I had seen some photos of the lake side of the Boeing plant at Renton with 737s parked up there. Looking on Google Maps made me think these shots were taken from the deck of the Hyatt hotel by the lake. I drive down there one time to investigate but I was not planning on hanging around and didn’t feel like paying to park in one of the lots there so skipped it. However, riding my bike down through there was a different story. I detoured to the hotel and walked up to the deck area. Turns out you get a good view of the back of the factory. Not a lot of jets parked there but a few to see. Ryanair and their affiliate Buzz in this case.
I had a recent post of some shots from the USAF museum at Edwards AFB. It reminded me of my first visit to Edwards in 1990. On that trip I saw both the USAF side of things and the NASA side. The NASA hangars were great and there were lots of amazing types being used for testing purposes. I didn’t see everything I was hoping for there but it was still fantastic. One thing that really excited me was the storage lot. There were some interesting airframes parked up there. An F-8 Crusader that had been used for supercritical wing testing was there. I think that has since been taken care of and is now restored. The fly by wire testbed was also there.
There was also a weird hybrid airframe. I think it was called RSRA which stood for rotor systems research aircraft. This was a hybrid of rotor and fixed wing technologies. One of them was modified for the X-Wing program which was canceled before it could fly. Not sure which one I saw but I think it was the unmodified one. These things could have A-10/S-3 engines fitted to them for higher speed research work. Oh, to have seen one in action. This lot would have been definitely worth some time looking around if it had been possible.
Prior to the KC-46 Pegasus, Boeing had another go at selling the 767 to the USAF as a tanker. The aircraft that they had intended to be the solution at that point was a different configuration to what ultimately made its way in to the inventory. They went as far as building a speculative airframe for the project. However, when the project was aborted (for reasons that are far too complex for a simple blog post), the airframe lay unfinished. It was stored for a while at Paine Field before eventually being scrapped. Here is a shot of it prior to its demise.
The grounding of the 737 Max fleet has resulted in plenty of parked jets. I have shown them at Paine Field but Boeing Field seems to be a big storage location. The employee parking lot has been turned into a 737 parking lot. I have seen jets over there before either awaiting engines or from customers that can’t pay but nothing on this scale.
I took a trip to South Park so I could walk across the bridge and get a good view down into the storage area. I made a rough count and think there were probably over fifty jets stored there. While Boeing cut the production rate after the grounding, they only took it down to 42 a month so jets are still coming out at a prodigious rate. This area is full so, aside from Paine Field and Renton, I believe they are flying them to other storage locations.
The grounding of the 737 Max fleet worldwide means that they have been coming off the production line and going in to storage. A few of them were scattered around the Boeing ramp at Paine Field. One was particularly interesting though. It seemed to have the front fuselage wrapped in something while the rear fuselage windows were not covered but had individual panels sealed across them. No idea what this was all about but it did look unusual.
Boeing started delivering KC-46s to the USAF as I covered in this post. However, it didn’t take too long before the Air Force found various items of tooling in the aircraft that shouldn’t have been there and stopped taking delivery. Consequently, rather than delivering the backlog, it has continued to build. Paine Field had well over a dozen aircraft in various locations when we were there including three over by the Heritage Flight Foundation’s hangars. Here three were illuminated nicely by the sun as it rose across the field so a pano seemed in order.
The Planes of Fame museum at Chino is a fantastic place to visit for any aviation enthusiast. Many hangars are open and they are filled with all sorts of interesting aircraft, restored either to static or flying condition. However, they are not all that is there. There is a backlot in which other aircraft are stored awaiting either their own restoration or for them to provide parts for the restoration of something else. Some great looking vintage aircraft here including jets that it would be so good to see back in the air. I decided to dedicate this post to some shots of these less glamorous residents.
January 2019 brought a milestone for the USAF. They accepted their first KC-46 Pegasus. Admittedly they accepted it with a number of deferred issues that Boeing has been given a few years to resolve but that are Category 1 deficiencies. I guess this should mean we will see a lot of deliveries in the coming weeks and months.
The backlog of jets parked up is substantial. There are jets parked at Boeing Field on both the military ramp and the flight test ramp. There are more scattered around the Boeing ramp at Everett. More of them are in the conversion area at the south end of Paine Field. More still are parked up across the cross runway. It’s a lot of jets and, if you are an accountant, this is a level of Work In Progress that must make you squirm. We should see them start to head on their way before too long.
The tale of the USAF’s quest for a new refueling tanker has been long and drawn out. People went to jail, awards were made and overturned. None of that matters now. The contract is with Boeing to produce a variant of the 767 as the KC-46 Pegasus. The program has not been smooth. Technical and production issues have caused delays. The in service date has slipped and Boeing has incurred a lot of overruns.
While all of this has been going on, the production process has not stopped. Consequently, while testing still continues, there are production airframes coming off the line. If you go to Boeing Field, there are a bunch of test airframes on the flight line. If you go to Paine Field, there are a bunch more that remain to be finished. It appears that Boeing is building the airframes, sealing them up, not fitting high value items like engines, and parking them wherever there is space. A few years ago, Paine Field was covered in undelivered 787s. Now it is as if time has turned back because the Dreamliner’s predecessor is the type parked all over the place.
Moving house means packing up your stuff and hoping it all survives the journey. Some things you have are not ones you are happy about leaving out of your control so you take them with you. Since we were driving up, we had a bit of flexibility about what we could take with us. Aside from the camera gear, I brought my two NAS devices. These have the backups of all of my stuff so, while the computer went in the truck, I had the backups. However, when we got to the new place, one of the NAS units wouldn’t fire up.
This rather defeated the purpose of taking my backups with me. The reason I have two units is that the one I have had the longest is limited in the size of drives it can handle. 2Tb drives are the largest so, as it was getting full, I bought a new unit. Originally I had planned to just use it but, instead, I kept the one going and added new data to the new unit to avoid having to buy larger drives up front.
I figured at some point I might want to retire the old NAS. It was far noisier than the new one and was probably over ten years old. It seems to have made the decision for me.
Now I was in a worrying position. The newer unit didn’t have enough capacity for all of the data. However, it could handle most of it. I immediately backed up what I could. Meanwhile, I ordered new drives to expand it. The price of drives has dropped dramatically so the 3Tb units are being replaced by 8Tb items. That should provide plenty of capacity for a long time! As the drives get swapped out sequentially and the NAS rebuilds and syncs everything, I gradually got extra capacity and set up the full back up process. Now I am back to normal. It does make me wonder about the life cycle of a NAS though. (As an aside, I do have a tertiary backup of the images to BluRay so, while some elements were vulnerable for a while, the majority did have a fallback option.)