In this recent post, I had an RAF Poseidon flying over the house. A little while later, I was at Boeing Field when the same jet came back from a test flight. Here are some shots of it as it rolled out after landing. It wasn’t long after this that the jet was delivered to the RAF and made the trip to its new home in Lossiemouth.
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.
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.
This P-8 is the first jet for a second batch ordered by the Indian government. I have to admit that I didn’t know that they had ordered more jets. I could tell it was different because the earlier jets had ARK written on the fin and this one has DAB. Maybe that is a squadron thing? The P-8I for the Indians has a number of changes from the USN standard of jet. It has a different radar mounted on the fuselage and also includes a MAD which was not part of the USN spec. Here are some shots of the two jets to show the differences between them.
Paul and I headed to Whidbey Island on the hunt. We would be happy to shoot a variety of stuff but P-3s were the goal. Whidbey still has them but they are disappearing fast so get what we can. As it turned out, we got a ton of P-3 action but it was all with the same plane. It flew a bunch of circuits after returning from a training sortie and then finally landed. However, it wasn’t done. A crew change and they were back up. That plane got some use that day. We could hear another engine running but it obviously wasn’t going flying. Here are lots of shots of one specific P-3 instead!
When Ault Field is operating on 25, the aircraft taxi out to the departure end along a taxiway that gradually brings them into view from the crash gate. The sound will usually precede them and, in the case of the P-3s, that is a pretty distinctive sound. As the day wears on, they are coming at you out of the sun so a bit more silhouetted but that helps to make them look more interesting. They pull around to the hold point, sometimes mixing in with the Growlers before departing off to the west. This is a sight that will soon be gone as the P-8s take over.
With the progressive retirement of P-3 Orions around the world, the Boeing P-8 Poseidon is starting to take over as the dominant maritime patrol aircraft. The US Navy is the principal customer, but Australia was relatively quick to order the type too. They are now in the process of being delivered and I happened across one coming back to Boeing Field at the end of a test flight. Since it was operating from their military ramp, it taxied back along the field after landing and right by giving me a good look at the configuration the Aussies have gone with. India has been another customer and, before too long, the first of the RAF jets should make it through production.
Despite the number of them that are now in service, I have very little experience with the Boeing P-8 Poseidon. I had only seen one flying and that was a test jet at Boeing Field. When we got to NAS Whidbey Island, the P-3s were the thing I was more interested in but I certainly wasn’t going to turn down an operational P-8 for the first time. It didn’t take long to get one. We had not long arrived when one departed past us on the shoreline.
As we moved around for the arrivals, we got a bit more P-8 traffic. Some arrivals showed up. One was lacking in anything colorful for squadron markings but another included a bit more individuality. I wonder whether we shall gradually see more color showing up on the jets or whether they shall be a fleet of bland, gray jets. Fingers crossed!
The Boeing P-8 Poseidon is not a new plane. In fact, it first flew in 2009. Why is it, then, that I have never seen one in flight before? I have seen them on the ground at various times. This has included air shows and seeing them on the flightline at Boeing Field. I have come close a number of times there including some of the Indian Navy Ark variants that have been undergoing testing. Despite all of this, I had not seen one fly.
Fortunately, I have finally overcome this shortcoming, if only briefly. I found myself at Boeing Field on a recent trip to Seattle where I was eating my lunch between landing from a flight and heading off to a meeting. A pretty narrow window in which to hope to get anything interesting but, this time, I was lucky. The P-8 taxied out shortly after I got there and lined up. He wasn’t going for a takeoff at first. A surge of power and acceleration down the runway followed by an application of the brakes and the rejected takeoff test was done. This meant a trip back down the taxiway and right past me to get back to the threshold.
The second time was supposed to be the full takeoff and the lightly loaded jet was promptly airborne and heading off to carry out its tests. It would be gone for a few hours so I wasn’t going to catch its return but it was great to finally see one moving and flying.