I have taken a lot of photos of Seattle since we moved here. The city has a lot of development which shows itself clearly in both the downtown area and the South Lake Union area. The downtown core is not massively different but the spread out from the center is noticeable, as is the change in stadiums. My first visit to Seattle was in 1992. Things were very different then. I recently took a look at some photos I scanned from that trip including a view from the top of the Space Needle. I also have some shots from the mid 2000s in the mix.
The following shots are combinations of shots from 92 and current shots along with some taken from one of our trips here in around 2005 when I had a work visit that we extended to include some time in the city. The city already had some big towers in 92 but there has been a lot of development since then. South Lake Union is a different story. During my first visit, there was not a lot going on in the area. Now things are heavily in the area with Amazon having led the investment but the Gates Foundation also having a big site. Things have really changed a lot!
The 777X initial airframe has already made it on the blog when it was parked on the ramp and when it undertook some taxi trials. It has since had the dodgy engines removed and I assume some more trustworthy examples are on their way. First flight will not be this year, though, based on what I am reading in the press. While the start of flying has not been achieved, production has continued. The initial customer aircraft have also now shown up. I understand that Lufthansa will be receiving at least one of these jets. The flight line now has four jets parked up – two in house colors and two all white. Hope we will see them up and active before too long! I hear a fifth came out with Emirates’ wing tips just after I took this! I have another primer one since which is below.
A lunchtime jaunt up to Everett was the result of ATS carrying out a test flight of a Janet 737. I got to the field with a little time in hand and was looking on FlightRadar24 for the position of the inbound jet when I saw something orbiting north of me up near Concrete. It turned out to be one of the Mitsubishi MRJ90 test aircraft. It was flying a series of patterns up there. Since they carry out the test flying from Moses Lake, I wasn’t so surprised. More importantly, I figured that they would head back to base when they were done.
Imagine my surprise when the radio burst to life with their callsign setting up on the approach. A Janet was worth the trip but the MRJ was truly a bonus. I have only seen one before and that was a delivery flight from Japan to Moses Lake that staged through San Jose and was in the blog here. I hoped it was a different jet, but wasn’t going to gripe if it wasn’t (and I was pretty sure it wasn’t based on recollection of the registration).
The jet hummed its way down the approach and landed in front of me (and a few others that either knew or had got similarly lucky). It them taxied back and held in front of FHCAM. There was a departing Embraer in front of it so I figured it was waiting for them. However, they departed and it didn’t move for a while. I needed to head back so was desperately hoping it would go soon. Just as I was about to give up, they released the brakes and taxied to the hold. The departure was pretty quiet with the Pratt GTFs not making much noise at all.
The original colors of the jet appear to have been overtaken by test markings. There were some details around the engine inlets and the upper rear fuselage had been painted black. I suspected this might be for testing of water ingestion to help visualize the water flow but if anyone knows better what the purpose is, please do let me know.
The early versions of jets are often repurposed throughout their life. They serve a role for testing but they are not configured like production jets and to make them so is too expensive to be worthwhile. Besides, they are instrumented to some extent so they can be useful for carrying out alternate tests. As a result, they often get used for trials, research tasks or development of alternate concepts. The early F-16s did a lot of this sort of work and ended up in some odd programs like the AFTI effort. Sitting outside at the Frontiers of Flight museum is one of these test aircraft. It spent its life with General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) at Fort Worth and, once it was done with, it found a new home at the museum. Compared to the average F-16, this jet will have had a lot of interesting experiences!
Wolf Point sits at the place in the Chicago River where it splits into the north and south branches. When I lived in Chicago, it was a park. It sat in front of the a building with a Holiday Inn and the Sun Times located within. It had a great view along the river in all directions. That view was obviously too valuable. The park is gone a some towers are now going up. One was already there when I visited and work is underway on the others. I’m afraid this is a shame to have lost a nice location. Also, if you were in the building across the river that had a view along the main branch, I imagine you are not too pleased to have lost your view and instead be looking at another tower!
A quick trip to Dallas for work was necessary and I took the little camera along for the trip. As we came in towards Love Field, we flew over ares that are in the process of being built up or have recently been so. Seeing plots of land with the street layout showing but the plots not yet built up showed what had been there before in the areas that were now populated. A closer look showed that the houses did have a variety of styles but, from above, the roofs all seemed to be very similar and they were close together. It was almost like someone had grabbed a bunch of houses from a Monopoly set and lined them up next to each other. On the ground it probably looks nice but from above it was very uniform.
Talon Hate is a program that the Air Force is running involving an infrared sensor mounted in the front of a centerline fuel tank. It is mounted on an F-15 from the operational test unit at Nellis AFB. The first time I saw it, I was walking along the flight line at Nellis. We were shooting with the California ANG unit that was the next space along the line. As we walked past the Talon Hate jet, we were under strict instructions not to photograph it. I was right there but nothing I could do.
During my visit to Red Flag 16-4, the Talon Hate jet flew a couple of times. It flew with a second F-15 each time and sometimes with other jets. The pod is clearly visible on the jet but the other modifications are less conspicuous. There is a satellite communications antenna mounted on the back on the jet. When it turns for final, you can see the antenna mount. I don’t know what the outcome of the program will be but it is cool to see the venerable F-15 still trying out new stuff.
A number of different airframes have been used for airborne early warning requirements. The Boeing E-3 Sentry is the most well-known but there have been a number of other types over the years. SAAB developed a radar system that has been mounted on Embraer 145 jets, SAAB 340s and SAAB 2000s. The development of this system was started in the 1980s and a testbed was produced prior to the system appearing on a production airframe. This testbed was a Fairchild Metro turboprop. It made an appearance at the Farnborough airshow where I got some shots of it. It was camouflaged in what was then the standard Swedish camouflage scheme. This was a cool look for their planes and I do miss it.