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.
The Slingsby T-67 was a design that was quite popular when I was younger. They were aerobatic and were used for training by a number of establishments. I didn’t think of it as a plane that got much traction outside the UK market but maybe they did okay. Seeing one in the US was a bit of a surprise. This example was taking off at Paine Field. I wondered whether it was an ex-military example that had been sold to the civil market. If anyone knows the background, do let me know.
When airlines take delivery of new jets, they tend to try and space them out a bit. The ability to add a bunch of jets at once is limited so you don’t often see a lot of jets from the same airline on the flight line at the factory. However, there has been a cluster of Vistara 787s at Paine Field recently. I think they were originally assigned to another carrier that couldn’t take delivery of them – perhaps Hainan. Consequently, they have been reallocated at short notice and Vistara is the customer. Here they were sitting together in Everett going through the final phases of testing. I’m not sure whether some will be stored and delivered later or whether they will all go in a group.
One of the regular Volga-Dnepr AN124 flights to Everett was departing. The jet was towed out of the Boeing ramp and on to the taxiway for start up and departure. The Antonov is a big jet and its four wheel nose gear needs a special tow bar. When you are one of the largest freighters in the world, why not just take it with you. Once he plane was in place, the crew rolled the tow bar around to the rear cargo ramp. There, they hooked it to two lifting hoists and the tow bard was hoisted into the aircraft and the rear doors closed.
If someone knows whether they leave it on the hoists in flight or whether it is stowed and secured in some other location when inside, please let me know in the comments. I do like the self sufficiency of the whole approach. Given how often they come to Everett, having a tow bar on site would seem plausible but I guess they will need it at any of their other, less frequented, stops so they have to carry it all of the time. You never know where you are going next.
Boeing is now delivering KC-46s to the Air Force at a rate that is a bit of an improvement. There are still plenty of issues with the project (with some only recently discovered) but at least jets are now making their way to the customer, even if they are not flying them too much! However, there are still a lot of the jets parked at Paine Field. The early morning sun provides some nice light on the line of aircraft. It is a rather cluttered view with plenty of airfield material in the shot but the light makes it a bit more appealing.
My buddy Paul was visiting so we had a day out looking for some interesting shot opportunities. We started off the day at Paine Field before the sun was really up. A Dreamlifter was due in and we figured we would give it a try. However, as we drove towards Everett, the fog was pretty thick. The field is on the top of the hill so we thought it might be clear, but things did not look promising as we got closer. The low cloud was also blocking off the sun that was just above the horizon which, given that it would have been backlighting the jet, might have been a bonus.
The Dreamlifter came out of the cloud very late on the approach and I was able to grab a few shots of it as it emerged. It was a rather ethereal look as it came into view. The dampness of the air meant that the plane was pulling vortices as it floated across the threshold and in to the touchdown zone. Conditions might not have been the sort of thing that sounded good, but the result was a really cool shot opportunity. As the plane taxied in to park, we got more shots of it although there was one that would have been fantastic, but Paul only spotted it when it was too late and I didn’t see it at all. I won’t say what it was but maybe there will be another chance in which case you will see it here!
I have struggled to get shots of the Boeing chase aircraft in decent light. Whether it is the T-33s or the T-38s, my encounters have generally been on overcast days. Finally my luck changed and one of the T-38s came in to Paine Field for a couple of approaches on a sunny day. It was the middle of the day so the light angles weren’t great but it was certainly a step up. A couple of passes and then they headed to Boeing Field.
Boeing has many internal issues with its planes currently but, when it comes to the 777X program, GE is the one that is causing the problems. The lack of engines for the test program means the jets are on the ground. Meanwhile, the production line continues to turn out the airframes at the rate original scheduled. Consequently, there are stored jets around Paine Field. The first two jets were turned out in house colors and have appeared on the blog. Meanwhile, a couple of white jets have appeared and they are stored on the flight line.
The latest two jets I have seen are not even painted. They are in the protective film the airframe is built in which looks a bit like primer. Stored on the airfield, they will get engines at some point and then go to the paint shop. In the interim, they have ballast attached to the engine mounts. The first time I saw one, I thought it was another KC-46 being stored until the fin caught my eye and I realized it was a 777X.