At the main entrance to the airport at Mojave is an area with some preserved aircraft from test programs. While Mojave is not particularly welcoming to visiting photographers on most of their land, this location seems to be just fine. The dominant aircraft is an ex-NASA Convair CV990. It was used for Space Shuttle landing gear trials amongst many other things. It is joined by an ex-USAF F-4 Phantom and a SAAB 35 Draken that had a second life at Mojave after retirement from the Royal Danish Air Force.
Tag Archives: airliner
The Virgin A350 Comes to Me
When we were in the UK, I had hoped to see the Virgin Atlantic A350-1000s in use. I did see them in the distance but never got anything of them moving. I was a touch disappointed because the Seattle route is served by the 787 fleet and we don’t get anything as large as the A350 coming here – normally! However, Virgin is apparently involved in supporting the NFL games in Europe and the Seattle Seahawks had a game scheduled in Munich. Virgin sent an A350 to Seattle to collect them. It operated the normal inbound flight and then took the team direct to Munich.
It arrived in good conditions and from the south which allowed me to get some reasonable shots of it. Lighting was a little overhead but it wasn’t too bad and could definitely have been worse. I wasn’t able to see them depart but, once the game was over, the return trip was made. I didn’t get the arrival but I was able to see the final departure of the jet as it headed back to London. Maybe Virgin’s traffic will grow enough to justify the A350 on the route more often? I would certainly like more opportunities to see the jet.
Alaska Air Cargo Finally in Good Conditions
Alaska Air Cargo operates some 737-700s that have been converted to freighters. For some reason, I feel like I have struggled to get any good shots of them. I have either been too distant or the weather was crummy or I just made a bad job of the shots. They operate in and out of SEA daily so you would think that, after six years up here, I would have got something of them that I liked. Finally I got a bit more lucky. Some afternoon departures to the north on days when I could be there and the light was cooperating meant I was able to get something better. The -700 is not a big jet so, even with the 500mm, I was stretching things a bit but winter light makes everything better. If only the Cargo logo wasn’t hidden behind the wing for a good chunk of the time. The low light does make the texture of the door conversion on the front of the fuselage show up, though.
EcoDemonstrator In Good Light Finally Arrives
Boeing has been running a program for the last 10 years called the EcoDemonstrator program. They have used a variety of aircraft over this time – often ones that were bailed back from operators or that had not yet been delivered. The most recent aircraft to participate was an older 777-200ER. I am not sure why this jet was picked but I do wonder whether they pick up aircraft that don’t have a lot of hours left before a major inspection so they are more affordable.
This one has been flying around for quite a while but I have never seen it moving. Then, not so long ago, I finally got to shoot it but it was a miserable day with low cloud and awful light. I felt like I was destined to never get a shot of it in nice conditions. Things changed when I went to Georgetown to see the Steam Plant. I was in the plant having a look around shortly after arriving when something large took off overhead. I pulled out my phone to see what it was a saw that the demonstrator was powered up on the Boeing ramp and scheduled for a flight.
This was a lucky break – not just that it was flying but that I happened to look at my phone to see it. I went back to the car to change lenses when I saw it had started to move. I was tricked a little, though. They moved it to the exit of the Boeing ramp and then it stayed there for ages. However, eventually it did taxi down the field and take off. It was quite high as it came by me but I was able to get some shots of it and the underside had some graphics about being powered by sustainable aviation fuel so that was something I hadn’t seen before.
I then finished my visit to the steam plant. The demonstrator was down off the Oregon coast flying various profiles on their test card. When Boeing Jets fly down there you are left guessing as to when they might return. They will be flying towards you and then reverse course to do more test points. There were some interesting departures from SEA early in the afternoon so I was hoping to shoot them and then return to Boeing Field for the demonstrator. I saw it head towards me but figured it would reverse course any time.
I was wrong. It was coming back and soon. This was not in the plan. The departures from SEA would have been good but this plane is unique so it was getting priority. I headed back to Boeing Field where I was not alone. Plenty of people had come out for it. A sunny Saturday was clearly good news for the local photographers. I then watched the planes come out of SEA that I had wanted to shoot but that would have to be accepted. Not long before the 777 showed up out in front of Mt Rainier and then it was on approach. I was happy with my results. Chatting with some of the locals, they said it was not long before it heads to storage in the desert. I know it flew a few times after this but maybe this was my last chance. Thank goodness the conditions were good and that I even realized!
A Pair of Max Delivery Flights
At the rate Boeing is building 737s at the moment (the actual rate rather than the one that they would like to be building at) means a delivery on any giving day is a possibility. I happened to be there when two deliveries went out in close succession. The nice thing about deliveries is that the planes are usually a lot heavier as they are fueled for a longer flight. When they are departing to the south, that means that they will rotate a lot further along the runway so will be easier to photograph.
Two airlines were taking delivery on this day. One was Lion Air for its Batik Air subsidiary. The other was COPA. The light wasn’t great for either of them but sometimes the dark skies make for a more interesting background provided the light on the aircraft is not terrible. I did okay on this occasion. I have been making better use of the processing capabilities of Lightroom since they introduced the more advanced masking functions so that certainly helps.
Sunset Overflight Contrails
I was out and about one evening when I saw an airliner flying high overhead pulling contrails behind it. The sun was getting low in the sky with the result that the light on the plane and its residual moisture was illuminated with some really nice warm color. It is definitely true that light is everything I photography. This would have been nothing without this light.
Strange Cargo Door On This 747-400F
I caught this 747-400F departing from SEA one weekend while waiting for something else. It is an original freighter rather than a converted passenger jet so it has the small hump and the nose door. However, when I was editing the shots, I noticed that the rear fuselage cargo door has blocked windows on it. This had me curious. Is this a door that has been swapped on from a converted passenger aircraft or did the doors all have windows for some reason? That seems unlikely so I am leaning to the former solution but anyone that is an expert on these things, please let me know.
Air Canada Special Early Sunday Departure And Lightroom Masking Options
Air Canada brings a pair of A220-300s in to SEA each evening – one from Toronto and one from Montreal. They leave the following morning with the Toronto flight heading out early and the Montreal flight following a couple of hours later. The Toronto flight one weekend was the TCA special aircraft so I decided to head out and catch it departing.
The day started very overcast and gloomy but there was a sign that things were going to get better. This did happen but things were still not great when the jet departed. The light had improved a bit but the cloud was still there. When looking at the shots, I figured it was time to make use of the masking options that Lightroom offers. The latest update has improved their usability somewhat. First I drop the exposure of the shot overall to get the sky looking roughly how I want it. Then I select the aircraft suing the Subject option. It does a pretty reasonable job but I do then refine it with an addition brush to bring in the bits it has missed and a subtract brush to take out the detail areas where the mask has overlapped.
The new option is the click on this mask and choose the Duplicate and Invert option. This gives me a sky selection that matches what I have got for the aircraft. For the sky, I can work on the white balance to bring it back to something more cool which suits the overall look of the shot. I can similarly work on the white balance for the jet to make the reds pop more in the livery. The exposure can be brought up a bit with the shadows helping a little while bringing the blacks down while improve the contrast.
All of this is pretty straightforward. One nice feature of the latest update is that you can actually apply the same settings to multiple images. The brush adjustments are not going to work well for this so it is best to do the overall selections and sync to the various images and then, if a shot is worthy of further work, the refining of the mask can be done afterwards. If you know which shot is the best, you can just focus on that one.
Veep Comes To Town
The Vice President made a visit to Seattle a while back. Much of the discussion was about how the traffic downtown could be disrupted but the first thought that I had was that there would be jets visiting. I was unable to see anything of the visit of Air Force One and the Marine Corps support when the president came to town but I was able to catch the Veep’s jet. For this visit, Air Force Two was provided by a USAF C-32. It arrived while I was elsewhere but I was able to catch it depart.
It was parked over near Modern Aviation and, when the motorcade arrived and delivered everybody, they were swiftly on their way. The taxi route came out towards me and then direct on to the runway to backtrack. Since a TFR was in effect, no one else was flying so no need to use the taxiway. Just straight back down the runway, do a 180 and power away. I think the 757 is a good looking jet and the C-32 certainly looks great. They were off the ground swiftly and climbing away.
Surge of 787s
Nothing too special about this post. I was out at Boeing Field for the flights of Sentimental Journey but the traffic to SEA was passing overhead. Most traffic is domestic but you do get the international movements too. In this case, I got three 787s in very short order. They came from British Airways, JAL and ANA. I figured they could have their own post so here you go.