Crummy weather and a lack of light is not usually a recipe for heading out to shoot planes. However, I was up in Everett getting the car serviced and, as I prepared to leave when the work was done, I figured I would have a quick check on what was moving up the road. Turned out ATS had another Janet 737 out on a test flight.
I have shot the Janet 737s at Paine Field in far better conditions but I figured it was worth a quick diversion before heading home. The wind was very strong and from the southwest. As the 737 came down the approach, it was pointing in my direction as it compensated for the crosswind. A short while before it arrived, we had experienced some nice sun poking through the clouds but, sadly, this had gone by the time it arrived so it was dull lighting. This somehow made the airframe paint seem a little warmer than I recall previously.
Any airport in North America on any given day will have a reasonable chance of a Bonanza showing up. Them come in all vintages, shapes and sizes but they usually come! I’ve therefore shot tons of them over the years. However, I think I may have had a first in that I recently shot a turbine Bonanza. It was on the approach at Paine Field and it was obvious that there was something different about it. The noise was clearly a turbine and the tip tanks had been fitted with winglets. Given the location, I assume they are for drag reduction since they wouldn’t add much to directional stability. Tip tanks are probably a must given the rate at which turbines burn fuel compared to pistons. It was a smart looking thing with the revised nose shape looking quite graceful. Sadly the landing wasn’t as graceful but floating is fine when you have 10,000’ ahead of you!
Boeing seems to have addressed a lot of the problems with the KC-46 Pegasus program (but not all of them yet) and so the Air Force is taking delivery of jets at a regular rate. Since plenty have been built, there are enough to deliver. I was at Paine Field a while back when one of the jets was heading out on a test flight. I ended up being there for both the departure and the arrival since the flight was not that long. The good summer light that Seattle gets but we don’t like people to know about meant I got some reasonable shots of it.
Unusual visitors to an airport are obviously welcome and give you the chance to get something new. However, that also means you want to make sure you get the shot so you don’t want to experiment too much with settings. Having someone bashing the circuit for a long time and flying a variety of different approaches means that you can take as many shots as you like and try all sorts of different things.
My Sunday at Paine Field included a pretty smart looking Quest Kodiak doing some training flights. Lots of approaches, some straight in and others curving. All the opportunity I could want. Wide shots, tight shots, how low will I dare go with the shutter speed? I had the 1.4X teleconverter on the 500mm so shooting at 1/100th of a second at 700mm is going to have a pretty low success rate but I was pleasantly surprised how many came out nice and sharp. Not bad to have a day of panning practice.
The Kodiak is an interesting looking plane. Having a turbine means a nice high prop speed on approach which certainly helps but it is also something that can be thrown around easily so the training flight included a bunch of different approaches. I appreciated the effort they made on our behalf. Now to get the light on the prop to show it up nicely!
The Omni Air International 767s are a regular feature at Boeing Field. I have even blogged about them recently when I caught one actually flying as opposed to the usual being parked up near the Kenmore ramp. However, I have not seen one up at Paine Field before. Having one arrive while up there at the weekend was a bit of a surprise. I believe that it was heading to ATS for some maintenance work. I guess it was a bit if an unusual thing for the crew too since, once they had run all the way to the far end of the runway, they seemed to struggle a bit with where they were supposed to go next. They worked it out eventually, though.
I have a soft spot for Cirrus SF50 jets. They are not the most elegant of aircraft but they are quite effective and seem to be selling well. There are quite a few based on the PNW and more seem to visit on a regular basis. This example was coming in to Paine Field on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Since it is a small jet, I can stick with the prime when shooting it there which can make for some nice sharp shots. I would be interested to know what they are like to operate and whether they provide a good performance boost to their owners.
This goes back quite a while to a day when I was at Paine Field for some 777X activities. After all that I had been there for was done, I was getting ready to pack up and go when I saw something off to the east approaching the field. It was large but seemed rather slow. It turned out to be a C-17. It made a pass straight across the field and I was hoping that they would break into the pattern but I was to be disappointed. They turned to the south and headed off towards McChord. Still, it was a nice addition to a sunny day of aviation photography.
After such a long time of struggling to get shots of the Boeing T-33 chase planes, I seem to have had a lot more luck recently. One showed up at Paine Field and, rather than just shooting an approach and departing straight to Boeing Field, it made a full stop landing, taxied back, took off, entered the pattern and came around again. This was a welcome addition to a sunny afternoon. There was only one crew onboard so I guess with was some continuation training.
As the plane taxied back to the threshold, I got a good look at the upper side of the front fuselage. There appear to be quite a variety of antennae mounted on there. I didn’t know whether they were GPS location antennae or other types but there are plenty there. Whether they are used for different functions or are needed for validating test data and cross referencing, I have no idea. Some of them may even be redundant but no one has seen the need to remove them. Whatever the reasons, there are lots there!
A small twin is not going to get a lot of attention from the local photographers at Paine Field on a busy day with lots of traffic. However, it was still relatively early in the day and the air still had a fair bit of moisture in it. I took a guess that this might result in some prop vortices so decided to shoot it anyway. Sure enough, some swirls of moisture showed themselves. Not a dramatic look to them but still what I was after and there wasn’t anything else to do anyway!
Two visits to Paine Field in close succession resulted in two times to view a Lufthansa Cargo 777F undergoing tests. Lufthansa Cargo is in the process of replacing its MD-11F fleet with the 777F and one of the jets was undergoing a number of pre-acceptance flights. It was shooting a couple of approaches while the 777X was getting ready to depart on one of the days and doing a little more flying on another. On the second day, it came in with the RAT deployed too which makes for a noisier aircraft!
Often, when the jets are on the approach, I use the 500mm to get the shots as it is further out and then switch rapidly to the 100-400 for the closer in shots. Having got a bunch of shots in nice conditions on the first day, I decided to stick with the longer fixed lens for later approaches to do something different. Some tight crops on the cockpit and some compression of the features of the plane were the goal. It made for something a little different and I was quite pleased with the outcome. I also got to see the crew wearing masks in the cockpit!