We went out for lunch at Ray’s Boathouse one Saturday afternoon. It was not a great day, weather wise, with fog covering Puget Sound. I didn’t take the big camera with me but I did take the M6 along just in case there was something to see. In front of our table on their deck was a piling which had a gull sitting on it when we got there. The gull soon flew off and then it was replaced by a cormorant! It must have been especially for me! It was drying its wings after its swim and I got a few shots of it while sitting at the table. I could have run to the car to grab the big lens but that would have interrupted our lunch a little too much!
As we made the crossing of Puget Sound on the ferry, I stood by one of the side openings to watch what went by. I was looking down the sound towards the city of Seattle. The silhouette of the city was obvious with buildings like the Space Needle showing up. Mt Rainier was in the background but a lot less clear given the haze in the air. With some sailboats in the water between us and the city, I figured I had to take a shot.
Sunday afternoon at Boeing Field awaiting the arrival of a 777X meant plenty of time to catch some incoming biz jets. Sadly, rarely are they painted interesting colors. XOJet has no colors, NetJets very little and FlexJet shouldn’t have been given access to the color chart given what they chose. David and I were chatting during all of this and completely missed the G650ER that came in that was a nicer scheme but so be it. There was a nice-looking Citation X in the mix, so some color included. Here are a few of the arrivals we got.
My previous unsuccessful trip to Paine Field on the Saturday for the first flight of the fourth 777X was followed up by a more successful Sunday visit. The dull and dreary Saturday weather had been replaced by clear skies (the smoke had finally gone away) and the sun was out. The time for takeoff was not going to be great because the sun would be high to backlit, but this was a first flight so the chances of it going on time were limited.
Sure enough, things got dragged out and the sun moved to a more favorable part of the sky. A 777F from Lufthansa Cargo was doing some test flying to provide some other interest and there was plenty of activity generally to photograph. Eventually the 777X was towed. From its parking spot to the south entrance to the Boeing ramp where it could start up.
It taxied up the Alpha taxiway to the hold point and then pulled into position. Normal Boeing practice is to do an accelerated and rejected takeoff before flying. They sat on the threshold and powered up, but the wingtips had not been lowered. I don’t know whether this was a test of the system that is designed to prevent taking off with the wing tips in the wrong position or not, but it seemed that way. Either way, the jet didn’t move.
They then lowered the wing tips, powered up, accelerated and then braked. Taxi back to the threshold again and a long way for some other traffic before they lined up again. The jet wasn’t heavy, but I was slightly surprised how much flap they had for takeoff compared to the other jets I have seen taking off there. Anyway, power on and off they went.
They were due to be flying for a few hours and then landing at Boeing Field so I figured I would make the trip down there for the arrival. On pulling up at Boeing Field, I bumped into my friend David so we were able to talk rubbish about planes for a while waiting for any arrivals. In due course the 777X showed up on approach by which time the light was a lot nicer than it had been for departure. Things may have taken longer than planned and meant the day was not much good for anything else but it was a fun outing and a successful trip.
The ferry ride back to Seattle was later in the afternoon. We were asked to stay on the car deck in our vehicles but we could walk around the deck if we wanted. Everyone around us was wearing masks – as was I – so I was happy to get out of the car in the fresh air and look at the city coming towards us (just depends on your frame of reference physics geeks). Here are some shots of the skyline from the boat as we got closer to the terminal.
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.
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.
The test program for the Boeing 777X is gradually increasing and a third jet has been added to the fleet. I stopped by Boeing Field because all three jets were scheduled to fly on this day. Having seen the first two, I was hoping for the third since I haven’t got any shots of it and its livery which is different to the first two. Sadly, I was to be disappointed as they scrubbed the flight.
However, the first two jets did fly. They were both already airborne by the time I got there. The arrival times back for both were supposed to be pretty close but you can’t put too much stock in those times as things on test will be what they will be. I headed to the arrival end for the first of them. It wasn’t that late so the light wasn’t ideal but it was still a bit better as we were well passed the solstice and heading to the equinox. Happy to take the shot of course.
I moved to the other end of the field when the second jet came in. I wasn’t interested in repeating the shot I had already taken (plus I had shot this jet in similar circumstances before) so some images at the other end seemed worthwhile. They landed short but had clearance for a high speed run on the runway so that brought them down to where I was. Fortuitously, they took the exit directly in front of me. I missed the transition of the wingtips while changing cameras. The tips were down in one set of shots but were folded as they taxied off the runway. The wide angle view is a nice one to get of something so large.
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.
The SR520 bridge across Lake Washington provides some great views of the lake and the shoreline around it. The nice thing about riding my bike across the bridge’s cycle trail is that it means I can stop and take some photos – even if they are only with my phone. The headland leading in to the Montlake Cut seems like a great place to live when it is a warm and sunny day in Seattle.
The other end of the bridge is the location of some pretty impressive houses. It is an area that is popular with many of the tech moguls that make Seattle home. I figured it would be wrong not to take a moment to have a look at the nice houses there. Bear in mind that these houses, while very nice and next to the lake are also right next to a major highway!