In the run up to Christmas, I got to photograph the Asia Pacific Airlines Boeing 757 freighter while it was being used to supplement capacity for UPS. Prior to that, I had noticed it was operating a circular route from Seattle to LAX to Honolulu and back to Seattle. This seems to have started again. With a nice forecast for a Saturday morning and it due in early in the morning, I figured I would head out and get some shots in the nice morning light.
The jet was projected to be in to SeaTac at around 7:25 so I left a little before 7 to try and be there. The forecasts on the sites are often a bit optimistic but I still took my breakfast with me rather than risk missing out. I got to my intended location just coming up on 7:25 and, as I pulled in to the lot, I saw a Korean Air Cargo 747-8F on final approach to the inner runway. I grabbed the camera and, while it would be backlit, figured I would get a bonus. I took the shots and then looked on the iPad to see where my jet was.
An ad ran on the app for about 30 seconds which was annoying but I finally managed to search on the jet. Apparently, it was right there. It was almost directly behind me. I had intended to walk up the hill to get past the tree line. Instead, I just turned and shot as it passed through the one gap in the trees I had. Crap! If I hadn’t looked at the 747, I would have been fine. I went all that way and only got a side on shot. The light was really nice too! What a dope. Maybe there will be another opportunity – we shall see.
I had a brief visit to Seattle Tacoma International to get some images for work. These images were not of the aircraft but the configuration of the roadways in to the airport. Not a great opportunity for photographing an aircraft. However, you could just see some of the ramp area and, as the sun came out, the Alaska Airlines A321neo in the More To Love markings taxied in. It was just visible above the terminal buildings so it would have been rude not to get a shot!
The huge reduction in air travel – particularly long haul – has resulted in airlines taking a hatchet to their fleets. Lufthansa has been no exception with many jets parked permanently and others in long term storage with a significant question mark hanging over them. The A340-600 fleet is one such fleet. However, while a few of the A340-300s have been put out to grass, a good chunk of the fleet is still in use.
The 300 Series is an underrated airliner. The 600 has longer range and higher payload but it is optimized for the longer range missions and is too much for shorter flights. The 300 is a more versatile type as long as you are not pushing the bounds of payload/range. Consequently, it has hung around a lot longer than might have been expected. With reduced load factors, it is continuing to show its value despite it having been seen as on the way out for many years now.
Lufthansa has started using them on the Seattle run. They are coming in three days a week. The jet arrives around noon and two of the trips are Wednesday and Friday so work means they are hard to get. Sunday is the other day so I decided to give it a go. However, when I got up, flights were on a northerly flow which means no good locations to shoot from and a high and tail on light set up. Not ideal. However, by mid-morning, despite the forecast northerly winds, they had switched to a southerly flow. That meant a water tower shooting location was on the cards so off I went.
I got to the water tower in plenty of time only to notice a lack of arriving jets. Sure enough, they had switched back to a northerly flow. I now had to try and find a new location to shoot from and quickly. I had an idea for somewhere I hadn’t used before so decided to give it a go. I had time to try out on a preceding arrival and my post on that Asiana jet is here. Since things seemed to work okay, I stayed were I was and waited for the jet to arrive. Lufthansa had painted a bunch of their jets in Star Alliance colors but they are now reverting to the mainline livery and happily, that is what I was expecting. No idea how long they shall be around but I shall try again while they are coming here because they will be gone before too long I imagine.
I made a quick trip to SeaTac one Sunday for another visitor that I was keen to catch and that will have its own post. I ended up shooting from a sub-optimal location and one that I had never used before. I didn’t know exactly what I could expect. Fortunately, prior to the arrival, an Asiana A350 was due in. It was about 30 minutes ahead of the one I was after so, if things didn’t work out, I had time to try moving to somewhere else.
Fortunately, while heat haze was going to be a problem and the light angle wasn’t great, neither of these were things I could do anything about and the location did provide a reasonable angle on the jet. There were some lamp poles which I noted to be ready for next time and the jet went behind the trees as it crossed the threshold but it did seem like a usable location for the intended target to come.
I saw the 787-10 development aircraft flying and caught a couple during the hurricane evacuation but I haven’t seen many in service. British Airways has started using their 787-10s on the Seattle run so, with some nice weather on a Sunday afternoon combined with a northerly flow, I decided to see whether I could get a decent Mt Rainier shot of one arriving. It was a warm day so heat haze was an issue but nothing can be done about that. They showed up on time so I grabbed some shots and retreated to the air conditioning of the car. This will be a regular sight in future so nothing significant about it but one to add to the archive.
No great story with this one. I was at SeaTac for a different arrival on the outer runway. A FedEx MD-11F was making an approach to the inner runway while I was waiting. It provides a good alignment with Mt Rainier in the background so I figured it was a shot worth taking and I was pleased with how it turned out. Given how little I have photographed recently, a shot like this from before everything got locked down suddenly seemed like something to share!
These shots aren’t particularly nice but, at the time I took them, I didn’t realize that they would be a bit more significant for a friend of mine. He was a skipper for Virgin Atlantic and making his first run to Seattle. I went out to get his arrival despite it being a bit gloomy. We met up afterwards for a beer and some food. He flew back the following day.
Since that time, the airline business (along with many businesses) has taken a bad turn and Virgin Atlantic has been getting rid of staff. My friend was eligible for retirement and decided to take it. Consequently, this flight turned out to be the last landing he made in his commercial flying career. The return leg landing was made by another member of his crew. It would have been nice if the conditions were better but I am glad I was there to see it. Happy retirement Chris and see you soon I hope!
When a new Star Wars movie is released, it seems to be the thing to arrange a tie in with an airline and have them paint jets in special Star Wars themed liveries. ANA was a part of this and I have shot a variety of their special paint scheme jets which you can see here and here. For the most recent movie, The Rise of Skywalker, United got in on the game and painted a 737 in a black livery with special marking including one side with a blue lightsaber and one with a red. I had not seen the jet before. It has been to SeaTac a few times but never when I could get there (or when it was daylight). Finally it showed up one evening when the weather was great so nice light. Only one side to see of course but here it is!
No lengthy story for this. I was waiting at SeaTac for an arrival and got distracted by the jets lining up for departure. It got quite busy at one point with a bunch of jets awaiting their slot. Occasionally the departing jets appeared nicely in the background. Unfortunately, there are some lot poles in the area which are rather distracting.
The collapse of Thomas Cook meant that the German subsidiary, Condor, has gone it alone. The fleet had a tail marking that reflected the parent company but, with their demise, they are now adopting a tail design that is back to their own branding. I saw one of the new tails on this 767 arriving at SeaTac shortly before a BA 777 that I was waiting for because I was picking up the skipper. Below is what it used to look like (albeit in nicer light).