Passenger 747s are few and far between these days but the freighter world still has plenty of them. Even so, seeing a 747 is coming in is a nice addition to an afternoon. Heathrow’s arrivals included a Cathay Pacific Cargo 747-8F which was a nice bonus. I haven’t had much luck with the Cathay 747-8Fs over the years so was looking forward to it showing up. I had positioned a lot closer to the approach path when it came in and I wondered whether I might have too much lens since the 8F is the longest variant. Fortunately, it all worked out just fine and the sun played ball too.
The Boscombe collection has a couple of interesting testbed airframes. The Avro 707 was in a previous post but another fine jet is the English Electric P1A. The precursor to what was to become the Lightning, the P1A is very similar in some respects but quite different in others. The nose is a pitot inlet without the shock cone that the Lightning adopted to house its radar. The rest of the front fuselage has quite a different shape while it also feels lower to the ground than the Lightning was. It is nice that a Lightning front fuselage is displayed alongside it for comparison.
Aviation enthusiasts are an odd bunch. They love aviation but they can really hate certain types. The emotions can really run high and no type exemplifies this more than the A380. The project hasn’t been a success by modern standards and production has now ended. This provides much glee for some people for some reason. I’m not sure why they feel the lack of success for a plane makes their life better but whatever.
I have flown on the A380 a couple of times and it was a great experience. I always like seeing them. Variety is sadly lacking in modern aviation and anything different is welcome as far as I am concerned. The onset of the pandemic resulted in many airlines parking all sorts of types and the A380s were clearly a target. If there are no passengers, the largest capacity jet is not going to be helpful. The death of the A380 was widely proclaimed. However, it turns out that this was a bit premature.
A few airlines have been reinstating their fleets and more are coming back out of storage. British Airways has their fleet back in action. Emirates is using theirs heavily. At Heathrow, I also saw Qatar and Qantas using theirs again. (Qatar might be more related to their spat with Airbus over A350s and the need for any capacity they can get.) It is good news that they are still around. We shall see what the future brings for some of the other jets that are still stored.
Lufthansa was a launch customer for the A320neo and took delivery of some of the earliest airframes. They now have an extensive fleet of the jets and they seem to be flying in to Heathrow very frequently. I ended up shooting a bunch of their jets in my brief excursion. I am not a big fan of their newest livery but, while it looks dull on the bigger jets, I actually feel like it suits the A320 a little better.
Shooting at an airport you don’t normally get to shoot at means you have the opportunity to shoot airlines that you wouldn’t see otherwise. What can be even nicer is if you get a special livery on one of these jets. (There is a small element in the back of your head that worries about not having shot the normal livery and that you still won’t have because of the special but that churlish thought needs to be suppressed!) Three of the jets coming in from overseas were in special finishes as was one of the locals. British Airways had an A320neo in a paint finish that was sky blue. I actually watched it depart too when waiting to board my flight home.
Kenya Airways flies their 787s in to London. The jet that came in on this day had a graphic of rhinos on the rear fuselage. Not a totally different livery but a nice addition. Brussels Airlines flies their A320s in to Heathrow and the airframe I saw was in a Tintin scheme that covered the whole airframe. It looked really good. Royal Jordanian was the last of my specials. Its 787 had a graphic advertising the city of Petra which covered the side of the jet. All nice efforts by the respective airlines.
Boeing Field is constantly operating from both runways at the same time. The light aircraft traffic on the short runway can co-exist with whatever is underway on the main, long runway. However, despite the clear ATC instructions, there are occasional when things don’t quite go to plan. We had a Cirrus and a Grand caravan on approach to the parallel runways. I am not certain who was at fault, but from my angle, it appeared that the Cirrus was drifting off towards the wrong runway. It corrected its path but not before the pilot of the Grand Caravan decided that things were not looking good and went around. It didn’t take them long to get back around the pattern and the second approach was incident free. I don’t know whether the controllers ended up talking to either crew or not.
Arriving back in Seattle from our UK vacation, we got to use the new international arrivals facility. This includes the bridge from the South Satellite. This crosses the taxiway between the two terminal buildings. It’s not like you have the time to hang around in the area and I imagine they might discourage you from doing so. However, you can grab a few shots of the aircraft beneath you while crossing. The reflections were a bit of a problem but I am not going to be there very often so make the most of it!
The development of the Vulcan required a lot of concept testing before the full size jets were built. Avro built a series of smaller scale delta winged jets to work out some of the issues under the name Avro 707. One of these lives at Old Sarum in the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection. It is painted a bright orange color and, while tucked in a dark hangar, it still looks striking. It would be great to get some elevation to show off the delta planform of the jet but still happy to have managed to see it. I was rather close to it so needed to shoot a variety of shots to stitch together afterwards which only worked so well.
When Llanbedr was the home for a bunch of drones, it also had some old airframes used to support the drone operations. The Sea Vixen was one of the more famous jets saved from that program but the Boscombe collection has a drone support Meteor. The red and yellow paint scheme is not subtle but it looks good, particularly in the dark hangar at Old Sarum where the collection lives. I can’t claim to love the Meatbox but I do find it an interesting jet and seeing one in such good condition is a treat.
While walking along the Thames, there were plenty of aircraft overhead making their approach to Heathrow. I wasn’t too focused on them and was instead photographing the scenes along the river. I did look up as one jet came over and it looked like it was in a livery I didn’t recognize so I grabbed a shot with the 24-105 fitted. Turns out this was a Rwanda Air A330. That is something I don’t see every day. I wish I had been using the longer lens but this will have to do.