One of the regular Volga-Dnepr AN124 flights to Everett was departing. The jet was towed out of the Boeing ramp and on to the taxiway for start up and departure. The Antonov is a big jet and its four wheel nose gear needs a special tow bar. When you are one of the largest freighters in the world, why not just take it with you. Once he plane was in place, the crew rolled the tow bar around to the rear cargo ramp. There, they hooked it to two lifting hoists and the tow bard was hoisted into the aircraft and the rear doors closed.
If someone knows whether they leave it on the hoists in flight or whether it is stowed and secured in some other location when inside, please let me know in the comments. I do like the self sufficiency of the whole approach. Given how often they come to Everett, having a tow bar on site would seem plausible but I guess they will need it at any of their other, less frequented, stops so they have to carry it all of the time. You never know where you are going next.
The regular AN124 visitors to Everett continue. This time of year can often bring northerly winds which means a departure up past the Future of Flight building. Having a heavy Ruslan depart that way can mean a nice angle to get on rotation as well as the climb out which, while a bit backlit, makes for a good change. I was happy with the takeoff but, as the jet climbed away to the north, the smoky combustion of the old D-18 engines was clear to see. The further that they climbed out, the less the plane was obvious and the more the smoke trail was. A bit of mixing from the trailing vortices helped as well. A lot of the people around me were commenting on how dirty it was.
Suddenly IL-76s are appearing at Paine Field on a regular basis. I came across one by surprise not long ago but didn’t get a chance to track its progress. However, a quick check on Flightaware showed it had departed. Fortunately, I checked the flight and realized that it did a quick pattern and then landed again. After that, it didn’t move for ages and was still there when I next visited. I wonder whether it got sick and has been awaiting parts? Anyway, since taking this shot it has departed to Iceland successfully. At the time of writing, it is back though. So much Ilyushin traffic!
I have shot a lot of AN124 Ruslan movements in recent years whether in the Bay Area or now we are in Seattle. I am still happy to see them, of course, but something a little different is welcome. When I arrived in LA, there was one parked up on the ramp near the museum. I figured it would be gone by the time I was back for my helicopter flight but I was wrong. It was still there. Consequently, I was happy with a few new views on a familiar beast.
The IL-76 departure was not the only Volga Dnepr jet heading out that morning. An AN124 was also in and they scheduled their departures within 30 minutes of each other. I wasn’t passing the Ruslan up given that I was already there. The weather was still crummy but this did mean that there was a lot of moisture showing up as the pressure dropped. The 124 was loaded up a bit more so ran a lot longer on the takeoff run and rotated not far from where I was. The moisture in the air resulted in some nice puffs over the wing surface and it was trailing vortices from rotation all through the climb out until it disappeared into the clouds. It actually was pulling its own cloud for a while as it neared the cloud base and I thought it had gone into the cloud at first but it cleared up again for a moment before it did finally enter the clouds.
The presence of the IL-76 in the Pacific Northwest showed up in a previous post of mine here. I wasn’t aware of one being back here until I was up at Paine Field and one was parked up at the Boeing facility. It had come in during the night and didn’t go back out again until I was at work. I actually saw it fly by my window as it headed out. I figured it was done but I was wrong.
The message got out that it was due back in to Paine Field during the weekend. The weather forecast was not great (again) but it was too good a chance to pass up. I was not the only one either. A lot of people had shown up to see it come in. The cloud base was pretty low and the plane was quite close in before it popped out of the murk. As it came down the approach, it was easy to see. Aside from the plane itself, the trailing vortices from the flap system were streaming behind the aircraft with the moist atmosphere making them very conspicuous.
As they floated across the threshold, the vortices were still very conspicuous and they floated a good way down the runway streaming all the way. In fact, even after touchdown, the vortices were still visible. They taxied back in to the north entrance to the Boeing ramp where the waiting committee were ready. That will be work another post of its own.
A day later the departure was scheduled. Of course, the weather was still pretty crappy. Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to pass it up. The flight was only a short one though. They were heading to Dallas and I don’t think they were carrying much. Consequently, they were lightly loaded and got off the ground quickly. The climb was steep and they were up into the cloud base before too long. Still, I managed to get a few shots of them as they went off. I wonder if I will get to see an IL-76 in the sun at some point?
My wife is a trooper. We were coming back from a day out in the mountains and I saw an Antonov AN124 was coming in to Everett. It was due to land shortly before sunset and sounded like something I wouldn’t want to miss. We weren’t going to be able to get home in time to drop of Nancy so I could get back up to see it arrive. She agreed to make a diversion to see the plane come in. Not her thing but she was okay with being there.
The timing could not have been much better. The light was nice, low and soft so the plane looked great as it trundled down the approach. When it taxied back up to the north entrance to the Boeing ramp, the texture of the skin, which is normally lost in higher light, was a lot easier to see. In fact, the finish looked pretty rough. I guess the Volga Dnepr planes get a lot of use!
The Antonov 124 is a reasonably regular visitor to the US when outsized cargo needs to be moved. It is often commented on as being a Russian plane but, while one of the operators is a Russian company and some of the aircraft were assembled in Russia, the design and much of the production is actually Ukrainian. Ilyushin, on the other hand, really is a Russian company. Their IL-76 is also operated for freight services but it doesn’t show up anything like as frequently. Consequently, when a Volga Dnepr example was scheduled in to SeaTac on a Friday afternoon, I was pretty annoyed I would miss it. However, it ended up being seven hours late so arrived well after dark.
Departure the following day was going to be a practical proposition for me (and many others as it happened). The weather was not going to be ideal with low cloud and rain but, when the visitor is a rarity, you don’t get to choose whether to go based on weather. Fortunately, the departure was a lot closer to schedule than the arrival. I drove past the cargo ramp and saw it parked up and all closed up so did wonder whether it would go on time but things were working well and they headed out.
This aircraft was the newer variant with the PS90 engines and takeoff performance was pretty good. I had worried it would be low on the climb out and not in a good position to photograph but it climbed well and was in a good position to get a shot. I had a big grin once it had gone as did the rest of the people waiting for it.
Antonov 124s make a regular appearance at Paine Field. Boeing obviously receives a lot of shipments which I am guessing may be engine deliveries. Plenty of the flights come from Columbus OH which is near a GE plant and the GE90-115 fan is too big for most freighters when installed. However, it could be for something else. Anyway, I got one coming in to Everett recently. Paine Field is a popular field for light aircraft so you get a lot of them flying patterns on the main runway. One called up on final when the Ruslan was turning on to final. They made it in without any trouble but it was quite amusing to see the little plane on final with the unmistakable silhouette of the Antonov not far behind.
Moffett Field is located close to a couple of satellite manufacturing locations. When the time comes to ship the satellites to their launch location, the transport of choice is often the Antonov AN124. Twice, now, I have caught one of these huge aircraft coming in to pick up a payload. The most recent one resulted in getting these shots. The slightly annoying thing is that both times the plane came in in the middle of the day. This is the worst time for shooting at Moffett because the light is almost directly on the tail of the jet. Earlier or later would be fine. Oh well.