I first saw the Douglas World Cruiser when Hayman and I were were skulking around Boeing Field prior to an ISAP symposium. The aircraft was being worked on by a restoration team and we chatted to them for a while. When I moved it up, it had moved too and now it lives at Renton. I have seen it plenty of times as it sits in its open ended hangar at Renton. However, it clearly is moved as, on a recent visit, the nose was pointing out of the hangar rather than in. It is not in a great place to shoot but a bit of live view and holding the camera above the wall and you can get a shot.
I have visited Renton Municipal Airport on plenty of occasions but I had not previously stopped to check out the sculpture at the entrance to the airport. It is sited by the main gate and there is a parking area to make it easy to visit. The formal name of the airport is Clayton Scott Field and the sculpture is of Clayton Scott himself next to a sign showing the direction and distance to multiple locations. The top of the sculpture even includes space as one destination! The locations are chosen and organized to provide a nice spiral pattern to the markers. It is a nicely executed piece of artwork.
I’ve seen a few 737s make their first flights at Renton. This example occurred on weekend morning and it caught me out a bit. They roll the jets across the bridge from the assembly flight line to the runway flight line. The bridge crosses the river just south of the park. Once across, they are ready to start up. This takes longer than a normal start up since this is the first time the plane is going to fly.
The fast taxi with rejected takeoff is the next step. This takes place on the runway and, in this case, was heading towards me up near the Lake Washington end of the Renton runway. All being well with this, it is time to take off. I had hoped that this would involve a back taxi and then departure over the lake but I was to be disappointed. They turned at the lake and powered up for a departure to the south. I had not anticipated this so was badly placed. The moist morning air resulted in vapor in the inlets as they accelerated past me and then climbed off in the distance.
The 737 Max 8 has been the best seller of the Max product line. The Max 7 has barely sold at all and Boeing even had to redesign it to be a shrink of the Max 8 rather than the rework of the -700 that it was originally intended to be. Southwest and WestJet have bought them but they are about the only ones. I guess production examples have started to come off the line during the grounding. When you go around the back of Renton, amongst the stored Southwest jets are a bunch of the Max 7s. I guess certification and delivery of these will be something intended to follow on closely from the return to service of the Max 8 and Max 9 jets.
The 737 Max problems rumble on but this isn’t stopping development activities. The first of the 737 Max 10 jets was rolled out of the factory with little fanfare with only staff being invited. I was showing my relative, Pete, around the area and we stopped at Renton to have a look at what was on the line. It was a nice surprise to see the first Max 10 sitting on the line. I imagine it won’t be too long before first flight.
Ryanair is the launch customer for the Max 200 version of the 737-8 Max. The Max 200 name is going away I believe since it is a high density version of the -8. With the grounding of the Max fleet continuing, a number of the Ryanair jets are now parked awaiting deliveries to recommence. I was walking through the park at Renton on a sunny weekend morning and the Ryanair jets were lined up across the airport from me. Knowing Michael O’Leary’s enthusiasm for direct communication, I would love to know how his conversations with Boeing over compensation are going.
Renton may be home to the 737 and to plenty of other aircraft but it also has a floatplane dock at the north end. A Husky was dragged over to the ramp during my Sunday morning stroll and dropped into the water. The pilot powered up and proceeded to water taxi around for quite a while, presumably while the engine was coming up to temperature. Finally he was ready to go and given acknowledgement from the tower that he could go if he wanted. A surge of power, up on to the step and then airborne and climbing away. No two ways about it, flying floatplanes is definitely cool.
I stopped off at Renton one Sunday morning to see what was on the flight line. (This was prior to the groundings after the Ethiopian Max 8 crash.) There was a first flight showing up on the flight plan so I kept an eye out for any sign of activity as I walked along the park trail. Sure enough, the sound of an engine start reached me when I was down near the bridge between the factory and the flight line. This is a bit far away from where I would want to be to photograph the take off but this is a first flight. There is plenty to check before they go flying unlike a regular flight, so time was on my side.
I made my way back along the river in plenty of time for the jet to move. Prior to flight they accelerate and brake to a stop. They did this along the runway the opposite direction to that in which they planned to take off so they actually taxied up past me, turned and accelerated before turning again to make the actual take off. This gave me plenty of views of the unpainted jet. They climbed away and then redeployed the gear, possibly to cool off the brakes a bit. They then turned off on their departure heading. Moses Lake will have been part of the test plan but the flight will have ended at Boeing Field.
My Renton visit also allowed me to have a look around the production aircraft out on the flight line or in the factory areas. The shortage of engines has been a concern which I wrote about last year and which was supposed to be fixed by the year end. Judging by how many of these planes are still carrying ballast rather than engines, I guess things are still a bit behind schedule. Then again, with what has happened since, maybe the cost of accepting some engines is not something Boeing wants…