These shots aren’t particularly nice but, at the time I took them, I didn’t realize that they would be a bit more significant for a friend of mine. He was a skipper for Virgin Atlantic and making his first run to Seattle. I went out to get his arrival despite it being a bit gloomy. We met up afterwards for a beer and some food. He flew back the following day.
Since that time, the airline business (along with many businesses) has taken a bad turn and Virgin Atlantic has been getting rid of staff. My friend was eligible for retirement and decided to take it. Consequently, this flight turned out to be the last landing he made in his commercial flying career. The return leg landing was made by another member of his crew. It would have been nice if the conditions were better but I am glad I was there to see it. Happy retirement Chris and see you soon I hope!
A gear up landing is never something you want to have. What is worse is doing it in front of a lot of people. However, the crowd can sometimes be a benefit. The open house at Paine Field included some flybys by various types and one Navion was the last in his group to recover. Coming down the approach with flap deployed but no gear he looked very odd. I imagine the horn should have been blaring but, whatever the reason, he continued. Much frantic waving by the crowd and a call from the air boss had the desired effect, fortunately. A go around ensued followed by a normal approach a landing. I understand many beers were bought that night.
Getting repetitive here. My never ending quest to capture and demonstrate the unusual gear articulation of the Boeing 777-300ER gets another outing. Similar animation of some stills as before. This time the light was good and the distortion was limited so here we go again. I won’t bother with the technique aspects this time. Instead, here is the animation with the rotation about the rear axle pretty easy to see.
In my previous visits to Tucson International, I have never seen jets taking off or landing as pairs. It has always been single jets. This time I had a couple of times when section takeoffs were carried out. There also appeared to be some arrivals in pairs too. Nothing too dramatic but a bit of a change from what I have seen there before.
While walking along the ramp at Davis Monthan I was looking for different shots of the A-10s that were arriving for Hawgsmoke. The lights on the nosewheel of the A-10s have been replaced with an LED based solution. This is clearly not the original light. It actually looked to me like it was a circuit board rather than a cluster of LEDs. I didn’t see it lit up but I don’t doubt that it’s bright. I just think it looks rather cool.
I have seen a few Airbus A330s landing recently and they have a slightly unusual landing approach. I am not sure whether this is a feature of the design, the training techniques for the pilots or just a random occurrence that I have seen more than my fair share of. The planes appear to do a wheelie as they land. They have two main gear legs with a four wheel bogie on each. As they touchdown, they seem to hang on the rear wheels longer than would seem normal, even as the aircraft is de-rotating. Meanwhile, the reversers will start to deploy (sadly not in any shots I have) so there must be enough weight on wheels to trigger their activation. Gradually the jet sinks down on to all main wheels and the nose lowers.
The layout of SFO with the two pairs of cross runways makes for some operations that are quite specific to this airport. At peak times, parallel approaches are made to the 28 runways from along the bay shore. These approaches require the following plane to make sure it does not overtake the leading plane. I don’t know for sure but I imagine the choice of which side leads is based on the wind direction so the wake turbulence doesn’t affect the downwind plane.
Getting them close together is the goal as a photographer. Often they end up being separated by a lot more than you thought. When further out things look like they are close but then the approach turns out to be more offset than you expect and you don’t get a good shot when they come in to land.
Arrivals aren’t the only parallels though. The departures are sent of the 01s from both sides. The clearances are usually offset and the thresholds are slightly different so the planes often get airborne well apart. However, that is not always the case and sometimes you get what amounts to a formation takeoff. Once airborne, the planes turn to increase their separation. Getting a shot of them close together is something to try for if you can. They are too far away when they take off to be a great shot individually but getting both in frame certainly makes for a more unusual shot than is the case for most departure procedures for big airliners.
This guy landed at Half Moon Bay while we were there. I have to admit I thought I was taking pictures for the accident investigation at first. However, he maintained this pose all along the runway until he turned off and apparently had done it earlier. I guess he had a lot of elevator authority. However, whether it is a good idea is a very different question.
There are some shots that it is just hard to get. They are possible but it depends on what you have available. One idea that I have been trying to come up with a solution for is getting good shots of airliners as they lower their gear. The sequence for lowering the gear is pretty cool and the outline of the plane when it has flaps deployed but no gear is of interest to me too. However, to get a shot like that, you need to be high up further out on the approach. Unless you are in another aircraft, that is tricky to do.
From the normal locations on the ground, the aircraft is just too far away to get a decent shot. Not only is it in the distance and, therefore, small but you also have to cope with atmospheric disturbances like heat haze and dust in the air. It doesn’t make for a compelling shot! Instead, I decided to try something different. I would shoot the sequence of shots of the approach and then animate them. This would mean that the reduced quality of an individual shot would be lost as the sequence would require a certain amount of motion blur anyway.
What I didn’t realize until I tried this on an A380 was that this jet has an unusual gear sequence. I was looking at trying a 747 or an A380 since they are large and have interesting wing configurations when approaching to land. As it turns out, the A380 lowers the outer two gear legs first before the two center body legs come down. I had not appreciated this before trying this shot. Animating the sequence really put the computer under some pressure. Creating a file with over 100 layers and then adjusting each layer to align properly took some time and really made the machine work hard. Ultimately, I got the sequence you can see above.
Hyper lapse is not something I have tried a lot of but I have done a little experimentation. For those who are expert at it, my description might be a bit simplistic but it is basically a time lapse when the camera doesn’t stay still and the movement through a scene is accelerated. I had a go at this out of a window of a Southwest flight that was approaching Phoenix. Keeping the camera still and in the same reference to the aircraft is a little tricky but the nice thing about time lapse shooting is that small movements get blurred out quite quickly.
I liked the idea of the rapid passing of the scenery, the rapidity of the maneuvers and the speedy deployment of the flaps showing up. I decided to let it run until we were back at the gate. As my friend Paul said, “Don’t all Southwest flights taxi at that speed?”