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.
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!)
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.
Every once in a while, you just get lucky. I happened to be at Boeing Field on a sunny day with operations in a southerly direction and a bunch of cool traffic. Most of the traffic shows up on Flightaware so you have a clue it might be flying but my recent experiences have been that the P-8 test flights have not been listed. Consequently, I was a little surprised when a P-8 pulled out of Boeing’s military operations ramp and taxied for departure. It came right past me as it made its way to the departure end. A short while later it rolled.
The sun was out, the light was nice, they rotated at a good location to get some nice shots and then, as they climbed out, the clouds were really nice providing a mottled sort of background. The colors looked great behind the grey jet. What a great combination!
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.