I put together a post about some interesting jet traffic at Anchorage from a visit I made long ago. While jet freighters are a big deal at Anchorage, the area is also known for its more unusual prop traffic. Some of these are vintage and others are types that have fallen out of favor elsewhere but continue to have a use in Alaska. Here are some shots of the various props I got to see while on that trip in the mid-2000s.
A couple of years ago, a NOAA Gulfstream was operating in the area for a while and I managed to get some shots of it that were shared in this post. That Gulfstream had a couple of interested radomes fitted. Another part of the NOAA fleet is a WP-3D Orion. It also has some interesting radomes and antennae installed. It is based in Florida – there are usually storms to follow on that side of the country. However, the Pacific has its share of storms too and NOAA studies them as well.
Consequently, NOAA recently deployed the WP-3D to Alaska to pay attention to some weather activity out in the ocean. They staged it through Boeing Field to split the journey up there in two. I was waiting for it when it arrived. The conditions had been pretty overcast but, with a late in the day arrival, the cloud cover was starting to break up and the sun popped out just in time for its arrival. An interesting airframe with a nice color scheme. It headed on the following day but I couldn’t be there for that.
Kenmore’s floatplane operations are the best known part of their business but they have a lot of flights using the Cessna Caravan from land bases. One of them returned to their Boeing Field base while I was there. The Caravan is perfectly capable of using the short runway at the airport and, with plenty of traffic using the main runway, this one came in on the short side. That brought it closer to me so I was pretty happy about it.
Everyone always associates the Gulfstream brand with business jets. These days that is all that they make but it started out with a turboprop. The first Gulfstream was a straight winged plane with a low set tailplane and a pair of Rolls Royce Dart turboprops for power. If you look at the airframe, it is not hard to see how it was married to a new wing, power plants and empennage to create the G-II, However, the turboprop is the original. I remember seeing Ford’s aircraft operating from Stansted to their European bases. However, I have rarely shot one of the originals.
I have two that were operating at different locations but, judging by the registrations, they are probably from the same operator. Not much diversity there. I also have shots of an old NASA airframe stored as part of the Pima Air Museum’s collection. Not sure whether it has been reassembled at this point or not but, hopefully, one of the locals there can let me know. This was the beginning of a long line of top of the range bizjets.
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.
There is no shortage of DHC Beavers in the PNW, even of the turbine variety. Plenty of them are on floats, too, so even that doesn’t make it particularly special. However, when you haven’t been able to shoot much aviation for a long time, one is a welcome sight. Even better when it switches to the closer runway when on approach.
Any airport in North America on any given day will have a reasonable chance of a Bonanza showing up. Them come in all vintages, shapes and sizes but they usually come! I’ve therefore shot tons of them over the years. However, I think I may have had a first in that I recently shot a turbine Bonanza. It was on the approach at Paine Field and it was obvious that there was something different about it. The noise was clearly a turbine and the tip tanks had been fitted with winglets. Given the location, I assume they are for drag reduction since they wouldn’t add much to directional stability. Tip tanks are probably a must given the rate at which turbines burn fuel compared to pistons. It was a smart looking thing with the revised nose shape looking quite graceful. Sadly the landing wasn’t as graceful but floating is fine when you have 10,000’ ahead of you!
Unusual visitors to an airport are obviously welcome and give you the chance to get something new. However, that also means you want to make sure you get the shot so you don’t want to experiment too much with settings. Having someone bashing the circuit for a long time and flying a variety of different approaches means that you can take as many shots as you like and try all sorts of different things.
My Sunday at Paine Field included a pretty smart looking Quest Kodiak doing some training flights. Lots of approaches, some straight in and others curving. All the opportunity I could want. Wide shots, tight shots, how low will I dare go with the shutter speed? I had the 1.4X teleconverter on the 500mm so shooting at 1/100th of a second at 700mm is going to have a pretty low success rate but I was pleasantly surprised how many came out nice and sharp. Not bad to have a day of panning practice.
The Kodiak is an interesting looking plane. Having a turbine means a nice high prop speed on approach which certainly helps but it is also something that can be thrown around easily so the training flight included a bunch of different approaches. I appreciated the effort they made on our behalf. Now to get the light on the prop to show it up nicely!
A small twin is not going to get a lot of attention from the local photographers at Paine Field on a busy day with lots of traffic. However, it was still relatively early in the day and the air still had a fair bit of moisture in it. I took a guess that this might result in some prop vortices so decided to shoot it anyway. Sure enough, some swirls of moisture showed themselves. Not a dramatic look to them but still what I was after and there wasn’t anything else to do anyway!