I caught one of the Boeing T-33 chase aircraft that had been out supporting the 777X flight trials. The weather had been crappy which is par for the course when I am seeing the Boeing chase planes. However, it did start to improve. A hint of sun came out as it came down the approach but the light was better a bit far out. I could see it in the distance but it was more shady as it got close. Still, not too bad. I heard a rumor that they might be retiring them before too long. I hope that isn’t the case but we shall see.
Haneda is a busy hub for Japan Air Lines (JAL). While you visit, there will be a steady stream of JAL 737s coming and going so, another one arriving is no cause for interest. However, I realized that this particular jet did not actually say Japan Air Lines on the fuselage. Instead, it was marked Japan Transoceanic Air. I had never heard of this airline before. A little research shows that it is part owned by JAL – hence the use of the common livery – but there are other shareholders. Occasionally they will lend aircraft to JAL but they do operate to Haneda so I don’t know whether this was a JAL flight or one of their own. A new airline for me, though.
Around the world you can find plenty of parked Boeing 787s at the moment. Problems with the Rolls Royce Trent engines for this type mean that airlines have been pulling engines from various airframes in order to keep others flying. ANA uses Rolls engines on their fleet and I saw this aircraft being pulled around a taxiway at Haneda. Both engines were off making it look quite odd. It will certainly be a lot lighter than before but, somehow, I think that isn’t going to make it more efficient!
I was sitting at Boeing Field awaiting the return of a couple of jets. Apps like FlightRadar24 allow you to keep an eye on where things are and when they are due in. What they don’t usually cover is military flights. Fortunately, I had the radio scanner sitting on the dash so, while I was busy doing something else while waiting, the sound of someone calling up on approach caught me by surprise. I finished what I was doing and then got the camera just as a KC-135 hove in to view. What a nice surprise.
A while later, something similar happened. Another plane called up with what sounded like a Navy callsign. This time I had a bit more time to get out and look up the approach to see what it might be. A P-8 was coming in. They got bounced around on short final by the gusty conditions which were combining with the airport buildings to make things pretty interesting for the crew. I had an easier time taking the pictures I think.
The first flight of the 777X took place while I was out of the country which annoyed me quite a bit. Having seen the things sitting around at Everett for ages and even watched the taxi trials, I was in the wrong place when they finally got airborne. However, with an extensive flight test program to come, I knew there would be other opportunities. I did manage to be at Boeing Field for a departure on one of the flights. Conditions weren’t great, though.
With the viewing area closed while Boeing parks 737s wherever it can find a space, I was a long way from the rotation point. It was in the rain as it rolled and, while it stayed below the clouds until well past me, things were not ideal. Still, I had seen it fly.
On another occasion I was able to be there when it returned. This had also been a day with some pretty crummy conditions but this time I was seeing the weather starting to improve as the day wore on. A little bit of a wait while they flew test activities over Central Washington was not such a bad thing. Indeed, as they turned for home, the sun was coming out. However, the wind was not abating!
When they called up on approach, I wandered to one side to see how far up the approach I could see. Despite me being to the right side of the runway from their perspective, when I first got a good shot, the jet was actually pointing beyond me to the right. The crosswind was obviously pretty strong. Early in the flight test program, I wonder whether they really wanted to be testing this capability. Of course this then meant I got a head on view as they got closer before running past me. Shots in nice light! Happy guy. In the next year we shall see plenty of these but, for now, I am happy to have got something reasonable of this airframe off the ground.
More from the film scanning archive. I made a trip to the museum at RAF Cosford when I was visiting my friends Jon and Charlie in the area. Now Jon works there but at the time it was just an extra to my visit. At the time, British Airways had a collection of aircraft at the museum. This included lots of their older types in storage. Sadly, the cost of keeping the collection was not something BA management deemed worthwhile and they stopped funding it. The museum couldn’t afford to keep them up so they were scrapped on site. I wish I had a better record of them but this is all I have. Fortunately, others will have done better recording them.
I love jets that aren’t painted. I know Boeing uses a film to protect the bare metal and it isn’t primer but it certainly looks like it. A 747-8F was scheduled for a first flight at Paine Field prior to heading to Portland for painting. It taxied out and lined up. I thought I was going to get a first flight for this jet. It did a high speed taxi run and aborted takeoff as is the norm but something wasn’t right. They taxied back to the ramp and shut down. They weren’t flying on this day. I was a bit annoyed!
I’ve seen a few 737s make their first flights at Renton. This example occurred on weekend morning and it caught me out a bit. They roll the jets across the bridge from the assembly flight line to the runway flight line. The bridge crosses the river just south of the park. Once across, they are ready to start up. This takes longer than a normal start up since this is the first time the plane is going to fly.
The fast taxi with rejected takeoff is the next step. This takes place on the runway and, in this case, was heading towards me up near the Lake Washington end of the Renton runway. All being well with this, it is time to take off. I had hoped that this would involve a back taxi and then departure over the lake but I was to be disappointed. They turned at the lake and powered up for a departure to the south. I had not anticipated this so was badly placed. The moist morning air resulted in vapor in the inlets as they accelerated past me and then climbed off in the distance.