As mentioned in other posts, I have been playing around with lower shutter speeds when photographing planes at Boeing Field. Getting a blurry background to emphasize the speed of the plane is the goal and it also removes some of the annoying distractions that a cluttered airfield can provide. I use filters to reduce the light in order to get the shutter speed down without having ridiculous apertures. Naturally, I end up with a bunch of blurred photos which get deleted but the selection process for the keepers is what this post is about.
I have some photography friends that don’t like the effect that the differential speeds of the parts of the airframe have on sharpness. A sharp nose might mean a pretty blurry tail since the relative motions as I pan are different. When I am filtering through the shots, I often “focus” on how the nose looks since it is like having the sharp eyes on a wildlife shot. I care less about the tail unless it looks terrible. However, getting the middle of the airframe sharp might result in a sharper overall shot even if the nose is a little blurry.
These are the things I was thinking about with these shots of a 777X landing at Boeing Field. The reason for the post is to see what matters to other people. These shots are a mix of which part of the airframe is sharp and which bits are more blurred. I may spend a fair bit of time deciding on which is best, but I wonder whether anyone looking at them is going to like the same things as me or will even care about it. Maybe the composition of the image is all that they care about, and the pixel peeping is irrelevant. I would really appreciate feedback if you have an opinion.
A while back I got a notification of an A320 departing SEA heading to Korea from an airline called AeroK. I didn’t have the chance to be there and wrote it off as a missed opportunity. Then, earlier this year I got a similar notification on a weekend, so I was able to make the trip down to see this depart. I hadn’t made the connection, but AeroK is Korea in reverse. It is a low-cost carrier that only recently started operations. I assume these were delivery flights for their new fleet since they won’t be operating to the US at this stage of their development. It would be good to see more of the planes at some point.
There are a few planes that showed up at the Concrete Fly In that I particularly liked and one of those was a Helio Courier. This is a beast of a plane but one that has some impressive field performance. The example that showed up was completely unpainted which made it look even better (plus shaved some pounds off to improve that performance even more). However, I was a little troubled by some of the flying. The pilot took it up for a flight while we were there, and they climbed up above the field. From the ground it is always hard to judge accurately what is happening so I will caveat all of this by saying it is how it appeared to me.
I don’t know what the winds were like aloft, but they seemed to be doing some slow flight above the field. There also seemed to be a bit of wing rocking going on as they maneuvered, and I did wonder just how close to the stall they were flying. Things might have been perfectly safe, but it did look odd from the ground. Then there was the landing. I don’t know whether they intended to land on the grass beside the runway but, as far as I am aware, that is not a designated operating area. I think it is used for taxiing. Anyway, they landed off the side of the runway and ran out on this area of grass. Was that intentional? Sort of didn’t look like it but I can’t say for certain. Was it a good idea? Probably not.
Let’s put all of that aside for now. The aircraft is a fine machine, it carries a decent payload, it can get in and out of short strips and it is not so common so all of that adds up to a cool aircraft to see up close – thankfully not too close!
While the 787-10 was never built at Everett, there have been a few that have come here for completion before delivery to their airlines. One such jet was for Saudia or Saudi Arabians Airlines. It was painted in a scheme that was a close resemblance to their livery from the 80s and 90s. I had thought that it was a retro effort on their part, but I have since heard that this might actually be the livery for the fleet going forwards.
Whether that is the case or not, I did take me back to a shot I got in 1988. I was working for the CAA in the UK on noise measuring duties and got to spend a week inside the fence at Heathrow taking readings of departing aircraft. One of these was a 747-300 of Saudia. I had my camera with me that week and was able to get photos between taking readings. I thought it might be interesting to compare the old Saudia livery with the newer version.
I had been talking with some friends at Boeing Field about the Kalitta 727s that we had seen recently and we got on to the subject of winglets on the 727 and that the jets we had seen didn’t have them. Little would I know that I would address this a short while later. Kalitta Charters II was bringing another 727 in to Paine Field on a weekend evening and it was a different airframe to the ones I had photographed to that point.
It was also fitted with winglets! I am not sure how good the winglet design is on the 727. It looks like a pretty basic design and doesn’t seem to be very well integrated in the way that later winglet designs are. However, it must provide some benefit because they have sold a fair few of them. I clearly made the trip up to Everett to catch its arrival and I wasn’t alone. One more 727 in a time when they are not very abundant and a different configuration to boot.
Since Breeze started service in the US, I have not had much of a chance to see its aircraft. They don’t provide service to our part of the world yet. I have seen some of the Embraer fleet it operates when those jets have come to Boeing Field. This was of interest but slightly disappointing to me since the fleet is going to be made up of A220-300s and the Embraers were an interim fleet. Of course, that might make them the most interesting jets in due course. I did want to see the A220s, though.
I had to make a work trip to Orlando in October. My flight arrived in MCO at midnight and, as we pulled on to the gate, I see a Breeze A220 parked next to us. I got a shot of it with my phone but it was dark and the lighting from the terminal was definitely not good for the colors of the livery. The fact that they used that gate, though, gave me cause for optimism when I was due to return. I got to the airport with plenty of time and my flight was delayed. Consequently, I was able to watch another Breeze A220 as it pulled in from its flight and, then again, when it departed. The phone had to be the option again but I think it worked out okay – at least until I get a chance to get some more shots at some point in the future.
When Horizon was still flying the Q400s, they painted a bunch of them in the colors of Pacific Northwest universities. The Q400s have gone and the Embraer E175-E1s are now the only aircraft flown by Horizon. Thankfully, they have decided to continue the practice. While we were away, I saw that a jet had been painted in Washington State colors with “Go Cougs” written in the fuselage. I was disappointed to have missed its arrival but it wasn’t long before it was scheduled for an evening arrivals in to Paine Field.
It was a Sunday and we had been up in Skagit County and I didn’t know whether our return would be in time (or if I was going to have to suggest a diversion on our way home to Nancy). As it was, we got home in good time and I had a while before I headed back out. With the seasons turning in the direction of autumn, the light is getting nicer and it was ideal conditions when the jet came down the approach. I could have waited for the departure but I had what I wanted and there was still dinner to think about so I headed home again.
The Royal Canadian Air Force will soon be getting new tanker transport aircraft. They are going to buy some Airbus A330 MRTTs to replace their CC-150 Polaris jets. These are based on the A310 and I have never seen one before. Fortunately, there was one on static display at Abbotsford for the air show. It was in the grey scheme rather than the brightly painted version but that was fine by me. I was just glad to get one before they are replaced. It would be good to see one flying but I suspect the chances of that are diminishing. You never know, though.
The Avantis that had been operating at Paine Field have relocated their base to Arlington instead. I think they are getting maintained there and so it is the new base of operations. One of them arrived while I was up that way and it parked up on the main ramp. I wandered out and chatted to the owner as he put the plane away for the evening and then, once he had gone, I continued to get some shots. The airframe is a selection of interesting shapes so I was trying to find good ways to shoot it.
The fuselage shape tapers aggressively, there is the front wing, the main wing and the tailplane and then there are the engines and their props. Lots to try and work with. The engines are interesting in that the exhaust from the PT-6s blows right on to the roots of the props. This heat must be a form of deicing but it also must require something of the blade construction to manage the heat. There is some sign of the particles in the exhaust in the dirt patterns that form across the blade roots.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Avanti is an amazing looking aircraft. The combination of cabin size and performance is unmatched by turboprops (and a lot of jets too). I wish it was more successful. Lots of people focus on its noise but that doesn’t bother me. However, having looked at those props in more detail, I can’t help but wonder how much of that noise is from the exhaust interacting with the blades rather than just the blades themselves.
The All-Star baseball game was in Seattle this year. Baseball is not my thing so I wasn’t paying too much attention although I did have a meeting near the stadium and discovered just how much a parking garage will charge on the day of the All-Star game! However, they did have some USAF F-35As in town for the flyover proceedings. I was south of the city later in the day and started to head north close to the time when the game was due to start. I had been hoping that I might get up to Boeing Field for their launch but, as I drove north, I could see the jets pulling off their run over the stadium.
I figured they would recover quickly but headed for the approach end of Boeing Field just in case. Fortunately, they had taken the scenic route and had been touring around Puget Sound. I was there in plenty of time for their landings. One thing that I had not really noticed before about the F-35A is the approach angle of attack that the jet adopts. The planes seem to have quite a nose high attitude when on approach. The radome is short so the field of view is probably not a problem, but I was surprised I had not spotted this previously.
I got the jets all landing but they were really a series of repetitive shots of similar looking jets. Nothing too special but still nice to have a different jet here for a while.