I had a lucky break one evening when I headed up to Paine Field for one thing, only to discover that the 777-9 development airframe was undergoing taxi tests. I got there to see it on the Boeing ramp with cooling fans running to cools the brakes. I was worried that I may have missed all of the action but this was not the case. They had two more taxi trials that they ran before wrapping up. Each time they would have a brake cooling session with the fans.
The engines are a problem at the moment so they don’t have a flight clearance. That means that the taxi trials will not get too fast. High speed taxi trials require a flight clearance to be available should the aircraft get airborne by accident. These were not going to do anything like that so no lifting the nose wheel. Just accelerate down the runway, gather data points and apply the brakes. I wrote a piece for GAR which is here that covered the trial and there is some video below which includes a head on view of the folding wingtips being lowered into the flight position.
The taxiway at Hyakuri jinks around the shrine and consequently the towers we were on. This is probably an inconvenience the crews but this didn’t stop them from being friendly. The kids on the tower next to me waved at the crews and always got a wave back. I joined in too and waved whether the kids were there or not. I don’t think I ever failed to get a response!
These Phantoms were taxiing towards me from the ramp and they headed out to depart. As the came along the taxiway, I got a moment as they started to merge from my position and, briefly, there was a moment when one was hidden behind the other with the exception of the wings. For that second I had a Phantom bi-plane in front of me before the effect was gone. I consider this the rare Phantom II/IV!
While the world’s 747 fleet is progressively running down, United is still a big operator of the type and SFO is a focus of their operations of the type. Consequently, during the surge of departures to Asia in late morning, you will have a pretty steady stream of Jumbos taxiing out and taking off. While Roger and I were out, a couple of them taxied out at the same time. We had one holding short of 28L and the other was in the gap between 28L and 28R as incoming aircraft approached. I joked with Roger that the two of them should line up on parallel runways and depart in formation.
When the inbound jets had landed, both aircraft moved forward again and, sure enough, they lined up on both runways. We couldn’t help but laugh at this since they seemed to be following our instructions. You will regularly see parallel departures on the 01 runways but we couldn’t believe that we would have the same thing here. Sadly, we were right. The closer jet departed first and was then followed a short while later by the second. It would have been very cool to see them climb out side by side but that was a bit too much to ask.
When we arrived in Chicago nearly ten years ago, the cab fleet was almost totally homogenous. If you got in one, it was almost definitely going to be a Crown Vic. Over the years, a few Prius (should that be Prii) started to show up. Now the a Crown Vics are becoming a minority as newer vehicles that are predominantly hybrid take over the fleet. Having slightly smaller vehicles makes a lot of sense given that there are often few occupants. However, as I walked home the other day, I passed the lone of taxis outside the IBM building and the car at the front of the line caught my eye. A Ford Fiesta! Now that really is a shrink!
As we drove along the south side of Maui, we passed through a small settlement. At the side of the road was an old London cab. This was of the vintage of Austin built cabs where there was an open space beside the driver where trunks could be stored. These are a rarity anywhere but to find one so far from London was a surprise. I guess you can always get a London cab if you need one!