Online forums can be a great source of information. They can also be full of rubbish. With the introduction of the split scimitar tips on the 737 fleets, Southwest was an early adopter on their 800 series jets. However, I read that they had not been happy with performance and had stopped adopting them. They definitely weren’t going to have them on the 700 series. Above is a 700 series with split scimitars. A number of airframes have now been fitted including this one so I guess those people were not the most accurate source of info!
If you want to go with a rather easily achieved photo, a shot of a Southwest 737 would seem to be about as common as they get in the US. I was staying in a hotel near Midway recently and, after dinner, I decided to see if I could get something a little different to my normal shots of a plane I spend a lot of time sitting inside! I wasn’t hampered by some rather helpful weather conditions.
I was close to the approach path so I wandered off to find what line worked best. My best results came from two spots. One was directly on the flightpath. The other was slightly offset to one side. At this location, the planes are just short of the field so are pretty low. I include a couple of shots that show the rooflines of some of the houses to give you an idea of the surroundings. The shots from under the nose are interesting but there is only so much you get from that angle. I was pleased with a few of the, but I did not spend a lot of time in this spot.
Being offset provided a more interesting angle. I only had one lens with me so I was a little limited in what I could try by having a longer focal length. Being full frame does now give me a bit more width at the short end of the zoom though. Therefore, I could get some shots from almost underneath that provide a slightly more dynamic angle.
Since it was evening, the light was getting better and better. What certainly helped was that there was a hint of storm activity in the distance and some clouds were bubbling up. They made for a far more interesting backdrop than the empty sky. Overall, this was a pretty satisfying evening. I did get some other arrivals that while I was there and I will possibly give them their own post at some time.
A work trip recently took me through Chicago Midway. I wasn’t there long before getting on my next flight. We were taxiing out to depart and were coming past the National Guard air unit based on the field. They operate a bunch of Black Hawks. A couple of them were parked up on the apron and one was on approach. My plane conveniently had to hold for a while so I got to see the Black Hawk fly its approach and land. I only had my phone with me but here is some footage of the arrival.
It isn’t always what you are looking at that is appealing. Sometimes, it is just the shape that attracts your attention. In the area around Midway Airport are a number of rail yards. The way in which they fan out from the entry tracks and then close down again at the other end makes for an interesting shape which can only be appreciated from the air. Here is an example of what I mean. It really doesn’t matter what is in the yard. The form is all that I am looking at.
I have shot many times at Midway over the years but one airline that is a regular feature there that I have not previously got is Porter. They operate a fleet of Bombardier Q400 turboprops on services to Canada and they have several trips a day to Midway. Finally I happened to be outside when one came in. I have seen them many times from inside while waiting for a flight but it was good to finally get one “in the wild”.
While I have written about my preference for Bombardier’s Global Express jets, the top of the Gulfstream range has been bolstered by the arrival of the G650 (and more recently the G650ER) and this is a fine looking aircraft. I have had a few encounters with the type recently including one that I saw at Midway. Tracking inbound traffic is fine for airliners but, with so many business jets blocked, often it is a surprise when something shows up. This one was showing up though, so I had time to be ready for it.
From a long way out you could see it since, while it is a business jet, it is really the size of a small airliner. The huge wing is apparent from head on and, as it comes past, the sleekness of the fuselage design is clear compared to the previous generations of Gulfstream. They have also made a far nicer job of the integration of the wing with the fuselage than was the case for the earlier jets.
When someone tells you something with absolute certainty, you might be justified in doubting whether they know exactly what they are talking about. At some point in the late 1990s I was in the Pilatus factory in Switzerland talking to an engineer that had previously worked for Dornier. He was telling us that the idea of re-engining the Dornier 328 turboprop with jet engines had been reviewed and the wing was not strong enough to take the loads. There was no way the program would ever happen.
Turns out he was not entirely accurate with his projection. Dornier did build a jet version of the plane and they show up now and again. I have seen one on the ground at Midway a few times when flying through but have never got a decent shot of it. Meanwhile, a recent visit there caught me out when another example of the type showed up on approach. I think it is quite a nice looking plane. Certainly a bit different to other aircraft of the size and something of a novelty as the regional jet market moves to larger sizes. Ironically, it was developing a 70 seat jet that took Dornier into bankruptcy.
It now looks like the 328 family might have a new lease on life. The owners of the design rights have signed an agreement with a Turkish organization to start production of an updated version for various Turkish government requirements prior to developing a new type. Maybe there is life in the jet yet!
The smoothness with which air traffic is usually managed means that, whenever something doesn’t go to plan, it is quite a surprise. A go around on approach is a relatively rare occurrence. I have only been on three commercial flights that spring to mind when a go around was executed. I saw a couple at SFO last year on one day but that was when two of the runways were shut and they were squeezing as much as they could in making the chance of a conflict higher.
I was watching arrivals to Chicago Midway when I saw a Falcon 2000 on approach. As they got closer, they obviously got the call and the aircraft pitched up and applied power to climb away. It made for an unusual angle at which to see the plane as it banked away on to the missed approach procedure. It obviously was not a complicated procedure because they showed up again shortly afterwards. They were then followed by a similar Falcon 2000 and it was only later, when I was going through the pictures, that I worked out which one was the jet that had made the go around.
Southwest Airlines and I are quite well acquainted. I am on one of their 737s on a rather regular basis. These days I am making the trip back and forth to the west coast a lot. Coming back from there usually means me arriving back into Chicago towards the end of the day. At this time of year, that can be around the time of sunset. I tend to sit on the side of the plane that gives you a nice view of the sunset as we are getting close to home.
I don’t always have my camera with me (although I always have the camera in my phone) and the combination of light and clouds is not always ideal. However, sometimes it just seems to work and give me something I am happy to remember. These images aren’t something that is ever going to be a big deal to anyone else but they are nice for me. No-one is going to want a wing and engine in the way either! Since you can’t change position, the view is a variation on the same theme all the time. That isn’t the point. I just have to remember to look backwards sometimes to see what is going on.