Boeing Field always has the possibility of something interesting going on and a P-8 test flight for a US Navy jet was on the cards while I was there a while back. Even better news was that it wasn’t a long flight that they had planned. Consequently, I was going to be there for both departure and return. Since the jet was lightly loaded, takeoff was not labored and they were well up by the time they were close to me. Still, not a big angle on the jet with the light as it was.
I didn’t head to the approach end for the return as I was waiting for something else. It did mean I was closer to the jet as it rolled out on is landing run. The military ramp for Boeing is at that end of the field so the jet rolled to the end and turned off. Heat haze is always a problem at this time of year but things looked surprisingly good considering.
The test program for the Boeing 777X is gradually increasing and a third jet has been added to the fleet. I stopped by Boeing Field because all three jets were scheduled to fly on this day. Having seen the first two, I was hoping for the third since I haven’t got any shots of it and its livery which is different to the first two. Sadly, I was to be disappointed as they scrubbed the flight.
However, the first two jets did fly. They were both already airborne by the time I got there. The arrival times back for both were supposed to be pretty close but you can’t put too much stock in those times as things on test will be what they will be. I headed to the arrival end for the first of them. It wasn’t that late so the light wasn’t ideal but it was still a bit better as we were well passed the solstice and heading to the equinox. Happy to take the shot of course.
I moved to the other end of the field when the second jet came in. I wasn’t interested in repeating the shot I had already taken (plus I had shot this jet in similar circumstances before) so some images at the other end seemed worthwhile. They landed short but had clearance for a high speed run on the runway so that brought them down to where I was. Fortuitously, they took the exit directly in front of me. I missed the transition of the wingtips while changing cameras. The tips were down in one set of shots but were folded as they taxied off the runway. The wide angle view is a nice one to get of something so large.
Continuing my interest in Amazon Prime Air 737s, the one I saw arrive from the conversion line in China was ready for delivery to Sun Country – the airline that will be operating it for Amazon. It was a pretty sunny day when it went out so heat haze was a bit of a problem. The jet was towed out from the ATS facility. Once it was just short of the taxiway, they unhooked the jet and started it up. Plenty of heat haze looking across the airfield I’m afraid.
It taxied to the north end of the field and then took off towards me. It was obviously not heavy for its flight to Minneapolis and it was off the ground pretty rapidly. This made for more of a belly shot than would have been ideal but it still looked okay and actually gave me a better look at the color scheme than I had expected. It is quite a paint job that they have.
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.
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!
The first flight of the 777X took place while I was out of the country which annoyed me quite a bit. Having seen the things sitting around at Everett for ages and even watched the taxi trials, I was in the wrong place when they finally got airborne. However, with an extensive flight test program to come, I knew there would be other opportunities. I did manage to be at Boeing Field for a departure on one of the flights. Conditions weren’t great, though.
With the viewing area closed while Boeing parks 737s wherever it can find a space, I was a long way from the rotation point. It was in the rain as it rolled and, while it stayed below the clouds until well past me, things were not ideal. Still, I had seen it fly.
On another occasion I was able to be there when it returned. This had also been a day with some pretty crummy conditions but this time I was seeing the weather starting to improve as the day wore on. A little bit of a wait while they flew test activities over Central Washington was not such a bad thing. Indeed, as they turned for home, the sun was coming out. However, the wind was not abating!
When they called up on approach, I wandered to one side to see how far up the approach I could see. Despite me being to the right side of the runway from their perspective, when I first got a good shot, the jet was actually pointing beyond me to the right. The crosswind was obviously pretty strong. Early in the flight test program, I wonder whether they really wanted to be testing this capability. Of course this then meant I got a head on view as they got closer before running past me. Shots in nice light! Happy guy. In the next year we shall see plenty of these but, for now, I am happy to have got something reasonable of this airframe off the ground.
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.
Ethiopian Airlines has been taking
delivery of some Boeing 777F freighters for their cargo operations. One of the new jets was being readied for
delivery while I was at Paine Field.
Operations were in a northerly direction so, from the terrace on top of
the Future of Flight, we were going to get a good view. I was hoping that a direct flight to Bole in
Ethiopia would be sufficiently long to mean that the jet would be very heavy
with fuel and would run long on take off giving us a good view of
rotation. However, while there was a lot
of fuel on board, the lack of any other payload meant it still got off the
ground pretty swiftly. Still, it was a
good view of the initial climb out.
I caught this Gulf Air 787-9 as it returned from a test flight to Paine Field. It was at the end of the SkyFair event so the crew will have noticed that there were a lot of people on hand to witness their landing. Not a particular problem of course but probably one of the few landings of the Boeing production tests to get a large crowd.