My previous unsuccessful trip to Paine Field on the Saturday for the first flight of the fourth 777X was followed up by a more successful Sunday visit. The dull and dreary Saturday weather had been replaced by clear skies (the smoke had finally gone away) and the sun was out. The time for takeoff was not going to be great because the sun would be high to backlit, but this was a first flight so the chances of it going on time were limited.
Sure enough, things got dragged out and the sun moved to a more favorable part of the sky. A 777F from Lufthansa Cargo was doing some test flying to provide some other interest and there was plenty of activity generally to photograph. Eventually the 777X was towed. From its parking spot to the south entrance to the Boeing ramp where it could start up.
It taxied up the Alpha taxiway to the hold point and then pulled into position. Normal Boeing practice is to do an accelerated and rejected takeoff before flying. They sat on the threshold and powered up, but the wingtips had not been lowered. I don’t know whether this was a test of the system that is designed to prevent taking off with the wing tips in the wrong position or not, but it seemed that way. Either way, the jet didn’t move.
They then lowered the wing tips, powered up, accelerated and then braked. Taxi back to the threshold again and a long way for some other traffic before they lined up again. The jet wasn’t heavy, but I was slightly surprised how much flap they had for takeoff compared to the other jets I have seen taking off there. Anyway, power on and off they went.
They were due to be flying for a few hours and then landing at Boeing Field so I figured I would make the trip down there for the arrival. On pulling up at Boeing Field, I bumped into my friend David so we were able to talk rubbish about planes for a while waiting for any arrivals. In due course the 777X showed up on approach by which time the light was a lot nicer than it had been for departure. Things may have taken longer than planned and meant the day was not much good for anything else but it was a fun outing and a successful trip.
The viewing deck at Haneda is not a place I had gone to photograph wildlife. However, despite the usual concerns about birds and planes not mixing well, there were a lot of small birds that seemed to be hanging out on the roof of the terminal buildings. I imagine the number of visitors to the viewing decks means there will be crumbs of some sort for them to feed on. They were pretty close to the people but just the other side of the fencing. I guess they knew they were safe.
I have visited Renton Municipal Airport on plenty of occasions but I had not previously stopped to check out the sculpture at the entrance to the airport. It is sited by the main gate and there is a parking area to make it easy to visit. The formal name of the airport is Clayton Scott Field and the sculpture is of Clayton Scott himself next to a sign showing the direction and distance to multiple locations. The top of the sculpture even includes space as one destination! The locations are chosen and organized to provide a nice spiral pattern to the markers. It is a nicely executed piece of artwork.
In recent years, LAX underwent a reconfiguration of the norther runways. I understand this was partly to accommodate the A380 operations which, when initially introduced, created some restrictions on other operations as a result of the runway spacing. They respaced the runways. I wondered whether any of the aerial photos I had taken at LAX showed the differences that had been made.
My first flight was during the reconfiguration process. The change to one of the runways had already been made and could be seen in the spare surface were the original northerly edge had been. Other work was underway around the thresholds and in the underrun. The photos from later show the finished configuration. The threshold of the inner runway has been moved from its original location and the underrun work is now complete. Things like runways feel like they should be so permanent but, as with any man made construction, they can be taken apart and rebuilt if that is what is needed.
While I had headed to SeaTac to see the 21Air 767 arrive, I hung around for a couple of other arrivals. Delta operates a variety of long haul types into the airport and this includes A330s of the older and newer generations. First to arrive was an A330-300. A little while later, it was followed by an A330-900, the A330neo version. I thought I would try and get identical shots of both jets to see how much the engine and winglet changes showed up when looking at them in flight. Here are shots to compare the two types for you to make your own comparisons. I think the differences are there but they are not drastic.
One Saturday morning, I was scanning what was moving around the Seattle area and saw a Boeing 767-200 coming to SeaTac, operated by 21Air. I had never heard of this operator before and the picture online made the jet look like it was painted more interestingly than the average freighter. I figured I would pop down to get some shots, even though the conditions were not great. The light actually perked up a bit when the jet arrived so the results were better than I hoped. I asked a buddy about the operator and he, having never seen them before, was actually looking at two of their jets in LA. I wonder why they are suddenly on the west coast.
Alaska Airlines has a 737 flying in a special scheme as a Salute to Veterans. I have shot that in the past and it appeared on the blog in this post. I wasn’t aware until recently that they had painted a second jet in a similar scheme – this time from their regional fleet. This is an Embraer E175-E1. Here it is departing SeaTac one morning while I was awaiting my flight out.
I was waiting for some visitors at the airport. At SeaTac, you stand at the top of the escalator waiting for people to come out from the shuttle station. I was starting at the escalator for quite some time and decided to see just how slow a shot I could take with the cellphone. Using ProShot, I have a lot of shutter speed control but the brightness does eventually overwhelm things a bit. However, it was still possible to play with some interesting effects with the steps blurring out along with anyone standing on them!
SeaTac may be the main commercial airport for Seattle but there is now a second airport for mainline service. Paine Field has opened its new terminal and commenced service. I had a trip to make so decided to give it a go. Not only is it closer to home but parking is cheaper and the prices for flights were pretty low. Time to give it a go.
It took me a while to find the long stay parking. The signage was useless. When I returned to pick up my car, I noticed that they had added new signs and had people hanging around in the access roads asking if you needed help. Could have done with them before. Interestingly, when I returned to pick up the car, the long-term lot was marked as full. Not sure how well that is going to work out. They did have some additional parking under construction.
The terminal itself is very nice. They were still debugging the check in systems at the Alaska desk when I got there. The process of handing over my bag was a little confused but, since there were only two of us at the two desks, it wasn’t like there was a lengthy delay. Similarly for the security line, while the website said there was TSA Pre, there wasn’t. I had to remove all of my camera gear from the bags but, again not many people there so it was easy to get done quickly.
There are two gates in the terminal itself. I never saw more than one plane on a gate at a time but, as other airlines start service, I imagine it will be a bit busier. There were sections of the waiting area that were empty for now so it has the ability to cope with more people. The gate area itself is very nice. Comfortable chairs and nice decorations, combined with a bar make it feel more like a dining location than an airport. Very cozy. There was a Beecher’s Cheese location apparently under construction which might be good for a snack when it opens soon.
The services were being operated by Embraer E175-E1s. There were plenty of ground staff to deal with the flights. There seemed to be loads of them and, with plenty of time between the flights, they didn’t seem over taxed. However, I suspect there was still a lot of training underway – hence the excess staff. Loading didn’t take long and then it was off to the runway, past the Boeing flight line and then departure. I found it a great way to get a flight and, with a surprising number of destinations available, I hope to use it more. It is certainly more convenient for me than SeaTac.
Half an hour of spare time on my way back to John Wayne Airport so I figured a quick shoot of approaches was worth a shot. It wasn’t going to be the most productive of shoots but why waste an opportunity. There were some regional jets and some airliners while I was there but also a few biz jets showed up. The sun was getting lower so the light was a bit more appealing. Even so, just a few stock shots for possible future use. Two Alaska Embraers came in but they were from different operators, Skywest and Horizon. I know someone who has a preference there (David).