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A Day of Biz Jets

Sunday afternoon at Boeing Field awaiting the arrival of a 777X meant plenty of time to catch some incoming biz jets.  Sadly, rarely are they painted interesting colors.  XOJet has no colors, NetJets very little and FlexJet shouldn’t have been given access to the color chart given what they chose.  David and I were chatting during all of this and completely missed the G650ER that came in that was a nicer scheme but so be it.  There was a nice-looking Citation X in the mix, so some color included.  Here are a few of the arrivals we got.

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  The dull and dreary Saturday weather had been replaced by clear skies (the smoke had finally gone away) and the sun was out.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.

US Navy P-8 Test Flight

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.

Two Out of Three 777X

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.

BFI’s Corporate Visitors

I haven’t shot at BFI for quite a while now.  I do look forward to getting back there before too long.  Since BFI is closer to downtown, it gets a lot of biz jet traffic.  There are some high net worth individuals and big businesses in the area so some of these jets are at the higher end of the range.  Here is a selection of the more recent corporate jets I shot prior to the curtailment of my excursions!

A Pair of Beale’s Jets Show Up at BFI

Boeing Field gets the occasional military visitors and you never know what might show up.  I glanced up and saw a pair of T-38s downwind for arrival.  They came in with about a minute of spacing between them.  The tail codes showed them to be Beale jets.  They headed to the FBO at Modern and were soon being refueled.  The canopies stayed up so they may have been heading out again a while later but I had to move on so I didn’t get to see them depart.

Collings Foundation at BFI

The Collings Foundation made its annual visit to the Seattle area recently including flights from Boeing Field.  The weather had been rather uninspiring but I figured I would head along and hope for some gaps in the clouds.  The Mustang and the P-40 didn’t fly while I was there.  The B-24 and the B-17 did though.  Sadly, the B-24 only flew once.  The discussion was whether Seattle being a Boeing town meant that everyone wanted to fly on the B-17, despite the rarity of the B-24.  The clouds had a habit of parting at just the wrong time and place with good light up the approach and down the runway but not where I wanted it to be.  Even so, it was still nice to see these vintage planes again.

Nice T-38 Surprise

A Beale AFB T-38 was parked over at the FBO when I was at Boeing Field.  The canopies were up which gave me optimism but you never know whether they are just doing something to the jet or maybe haven’t long arrived.  When the crew walked out to the jet, I realized it was good news.  They taxied to the other end of the field and I waited.  A nice low departure kept them below the skyline of the hill beyond the field and I was happy with a slightly unusual visitor being photographed.

Lots of Max Jets in Storage

The grounding of the 737 Max fleet has resulted in plenty of parked jets.  I have shown them at Paine Field but Boeing Field seems to be a big storage location.  The employee parking lot has been turned into a 737 parking lot.  I have seen jets over there before either awaiting engines or from customers that can’t pay but nothing on this scale.

I took a trip to South Park so I could walk across the bridge and get a good view down into the storage area.  I made a rough count and think there were probably over fifty jets stored there.  While Boeing cut the production rate after the grounding, they only took it down to 42 a month so jets are still coming out at a prodigious rate.  This area is full so, aside from Paine Field and Renton, I believe they are flying them to other storage locations.

How Did I Miss the Radar Testbed?

I was walking around the new Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Tukwila after the opening ceremonies had concluded.  A few things took off while I was there but nothing caught my eye.  Then I heard another jet get airborne.  I looked around and saw a CRJ climbing out.  However, this was no normal CRJ.  It was one of the Northrop Grumman radar test beds.  These have replaced the BAC1-11 jets that are now all retired.  I got the camera up late (settings weren’t ideal either) and shot it as it disappeared into the distance.  I had no idea it was on the ground (and would have gone looking for it had I known).  Oh well, win some lose some!