The regular AN124 visitors to Everett continue. This time of year can often bring northerly winds which means a departure up past the Future of Flight building. Having a heavy Ruslan depart that way can mean a nice angle to get on rotation as well as the climb out which, while a bit backlit, makes for a good change. I was happy with the takeoff but, as the jet climbed away to the north, the smoky combustion of the old D-18 engines was clear to see. The further that they climbed out, the less the plane was obvious and the more the smoke trail was. A bit of mixing from the trailing vortices helped as well. A lot of the people around me were commenting on how dirty it was.
Touchdown of an airliner almost always results in a big cloud of smoke as the rubber burns off the tires when they spin up to speed after first contacting the runway. Lots of tires can mean even more smoke and the 20 main tires on an A380 should mean a lot of smoke. Less often noticed is that the same thing happens when the nose gear touches down. As I shot this A380 landing at LAX, I happened to catch the smoke from the nose gear as it hit the ground.
We relocated to the other end of Boeing Field for the return of the Blue Angels. They ran in across the field trailing white smoke. Unfortunately, with little wind, this meant a pall of smoke was now hanging over the airport. As they broke into the downwind and then turned onto final, it was sometimes hard to see them at all. A healthy boosting of the contrast makes some of the shots a bit more visible but, in truth, the viz was really awful. I only hope they had a slightly better view of the ground than we had of them since their being able to see was slightly more important.
Grumpy got airborne using the Doolittle technique I posted about here. During the takeoff, there were some puffs of smoke from one of the engines. Initially I thought this might just be some oil blowing through but, as they climbed out, the output from the engine was clearly not as it should be and the one engine was clearly not healthy. They cut short the flight (although not as short as it could have been) and brought the plane back down. I saw Grumpy fly a few weeks later so I guess they dealt with whatever the issue was.
Icelandair has made a good business of operating Boeing 757s on routes from Iceland to the US with Seattle being a regular destination for years. There was a time when the 757 was a cutting-edge jet but these days they are getting up in years. Similarly, the RB211-535E4 was once considered very advanced. Now, it is dated. It turns out that one of the engines on this flight is in a little better shape than the other. As they cycled the power on the approach, the starboard engine was noticeably smokier. Not a big deal but I guess it has been on the wing a little longer than its partner.
A jet I don’t often get to see in action is the E-8 JSTARS. There aren’t a huge number of them and they often fly at times that don’t suit photography so I have not previously got a lot of shots of them and certainly not too many in flight. Based on the 707-300 airframe, they were pretty old when they were selected for conversion to the JSTARs mission. They are definitely showing their age and the USAF is in the process of competing for a replacement program. There are a few years left for the E-8 but they won’t be around for too much longer.
One feature of their age is the engines that they have. The jets are fitted with old JT3D engines. A program had been put in place to re-engine them with JT8Ds and a modified jet did fly. However, the program was put on hold due to the potential for a replacement aircraft making the payback period unviable. As a result, we got the old smoky jets. It isn’t as bad as the old pure jet days of the KC-135s and B-52s but it still is easy to track the jet as it climbs out courtesy of the black trail it leaves behind.
This United 747 was flying over the Bay during the Fleet Week display as I posted about in this post. One thing that was very obvious as the aircraft was put through its paces by the crew was that the number two engine seemed to be burning a lot cleaner than the other three. You wouldn’t pay much attention to the exhaust of a jet except when there is a clear discrepancy and, in this case, the number two was so obviously less smoky, I noticed. Maybe it was fresh from overhaul.