Sitting in the lounge at Narita waiting for my flight home, this truck belonging to Delta was parked below us. It may be painted in Delta markings but it isn’t hard to see who originally bought it. I guess it isn’t the newest truck in the fleet and, unlike a lot of the vehicles on the ramp, this looks like it was built in the US.
The disappearance of the 747 from the world’s airline fleets continues apace. The most recent company to bid the Queen of the Skies farewell is Delta. Delta did operate 747s in the early days but its current fleet was acquired as a result of the takeover of Northwest. Northwest has operated plenty of 747s over the years and was the launch operator of the 747-400. They continued to operate older generation freighters for a number of years too.
Delta carried out a farewell tour for the type and it included a visit to Seattle. Prior to going to SeaTac, the plane stopped off at Everett, the place where it, and every 747 before or since, was built. It was a dismal day with low cloud and rain. The plane emerged from the clag on final approach and zipped low over the threshold to touch down before reversing thrust in a cloud of spray. It parked up at the Boeing facility next to the Future of Flight Museum where it stayed for a few hours before heading to SeaTac.
The 747-400 has been around for so long now and has sold so well that it is by far the dominant version of the jet in service. However, before the late 80s, there were previous versions of the 747. The 100 series through to the 300 series and the SP. The 400 series is the one you see now but, before the 400 took over, the earlier models were the ones that were everywhere. Since I wasn’t taking a lot of photos in those days, I have a lot less photos of the earlier models but I do have some.
Pan Am operated the 100 Series jets and I saw them at Heathrow in the 80s. 200 Series freighters were built in some numbers and many are still around or were until relatively recently. I think the only 300 Series jet I ever photographed was a Saudia example at Heathrow. These shots are some of the ones I have come across in my time. With the 400 Series jets now starting to disappear, it is no surprise that these earlier jets are mainly a thing of the past.
I have been going back through a lot of the archive recently with the goal of culling a lot of the crap images that have no hope of ever seeing the light of day again and are, therefore, just filling up drive space. As I do this, it reminds me of a few things I haven’t seen for a while and some I won’t see again. Northwest Airlines is one of these!
From time to time I have done a lot of shooting of airliners. I won’t profess to them being my favorite thing to shoot – fast jets and helicopters are probably my favorites – but when it comes down to it, I love all things that fly and airliners do just that. Besides, they are sometimes easier to come by! One of the features of shooting airliners is that most of what you see does not cause you any surprise. There may be something that is rare or unusual wherever you are and that can be quite exciting but usually what you see is pretty much what you would expect to see.
It is only at a later stage, when whatever you saw is no longer around, that you can get interested in something that was previously pretty unexpected. Such is the case with Northwest. Before the merger with Delta, Northwest had a large fleet that covered the country. I didn’t fly with them much but I would frequently see their aircraft. I would take pictures of them but probably not get too excited. I even spent one day at Detroit where they were most of what I saw.
Now, Northwest is no more and its fleet has been repainted in Delta’s colors. To find a picture of a Northwest jet as I go through the archives suddenly takes on a level of interest that it hadn’t at the the time it was taken. Maybe it will have the same effect for you so here are a few samples of something no longer to be seen.