Tag Archives: first

Fourth 777X Takes Flight

My previous unsuccessful trip to Paine Field on the Saturday for the first flight of the fourth 777X was followed up by a more successful Sunday visit.  The dull and dreary Saturday weather had been replaced by clear skies (the smoke had finally gone away) and the sun was out.  The time for takeoff was not going to be great because the sun would be high to backlit, but this was a first flight so the chances of it going on time were limited.

Sure enough, things got dragged out and the sun moved to a more favorable part of the sky.  A 777F from Lufthansa Cargo was doing some test flying to provide some other interest and there was plenty of activity generally to photograph.  Eventually the 777X was towed. From its parking spot to the south entrance to the Boeing ramp where it could start up.

It taxied up the Alpha taxiway to the hold point and then pulled into position.  Normal Boeing practice is to do an accelerated and rejected takeoff before flying. They sat on the threshold and powered up, but the wingtips had not been lowered.  I don’t know whether this was a test of the system that is designed to prevent taking off with the wing tips in the wrong position or not, but it seemed that way.  Either way, the jet didn’t move.

They then lowered the wing tips, powered up, accelerated and then braked.  Taxi back to the threshold again and a long way for some other traffic before they lined up again.  The jet wasn’t heavy, but I was slightly surprised how much flap they had for takeoff compared to the other jets I have seen taking off there.  Anyway, power on and off they went.

They were due to be flying for a few hours and then landing at Boeing Field so I figured I would make the trip down there for the arrival.  On pulling up at Boeing Field, I bumped into my friend David so we were able to talk rubbish about planes for a while waiting for any arrivals.  In due course the 777X showed up on approach by which time the light was a lot nicer than it had been for departure.  Things may have taken longer than planned and meant the day was not much good for anything else but it was a fun outing and a successful trip.

The Train That Started It All

The Japanese Shinkansen trains introduced in the 1960s became known around the world as bullet trains.  The shape of them was well known, often photographed with Mt Fuji in the background.  While other countries developed high speed rail, the Japanese bullet train was often the first one people would associate with the topic.  These first trains are known as the Series 0.  There have been several iterations of design since.  However, the Series 0 is still very recognizable to me and probably others of my generation.

I had seen a Series 0 vehicle once before.  I visited the Nippon Sharyo factory is Toyokawa many years ago and they have a cab vehicle on display by the main gate.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to get a photograph of that then.  Seeing an example at the SC Maglev museum was my second opportunity.  It was displayed alongside a number of the more recent iterations of the Shinkansen but, judging by the number of people taking photos of it, it still has a strong level of recognition.

Mustang No. 1

Since The Henry Ford is a museum founded by a Ford, it is no surprise that they have some significant Ford vehicles on display.  This includes the number one Mustang.  It looks quite different from what followed it, an example of which is not far away on the display.  It seems quite light and small compared to what followed and definitely compared to the current incarnation (like the pun?).  It’s is always cool to see something that is historic, irrespective of what the subject may be.  This one definitely led to an iconic brand.

First Flight of a Korean Air 777

A new airliner, fresh from the paint shop, looks splendidly clean.  When you have an interesting paint color, things are better still.  This Korean Air 777-300ER was making its first flight from Paine Field when I shot it.  It looked great in nice light.  When delivered to the customer, it will be pristine.  Then, regular service will result in it looking a little bit more worn and grubby depending on how much time is available to clean it up.  Airbridge dirt marks and others scuffs or leaking fluids will seek to muck it up a bit.

Starbucks Number One

When you don’t drink coffee, as I don’t, Starbucks is not something you pay much attention to.  However, when you have the tourist route to do in Seattle, the first Starbucks shop down at Pike Place is part of the routine.  You have to get in line if you want to order something because there are plenty of people also looking to check the place out.  Meanwhile, some musicians are set up outside the door to keep you entertained while you wait.

Once you get inside, there is coffee to be ordered.  There are also plenty of souvenirs which seemed to be selling well.  Since I didn’t have anything to buy, I was able to watch everyone else doing their thing.

737 First Flight

I was walking along the trail that goes through the park next to the airport at Renton taking a look at the stored jets.  There is a bridge across the river that is used by Boeing to move jets from the production areas to the flightline and, as I got close to the bridge, I could see the tractor hooking up to a China Southern 737-800 that had yet to be painted.  They looked like they might bring it across the bridge.  I figured I might linger and see what was up.

Sure enough, they started to pull the jet out and towards the bridge.  I stayed out of the way but the wings of a 737 hang over the trail when they are moving it.  This was not a problem so they were happy for me to stand there as the jet was moved out.  I figured a little iPhone video was in order.

They pulled the jet onto a taxiway and left it there so I figured it might be heading out on a test flight.  With the light now slightly to the other side, I chose to go back to the car and move to the overlook on the west side of the field.  The jet was starting up but they clearly had a few things to run through so I had time.

They taxied to the south threshold which initially disappointed me.  The wind had flight operations in the other direction which would have meant a takeoff towards us and into the light.  Going the other way meant they would be airborne a long way away and heading over the lake.  What I hadn’t figured on was, just like at Everett, they would do a run with an abort first prior to flying.  They carried this out and were then at the north end of the field.

A turnaround at the far end of the field and they were soon lined up.  A floatplane was flying about in the background as they got ready to take off.  Then it was power on and rolling.  There was a lot of crap in the foreground and this was a bit of an obstruction at the point of rotation but I was able to get some good shots as they got airborne and climbed out past us.  The green primer/protective film was glinting in the sun.  The flight will have ended at Boeing Field where I hope everything was trouble free.

Kitty Hawk

QB5Y8772.jpgThere is not a shortage of aviation themed stuff on this blog. I realized that one thing I had never covered was the First Flight. Obviously I didn’t cover it live given my obvious youth! However, on a vacation to the Outer Banks a few years ago, my buddies Steve and Rich joined me on a trip to Kitty Hawk to see where the Wright Brothers had made the first powered flight. For some reason, none of the three wives wanted to make this trip and they did something else. No idea why…

QB5Y8758.jpgThe layout of the place is pretty simple. There is a monument to the event up on a hill overlooking the site. It is a pretty impressive structure and very much more substantial than anything else there. You have the workshop they operated out of (which I now can’t remember whether it is original or a recreation) and the markers on the ground to show the location of the first four flights they undertook on that day. There is also a museum off to one side and an airstrip located a short distance away. It is a big, wide open area so, even if there are lots of visitors, it is not crowded.

QB5Y8777.jpgThere was a steady breeze while we were there so you could see why it appealed to someone trying to get airborne. Since the whole thing is on a sand dune and the mapping of things has probably improved a bit in the last hundred years, I suspect there is some uncertainty about where exactly everything was. However, that hardly matters. This was the place where the first powered flights took place and the step to regular manned flight was made. Interestingly, once they had achieved this goal, they headed back to Dayton and their further development took place there. Kitty Hawk will always be the first though. If you look at Ohio and North Carolina license plates, you will gather that they still argue over this. Not a fight I need to join though.

Lightroom 4 Impressions

It is a little while now since I upgraded to Lightroom 4 from the previous version (I will let you fill in the name here!). There were a few aspects of the new version that made me want to upgrade and I had played with the public beta version when it first came out. Of course, having ongoing support and updates is always helpful so staying with the old version was never going to be likely and when they halved the price, no further thought was required.

Now I have been using it for a while, what do I think? Well, on the whole I am reasonably pleased with the changes. The new sliders in the Develop module seem to be an improvement on the previous develop version. I was pretty happy with the way it worked before so the changes had to sell themselves to me. They have modified the way I think about the development settings since I used to be able to use Exposure alone to bring back a sky and maintain the shadows. Now I have to consider the White and Highlight sliders a lot more. I am not convinced that Highlight does a lot. White seems to be far more effective in my new approach.  Similarly the shadows slider is now more important to me than the blacks which is a change.

Another issue is with converting previous develop settings. Since the change of sliders is significant, going to the new develop version tends to result in all sliders being reset to zero. This can turn a reasonable image into something far worse initially. Lightroom does not have a conversion algorithm to get you somewhere close. It is back to the beginning. Maybe this makes a lot more sense.

The Map capability is a big improvement for me. Canon cameras are not well designed for adding a geotagging capability so I have ignored it on the whole or experimented with Jeffrey Friedl’s plugin. This is a very user friendly method and I shall make use of it a lot more I think. I like the book creation capability but would welcome some other outlets getting in the game. I have used Blurb before and they are fine but I have liked Adoramapix and have contacted them to see if they will be making templates soon. Let’s hope so.

So, is there anything wrong? Oh yes! It is slow!! The Develop module is awful at the moment. I have a pretty capable system but the sliders we very slow to react. The real time view of what you are changing is not there yet. You pick a slider, hope that the mouse click has actually selected it and then move to where you think works and then wait to see what happens. Is this acceptable? Not at all. Am I annoyed? Yes I am. Is it the end of the world? Probably not. I seem to recall that Lightroom 3 had similar issues when it first came out and was slow. Adobe released some updates pretty quickly and it ended up being a great tool. I am not going to revert back and will manage the sluggishness until they come up with a fix. If they don’t, I may have to consider but I am not the only one having an issue so I suspect it will be dealt with in the coming weeks.  Turning off the second screen makes a substantial difference but is not very useful so hopefully that will be tweaked.  A release candidate for version 4.1 is out now so, while I won’t try it out, hopefully that means the formal release is pretty close.

One other thing I will tag on her and that is the arrival of the beta version of Photoshop CS6. When the beta was released, I was not sure I would bother to try it out just yet. Photoshop is still part of my workflow but, as Lightroom has become more capable, Photoshop has been used less often and for more specialized tasks. I could probably wait, or so I thought. However, I watched some of the demonstrations of new features online and liked some of what I saw, especially the video editing. Since I shoot mo video these days, having an alternative video editor rather than upgrading the package I have might be good. It does seem to have some good basic capabilities and that is all I do most of the time. What isn’t there at the moment is good bio integration with Lightroom. Version 4 has some video clip editing for end points. It would be good if you could send the video to Photoshop in the same way you can an image. Since it would then come back to the catalog when you had finished, it would help in managing everything. Now I finish an edit and I have to import it – if I remember. If they could allow you to take multiple clips and open them as layers (again like you can with images), that would be even better since that lines up with the way video editing is set up in Photoshop. I commented on this on the Lightroom blog but we shall see if they are already working on this.

In conclusion, I am pretty happy with the new Lightroom. With the price halved I am even happier not least because the Photoshop upgrade is obviously not far away. Now to see whether they can tweak it enough to fix the minor problems.