Boeing 727s aren’t a total rarity but they are certainly not common and, when one showed up at Paine Field, it was worthy of a look. Operated by Kalitta Charter, it was making a trip around the west. It arrived at Paine in nice light and a flight plan was filed for a departure shortly afterwards. This turned out to be a bit optimistic but I had plenty to do so I sat nearby awaiting the departure. It ultimately came later in the day so the weather was great.
What wasn’t great was that I missed them calling up on the radio as I was busy with some work. I happened to glance up and see the aircraft rotating in lovely light. I grabbed the camera and tried to get a quick shot but the camera was not happy and I got a second of open shutter. Nothing usable. A quick reset and then I was able to get tail on shots as it climbed away. To say I was annoyed is an understatement. At least I saw it, even if I have no shots to share.
Mark and I were on the south side of Vancouver when a Westjet plane came in. No big deal there but this flight was a charter operation so, instead of heading to the main terminal area, it came straight to us. They taxied straight to us where the passengers were quickly dropped off. The crew then turned the jet around promptly and taxied back out for departure. It was an efficient delivery and a slightly different location to see an airliner being operated.
Getting an unusual visitor to SFO is worth a look. In June 2017, Finnair are going to be starting regular service to SFO from Helsinki. Ahead of that, though, there was a tech event taking place in Helsinki that meant a bunch of Silicon Valley types would be heading over. Finnair ran two charter flights to SFO, one ahead of the event and one after. More interestingly for me, while the service next year will be operated with an A330, the charter used one of their A350s. Since they won’t be coming back for the foreseeable future, this was a limited chance to catch them.
I only found out after the first flight so the second was my only chance. Fortunately, the weather was more cooperative. It was clear and sunny. However, the wind was over 20mph steadily and gusting stronger than that a lot of the time which made holding a long lens just a little tricky. The timing of the arrival was just late enough to make it a reasonable time to get some shots. Winter in SFO means that morning arrivals don’t have the problems of backlighting in the same way that there is in the summer but early arrivals are still not great. However, it arrived just late enough to have a chance of some reasonable light.
The conditions were clear and you could see the jet as it came over the top and then as it came onto final near Coyote Point. Another aircraft was lining up for approach out behind it and showed up clearly as a result of the clear air. The wind had subsided a little when they made the approach but not much. Consequently, I was fighting with the sail (as the lens became known that day) to keep a steady panning motion on the jet. Plenty of light certainly helped by keeping the shutter speed up.
I wanted to get some departure shots. I waited around when the plane was due to taxi out. However, I did have an appointment to get to and it was clear that the plane was not going to head out in time. In the end, I accepted the timing was against me and headed off. I actually drove by the airport on the way to the city and the taxiing jet came past me as I drove off. No way that I would ever have been around in time for departure. Oh well, at least I got it flying when it came in.
The college football season included a special game at the beginning of the season. The game was scheduled to take place in Sydney Australia rather than the US. Apparently, the NCAA is trying to increase interest in the sport in other countries and hosting a game in Australia was part of the plan. One of the teams was the Cal Bears. To get to Australia and back they chartered a jet for the team and support personnel. Given the number of people involved, it was cheaper than flying commercially.
They chartered a jet from Virgin Australia in each direction. The outbound leg was a jet that had made the LAX flight. Instead of flying the return, it positioned to SFO for the outbound flight. They then repeated the process in reverse after the game. I missed the departure rotation but I was there for the return journey. I may have shot Virgin Australia jets before but this was a bit different since they don’t normally appear at SFO. (Cal also has a sponsorship deal with Oakland so this was out of the way for them too!)
If you spend a day somewhere, you can get absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. Alternatively, you can be somewhere for a short time and get a really lucky break. I was down in Hayward awaiting an unusual Airbus movement as I headed to something else and, in the short space of time I was there, someone else showed up. This was a Boeing 757 that has been converted for private charter use. I have actually come across this aircraft before but, when it showed up heading in to Oakland, I was rather pleased with my good fortune.