Tag Archives: jet

End of Lufthansa’s MD-11F Ops

October brings the end of MD-11 operations for Lufthansa.  When the MD-11 rapidly fell out of favor with the passenger operations, it became a bit of a favorite for freight operations.  New build MD-11Fs were joined by conversions of displaced passenger jets.  Lufthansa had bought some new jets and added more to their fleet.  In recent years, the introduction of Boeing 777Fs had gradually displaced the MD-11s from operations.  Now the last one is being retired.  FedEx is still using a ton of them so no likelihood of the type going away soon.  I only saw them a few times in Lufthansa colors and won’t any more!

Gulfstream’s GIII Is A Nice Surprise

Vintage business jets are a nice thing to come across and, while the modern generation of Gulfstreams are a common sight around the US, the G-III is now something of a rare beast.  Seeing one at Boeing Field parked on the Modern ramp was a nice surprise so I was just hoping for it to depart while I was there.  Fortunately, I was in luck.  It eventually powered up and taxied for departure.  The hush kits on the old Spey engines are a bit of a giveaway but they aren’t that effective.  The noise on takeoff was definitely a sign of something from a previous generation.

Kalitta Charter Falcon 20

A Falcon 20 making an arrival on a Saturday morning when the sun is out is not something to be missed if possible.  We were heading out that day but I just had time to make the run over to BFI to get the Kalitta Charter Falcon 20 as it arrived.  The timing could hardly have been worse with the sun directly down the runway so right on the nose.  (I suppose it could have been right on the tail if the winds were the other way around so maybe not the worst situation possible.) I was able to get a couple of previous arrivals to make sure I had a good angle since I rarely shoot from that location.  Then it was get the Falcon and back in the car to do what we had planned for the day.  Not a bad result.

A Pair of P-8s Testing Together

P-8 production is really moving along at the moment.  Aside from the US Navy aircraft, there are planes destined for the Royal Air Force, the Indian Navy and the Royal Norwegian Air Force in production and on test.  One afternoon I got both an Indian and an RAF jet arriving in close succession.  The nice thing about arrivals from the south when they are military jets is that they then taxi back past you as they head to the military ramp.

UPS But Not The Best One

The shot you didn’t get.  How many of those do we have.  It’s easy to get blasé about something and decide not to bother.  Of course, many times, this will be just fine, otherwise we wouldn’t be blasé in the first place.  A couple of UPS jets had arrived.  One was an MD-11 and one was a 767.  A second 767 was on approach and I figured why bother.  As it touched down abreast my location, something looked decidedly odd about the radome.

I talked to Nick, who had been next to me and had photographed it and asked him to take a look at his shots.  Sure enough, the radome was a complete mess.  Presumably a bird strike had smashed it during the flight although whether it was early on or during the approach we couldn’t know.  It was quite the scene of destruction and I didn’t get a photo of it.  99 times out of a 100, it wouldn’t have been anything but this time…  Oh well.

Sierra Pacific -500 Is Old School

It must be a sign of aging how surprising it is to find something that was previously so common as to be boring suddenly is a rarity and has novelty value.  Sierra Pacific is an odd operator anyway but they have some 737-500s.  These were not the most popular of that generation of 737 but they sold reasonably well.  United had a bunch of them that I have shot and Southwest had a fair few, some of which I have flown on.  The follow up with the 737-600 and that was a poor seller.

Sierra Pacific was bringing their example in to BFI and I was able to get some time off to see it arrive.  It was scheduled to be a brief stop so the chances were good of getting it arriving and departing.  The -500 was a short jet – similar in length to the -200 and the last version to come of that generation that started with the -300 and then got stretched to the -400.  They were both more popular with the airlines.  It now looks like a toy compared to the current crop.

The skies had been a bit overcast but a bit of sunlight showed itself as the jet was on final approach.  Not fantastic light but certainly an improvement on a little while before it appeared.  It touched down and headed for Modern’s ramp.  It wasn’t long before a bunch of people were around the plane and then a fuel truck showed up so it looked promising for a speedy departure.  Sure enough, it was soon taxiing.  Bigger jets have to cross to taxi to the threshold but you always worry that they will instead take an intersection departure.  This day was a good day, though, and they crossed and taxied right by me.  They were heading to Omaha so we’re pretty heavy so it wasn’t an early rotation but, since it was later in the day, the heat haze was not so bad.

T-38 Up Close

After a very lean start, I have done a lot better in recent times with getting shots of the Boeing chase T-38s at Boeing Field.  I have shot them airborne and in good light so nothing to be unhappy about.  However, the one thing that I haven’t had in the past is a good close up shot of them while on the ground.  They have either been landing when on a northerly flow or coming from the other direction and so they haven’t taxied close to me.

Finally managed to break that one not long ago.  Some tankers were heading out – one appeared to be a production test flight for an Air Force example while the other was one of the Boeing development airframes.  The T-38 followed it out – presumably their flights were connected but I don’t know for sure.  It taxied right passed me so I got a good look at it on the ground for a change.  It took off, of course, so a little extra chance to get some shots with a cluttered background!

Citation X With Winglets

This post is for Pete.  He is a big fan of the Citation X so I might have posted it anyway but it is a special one.  Most Citation Xs were built without winglets but a few were retrofitted and I think Cessna even built a few with them from the factory towards the end of the production run.  I think they are a pretty nice looking winglet design so, Pete, this one is for you.

Sun Country Pumpkin Scheme

Sun Country changed their livery design a while back going with an orange based scheme known as the pumpkin livery.  I hadn’t shot one before – I’ve got their older colors and also the Transavia hybrid on leased jets – but it was due in shortly before the National A330 I had gone out for so I was happy to get the bonus.  It’s a garish livery, for sure, but it makes a change from the steady stream of stuff we see normally.

Finally WH003 Thanks to Nancy

Of the four 777X test aircraft, one had eluded me.  I had shot the third jet on the ground but never in motion.  Supposedly it is the performance test aircraft so the suggestion was that it was being preserved until a lot of configuration work had been done to make sure the engines were in peak shape prior to measuring fuel consumption. Recently I heard that it had been making a bunch of flights.  The good news was that these flights – lots of straight line flying out over the Pacific – were quite long and they usually landed in the early evening.  A trip after work was on the cards.

The problem with this timing is that is clashes with dinner.  Fortunately, I have a wife that is tolerant of my interest (although I think it would be wrong to say she understands my obsession!).  Nancy was willing to delay dinner until it came back (and I could then get home).  With test flying, there are no guarantees about timing so I would watch the jet head back up the coast only to turn around and go for another run south.

Fortunately, it finally turned back towards Seattle and it was pretty certain it was coming back.  The benefit of this waiting is that the light is getting better and better.  The downside of shooting the 777X is the size means the long lens is too much for the touchdown area.  The wide lens doesn’t do well for the rest of the approach though.  Two cameras was the answer.  I thought I had one set up right but it turns out I had messed up something with the result that the shots were rather overexposed.  Fortunately, RAW came to the rescue and I was able to get the shots back to what I wanted.  Now I have them all in flight.