I stopped for lunch and to take some calls at Boeing Field. While I was eating my sandwich, a US Navy P-8 rolled out of the Boeing military ramp to head off on test. With Seattle on a southerly flow, the P-8 needed to taxi the length of the field for departure. It came past me so the sandwich had to take a pause while I got a couple of shots.
Prior to take off, they carried out a rejected takeoff and backtracked for the real departure. One a sunny day like this, the heat haze looking that far up the field is pretty bad so not real chance to get a good shot. The departure itself was a lot better. By the time it rotated, it was close enough to mean the haze, while still present, was a lot less troublesome. As soon as it climbed out, the problem went away. Its interesting that the low light angles of the winter are already being replaced with a transition to the harsher high sun but it is still worth being out.
From my new spot, you have a good view of the main civil ramp at Boeing as well as a slightly more distant view of the military ramp. The civil ramp was full of Max jets waiting to get delivered now that customers can start accepting the jets again. Not all agencies have cleared the Max so I guess Boeing was focusing on those that have and aiming to get as much cash as they could in before year end. You could also see the stored jets on part of the ramp as well as those in the parking lot across Marginal Way.
There were three 777X development airframes parked while the second jet was out on a test flight. I was hoping to get it returning but it was out over the Pacific off the Oregon coast and I rightly guessed that, despite the online forecast, it wouldn’t be back before sunset. The military ramp was a little quieter than I expected with a couple of KC-46s and some P-8s including the next one for the Royal Air Force. There were also two KC-46s up on the civilian flight test ramp. Plenty to see and it would have been better in morning light.
The first decent sized arrival I got on my BFI visit was a US Navy P-8 Poseidon returning from a test flight. It gave me a chance to get the hang of picking the arriving planes up against the background and working out their positions as the are on final. Things are pretty cluttered in the background which doesn’t help make a photo look interesting but, once they are over the airfield itself, the background is a lot cleaner and the plane stands out more.
Once over the runway, everything is unobstructed so you get a good view of the touchdown and roll out. The runway wasn’t too damp so not much in the way of spray from reverse thrust but a good amount of tire smoke as the mains hit the ground. Heat haze was not too much of a problem as the conditions were not too sunny but you still had to be pretty close in before the shots were sharp enough to look at closely.
The afternoon lighting was looking good and, when I saw a P-8 was up, I was tempted to get some shots. When I saw the Dornier was also coming in, it helped make up my mind. Even better, it spared me from a fruitless trip. The P-8 was out of Boeing Field and was scheduled to make approaches at Everett before returning to base. I would have been tempted to shoot it up there but, with the 328Jet in the mix, I figured Boeing Field was it.
As it turned out, the flight plan for Everett was a distraction. I watched the jet heading back up from Oregon and it looked like it was coming direct to Boeing Field. That was indeed the case. No approach to Everett. If I had been up there, I would have been pretty annoyed. As it was, I got the arrival, even if the conditions were nowhere near as nice as they had been when I first headed out. This one was a US Navy example.
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.
The RAF has been taking delivery of its new maritime patrol aircraft. The retirement of the Nimrods left the RAF without a maritime aircraft for about a decade which is a strange choice to make. Finally, the P-8 Poseidon was ordered to reinstate that capability. They started coming off the line here in Seattle a while back. The fourth aircraft has been undergoing testing ahead of its delivery. It was returning from a test flight and was coming straight for our house. It is not unusual for planes heading to Boeing Field to come our way so I grabbed the camera and got a couple of shots as it flew by. It even turned slightly giving a slightly wing down view in one shot.
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.
I was sitting at Boeing Field awaiting the return of a couple of jets. Apps like FlightRadar24 allow you to keep an eye on where things are and when they are due in. What they don’t usually cover is military flights. Fortunately, I had the radio scanner sitting on the dash so, while I was busy doing something else while waiting, the sound of someone calling up on approach caught me by surprise. I finished what I was doing and then got the camera just as a KC-135 hove in to view. What a nice surprise.
A while later, something similar happened. Another plane called up with what sounded like a Navy callsign. This time I had a bit more time to get out and look up the approach to see what it might be. A P-8 was coming in. They got bounced around on short final by the gusty conditions which were combining with the airport buildings to make things pretty interesting for the crew. I had an easier time taking the pictures I think.
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.
How many times in this blog have I commented on the nice light at the end of the day being the provider of my best shots. It isn’t just about the shot though. Stuff just looks better (hence the better shots) when the sun is low. Mark and I had spent a good day at Coupeville and then at Ault Field but, as the evening was beginning to draw in, we knew a few jets had launched earlier and were due back. As a result, we anticipated some nice arrivals. Mark had also scoped out a better spot for the final turn the jets would be making.
It wasn’t long before we heard some calls on the approach frequency and so we headed to the new location. Our first trade was not the jets we had expected though. Some maritime patrol training was done and a couple of aircraft were making straight in approaches. A P-8 and a P-3 were welcome additions. They may not have been flying particularly interesting approaches but we would have taken them at any time and in this light all was good.
Then the Growlers showed up. The flew some nice curving approaches around us and the evening light was illuminating their topsides in a great way. Clearly these were going to be the shots of the day that we were most happy with. Not only that but they did the decent thing and didn’t land straight away. Instead, a couple of patterns meant we got a good chance to get some shots of them. Once they were down, the radio was quiet and we both had drives home to make so we called it a day. (Sadly, as I got on to I-5 to head south, a C-5 flew over me heading in what appeared to be the direction of Whidbey. That would have arrived in gorgeous light as it looked really nice as it passed over me!)