I have plenty of photos of Gulfstreams and a few photos of FAA jets – mainly flight checking Learjet 60s. However, the FAA Gulfstreams have not been something I have seen a lot of. I did have a nice chance to shoot one at Washington National many years ago, though. I did see the jets on the ramp at the south end of the field occasionally but I think this was the only time I got one airborne. It was shot from Gravelly Point so I was nice and close to it as it was on final approach. That is a great place to shoot from (or just hang out and watch the planes) and I will have to get back there at some point.
I was driving over to Seattle a while back and, as I crossed the I-90 floating bridge, I saw a Learjet maneuvering at low level around the hill ahead of me. I decided to see what was going on since I suspected this might be an FAA jet flying a variety of approaches. Sure enough, it was one of their Lear 60s. I have seen them on a number of occasions before at different airports. Tracking them on something like FlightRadar24, it is easy to work out what they are since they fly a tone of patterns around an airport normally dealing with simple arrivals and departures.
Boeing Field is not such an airport as it has a lot of training activity but the Lear is a bit faster than the average piston single. I didn’t know how long it had been there so it could have gone before I arrived but they still had a few circuits to do before they were finished. These involved a different sequence of approaches from offset positions from which they could take their measurements and then break off to do it again. It is interesting to see a business jet being thrown around like this in a way that would not keep the average customer happy!
At was at BFI awaiting the arrival of something and I was checking FlightRadar24 to see what was coming in. I saw a Learjet 60 on the screen south of SeaTac and tapped on it. As soon as I saw the flight path, it was clear who the jet belonged to. The shot below was what I saw and the repeated patterns around SeaTac suggested it was an FAA aircraft undertaking calibration flights for the airport instrumentation.
I stopped thinking about it for a while until I saw a jet appear on the approach to BFI that I hadn’t been aware of. Sure enough, it was the FAA Lear 60. They plonked it down right on the keys and quickly exited to the FBO. I imagine that flying repeated sequences of approaches is not the most exciting way to spend the day so they were glad of the break.
The engineer in me is always pleased by a plane with extra bits added. This Learjet 60 was departing San Jose. As it taxied out, you could see a lot of extra probes on the front fuselage and some antennae on the fin. It is a Federal Aviation Administration jet, hence its abbreviated registration number. I assume it is used for flight checking services when the performance of things like instrument landing systems is calibrated. Whatever it does, it has a few added extras compared to the average bizjet.