone else using the name but we shall see. Let’s hope ITA is a better run operation.
The 777X program is hardly zipping along. The four test aircraft have been in use for a while now but the certification is not due until the end of 2023. After being built at Everett, the test jets all headed to Boeing Field. However, the fourth test aircraft, WH004, recently went back to Everett. I’m not sure why but it did a bit of flying out of there. One evening, I popped up to get a photo or two when it was returning. Conditions were ideal but a white jet will always have a bit of light on the airframe.
I mentioned in one of my earlier posts about walking along the runway at Boeing Field during the FOD walk that there were some limitations on what we were allowed to take photos of. Fortunately, I was at the end of the runway that didn’t have any limitations. Therefore, I could shoot anything that was on the Boeing civil ramp as well as the main terminal ramp for the airport.
The 737 has gone through many design iterations. With the introduction of the Max, the rear fuselage got quite a redesign. The original 737 tailplane was redesigned for the NG family when it was widened. This affected the rear fuselage a small amount. However, there were clearly still issues with that part of the plane given the large number of vortex generators that were fitted. These are always there to fix things that aren’t quite as they should be.
The Max has a totally reconfigured rear fuselage. Boeing clearly decided to clean up the issues that they had been living with. Any opportunity to reduce drag is needed when you are competing with the newest version of your opponent. They have thinned the fuselage a lot and this is one of the easiest ways to spot that a jet is a Max rather than a previous version (the others being the engine size and the winglet type). The APU inlet has also been relocated.
S7 is a Russian airline so not one that I normally get to see. Tokyo is the only place I have seen their planes in operation. They have a bunch of 737 Max jets on order. I saw one of them in a Boeing test bay on the west side of Renton one evening when passing by. The bright green colors are hard to miss. Fortunately, it was not long after this that I was at Boeing Field in the evening when the jet came in from a test flight. The light was pretty nice by that time of day but I don’t think it would have mattered with a color that vibrant!
October brings the end of MD-11 operations for Lufthansa. When the MD-11 rapidly fell out of favor with the passenger operations, it became a bit of a favorite for freight operations. New build MD-11Fs were joined by conversions of displaced passenger jets. Lufthansa had bought some new jets and added more to their fleet. In recent years, the introduction of Boeing 777Fs had gradually displaced the MD-11s from operations. Now the last one is being retired. FedEx is still using a ton of them so no likelihood of the type going away soon. I only saw them a few times in Lufthansa colors and won’t any more!
The shot you didn’t get. How many of those do we have. It’s easy to get blasé about something and decide not to bother. Of course, many times, this will be just fine, otherwise we wouldn’t be blasé in the first place. A couple of UPS jets had arrived. One was an MD-11 and one was a 767. A second 767 was on approach and I figured why bother. As it touched down abreast my location, something looked decidedly odd about the radome.
I talked to Nick, who had been next to me and had photographed it and asked him to take a look at his shots. Sure enough, the radome was a complete mess. Presumably a bird strike had smashed it during the flight although whether it was early on or during the approach we couldn’t know. It was quite the scene of destruction and I didn’t get a photo of it. 99 times out of a 100, it wouldn’t have been anything but this time… Oh well.
It must be a sign of aging how surprising it is to find something that was previously so common as to be boring suddenly is a rarity and has novelty value. Sierra Pacific is an odd operator anyway but they have some 737-500s. These were not the most popular of that generation of 737 but they sold reasonably well. United had a bunch of them that I have shot and Southwest had a fair few, some of which I have flown on. The follow up with the 737-600 and that was a poor seller.
Sierra Pacific was bringing their example in to BFI and I was able to get some time off to see it arrive. It was scheduled to be a brief stop so the chances were good of getting it arriving and departing. The -500 was a short jet – similar in length to the -200 and the last version to come of that generation that started with the -300 and then got stretched to the -400. They were both more popular with the airlines. It now looks like a toy compared to the current crop.
The skies had been a bit overcast but a bit of sunlight showed itself as the jet was on final approach. Not fantastic light but certainly an improvement on a little while before it appeared. It touched down and headed for Modern’s ramp. It wasn’t long before a bunch of people were around the plane and then a fuel truck showed up so it looked promising for a speedy departure. Sure enough, it was soon taxiing. Bigger jets have to cross to taxi to the threshold but you always worry that they will instead take an intersection departure. This day was a good day, though, and they crossed and taxied right by me. They were heading to Omaha so we’re pretty heavy so it wasn’t an early rotation but, since it was later in the day, the heat haze was not so bad.
Sun Country changed their livery design a while back going with an orange based scheme known as the pumpkin livery. I hadn’t shot one before – I’ve got their older colors and also the Transavia hybrid on leased jets – but it was due in shortly before the National A330 I had gone out for so I was happy to get the bonus. It’s a garish livery, for sure, but it makes a change from the steady stream of stuff we see normally.