Hawaiian Airlines are a regular feature of the Northern California aviation scene. Whether it is SFO or OAK, their jets are a regular feature. I was awaiting a movement coming in to Oakland when a Hawaiian A330 came over the top. Initially I wondered where it was going but it turns out that it was making a wide turn back in to Oakland. A short while later it showed up again on the approach. Annoyingly, it had passed the moon as it went over the top but I was too slow to catch it.
Over the last few years I have flown in and out of Oakland more times than I can recall. It has been my transit point for the majority of my travels. A recent return brought me a new experience there though. The airport is in two halves. There is a main runway alongside the bay which is used by the airliners and is often the departure runway for the bizjets. Then there are two further runways that are over near the old airport infrastructure. These are used by light aircraft and for the arrival of bizjets. (There is another intersecting runway but that doesn’t factor in this story.)
The normal approach brings you across the shoreline and over the water on the approach. The other runways are on a different alignment and the approach comes over the local towns. I was looking out of the window and filming a hyperlapse. I was a bit confused as I was seeing bits of San Leandro that I don’t normally see and we didn’t pass Hayward Airport. We continued to descend over land and it was pretty clear we were not heading for the normal runway. Sure enough we touched down on the old part of the airport prior to taxiing back and all the way across through the freight area back to the terminal. I watched jets depart from the runway we had just landed on as well as from the normal runway so I have no idea what was going on. I doubt I will experience this again anytime soon.
I have mentioned A340s and their gradual demise a few times in the blog. Sometimes it has been that I have got ahead of myself. However, I recently was genuinely surprised. Apparently, during the summer, an A340 makes a single flight a week into Oakland from the Azores. I had no idea about this until I read something about it online. A direct flight from Oakland to an island in the middle of the Atlantic? Who would have thought it?
I managed to be in place for the arrival one time. The airline is HyFly. I am guessing you have never heard of them. The jet is chartered from another operator but the whole operation is Portuguese controlled. (The Azores are Portuguese if you didn’t know.). The aircraft is totally unbranded. An all white A340-300 sounds really dull. I guess it really is. However, the novelty certainly caught my attention and I am both pleased and annoyed that I had no idea it was a regular visitor so close to home.
If you spend a day somewhere, you can get absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. Alternatively, you can be somewhere for a short time and get a really lucky break. I was down in Hayward awaiting an unusual Airbus movement as I headed to something else and, in the short space of time I was there, someone else showed up. This was a Boeing 757 that has been converted for private charter use. I have actually come across this aircraft before but, when it showed up heading in to Oakland, I was rather pleased with my good fortune.
Norwegian Airlines have been flying in to Oakland for quite a long time now. They started out with flights from Oslo but they now also have flights from London Gatwick. Despite them having been coming in for a long time, I have never got good shots of them. I have often seen the jets while standing on the BART platform at Bayfair but that is not a time to get a shot. I have also seen them across the bay from the SFO side. Finally I got to see one coming in from the right side of the bay and on the side of the jet that had light.
Norwegian has famous people from that country on the fins of the jets. This one was Edvard Munch. I don’t know how many different people they have on the jets but, with this being the first one I have shot, I don’t have what you would call a collection. It was nice to catch it later in the day as the sun was getting lower. Maybe I shall catch more in due course. However, there won’t be a lot because Oakland is a bit quiet unless you are after Southwest or FedEx jets so I won’t be there often.
Getting shots of vapor is a popular thing when shooting fast jets. An airliner on a damp day can also result in some clouds being formed. While shooting something special at Oakland, I was getting a few shots to make sure the light metering was working as planned. A Southwest 737 came in and, as it flared for landing, it had a nice cloud of moisture form over the wing. Normally these things pop up further out on the approach and don’t make for a good shot but this one was close at hand.
I was a sitting by the window on the approach to Oakland and decided to play with the video functions on my phone. I have shot video clips a number of times of the approach but it takes a lot longer than you realize and makes for a very dull video without editing aggressively. Also, the turbulence when handholding a phone means the video is very jerky. Instead I switched the phone to time lapse mode and pointed it out of the window. The result is an accelerated version of the approach. The bumps are smoothed out by the compression of time and the maneuvers become more aggressive. I let the thing run until we are at the gate since that provides a more natural finish point. We spent a lot of time facing the water as we descended which is a bit less interesting than I would like but you can see that we are getting closer quite quickly.
Southwest have a program of painting some of their jets up to represent states that they serve. One of the most recent additions to the fleet is a jet painted for the state of Tennessee. Having announced that the jet was joining the fleet, I decided to keep an eye out for it if I should be in a position to get a shot of it. Fortunately, I was in Oakland when it was due to depart. I popped along to the departure end of the runway to await it. It was scheduled on a flight a short while later. Another departure was due to go first so I figured I would shoot it as well in order to make sure that everything was working with my camera settings. Another Southwest takeoff is otherwise not too special. Imagine my surprise when they had switched the jets around. My practice turned out to be the Tennessee jet. Consequently I got the shot. If I had been waiting for the planned flight, I would have been sitting in the car when it took off. Lucky break and a good example of the benefit of not sitting in the car when something is happening!
If the weather is really crap, my first thought is not to go photographing aircraft. I have experimented with going out on bad days to see if you can get an unusual view of something but when the forecast is for heavy and constant rain, that isn’t too appealing. So, what do you do when you get a notification that the Zero G Boeing 727 is coming in to Oakland. (Zero G operates flights that provide multiple short exposures to weightlessness as the plane flies a parabolic arc.) A type that is not too common any more, an unusual operator, your local large airport and it is on a Sunday morning so you aren’t at work. Everything is saying go.
Oakland is not a great place to shoot when operations are in the normal direction. You are also on the wrong side of the runway for good light. However, the storm meant that the approaches were coming down from the north and they pass by some locations that give good views of the runway. All of these things were suggesting I need to take a chance. I headed off equipped with wet weather gear. I chose to get there a little early to get some practice in.
Oakland is a pretty busy airport during the week but the weekend schedules are a lot lighter. I figured I wanted to shot a couple of approaches before my plane came in to view to get things set up right. The light was crap so I had to ramp up the ISO. Also, while the sky is dark, a lot of exposure compensation helped to get detail on the fuselage itself. Having found a combination I was happy with, a heavy belt of rain came in and the visibility rapidly diminished. By now the 727 was not far out so I figured I might just have blown it.
Fortunately, the rain came in fast but eased off just as quickly and soon I could just make out the outline of San Francisco in the murk which told me I should be able to get my picture. They checked in with the tower for landing clearance so I knew it was time to get out and get wet. Initially, everything looked really grey as the plane came in to view. Fortunately, as it ran down the approach, it was in the clear all of the way and I was able to get off a burst of shots. Once it was down, the weather was not going to get better and there were not many movements scheduled anyway so I decided I was happy with the catch and preferred to warm and dry indoors.