The Japanese (JASDF) were a customer for the tanker version of the Boeing 767 when Boeing was offering it in the early days. Japan and Italy were the only customers that I am aware of for that aircraft. Therefore, it was not a massive surprise that Japan ordered the KC-46 when Boeing developed it for the USAF. The first aircraft is now being completed and has been parked on the ramp up at Everett recently. Here it is undergoing some testing. Hopefully we shall get to see it flying soon.
While Boeing has delayed the entry to service date of the 777X, they have continued to produce airframes at Everett with the result being a number of stored airframes on the field. There are four jets in the test program and the rest are not going to fly until certification is close so, for now, they are finding spaces across the airport for them. Some are on the Boeing flight test ramp (with production of the other widebodies ramping down, space is more available I guess) while others are on the cross runway. This has been home to 787s and 737 Max jets over the years and now it is the turn of the 777X. Some of them are identifiable by the paint on the folded wing tips while others are unmarked for now.
For the second time this year, I was at Paine Field when an Omni Air International 767 showed up. I wrote about the first time in this post. On this occasion, it arrived in some quite blustery conditions but, as it was on final approach, a gap in the clouds opened up and provided some lovely light on the airframe while leaving the background dark and cloudy. It makes for a far more interesting shot that would otherwise be the case on a day like that.
This Southwest 737-700 was completing a test flight at Paine Field. The crosswind was pretty strong so the pilot used the wing down approach to handling the crosswind. They touched down on the starboard gear and bounced a bit before settling those wheels on the surface. A short while later, they rolled wings level and the port gear made contact. Aside from the bounce, a pretty good example of landing in a crosswind in a big jet.
I talked about a Janet 737 coming in to Paine Field in this recent post. A couple of minutes ahead of it was the arrival of a Falcon 2000. The conditions were very blustery and the Falcon was bouncing around on final approach. It got quite a wing drop at one point and I did get a shot as it recovered but not showing quite how much it had rolled at its peak. As for the Janet, conditions were not great for lighting but it was not too bad.
Scrolling through some shots for something else, I saw these two shots of a Dreamlifter departing Paine Field one evening. I think I actually posted about that flight on another day but I guess I ignored the view of the jet as it headed in to the distance. The sky was beginning to develop a nice color and the air was very clear giving a good view of the Cascades mountains in the distance so why not share them now – particularly as it is a time when I am not getting much aviation photography done!
Crummy weather and a lack of light is not usually a recipe for heading out to shoot planes. However, I was up in Everett getting the car serviced and, as I prepared to leave when the work was done, I figured I would have a quick check on what was moving up the road. Turned out ATS had another Janet 737 out on a test flight.
I have shot the Janet 737s at Paine Field in far better conditions but I figured it was worth a quick diversion before heading home. The wind was very strong and from the southwest. As the 737 came down the approach, it was pointing in my direction as it compensated for the crosswind. A short while before it arrived, we had experienced some nice sun poking through the clouds but, sadly, this had gone by the time it arrived so it was dull lighting. This somehow made the airframe paint seem a little warmer than I recall previously.
Any airport in North America on any given day will have a reasonable chance of a Bonanza showing up. Them come in all vintages, shapes and sizes but they usually come! I’ve therefore shot tons of them over the years. However, I think I may have had a first in that I recently shot a turbine Bonanza. It was on the approach at Paine Field and it was obvious that there was something different about it. The noise was clearly a turbine and the tip tanks had been fitted with winglets. Given the location, I assume they are for drag reduction since they wouldn’t add much to directional stability. Tip tanks are probably a must given the rate at which turbines burn fuel compared to pistons. It was a smart looking thing with the revised nose shape looking quite graceful. Sadly the landing wasn’t as graceful but floating is fine when you have 10,000’ ahead of you!
Boeing seems to have addressed a lot of the problems with the KC-46 Pegasus program (but not all of them yet) and so the Air Force is taking delivery of jets at a regular rate. Since plenty have been built, there are enough to deliver. I was at Paine Field a while back when one of the jets was heading out on a test flight. I ended up being there for both the departure and the arrival since the flight was not that long. The good summer light that Seattle gets but we don’t like people to know about meant I got some reasonable shots of it.
My friend Bob alerted me to an unusual warship visiting Everett’s naval base. The USS Michael Monsoor is the second of the Zumwalt class of destroyer. Only three of these ships are going to be built so it is an unusual thing to see. They have a shape unlike almost any other ship with a stealthy profile. I had seen pictures of them and figured I would try to catch it at some point. I was hoping to see it shortly after Bob mentioned it but then saw it had already sailed for some local exercises.
As with aircraft, there are ship tracking websites available so I waited to see if it was heading back. It wasn’t coming in that day. Nor the next or the one after that. Instead it was going to and fro off port Angeles at a low speed.
Then, as I got up one morning, I happened to check the tracker and I saw it was heading back. The weather was pretty grim but was forecast to clear up a bit. I grabbed my stuff and headed for Mukilteo. They would come passed the point en route to Everett and it should provide the best opportunity to get a shot. There followed quite a bit of trouble as they first appeared to not be coming my way and then made a 180 and did indeed come towards me. I will spare the details of this. Meanwhile, the sun had made an appearance.
I initially spotted them a long way south. The odd profile of the ship was conspicuous, even at a distance. As it got closer, the unusual shape seemed strangely unreal. Pictures do make it look strange but seeing it in person it is somehow stranger. The sun was appearing and disappearing behind the clouds but I was able to get some nicely lit shots. The details of the structure were interesting with the bridge seemingly buried in the structure, the guns on the upper rear decks looking like something out of a sci-fi movie and the side door open with the ladder lowered, presumably for the pilot.
After it had gone, I was tied up on a call for a while but I did drive back along the shoreline towards Everett to get a look at it tied up alongside in the base. Head on you get a clear idea of how different it is from the rest of the ships of the fleet.