At the main entrance to the airport at Mojave is an area with some preserved aircraft from test programs. While Mojave is not particularly welcoming to visiting photographers on most of their land, this location seems to be just fine. The dominant aircraft is an ex-NASA Convair CV990. It was used for Space Shuttle landing gear trials amongst many other things. It is joined by an ex-USAF F-4 Phantom and a SAAB 35 Draken that had a second life at Mojave after retirement from the Royal Danish Air Force.
Tag Archives: civil
Bizjets Approaching Mt Rainier(ish)
Sometimes you can get too fixated on image quality and forget the overall image. I was hanging around at Ruby Chow park one weekend when some jets were approaching Boeing Field. I got some shots as they came overhead but then switched to getting shots of them as they got close to touchdown. The view down the runway is looking straight at Mt Rainier. The jets in front of the mountain look great. Very quickly, the heat haze can make the clarity not as sharp as I would normally expect of myself but, actually, the shot is fine at full scale. Just enjoy the image and don’t fret about the details.
The Virgin A350 Comes to Me
When we were in the UK, I had hoped to see the Virgin Atlantic A350-1000s in use. I did see them in the distance but never got anything of them moving. I was a touch disappointed because the Seattle route is served by the 787 fleet and we don’t get anything as large as the A350 coming here – normally! However, Virgin is apparently involved in supporting the NFL games in Europe and the Seattle Seahawks had a game scheduled in Munich. Virgin sent an A350 to Seattle to collect them. It operated the normal inbound flight and then took the team direct to Munich.
It arrived in good conditions and from the south which allowed me to get some reasonable shots of it. Lighting was a little overhead but it wasn’t too bad and could definitely have been worse. I wasn’t able to see them depart but, once the game was over, the return trip was made. I didn’t get the arrival but I was able to see the final departure of the jet as it headed back to London. Maybe Virgin’s traffic will grow enough to justify the A350 on the route more often? I would certainly like more opportunities to see the jet.
In From Manila And On To Teterboro
A sunny Sunday morning trip out for a bizjet got a bonus. I was a touch late for the arrival unfortunately but this G650ER had come in from Manila on its was to Teterboro. It would have been nice to catch it landing but, after it cleared customs, they taxied out for departure to the east coast. I’m sure it was nice to stretch the legs after a trans-Pacific trip although I doubt a G650 is that uncomfortable!
Falcon 50 Through the Snow
Crappy conditions are not usually what you are after when photographing aircraft but, sometimes it is what you get and you have to make the best of it. One upside is that, if you are somewhere with a reasonable amount of traffic, you can play around with getting shots of something you weren’t necessarily focused on. While standing in the snow waiting for the Skycourier’s arrival, I did have a Falcon 50 on approach. I like the Falcon 50 a lot so this would normally have my attention already. However, crummy conditions almost left me in the car. I decided at the last minute to try it anyway.
I was really quite pleased with the patterns that the snow made around the jet as it came in. in such bad light, the landing lights are always going to be more dominant and their ability to light up the snow flurries ahead of them can work out well. These pictures will probably never be gracing anyone’s walls but I got a kick out of them when I went through them back at home.
Edwards AFB might be the home of the USAF flight test center but it is also home for NASA’s Armstrong test center. Consequently, NASA was included in the flying display. They put up a three ship formation that mad a series of passes. The formation was led by a Gulfstream with an F-15 and an F/A-18 on the wing tips. The Eagle is one that has been with NASA for years and is painted in a white scheme. The Hornet was still in Strike Test colors from Pax River but I have no idea how long it has been with NASA.
The two jets also did some demonstrations of sonic booms as they maneuvered high above the crowd with the booms reaching the ground at different times depending on how high they had been created. The sound was also modified by the maneuvering of the jet. Formations like this don’t appear regularly at air shows so this was a welcome addition to the flying program.
What Is Experimental About This?
Dassault is developing their business jet line. The 5X was stillborn as a result of engine supply issues but it led to the 6X which I got to see last year when it came through Boeing Field on tour. The next jet is the 10X. This is going to be a large cabin and long range jet to play with the Global 8000 and G800. However, it hasn’t flown yet. When I saw this jet at Boeing Field, I wondered what the story was. The large graphic on the side must either relate to something else or is delusion of grandeur on the part of the owner.
Checking Out The Northwest Helicopters’ Black Hawk
With the firefighting helicopters gathering at Snohomish to cover the local fire activity, I was able to chat to the crews a little while they waited to see what was to come. Northwest Helicopters had brought in a Black Hawk to support the fire if needed. It was a 1984 build airframe and had been painted in a blue scheme. The guys were complaining about the paint, though. It was a matte finish and the soot from the exhausts was discoloring the surface and was, apparently, impossible to clean up. The rest of the airframe looked fine for something that is nearly 40 years old.
They had a Bambi bucket with them for the firefighting side of things and were quite happy for me to check out the interior of the cockpit. Having shot their arrival, it was a shame that the visibility was so bad that they could not do what they had come to do and were stuck on the ground while I was there. A nice pair of guys to chat with, though, and I appreciate the time and access that they gave.
Alaska Air Cargo Finally in Good Conditions
Alaska Air Cargo operates some 737-700s that have been converted to freighters. For some reason, I feel like I have struggled to get any good shots of them. I have either been too distant or the weather was crummy or I just made a bad job of the shots. They operate in and out of SEA daily so you would think that, after six years up here, I would have got something of them that I liked. Finally I got a bit more lucky. Some afternoon departures to the north on days when I could be there and the light was cooperating meant I was able to get something better. The -700 is not a big jet so, even with the 500mm, I was stretching things a bit but winter light makes everything better. If only the Cargo logo wasn’t hidden behind the wing for a good chunk of the time. The low light does make the texture of the door conversion on the front of the fuselage show up, though.
I had seen photos from the visits people had made to the airport in California City that showed a lot of old business jet airframes in storage. I was curious to see this place myself and so headed up there when I had some time one evening. There is a local business that takes old jets – principally Gulfstreams – and strips them for any components that will be useful in the secondary market. The owner of the place is welcoming to visitors and a friend was actually already there when I arrived. A little while later after sorting out issues with the gate opening, I was inside and free to roam around.
There are so many jets, it is hard to know where to start. Some of them are basically intact while others have had substantial elements removed. Sides of the fuselage might be cut out, gear may have been removed and engines are definitely a valuable commodity. Some of the control surfaces will have found a second life supporting an airworthy jet. Older generation jets like the G-II and G-III are represented but the G-IV is now knocking on a bit and so there are quite a few of those too. Some very old jets are scattered in amongst the carcasses including one that had been used as a military testbed.
The planes are squeezed in to all available spaces. As you walk around, you have to pay a lot of attention to make sure you don’t trip over anything or smack your head on part of an airframe. Also good to try and avoid getting in the shots of other photographers! I didn’t see any hazardous wildlife which helped make the walking around a little easier.
While most airframes were Gulfstreams, there were occasional exceptions. I came across a really old HS125. It was from the days of Viper engines so definitely an old one. It didn’t look to be in great condition but the dry desert air means that they survive pretty well for a long time.