Aside from my two HondaJets and a little other traffic, things were not looking too busy at Boeing Field. I was contemplating my next move when I glanced at FlightRadar and saw a Douglas A-26 was flying over Seattle. This is one that is based at Renton and used as a personal transport by the owner. I have never seen it in action before. Consequently, I was quite excited. At first, I thought it looked like it was turning towards Boeing Field which would have been handy but then it headed north up towards the San Juan Islands.
I figured that, even if it was landing up there, it would be coming back to Renton later on so headed off in that direction to work out what flow the pattern was using. The A-26 had departed over the lake to the north but all of the movements now seemed to be from the north so I figured it would come in from that direction. No chance of shooting it from above at the overlook point at the south end but still plenty of options.
Unfortunately, they have closed off part of the park at the north end of the field and erected fencing. This takes away an area of higher ground which gives a good view of the threshold. However, with a couple of Cessnas bashing the circuit, I was able to see roughly what would be good and what wouldn’t. A check on FlightRadar showed that they had finished flying around the San Juans and were coming back over the city.
They followed the water from the coast in to Lake Washington and I thought would be coming straight for me. However, they continued over Bellevue instead. I wondered if they were off somewhere else but soon they had turned back and were heading for Renton. Looking up the lake, I could pick them out a long way out, long before they had even configured for landing. With the fall foliage still evident on some of the shorelines, it made for quite a nice shot – something that wouldn’t have been the case at the other end.
The A-26 is pretty speedy so they were soon on final approach and I grabbed a bunch of shots both tight and wider. Then they zipped by and behind the newly erected fencing! I packed up my stuff and headed off but, as I drove back south, I saw they were still on the ramp outside the hangar. I pulled in a watched them put the plane away. Only at the last minute did I realize that I could have got a closer shot from near the gate but I shouldn’t complain given how lucky I had been to see them out on my day off.
I had seen some photos of the lake side of the Boeing plant at Renton with 737s parked up there. Looking on Google Maps made me think these shots were taken from the deck of the Hyatt hotel by the lake. I drive down there one time to investigate but I was not planning on hanging around and didn’t feel like paying to park in one of the lots there so skipped it. However, riding my bike down through there was a different story. I detoured to the hotel and walked up to the deck area. Turns out you get a good view of the back of the factory. Not a lot of jets parked there but a few to see. Ryanair and their affiliate Buzz in this case.
Ryanair has a subsidiary based in Poland that it has been rebranded as Buzz. I must admit I knew nothing about this until, on my way back home from a meeting south of Seattle, I stopped off at Renton to see what was on the flight line. A Ryanair jet was parked up and next to it was a Buzz jet. It still had some taped markings on it but it was basically finished in Buzz colors and registered in Poland. Obviously it won’t be going to them for a little while longer but, once the grounding is lifted, it should be heading to Eastern Europe.
Tucked inside the fence at Renton was something I don’t think I have seen before. It was a Piper Aztec on amphibious floats. No reason why an Aztec wouldn’t be on floats but it isn’t something I have seen before. I would certainly like to see it on the water at some point. Sadly, because it was tight to the fence, my best option was to use the phone to get the shot!
My Renton visit also produced a P-8A Poseidon. I have seen plenty of them over the years but this one caught my eye because it is the fourth airframe for the UK’s Royal Air Force. Sitting on the ramp on a sunny day with heat haze is not ideal but it was still worth a shot since, once it gets delivered, I am unlikely to get much of a chance to see it again.
I first saw the Douglas World Cruiser when Hayman and I were were skulking around Boeing Field prior to an ISAP symposium. The aircraft was being worked on by a restoration team and we chatted to them for a while. When I moved it up, it had moved too and now it lives at Renton. I have seen it plenty of times as it sits in its open ended hangar at Renton. However, it clearly is moved as, on a recent visit, the nose was pointing out of the hangar rather than in. It is not in a great place to shoot but a bit of live view and holding the camera above the wall and you can get a shot.
I have visited Renton Municipal Airport on plenty of occasions but I had not previously stopped to check out the sculpture at the entrance to the airport. It is sited by the main gate and there is a parking area to make it easy to visit. The formal name of the airport is Clayton Scott Field and the sculpture is of Clayton Scott himself next to a sign showing the direction and distance to multiple locations. The top of the sculpture even includes space as one destination! The locations are chosen and organized to provide a nice spiral pattern to the markers. It is a nicely executed piece of artwork.
I’ve seen a few 737s make their first flights at Renton. This example occurred on weekend morning and it caught me out a bit. They roll the jets across the bridge from the assembly flight line to the runway flight line. The bridge crosses the river just south of the park. Once across, they are ready to start up. This takes longer than a normal start up since this is the first time the plane is going to fly.
The fast taxi with rejected takeoff is the next step. This takes place on the runway and, in this case, was heading towards me up near the Lake Washington end of the Renton runway. All being well with this, it is time to take off. I had hoped that this would involve a back taxi and then departure over the lake but I was to be disappointed. They turned at the lake and powered up for a departure to the south. I had not anticipated this so was badly placed. The moist morning air resulted in vapor in the inlets as they accelerated past me and then climbed off in the distance.
The flight line near the runway at Renton is always worth a look. The majority of the planes (when production is normal) will be airliners but one spot at the south end is likely to have a P-8 Poseidon in place. Such was the case this morning with a US Navy example heading the line.
The 737 Max 8 has been the best seller of the Max product line. The Max 7 has barely sold at all and Boeing even had to redesign it to be a shrink of the Max 8 rather than the rework of the -700 that it was originally intended to be. Southwest and WestJet have bought them but they are about the only ones. I guess production examples have started to come off the line during the grounding. When you go around the back of Renton, amongst the stored Southwest jets are a bunch of the Max 7s. I guess certification and delivery of these will be something intended to follow on closely from the return to service of the Max 8 and Max 9 jets.