Getting a good angle on jets lined up on the approach is a combination of luck with where you can stand and the timing of the arrivals to be in sequence when you can get them all together. It is also a question of whether you have the right focal length to catch them together but not so much that one is out of frame. I played with this a bit at YVR. Sometimes there would be a jet on the parallel approach too but combining the lot was more luck than judgement.
E-8 JSTARS are not a rare thing at Red Flag but they do often get involved in the night sorties. Seeing one heading out to play for the daytime activities was a pleasant surprise. On their return on the first day they were following in the KDC-10 that I mentioned in a previous post. They also adopted some sporty approach techniques and were similarly unsuccessful in converting them in to a landing. The go around ensued and was followed by a more conventional straight in approach and landing.
There were two tankers I was hoping to shoot at Red Flag. One was the Colombian 767. It didn’t fly on the first day but on the second it started to taxi before returning to the ramp and shutting down. Never mind. The other was the Dutch KDC-10. I hadn’t shot one before and they are not likely to be in service for too much longer so this might have been my last chance. Therefore, I hoped it would fly and it didn’t let me down.
The winds were strong on the first day and it departed towards us off 21L. As soon as it was airborne, the nose cocked into the strong crosswind and it turned towards us. A right turn overhead and it was on its way to the ranges. When it returned, they went for a very impressive curving approach. It looked great. However, it wasn’t great from a flying perspective and a go around followed. The second approach was more conventional and more successful.
On the second day they flew again. This time the arrivals were from over the Speedway so a more traditional view of them coming in. I was hoping for a go around and a tight circuit to land but that was a tad optimistic. Maybe after the previous day they were more content to get the beast back on the ground.
I walked along the harbour shoreline in Victoria to go and see some of the floatplanes in operation. The planes have to take off and “land” in the outer area of the harbour so they are a bit away from the easiest spots to watch things from when they are most active. I saw a couple of planes making their approach. They came in through the entrance to the harbour before making the turn to line up for landing. A nice arc to final approach and then touching down to be at water taxi speed by the time the entered the restricted area of the harbour itself. Fun to watch and I could have spent plenty of time there on a sunny afternoon!
I haven’t shot at Fisherman’s Park before and I am glad Hayman suggested it. The location provides a slightly different perspective on the planes coming in to SFO. It also seems to be the right angle to get lots of planes in one shot. Parallel approaches will give you two but you can also get the aircraft departing off the 01s in the background too. Sadly, they were often in shade as they departed but it still provided some contrasting shots. Then it was just a question of whether you could get two arriving and two departing jets in the same shot or not. Sadly, not this time.
Heading back to Hawthorne after my flight over LAX, another plane was coming in to the southern complex. I had forgotten it was due and, after moving to the south of the field, we could have got a good shot of it landing. Never mind. This Lufthansa A340-600 beat me but I was able to get a shot of him from a distance as we headed in and, since there was a parallel approach on the northside, I got his little cousin in the shot too.
We relocated to the other end of Boeing Field for the return of the Blue Angels. They ran in across the field trailing white smoke. Unfortunately, with little wind, this meant a pall of smoke was now hanging over the airport. As they broke into the downwind and then turned onto final, it was sometimes hard to see them at all. A healthy boosting of the contrast makes some of the shots a bit more visible but, in truth, the viz was really awful. I only hope they had a slightly better view of the ground than we had of them since their being able to see was slightly more important.
Antonov 124s make a regular appearance at Paine Field. Boeing obviously receives a lot of shipments which I am guessing may be engine deliveries. Plenty of the flights come from Columbus OH which is near a GE plant and the GE90-115 fan is too big for most freighters when installed. However, it could be for something else. Anyway, I got one coming in to Everett recently. Paine Field is a popular field for light aircraft so you get a lot of them flying patterns on the main runway. One called up on final when the Ruslan was turning on to final. They made it in without any trouble but it was quite amusing to see the little plane on final with the unmistakable silhouette of the Antonov not far behind.
Paul and my second full day at Red Flag was also the one where we both had to fly home. We knew that the timing would mean leaving before the last of the big aircraft came home but we should get most of the recovery. We set a time and started packing up. We had done well so no complaints. We hopped in the car and drove towards the turn to take us out to the freeway. Just as we got there, a pair of B-1s came running in to the break in formation. Surely we couldn’t let them go. A rapid stop at the side of the road, grab cameras from the trunk and start shooting.
They flew by in formation and broke downwind. Each of them turned in reasonably tight for their approach and it was possible to get some nice topside views as the curved around to final. We could have been a bit closer and probably would have chosen different lenses if we had been able to choose but we got the shots. Then it was time to repack the bags and get going. We only lost about five minutes and everything worked out fin getting back so it was totally worth it. There was no waiting for whatever followed them though.
Over the last few years I have flown in and out of Oakland more times than I can recall. It has been my transit point for the majority of my travels. A recent return brought me a new experience there though. The airport is in two halves. There is a main runway alongside the bay which is used by the airliners and is often the departure runway for the bizjets. Then there are two further runways that are over near the old airport infrastructure. These are used by light aircraft and for the arrival of bizjets. (There is another intersecting runway but that doesn’t factor in this story.)
The normal approach brings you across the shoreline and over the water on the approach. The other runways are on a different alignment and the approach comes over the local towns. I was looking out of the window and filming a hyperlapse. I was a bit confused as I was seeing bits of San Leandro that I don’t normally see and we didn’t pass Hayward Airport. We continued to descend over land and it was pretty clear we were not heading for the normal runway. Sure enough we touched down on the old part of the airport prior to taxiing back and all the way across through the freight area back to the terminal. I watched jets depart from the runway we had just landed on as well as from the normal runway so I have no idea what was going on. I doubt I will experience this again anytime soon.