Tag Archives: seattle

Why Not Shoot an M-21 While I’m Here

I was at the Museum of Flight for the IPMS exhibit but, while I was visiting, I figured it would be churlish not to take a picture of the M-21 that dominates the main hall.  It is actually a bit difficult to photograph and there is a lot of contrast with the background and it is always busy so a bit cluttered.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a great shot but decided to crop tighter on the airframe and shoot bracketed exposures and maybe go with an HDR process.  It isn’t great but it came out better than I had expected.

G600 Test Jet

I heard a rumor about a Gulfstream test jet being at Boeing Field.  With a Saturday morning free, I decided to head over and investigate.  One of the things I had seen suggested it might be the G700.  Since that had only recently had its first flight, I was surprised it would be operating out of the west coast rather than Georgia so I decided to try and see it.  Of course, it wasn’t the G700.  Instead it was a G600 test airframe.  Since I had not seen a G600, I was still pleased to catch it.  The weather was crummy and it was due to go back to Savannah so I was wondering what sort of shots I would get.

Like any test jet, it didn’t depart when scheduled.  It was an hour later than planned when it rolled to the runway and then hung around at the hold point for ages.  Then it turned and taxied down towards the end where I was.  I couldn’t see it departing in the opposite direction because SeaTac was still flowing to the south and wasn’t showing any sign of changing.  It came down past me to the end of the runway and then turned around and taxied back the way it had come.  After all of this it departed into the overcast.

Given that I was expected a departure from the far end and a swift climb into the gloom, I hadn’t expected to get many shots I was pleased with.  Therefore, this sojourn down to my end and back provided plenty of chances to get a bunch of shots so this turned out to be a lot luckier than expected.  I am also a sucker for a jet in primer so thrown in a few instrumented panels for test purposes and I am a happy camper!

IPMS At Museum of Flight

The IPMS has a gathering of their members for a display of their models each year at the Museum of Flight.  I went along to say hello to my friend Jim and to see what creations were on display.  While it is held at the Museum of Flight, it is not restricted to planes although there are plenty of those.  I was interested to see quite a number of rocket models including a great Atlas/Mercury launch pad diorama.

Everything was laid out on the main museum floor around the M-12 which is certainly not a bad background to have for an event.

Amazing Change in Weather Between Arrivals

My wait at Boeing Field for the 777X coincided with some very changeable weather.  The wind was strong and gusty for the whole time but what started out as wet and dreary gradually cleared up to be a sunny end to the day.  I shot a couple of 737s as well as some corporate jets.  When the 737 Max 7 test aircraft came in, it was absolutely hammering it down and the plane was pretty obscured by the rain.  When a Max 8 on a test flight came in later, things had cleared up quite a bit.  It wasn’t sunny at that point but there was a hint of light improvement which was making the green protective film shine a little more.  By the time the 777X came in, the sun was out!

Military Surprises at Boeing Field

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.

Trying to Catch the 777X Airborne

The first flight of the 777X took place while I was out of the country which annoyed me quite a bit.  Having seen the things sitting around at Everett for ages and even watched the taxi trials, I was in the wrong place when they finally got airborne.  However, with an extensive flight test program to come, I knew there would be other opportunities.  I did manage to be at Boeing Field for a departure on one of the flights.  Conditions weren’t great, though.

With the viewing area closed while Boeing parks 737s wherever it can find a space, I was a long way from the rotation point.  It was in the rain as it rolled and, while it stayed below the clouds until well past me, things were not ideal.  Still, I had seen it fly.

On another occasion I was able to be there when it returned.  This had also been a day with some pretty crummy conditions but this time I was seeing the weather starting to improve as the day wore on.  A little bit of a wait while they flew test activities over Central Washington was not such a bad thing.  Indeed, as they turned for home, the sun was coming out.  However, the wind was not abating!

When they called up on approach, I wandered to one side to see how far up the approach I could see.  Despite me being to the right side of the runway from their perspective, when I first got a good shot, the jet was actually pointing beyond me to the right.  The crosswind was obviously pretty strong.  Early in the flight test program, I wonder whether they really wanted to be testing this capability.  Of course this then meant I got a head on view as they got closer before running past me.  Shots in nice light!  Happy guy.  In the next year we shall see plenty of these but, for now, I am happy to have got something reasonable of this airframe off the ground.

Smith Tower

For a long time, Smith Tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi.  Now there are many buildings in Seattle alone that are taller than it is but it is still a building that stands out.  However, I had never visited it prior to some friends coming to town and suggesting we check it out.  The bottom of the building has a series of exhibits showing the history of the building and how it was used.  Then you take the elevator to the top of the tower and the lounge that is up there.

The lounge has some old wood paneling and it has a bar and food service so we took the option of getting some lunch while we were up there.  In addition, there is a balcony that wraps around the top of the tower so you can make a circumnavigation and check out the views in all directions.  The tower is at the opposite end of the town from the Space Needle so you get a very different perspective on the city.  Also, you are outside with just fencing between you and the outside so taking pictures is a lot easier with no screens or windows to navigate.

Lining up to Depart SeaTac

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.

Condor New (ish) Fin Markings

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).

Rhinos Messing With Me

During Wild Bites, mentioned in this post, we visited the rhino enclosure.  There were two rhinos inside munching on their evening feed.  The enclosure was not ideal for getting photos as they were indoors and there was a lot in the way.  However, they did head outside a couple of times.  I thought this might be my opportunity.  There were two areas where you could view them while outside and, while they could move between them quickly, to get around the outside required a bit more speed.  I looked at which way I thought the rhinos were heading.  They decided to change their minds and go the other way.  I was scurrying around like an idiot trying to get in position.  I never did a good job of it sadly.