In this recent post, I showed a shot of an Amazon Prime Air 737. With a bit more notice and better timing from an availability point of view, I saw that another jet was coming in to Paine Field from Anchorage. It was being delivered from the conversion line in China and would have the finishing touches taken care of by ATS at Everett. I was there and set up in plenty of time – except… I had one camera ready to go but the other one had been previously used for some video at home and was on manual focus. I was shooting with the 500mm initially and all was well. As the jet got closer, I switched to the 100-400 and everything was wrong. Nothing would focus. It seemed like forever but I must have realized fast and flicked the focus switch because I was able to shoot it as it came level with me and crossed the threshold. What an amateur mistake. Fortunately, I got away with it!
Boeing was ready to deliver a 787 to Turkish Airlines. Normally these take place from the Delivery Center which is a nice building justifying the large wedge of cash that has just been handed over. Boeing crews usually taxi out from the ramp but customer flights seem to get towed to the ramp entrance. Maybe they don’t trust the customer pilots in amongst all of their expensive jets.
The departure was to the north so they taxied to the south end of the field before lining up for departure. A flight to Istanbul is a decent length but, without any payload, it still doesn’t take long for them to get airborne. Judging by the distance to go boards, they were off in about 4,000’. Consequently, they had reached a decent height by the time they came by my location. They headed off to the north to start the long trip home.
The idea for this was spotted by my friend, Paul, during a visit of his but we missed it at the time. It was early in the morning and the water was calm as a millpond. However, the jet was beyond the water before he spotted it. I have missed the chance since or there was not water. However, while the conditions weren’t ideal, when I saw the Dreamlifter taxiing back to the ramp, I realized the opportunity was going to be there this time.
The water wasn’t quite still and I had the long lens on the camera but a phone is a good second best these days. The jet taxied in with Mt Rainier in the background before reaching the north end of the field and crossing over. Then it was time to be ready. The phone has the added advantage of being able to shoot through the fence with no interference.
This is my first shoot of a moving plane that wasn’t taken from my yard since the virus shelter at home started. With a slight relaxation of the state rules, I saw that a Dreamlifter was due in to Paine Field from Charleston. It was due to arrive some time after 8pm. With the sundown not long before 9 and the weather looking lovely (unlike the forecast for the rest of the week), it seemed like the light would be very good. I have got a lot of Dreamlifter shots at this point so, if it had been anything other than shortly before sunset, I wouldn’t have thought of going. With this light, though, why not.
I was tracking it on two services and they showed rather different arrival times. I got there with some margin just in case but, even so, the jet was already getting ready to turn downwind when I pulled up. The arrival procedure takes a while so it wasn’t a rush, but I should probably have added a little time. The sky was so clear you could see the jet flying the approach from miles out. As it turned to final, the low light angle even picked out the texture on the side of the jet! The air was still so you could hear it from a long way out too. After all that, it was suddenly so close and touched down just a little away from my spot. Time to pack up and head home.
After two month of shelter at home, I did finally venture out in the car to see something other than the house or my bike routes. I swung by Paine Field to see some of the stored Southwest 737s that are there. Planes seem to have been arriving and then heading out again so I don’t know what the overall plan is. They also seem to have moved from where they were when they first came in. I got to see a few of them scattered around near FHCAM.
These jets look like they are in place for a while. The nacelle inlet which is normally unpainted metal is currently covered in some black coating which runs on to the inlet blanking. The exhaust ducts are similarly blocked up. The jets are arrayed around the ramp and, while behind the fencing, the use of a monopod with a ball head and the remote shooting app from Canon allowed me to see what the shots looked like and to take the pictures. I went with a few panos since things are rather close to the fence in some places.
Aviation museums tend to be full of airframes of various types but sometimes they have associated items that they work on. The Museum of Flight restoration facility at Paine Field has a fire truck that they have rebuilt. It is tiny compared to current fire trucks but it is a great example of a truck from a time long gone and it is in great shape after all of the work put in to it. I thought I would share it here since it probably won’t get a lot of attention from everyone other than those that worked on it.
The nice thing about living near an airliner factory is seeing airline color schemes that you would never normally be even close to. The 737 line has recently been idled but they are still finishing off some testing of jets and this GOL Max shot an approach at Paine Field one weekend while I was there. Quite an attractive livery I think.
I love jets that aren’t painted. I know Boeing uses a film to protect the bare metal and it isn’t primer but it certainly looks like it. A 747-8F was scheduled for a first flight at Paine Field prior to heading to Portland for painting. It taxied out and lined up. I thought I was going to get a first flight for this jet. It did a high speed taxi run and aborted takeoff as is the norm but something wasn’t right. They taxied back to the ramp and shut down. They weren’t flying on this day. I was a bit annoyed!
Prior to the KC-46 Pegasus, Boeing had another go at selling the 767 to the USAF as a tanker. The aircraft that they had intended to be the solution at that point was a different configuration to what ultimately made its way in to the inventory. They went as far as building a speculative airframe for the project. However, when the project was aborted (for reasons that are far too complex for a simple blog post), the airframe lay unfinished. It was stored for a while at Paine Field before eventually being scrapped. Here is a shot of it prior to its demise.
I have shown a bunch of images of the Dreamlifter bringing in components to Paine Field for the production line including shots of the unloading of parts. During a more recent visit, I happened to be there when they were moving a pair of wings from the storage facility to the production facility across the airfield. They had escort vehicles to lead and follow up as they crossed the runway. The wings look a lot less impressive in the travel jigs. The completed 787 looks substantial but the wings alone don’t provide the same impact.