Category Archives: civil

Falcon 50 With Winglets

If a Falcon 50 is coming and I have the time to be there, there is a good chance I will.  What could make a Falcon 50 even more appealing?  Having winglets fitted.  I didn’t know that when I went to catch it, but you can guess that I was rather pleased when that turned out to be the case.  It feels as if there have been lots of Falcon 50s in the area in recent months.  Maybe I am just noticing them more or maybe they have been more common.  Either way, I’ll take it.  Add some more with winglets and that will be even better please!

Retirement for a Falcon 900EX Pilot

I was chatting with one of the Sheriff’s team at Boeing Field one weekend and he asked me if I was there to get the retirement flight.  I told him I didn’t know about it, and he said a Falcon 900EX pilot was coming in shortly on his final flight.  They were planning a water cannon salute for him.  The location of the hangar meant it wasn’t ideal to get shots of so I decided to go and get the touchdown of the flight and then do the best I could for the salute.

While I was waiting for the Falcon to return, I could see the fire trucks positioning themselves for the salute.  They were a good distance off so I knew that I wouldn’t get really compelling shots.  Nevertheless, I would be able to get something.  They had a couple of quick tests to make sure the water was flowing and then waited.  Soon enough the Falcon touched down.  A helicopter came into land just beforehand and blocked part of my planned shot but there was no time to change so I just adapted to what I had.  They rolled out to the north end of the field and then taxied in for the celebrations.  The fire trucks started spraying their water and the Falcon taxied through the water arch.  Then it was all over from my perspective.  I imagine that they celebrated a little longer.

As an aside, I went to the hangar the following week and asked if they wanted any shots.  They couldn’t have been less friendly if they had tried.  If they didn’t want anything, that’s fine but try not to be so miserable to someone just trying to do something nice.

Rainy Sunday for the National Queen

Given that National Airlines has a better than average livery, I will always be happy to get a shot of their planes.  The 747s are a favorite given that they are less common post the pandemic.  I was therefore really pleased that one was due into Paine Field one weekend.  Of course, this is the Pacific Northwest and that means no guarantee of good weather.  Sure enough, it was a bit overcast, and the air was damp.  I wasn’t going to get gleaming illumination of the airframe, but I might get some vapor.

Things weren’t that great but there were some vortices streaming from the flaps as they came across the threshold at the north end of the airport.  The grey of the livery was blending a bit with the clouds behind it, but the blues did still have a bit of punch to them.  It could have been better, but it was still something I was pleased to get.

Falcon 10s Aren’t Too Common These Days

The Dassault bizjets line continues to flourish but it all goes back to an earlier generation.  Interestingly, The Falcon 10 came after the Falcon 20 despite the numbering and is not related in anything other than name to the Falcon 10X which is the latest development from Dassault.  It is still a popular jet but there just aren’t that many of them around anymore.  However, they aren’t extinct and catching one is a nice result.

I have actually caught two of them in recent(ish) times.  The first came into Boeing Field and I have to say the weather was playing ball for a change.  Lovely winter light as it showed up and I was quite happy with the results.  Indeed, I thought this might be my last encounter with one for some time, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that one was coming into Phoenix Sky Harbor the day I flew down there.  Just before sunset it showed up.  It is a small plane so was a bit distant on the northern runway but still a result!

Some of My Rides on Safari

We took three internal flights while we were in Kenya and Tanzania and all three were interesting aircraft.  Better still, they were all different types.  One was a new one for me to fly on, but you might be surprised as to which that was.  Our first trip was on a Let 410.  It took us from the Serengeti to a short strip just short of the border with Kenya.  This wasn’t my first ride in a 410 but it was my first landing.  Previously I jumped out of one as part of a tandem skydive.  This one had far more comfortable seating.

Once we crossed the border, we took another flight into the Maasai Mara.  This was on a type that is ubiquitous in the area – the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.  I have never been on one of these.  They were very densely configured and getting through the cabin to a seat was quite an effort.  I don’t care to think what getting out in a hurry might be like!  We saw so many of these with different operators over the course of our visit.

The last type we flew was a Dash 8 100 Series.  A far larger type than the others, this flies some heavier routes, and these might involve multiple stops along the way picking up and dropping off customers.  Ours picked us up in the Mara and took us direct to Nairobi.  No intermediate stops for us.  It has been a long time since I flew in an early generation Dash 8, and I hadn’t thought of them as doing rough field ops.  However, supporting remote communities is part of their history so of course they are fine on these strips.  Unfortunately, heavy rains at the strip 90 seconds from our camp meant we had to drive for forty minutes to another strip to make this flight.  It was a good trip, though.  This part of the world was great for people like me that like close up encounters with aviation!

They Continue to Fly the Max10 But it Is Going to Be a While

The 737 Max program continues to be a total bear for Boeing.  As I write this, they are just recovering from the Max9 door plug incident.  Prior to that, it was issues with rudder components not rigged properly and then it was rear bulkhead production issues.  All of these follow on from the disaster that was MCAS.  The Max7 and Max10 have both been flying for ages but still haven’t achieved certification.  The Max7 was thought to be close, but it needed an exemption for inlet heating which Boeing had applied for.  In the aftermath of the door plug incident, that exemption application has been withdrawn and now the Max 7 might be a year away from approval.

The Max10 is behind the Max7 so it is possible that it might get approval by 2025 but, at this point, who knows when it will actually be.  Meanwhile, there is still testing underway.  The first Max 10 jet is active at the moment undertaking testing work.  It was due out from Boeing Field on another test heading off to Texas.  I figured it would run a little longer given that it would be heavier so chose my spot for the shots.  However, I did still use a longer lens to get a tighter shot for rotation.  The light came out nicely as they rolled and the rotation was ideal for where I was.  It is going to be a while before I see these in service but at least I get to see them on test periodically.

How Long Can a Falcon 50 Remain in Reverse?

The Falcon 50 only has a single thrust reverser, and it is fitted to the centerline engine.  The nacelles on each side are not fitted with reversers.  I was quite a way down the runway from this Falcon when it landed, and I could hear the reverser kick in.  I was not expecting it to stay in reverse for very long, but they kept it in all the way through the roll out and even as they exited to the taxiway.  Is that normal procedure?

A Rapid Turnaround for a G700

I managed to get some shots of one of the Gulfstream G700 test aircraft earlier in the test program.  Certification (at time of writing – not sure when this post goes live) is still not complete but they have built a lot of jets.  One of the test fleet (I think, based on the registration and the Experimental markings) filed to fly in and out of Boeing Field.  It was coming up from Monterey in California and then turning around quickly to go to Portland.  It was a quiet Saturday so I headed out. I had also seen some shots of this jet and it looked like it had a nice livery compared to the average bizjet.

The conditions were not great with a lack of light and some washed out skies, but I still managed to get some okay shots of it landing.  I then headed down the field to be ready for the departure.  Normally, I see a scheduled time and figure it will be a bit later.  Not this time.  By the time I got there, someone was already doing the walk around checks.  It was not long before they fired up and taxied.  Unfortunately, I had chosen a location quite a way down the runway.  The performance of these jets is good, and Portland is a short hop, so the jet was light.  They rotated very early compared to where I was.  I still got okay shots but a little less dramatic than I was hoping for.  Certification can’t be too far off so we might start seeing a lot more of these jets soon.

The Avanti Just Fails to Catch the Light

I was having a really lucky day.  I had caught a few really cool photo subjects and the lighting had been really good.  I was about to pack up and go when my friend reminded me of something I had forgotten.  An Avanti was scheduled in at the end of the afternoon and I had figured I would have been gone so had let it slip to the back of my mind.  Since a couple of other movements had got delayed, I was there later than expected and now the Avanti was on the approach.

The light was looking amazing, but it was still some distance out.  The Avanti is pretty fast, but I was watching the hillside beyond the field start to lose the sun and I knew that it wasn’t going to last long enough for my Avanti.  Sure enough, as it came into sight, the light was gone.  We had a gloomy look to things as it buzzed past.  Not as it could have been just three minutes earlier, but its an Avanti and it rounded out an excellent day nicely.

Is This My Last Kalitta 727?

The 727 is a rarity already and one of the remaining operators, Kalitta, is close to ending their operations too.  I read that they only have two left and that they will both be gone later this year.  Consequently, I was rather pleased when one was due into Seattle.  Unfortunately, it was due to land at about 8pm.  I did think of getting out to try and see what the ambient light would be like but decided against it.  It then got delayed and didn’t arrive until after 10pm.

They filed to head straight back out that evening so I figured I would miss out.  However, something was not right with the jet, and they didn’t leave.  The following day, when I saw that they hadn’t gone, I was able to come by and see if they were still there.  Indeed they were.  It wasn’t long before I heard the sound of an engine running and thought I might be in luck.  Sadly, the open panels were a sign that they were just doing an engine test.  I had to leave shortly afterwards and was wondering whether they would depart while I was absent.

Luck continued to be on my side, and they were still there later in the day.  No flight plan filed, and I was wondering whether they were either not going at all or might wait until after dark.  I was pondering driving around to the other side of the field to see if I could find out anything when my friend messaged me that a flight plan had been filed for a departure shortly.  Now, I never trust the timing of a flight plan for a freighter, but this was still promising.

Needless to say, they did not go promptly.  This was not a bad thing, though.  As I waited, the conditions were steadily improving with some nice light.  At this time of year, though, that light doesn’t last too long, and I was fearing it might disappear before they left.  Fortunately, they finally fired up and taxied past me.  The light was looking great. Now to hope that they didn’t have a long wait for ATC release.

I had wondered whether they would get off the ground fast or not.  The 727 was capable enough in short fields but they don’t leap off the ground.  I chose a location that I thought might be good for rotation shots and I am glad I did.  I had just about the perfect spot.  They rotated in front of me, climbed out in lovely light and disappeared.  I wonder whether this will be my last Kalitta 727 shot or not.