In the run up to Christmas, online retail had clearly been very busy. UPS runs their Seattle flights to Boeing Field and, while I was there, the traffic levels were well above the norm. I have posted the Asia Pacific 757 freighter in a previous post but UPS’s own fleet were really moving. Arrivals and departures were pretty frequent. As soon as the jets were on the ramp, the team whirled into motion getting the containers off and loading up the outbound loads.
While the Comet may have been the first jet airliner, it was a configuration that was not well suited to development. Boeing put together its development approach to the jet airliner through a project called the Dash 80. The shape of the airframe may look familiar but this was a one off. It was a hand built aircraft and undertook development that then migrated into two further airframes. One was what became the C-135 family while the other was enlarged and became the Boeing 707.
The Dash 80 get used for all sorts of things but finally ended being donated to the Smithsonian and ferried to the Udvar-Hazy facility at Dulles. That is where I got to see it on a visit there in the mid 2000s. I haven’t been back since and would love to check this place out again. Here are some old shots of this historic jet.
We were walking along the shore in Mukilteo on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I looked up and saw something large on the approach to Paine Field. At first I assumed it was one of the scheduled E175s but, as I pulled the camera up to my eye, I realized it was a 777. As it got closer, it was apparent that it was a China Airlines Cargo freighter on test – the first time I have seen one. The midwinter light made for a nice shot.
I wasn’t close to the FedEx 767 as it came in and shot a missed approach but the low sun angle on the underside of the jet looked quite nice. The crew flew a tight pattern back to make their approach and landing. They did run reasonably long so I got to see them as they turned off the head back to the ramp. They were going to take an earlier exit but something was in the way so I got a bit lucky.
My first trip to my new spot at Boeing Field, as described in this blog post, resulted in a fair bit of activity. Not long after I got there, I saw a Gulfstream G650 taxiing from the south end of the ramp towards the departure runway. This location gave a few spots where the jet was clear of buildings and you could get a shot. It ended up holding at the threshold for quite a while as other movements came and went.
Once it got clearance, it made a spiritedly takeoff. Long range bizjets are rarely making use of their full capabilities so, when they are lightly loaded, they are off in quick time. This was the case for the G650 and I got some shots of it rotating and climbing away. Not a bad start for this spot.
Looking for something unusual keeps things interesting when you have been shooting the same stuff for a while while not able to go anywhere. I had seen a couple of movements in recent months of Asia Pacific Airlines and their Boeing 757s. However, I had never been in a position to catch one. Christmas Eve I was off work and one was due in to Boeing Field. It was on their own flight number but I had a suspicion that they were supporting UPS.
Sure enough, when the jet landed, it taxied up to a spot on the UPS ramp and started unloading. UPS had been running a large amount of movements through Seattle that day and the preceding days so I guess the Christmas rush meant it was necessary to charter in additional capacity to deal with the demand. An interesting looking plane and nice to see something different for a change.
When the pandemic first hit in a big way, I wasn’t going anywhere to shoot but, once it was okay to make trips without interfacing with other people too much, I did got to Paine Field to see the stored Southwest 737s and I wrote about it in this post. I was back up there recently and, while they have been cycling jets in and out, there are still a lot of their 737s parked there – predominantly but not only, 737-700s.
Some of them are up near the old cross runway and lined up in a good spot for a shot when the morning light is on them. I was a little later than ideal but I still managed to get something. Many of them are around near the FHCAM facility – still sadly closed and with no idea what the future might hold. I had brought some steps which meant I could shoot over the fence. The planes are really tight in there so I may a lot of use of panos to get decent coverage of the planes. I did also get some of the planes further away.
The coverings on the openings on the airframes were pretty comprehensive. Everything that is exposed has been taped over to prevent moisture or creatures getting in and causing harm. There have been various stories coming out of the issues affecting planes that have been in storage for a long time so, while this prep is good, there will still be much to do when these planes are returned to service. Meanwhile, Southwest is now taking delivery of its Max jets so it will be interesting to see how many of these planes do have a future.
From my new spot, you have a good view of the main civil ramp at Boeing as well as a slightly more distant view of the military ramp. The civil ramp was full of Max jets waiting to get delivered now that customers can start accepting the jets again. Not all agencies have cleared the Max so I guess Boeing was focusing on those that have and aiming to get as much cash as they could in before year end. You could also see the stored jets on part of the ramp as well as those in the parking lot across Marginal Way.
There were three 777X development airframes parked while the second jet was out on a test flight. I was hoping to get it returning but it was out over the Pacific off the Oregon coast and I rightly guessed that, despite the online forecast, it wouldn’t be back before sunset. The military ramp was a little quieter than I expected with a couple of KC-46s and some P-8s including the next one for the Royal Air Force. There were also two KC-46s up on the civilian flight test ramp. Plenty to see and it would have been better in morning light.
The Pacific Northwest suddenly seems to have a bunch of Dornier 328Jet ops at the moment. I posted here about one coming in to BFI. I saw another one on the BFI ramp recently too and Paine Field had a visitor over the holidays. The weather was pretty nice for this one when it showed up so I popped out to get a shot of it coming in. I was not familiar with Taos Air. They had made a couple of stops before arriving at Everett and departed for California shortly afterwards. I wonder what the story was behind that?
I shot an XOJet Citation X at Paine Field over the holidays. The light was at a nice low angle since it was not long after the shortest day and it picked out details on the airframe nicely. I was surprised to see that the jet was in a grey paint finish. I have shot a few XOJet Citation Xs over the years. Some of the earlier ones were in a pretty standard looking livery, not unlike NetJets.
I then started to see them in an all white paint finish. This was definitely not too exciting and had the look of someone that was ready to save money when they sold their jets without the need to repaint them. The new scheme is not much better but at least it looks slightly more deliberate than a plane you couldn’t decide what to paint it. I wonder if this is a new standard for them or just an oddball?