Seeing a KC-46 at Boeing Field is not necessarily such a surprise. However, seeing one parked up at the FBO was more unusual. I am not sure whether the aircraft had been accepted and was ready for delivery or had actually come across country for a visit. Either way, a USAF crew was about to fly it back across the country. The size of the taxiways meant that it had to cross the runway to taxi up to the departure end where it could line up and head off on its way east. Was it a delivery? Who knows?
The USAF operates a small fleet of Boeing 757s for VIP transport. These C-32s are often thought of for their role transporting the Vice President when they adopt the call sign of Air Force Two. However, they transport a lot more people than just the Veep with other cabinet officials using them as well as senior Air Force staff.
One of them was at Paine Field for a while. I had heard that it had flown in but had assumed it had gone again. When I went up one evening after work (when the light was looking great and another jet I was interested in was due back), the people there told me it was still around. I figured it would be there for a lot longer and paid no further attention until someone noticed that it had moved out of its parking area on to a taxiway.
As with all of these things, nothing happened fast. Since the light was just getting better and better, I didn’t mind too much. Eventually a bunch of the passengers showed up – that will warrant its own post – and then they started up and taxied. They had to hold for a short while near the threshold so there was lots of time to get some shots. Then they were off. I figured, being a 757, they would be airborne quickly. They must have been heavy, though, since they ran a long way down the field before rotating.
From my new spot, you have a good view of the main civil ramp at Boeing as well as a slightly more distant view of the military ramp. The civil ramp was full of Max jets waiting to get delivered now that customers can start accepting the jets again. Not all agencies have cleared the Max so I guess Boeing was focusing on those that have and aiming to get as much cash as they could in before year end. You could also see the stored jets on part of the ramp as well as those in the parking lot across Marginal Way.
There were three 777X development airframes parked while the second jet was out on a test flight. I was hoping to get it returning but it was out over the Pacific off the Oregon coast and I rightly guessed that, despite the online forecast, it wouldn’t be back before sunset. The military ramp was a little quieter than I expected with a couple of KC-46s and some P-8s including the next one for the Royal Air Force. There were also two KC-46s up on the civilian flight test ramp. Plenty to see and it would have been better in morning light.
In this previous post about the hangars at Moffett Field, I mentioned that I was there to cover an exercise. The MC-130s were a big part of the exercise. They were loading up and launching down to remote landing strips on the California coast. The holds were full of equipment including off road vehicles. Loading these up was a tight fit. While the crews spent time getting everything ready to go, I was reasonably free to wander around the airframe and get some shots.
Here are some that I got that day. These were some of the oldest Combat Shadow (and maybe Hercules) airframes around at the time and I suspect that they have been replaced by now, I think by Combat King J models.
The Japanese (JASDF) were a customer for the tanker version of the Boeing 767 when Boeing was offering it in the early days. Japan and Italy were the only customers that I am aware of for that aircraft. Therefore, it was not a massive surprise that Japan ordered the KC-46 when Boeing developed it for the USAF. The first aircraft is now being completed and has been parked on the ramp up at Everett recently. Here it is undergoing some testing. Hopefully we shall get to see it flying soon.
Boeing seems to have addressed a lot of the problems with the KC-46 Pegasus program (but not all of them yet) and so the Air Force is taking delivery of jets at a regular rate. Since plenty have been built, there are enough to deliver. I was at Paine Field a while back when one of the jets was heading out on a test flight. I ended up being there for both the departure and the arrival since the flight was not that long. The good summer light that Seattle gets but we don’t like people to know about meant I got some reasonable shots of it.
This goes back quite a while to a day when I was at Paine Field for some 777X activities. After all that I had been there for was done, I was getting ready to pack up and go when I saw something off to the east approaching the field. It was large but seemed rather slow. It turned out to be a C-17. It made a pass straight across the field and I was hoping that they would break into the pattern but I was to be disappointed. They turned to the south and headed off towards McChord. Still, it was a nice addition to a sunny day of aviation photography.
The demise of a bunch of airline fleets of 757s at the moment is a shame as it is a type I was always fond of from the days of British Airways using them for shuttle services around the UK as well as being the first commercial jet I flew on heading to Lisbon from Heathrow. The military has also made use of the jet of course. The New Zealand 757 displays in the past have been pretty impressive and maybe that gives me an idea for a future post. The USAF has a bunch of them, designated as C-32, and they are used for VIP transportation.
They are not a type that you often come across but I have seen them on a few occasions. An Andrews AFB Open House provided one movement – they are based there so not such a surprise. Another was at Nellis AFB when one launched just prior to a Red Flag launch when we were waiting between the runways for the action to kick off. The VIP colors of the USAF jets are quite elegant and they suit the 757 nicely.
The heat haze was a bit of a problem on this day so I was hoping that they would roll out a bit long to get into usable range. They couldn’t have been more obliging. It turned out to be a US Marine Corps KC-130J. They didn’t exit early for the taxiway even though they could have done so with ease but instead rolled all the way to near me before exiting and taxiing back to the ramp in the other direction. This was very kind of them. I got them close enough in to have little in the way of heat haze and to get a decent look at them.