Cathay Pacific started direct flights to Seattle from Hong Kong. They are using an A350 for the flight. Unfortunately, it is scheduled to arrive around 9pm and then depart later the same evening. That means, for most of the year, it won’t show up in daylight. However, this time of year the sun sets pretty late. It means there is an opportunity to get it arriving. Forget departure though. The only problem is getting a reasonable arrival time, i.e. not a long journey time and having little in the way of cloud when it shows up. At least we are talking about summer.
I made one trip out to get it. Sadly, it was a little later than indicated and the sun was not gone but below a cloud bank when it came in to view. I did get some shots but the flat light did not do the livery much service. However, with the evenings getting longer and the weather getting better. A new opportunity showed itself. The evening light on the jet as it was on short final made me glad to have made the trek down
My afternoon of shooting at SFO with Hayman was a lot of fun. However, we were a little thwarted by the weather at times. Banks of clouds would roll in from the hills beyond the airport at odd times. Sometimes, there would just be a thin layer of cloud that was over the water but it would, of course, be just behind the flightpath of the jets. The sun might be on them but, with the cloud behind, a white airliner can be a lot less interesting to shoot.
Shooting at SFO is often about waiting for the international traffic. Endless Untied jets is not really that special but the widebodies from overseas are the ones you want. Of course, the weather can choose exactly those times to bring in more cloud. If the sun disappears for a moment, you can bet it will be when the Cathay A350 shows up or something similar. You just have to work with what you get and keep looking through the viewfinder for that brief instant when the plane pops into the sun through a small gap in the clouds.
A 747-8 freighter came in to Portland while I was at the ANG base. I could see it on FlightRadar24 before it landed, and it was listed with a Cathay Pacific flight number. I was pleased to get a Cathay jet but, when it landed, it wasn’t in Cathay Colors. Instead, it was in Polar Air Cargo colors. I figured it was a subcontract operation by Polar. However, when it taxied closer, on the side of the fuselage was the notice that it was operated by Atlas. Atlas and Polar are related so I guess this shouldn’t be such a surprise. Finding who actually operates any jet can be a bit of an exercise these days.
I saw this Cathay Pacific 747-8F making an approach to the opposite side of the airport at LAX while I was waiting for a friend’s flight to arrive. The freighters tend to use the southerly runways since that is where the freight area is located and it cuts down on taxi requirements. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised that it went that way. Later in the day I was up on Imperial Hill when it made its departure. I was actually having something to eat and not really paying attention. It had rotated before I even realized so grabbed the camera quickly to get some shots. I’m glad the camera was close by or I would have been really annoyed.
You don’t see a lot of go-arounds at major airports but they do happen. I was down at LAX awaiting the arrival of a friend when a Cathay Pacific 777 came on to the approach. As I looked back at it, the approach did not appear to be too stable. It seemed to start off a little high, then it got back on glide path but it adopted a rather nose high attitude. At this point I thought something seemed amiss but it then resumed a more normal approach angle and I figured they had got it under control. It was at this time that they powered up and climbed away.
They were tucking up the gear as they came across the top of me. They flew the missed approach procedure and then came around for a second go which went fine this time. I don’t know what the issue was but I did talk to some other pilots that had flown the approach that day and they mentioned that construction work was underway that had meant some of the approach aids were out of service. Maybe this was a factor. Since airlines have strict procedures about going around if they are not stabilized by a certain point, maybe they were just too late getting it back and stable and had to follow the procedure.
Unless you are on the center-line of the approach, you rarely get to see the aircraft directly head on. If there is a crosswind from your direction, though, you can get the planes pointing straight at you for a while. Sadly, this usually is while they are further out on the approach. If you are closer to the runway then you can get a shot that is more interesting because there is some ground to provide context to the angle of the plane. With a strong enough crosswind, you can get a head on shot until close to touchdown.
There is a location that I shot at once that is no longer available. It provided a good opportunity to get shots on a strong crosswind day. A Cathay Pacific 777-300ER demonstrates what I mean. A long airliner like a 777 emphasizes the effect even better when it swings around just before touchdown. The photos don’t demonstrate that as well as a video would but it did look cool. It wasn’t the only one either!