Tag Archives: united

Air to Air With United Jets – Or Is It?

When putting together some images for a group online that I am involved with, a dug out a couple of shots of jets departing O’Hare I shot years back.  When coming off 22L, some of the jets make an early turn to the south and you can get a view of them that is either quite level with the wing line or slightly above.  When shooting them, they are climbing so it is obvious what you were shooting.  However, as I looked at these shots, it occurred to me that they looked a lot like an air to air position except the angles were wrong because of the climb.  Since I had shot quite tightly, re-cropping the shot required some Photoshop work.

Taking the image out of Lightroom and in to Photoshop, I selected the crop tool and rotated the image to be the sort of angle that an air to air shot might be.  Doing this crops off the nose and tail of the jet.  However, one feature of the crop tool in Photoshop is that, if you then drag the edges of the tool back out, you can expand the canvas size.  You now have the whole plane in shot but have added some white space in each corner where no image previously existed.

It is a simple task to then use Content Aware Fill to add sky back in to these areas.  The result is a shot that looks almost as if you had been flying in formation at altitude.  Would you have spotted it?  Having done it with an A320, I then had a go with a 757.  The light angle makes it look a bit like we are flying along towards a setting sun.  I was rather pleased with the trick.

Another Star Wars Jet – At Last

When a new Star Wars movie is released, it seems to be the thing to arrange a tie in with an airline and have them paint jets in special Star Wars themed liveries.  ANA was a part of this and I have shot a variety of their special paint scheme jets which you can see here and here.  For the most recent movie, The Rise of Skywalker, United got in on the game and painted a 737 in a black livery with special marking including one side with a blue lightsaber and one with a red.  I had not seen the jet before.  It has been to SeaTac a few times but never when I could get there (or when it was daylight).  Finally it showed up one evening when the weather was great so nice light.  Only one side to see of course but here it is!

United Retro Jet

I once got to shoot the United retro colors on the A320 while I was at SFO up the tower but I had not got a decent shot of it actually flying.  When it showed up on approach to SFO, I was pretty pleased.  Sadly, the cloud cover was not cooperating terribly well.  Only when it had got past me did it pop into better conditions.  It was okay when further out on final but neither of these were too helpful.  One day!

Terminal View from the Shuttle

I was in San Francisco for a work visit a little while back.  I was picking up a rental car so took the shuttle that runs around the terminal areas and then out to the rental car facility.  This trip gives you a view of the apron areas by each terminal.  As you drop away from the central terminal area, you get a good view back across the ramp area predominantly used by United but also other Star Alliance carriers.  I grabbed some shots from the shuttle to give an overview of this area that is otherwise obscured from view.

Bye Bye United 747s

The disappearance of passenger 747s from service continues.  Today is the last day for the United 747 fleet.  I do not have anything of their earlier versions of the jet but I have seen the 747-400s in service a lot and have flown on them a couple of times too.  I won’t be doing so again.  A flight from San Francisco to Honolulu will repeat the first service and was sold out a long time ago.  The planes have been heading to the storage yards in recent weeks and after today, there is one more to make the trip.  Now the 777s and 787s will be responsible for the long-haul services.

When United Thought That Ted Was a Winner

Occasionally I post about disappearing airlines.  Normally they are airlines that went away because they ran out of cash.  This one is a different story.  The arrival of low cost airlines caused a lot of the majors to think that they could fight the newcomers by setting up their own lost cost operation.  United came up with Ted.  I guess this was like half a United!  They moved a bunch of their Airbus A319s and A320s from United to Ted and set them up on services which, I guess, did not have the premium passengers and so was focused on the economy traveler.

Ted lasted for a while.  I don’t know whether it was ever a profitable business or not.  When you viewed it in the context of the overall United business, it might have been good for a while.  However, whatever the underpinnings of the business were, eventually United came to the conclusion that Ted was not a good idea.  I don’t know whether the cost base was too high to sustain it or whether it was just undercutting revenue from United but they gave up on the idea.  The jets got repainted and became part of the United fleet again.

Number Two is Cleaner

B11I1840.jpgThis United 747 was flying over the Bay during the Fleet Week display as I posted about in this post.  One thing that was very obvious as the aircraft was put through its paces by the crew was that the number two engine seemed to be burning a lot cleaner than the other three.  You wouldn’t pay much attention to the exhaust of a jet except when there is a clear discrepancy and, in this case, the number two was so obviously less smoky, I noticed.  Maybe it was fresh from overhaul.


United 747 Flying a Display

B11I1667.jpgAir shows include a lot of planes that are regular performers.  However, some shows manage to include something a little different and having a big airline with a local hub will help.  The Chicago Air and Water Show would feature American Airlines jets when I lived there.  San Francisco Fleet Week gets United to bring a jet.  This year they brought a 747-400 to the flying display.  Seeing a big jet like this thrown around the bay is really cool.  Whether it is flying low over the bay or turning in near the Golden Gate Bridge, this is something you don’t get to see too often.


Scimitars on the 737-700

C59F7204.jpgWhen APB launched their Scimitar winglet retrofit program, they picked up a number of customer pretty quickly.  I was soon seeing them fitted across the 800 and 900 series 737s of a number of operators.  United and Alaska both seem to have gone all in pretty quickly.  However, I guess the 700 series jets were not such a high priority – maybe the business case is not as compelling.  Consequently, I hadn’t seen them fitted to any 700 series jets until I came across this United example.  It was the first I had seen in action.  I still haven’t seen many so I wonder whether this is going to be a fleet fitment or if United are testing it on a few airframes before making a larger decision.  Anyone know?

Floating Down The Runway in a Jumbo

AU0E4070.jpgAirline operates are usually pretty predictable – at least provided the weather is not too extreme. You tend to get jets on glide path and at the appropriate speed. This results in touchdowns being reasonably close to the same place each time. However, poor are flying these planes and they introduce some variability to the mix. A recent visit to SFO included one United 747 that was a bit off target.

AU0E4060.jpgFirst I should point out that the runway in use is a long one and that a 747 at the end of a flight can get down safely in a lot less space than is provided. In this case, that helped. The 747 came across the threshold and flared for landing. It was higher than normal and must have been carrying some speed because it floated a long way down the runway. When it eventually touched down, we had the city skyline behind it which only emphasized how far it had gone. No harm done and it exited with plenty to spare but it was conspicuous enough to have got all present commenting on it.