Tag Archives: washington

Lucky C-17 Overflight

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.

Smoke In the Air

The wildfires that spread throughout the west in September resulted in some really bad air quality in our area.  It was hard to see too far on some occasions and you definitely weren’t supposed to exercise if you could avoid it.  At one point, I had thought a short bike ride might be okay but I didn’t do it and, when I went out to take some photos, I realized that even walking around the park was resulting in me feeling quite bad.  Serious exertion would have been a bad idea.

I wanted to get some photos that demonstrated how bad the air quality was.  However, I discovered that it was quite hard to compose a shot that showed how bad things are.  You can take pictures that show distant objects as obscured by the smoke particles (although post processing techniques can reduce or increase the obscuration if you wish) but the difficulty with that is that a photo doesn’t give a good idea for the viewer of how far away things really are.

A wide lens makes even things that are close look distant and a telephoto lens brings distant things in close so you struggle to make the viewer perceive things the way you actually saw them at the time.  I tried with these shots to have enough in the foreground to give some concept of how quickly the visibility fell off but I don’t think it really tells the story in the way that being there did.  However, this is a record of what it was like and maybe I will come back to these pictures to remember.

A Day of Biz Jets

Sunday afternoon at Boeing Field awaiting the arrival of a 777X meant plenty of time to catch some incoming biz jets.  Sadly, rarely are they painted interesting colors.  XOJet has no colors, NetJets very little and FlexJet shouldn’t have been given access to the color chart given what they chose.  David and I were chatting during all of this and completely missed the G650ER that came in that was a nicer scheme but so be it.  There was a nice-looking Citation X in the mix, so some color included.  Here are a few of the arrivals we got.

Waiting for the Ferry at Kingston

On our way home from Port Townsend, we took the ferry from Kingston to Edmonds.  We got there just as one ferry was leaving so we were safely guaranteed a space on the next one.  Rather than sit in the car, I walked down to the overlook of the water so I could see what was moving out on the water.  In the end, it was mainly watching the ferry that had just left as it headed away and then looking out for our ferry as it made the crossing and approached.  I was quite surprised how few people came to have a look given that it was a lovely day and there were loads of cars waiting to board!

T-33 Pattern Work

After such a long time of struggling to get shots of the Boeing T-33 chase planes, I seem to have had a lot more luck recently.  One showed up at Paine Field and, rather than just shooting an approach and departing straight to Boeing Field, it made a full stop landing, taxied back, took off, entered the pattern and came around again.  This was a welcome addition to a sunny afternoon.  There was only one crew onboard so I guess with was some continuation training.

As the plane taxied back to the threshold, I got a good look at the upper side of the front fuselage.  There appear to be quite a variety of antennae mounted on there.  I didn’t know whether they were GPS location antennae or other types but there are plenty there.  Whether they are used for different functions or are needed for validating test data and cross referencing, I have no idea.  Some of them may even be redundant but no one has seen the need to remove them.  Whatever the reasons, there are lots there!

A Ship on the Shore

While driving to Port Townsend, we took a diversion to Point No Point.  It was still foggy as we headed up there and it turned out that there was no point in going to Point No Point.  However, driving up the road towards the lighthouse, a ship appeared out of the fog.  Turns out it was the wheelhouse from a ship that someone had decided to add to their property.  It is a fair distance from the water and looks rather incongruous as you drive by.  Had to grab a shot!

Who Could Miss a Deer This Size?

While walking through Fort Worden, we went through a selection of buildings to a trail up the hill.  As we turned a slight corner. I looked back where we had just come and there was a deer sitting in the shade of one of the buildings we had just passed.  It was looking very relaxed and I was amazed to realize I had just walked right passed it and never even noticed.

As we returned the same way a while later, I wondered whether it would still be there or not.  I looked for it but the space was now empty.  However, as my view opened up, I realized that a deer (I can’t say whether it was the same one or not) was strolling up the road.  It came to some shade from some trees and plonked itself down to rest.  We had to walk very close to it and it didn’t seem in the least bit bothered by us.  I took some photos as we went by and we left it in peace.

Prop Vortices on a Damp Morning

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!

Marymoor Dragons

A sunny afternoon was a good time for a ride since such nice days are likely to be in short supply before too long.  I didn’t feel like pushing myself up nasty climbs on such a lovely day so went for miles rather than climbing feet and took the trail down the Sammammish River and on down through Marymoor Park and alongside Lake Sammammish.  As I went through Marymoor park on my outbound leg, I noticed what initially appeared to be a couple of plows alongside the trail. I decided to check them out on the return leg.

When I came back, I realized that, far from being farming implements (albeit on a small scale), they were actually sculptures of dragons.  A pair of them, presumably taking flight?  I was glad I waited until the return journey because the sun was that bit lower and the light a bit warmer.  That did make it a bit more tricky to keep my shadow out of the shots but I just about managed.

Lufthansa Cargo 777F Test Flying

Two visits to Paine Field in close succession resulted in two times to view a Lufthansa Cargo 777F undergoing tests.  Lufthansa Cargo is in the process of replacing its MD-11F fleet with the 777F and one of the jets was undergoing a number of pre-acceptance flights.  It was shooting a couple of approaches while the 777X was getting ready to depart on one of the days and doing a little more flying on another.  On the second day, it came in with the RAT deployed too which makes for a noisier aircraft!

Often, when the jets are on the approach, I use the 500mm to get the shots as it is further out and then switch rapidly to the 100-400 for the closer in shots.  Having got a bunch of shots in nice conditions on the first day, I decided to stick with the longer fixed lens for later approaches to do something different.  Some tight crops on the cockpit and some compression of the features of the plane were the goal.  It made for something a little different and I was quite pleased with the outcome.  I also got to see the crew wearing masks in the cockpit!