Once Russia went to war with Ukraine, the ability of Russian cargo operators to continue their US business went away. Volga Dnepr had been providing a bunch of service for Boeing operations at Everett bringing in outsize airframe parts. With them out of the picture, Boeing had to find an alternative. Antonov Design Bureau designed the AN-124 originally and it has an in house airline, Antonov Airlines. They seem to have picked up a bunch of work that Volga Dnepr previously had. Despite the enthusiasm for various people calling them Russians, they are definitely Ukrainian!
They have been in and out of Paine Field pretty frequently over the last few months. I have got shots of them at different times with the aircraft carrying various messages about cities in Ukraine. Having got shots at different times, I also started shooting some video. Here are some of the shots along with a video of one of the departures.
The flowers in our back yard are very popular with butterflies and, with nice evening light in the garden, I was bound to drag out the macro lens. However, when I tried getting some shots, the camera was having a really hard time focusing. I often ended up using the manual focus ring to get something close when the camera kept focusing on the background. I had struggled with a couple of other subjects previously and I was beginning to get really annoyed. This was not a cheap lens, and the camera certainly isn’t cheap but why wouldn’t it focus on a butterfly? I was using animal mode so thought it would cope.
I ended up trying different focus area modes. Narrowing it down to the small focus spot and moving that around by hand rather than using the subject detection modes was my next effort. I seemed to have some better luck, but it still was unreliable and was giving me a red box around the focus area. Why wouldn’t it work. I took a look in the menus to see if there was something in there which was going to be an issue but nothing there either. I was beginning to be fearful I had a dud. Then I noticed something. The focus limit switch had moved from the full range to having a minimum focus distance of 0.5m. That would certainly be an issue. Put it back to where it should have been and suddenly the focus was working perfectly. What a dope. Not sure when I had knocked that switch but it might have been a while back. Doh!
The Antelope Valley Airshow at Edwards AFB last year gave access to some very unusual airframes including some unique types. In the 90s, an F-16D airframe was converted into a variable stability testbed. It was used for test pilot training but also became a testbed for other technologies. Known as VISTA, it also tested a thrust vectoring nozzle on the engine as MATV, performing some amazing maneuvers. I know one of the test pilots that flew it including when it misbehaved!
The aircraft continues to be used for new developments and, relatively recently, it was re-designated to be an X-plane. It is now known as the X-62 while continuing to perform some of its original test pilot training roles. It was on display in one of the hangars at Edwards. It was a bit hard to get good shots of it since everything was rather crowded, but I was able to get a few that I was happy with.
The conference center in Pittsburgh was my destination for a rail conference in June. I was there for several days but it was only on the last day that I managed to get some time to head up to the roof area of the center. It had some interesting gardens with views across the roof structure and some art installations. It also had a great view across the river. The top wasn’t the only interesting spot. There was a route under the center too which I found on my first day there when I was struggling with how to actually get into the place. It was not very intuitive which, given the nature of the place, seems rather odd. I saw a few people riding bikes through this lower level, but I never went down there.
Much of the wildlife I end up photographing in Juanita Bay Park is the birds or the aquatic life. However, I do occasionally come across some other creatures as I stroll through and one afternoon it was some deer. I have seen deer in the park before. They tend to stay away from the more heavily trafficked areas, but they do cross the paths when getting from one spot to another. That was what happened in this instance. They jumped out of the bushes ahead of where I was heading and across to more foliage. I thought they would be gone but they stopped and munched on some of the leaves for a while. Not clearly in sight but not avoiding me either!
I have posted a few shots of preserved aircraft at Kemble, but Cotswold Airport is the end of the line for a lot of planes in a far less graceful way. It is the base for disassembly of airframes that have reached the end of their operational lives. A jet doesn’t have to be that old to have greater value in its parts than as an operational aircraft. If a major check is coming up and it isn’t worth that much post check, it might be worth it to the owner to have it broken down for spares. As airframes get older, this decision is more obvious.
Kemble is the location where a lot of this happens. From the airfield or from the road that passes by, you can see a line up of aircraft that are unlikely to ever fly again. They will be progressively stripped of their most valuable parts. They may hang around like this for a long time with bits being gradually taken off as they are demanded by other operators. Eventually, there will be little left of value and the scrap metal will become the most valuable thing that they have to offer. Then they will be cut up. It is a safe process for an aviation enthusiast but a normal part of the life cycle of an aircraft. If you are in the area, head by to see what is there.
Plenty of the houses in Longparish are thatched. One of them has a roof line that drops very low to the ground on one side of the house with the door and windows on the other side. That must be the side that gets more light. The back side of the house seems to be very shaded with the result that there is a lot of growth on the roof. It was covered in various lichens/mosses. I wonder whether they degrade the thatch or actually provide an additional layer of insulation.
I was at SEA early one Sunday morning to try and catch a shot of Salmon Thirty Salmon before it was repainted. Northern Air Cargo also departs at a similar time of day as part of its loop between Hawaii, Seattle, Los Angeles and back to Hawaii. I assume one of the regular jets was in maintenance because they had chartered in some capacity from StratAir. I was not familiar with this operator but I was happy to catch a 767 in new colors for me.
When it comes to classic American cars, I know next to nothing. I didn’t grow up with them and I haven’t studied them since so put me in amongst a bunch of these cars as was the case for the Exotics@RTC Classics event and I will just focus on what I think looks cool. These cars could be the rarest of items or the thing you could see at any local car meet and I wouldn’t be any the wiser. The only clue to me that they could be a significant vehicle would be that a huge crowd of people was hanging around them.
The Classics Day certainly did bring out any number of cool looking old vehicles. To be honest, some of them don’t even look that great to my eye but they are of an era and show where car design was at that time. They might be chunky and huge but that was what cars were like back then. Others have some more interesting styling features like the fins I mention in the title to this post. That is something that I would previously have found rather crass but, as the time has passed, it is now more of a cool styling cue.
I know quite a few people that are petrol heads that will recognize these vehicles and possibly their years. The only way I would identify them was if the name was written on the side – which it usually is – or if the owner has a sheet in the window with details of the vehicle and its history. That will be plenty for me anyway. Hope some of these chunky or swoopy shapes appeal to you.
It’s been a while since I posted some images of Marine Corps Hornets having issues starting up to depart from Boeing Field after a weekend visiting for training. I didn’t include any images in there of them actually taking off. I got a reasonable spot to try and see them take offs even though the weather was not really great. I was surprised at just how quickly the jets got airborne. They were already quite high by the time that they came by me. I was still able to get some reasonable shots of them. Fast jets are always a nice change to the usual Boeing Field traffic.