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.
This Citabria was flying circuits at Hayward while I was there. The wind was pretty strong and coming across the runway so the pilot was taking the opportunity to practice their crosswind landings. A lot of wing was down into wind in order to compensate for the conditions and, while they occasionally struggled with some of the bigger gusts, they did seem to have good control of the aircraft. I guess awkward conditions are a reason a lot of flyers would stay on the ground but this one saw an opportunity to get some good practice in. Nicely done!
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!