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.
As I was skipping through some images, I saw a few extra shots of the A400M at RIAT. I figured that I hadn’t seen many examples of the transport in service – just the test aircraft performing in displays. However, I have seen both Luftwaffe and Armee de l’Air planes at times so thought I would share a few shots of them plus some test planes for good measure.
I have shown a bunch of images of the Dreamlifter bringing in components to Paine Field for the production line including shots of the unloading of parts. During a more recent visit, I happened to be there when they were moving a pair of wings from the storage facility to the production facility across the airfield. They had escort vehicles to lead and follow up as they crossed the runway. The wings look a lot less impressive in the travel jigs. The completed 787 looks substantial but the wings alone don’t provide the same impact.
I headed to Alliance during my time in the Dallas area. There was a C-17 parked on the ramp a bit away from where I was. However, it was in nice light at the beginning of the day. Things improved a lot when I saw the beacons come on followed by the sound of engines cranking. It wasn’t too long before the jet taxied for departure. The Wright Patterson markings on the fin meant it was easy to see that this jet was from Dayton. I don’t know if that was where it was headed or whether it had stopped at Alliance en route to somewhere else.
The movement of cars around the world requires a specialist type of ship and, while they may be functionally effective, they are not good looking ships. They have the appearance of a box on the water. The large rear loading ramp allows the cars to be loaded and then they get driven around the multitude of decks for storage. This example was coming up the Solent and heading in to Southampton. A similar example had a shift of load in this area and was put aground on the Brambles Bank to avoid sinking. No issues in this case, of course.
Boeing is now delivering KC-46s to the Air Force at a rate that is a bit of an improvement. There are still plenty of issues with the project (with some only recently discovered) but at least jets are now making their way to the customer, even if they are not flying them too much! However, there are still a lot of the jets parked at Paine Field. The early morning sun provides some nice light on the line of aircraft. It is a rather cluttered view with plenty of airfield material in the shot but the light makes it a bit more appealing.
Arrivals day at any air show is a good opportunity to catch the movements of aircraft that will only be in the static display as opposed to the flying display. At RIAT, there are park and view areas at the east and west ends of the airfield. I have used both over the years but the east end can be really hectic. It does give you the chance to shoot the aircraft on final approach but you can really be fighting for space.
I chose the west end this year. Planes were landing at the east end but it was pretty normal for aircraft to taxi to the west end to then be led to their parking location. Of course, a few interesting types managed to turn off early or backtrack before they got to the end but, on the whole, we did well. The weather wasn’t great but there was a fair bit of sun which helped.
Some of the more exotic types made it up our way. The Ukrainian SU-27s and their IL-76 came up as did the special schemes on some of the F-16s. The Luftwaffe brought some marked jets along too. An F-15E taxied past twice and provided a couple of speed brake waves for the gathered photographers. It could get a bit congested and, with jets holding in the turning loop, they did occasionally send their jet wash across the path of the incoming jets which sabotaged a few photo opportunities.
Later on the Thursday, a few practice displays were also flown by crews qualifying for the show which provided a different angle on some of the performances. An F-16C of the USAF did its full routine and then added a few extra banana passes bringing out right over us at speed several times. Much appreciated!
I posted some shots of John Sessions’ Dragon Rapide in this post. I was pleased to see another Rapide show up at Fairford for RIAT. I managed to get a few shots of it. It was painted in a nice color scheme and looked very elegant as it pottered by. Not a speedy plane (despite the name) so plenty of time to enjoy it.