Struggling to Get the Owls

My Skagit trip was primarily looking for geese, but I was also going to see whether the short-eared owls were back out and about.  I ended up in East 90 again which has a solid reputation for the owls.  As I pulled up, various other raptors were flying very close by, so I knew the chances of seeing stuff were going to be good.  Unfortunately, the owls were not playing ball.  There were loads of them flying but they seemed to have staked out their interests further across the fields and away from the road.  The northern harriers were the ones close by.  The owls seemed to be wheeling about each other off in the distance so I had to make do with longer range images of them and get some of the other residents instead.

Last Good Paint on a Lufthansa A340

The A340 is a plane that keeps on going despite repeated claims it was done.  The 300 series jet is actually not as inefficient as it is popular to suggest (the 600 series is far less competitive) and it is still working for a few airlines including Lufthansa.  This winter the jet is back on the run to Seattle which has pleased me.  Most of the jets have been repainted in the new livery which is not that thrilling.  There are also Star Alliance liveried jets but there are one or two of them still in the older Lufthansa colors.  This is a better look from my point of view.

I did have one of them come in one weekend when the light was good and the wind was favorable for the shots I was after.  The landing shots were more of a struggle because the plane landed at noon and the lighting angles were not helpful.  Departure was mid afternoon and so this was slightly better.  They have been back occasionally since but not on days with a) good weather and b) me being available to be there.  I hope I get more chances before they finally head to the desert.

4,000 and Counting

I was looking through some old posts the other day to try and find something and I saw that the published post count was exactly 4,000 posts.  I hadn’t been keeping track of this so was quite surprised that it was a) that many and b) I happened to look when it was exactly 4,000 published posts.  The first post I made was on March 14, 2011.  At that time, things were not as structured.  My first entry was followed by a second a week later.  Then I had a couple in one day.

By May, I was posting every other day.  I come up with subjects long in advance and tend to prepare the posts in batches which are then scheduled out.  I was getting to the point where I had so many posts scheduled, it was going way out into the future.  It was this that triggered me to go daily.  That’s how it has been ever since.  While my initial focus was on aviation themes, the lack of interest from some family and friends on those topics meant I went to alternating with aviation one day and non-aviation the next.  That is how it continues.  Let’s see how long it all continues.

JSTARS is Gone

The retirement of some types from service gets a lot of attention from people.  The last Phantoms leaving US service were well covered.  The upcoming end of KC-10 operations is already getting discussed.  However, the removal of the E-8 JSTARS seemed to just happen without much discussion.  I have to admit it caught me off guard.  I didn’t know that they were going away let alone that it had already happened.

With this milestone having slipped past me, I figured I should go back through the catalog and see what times I have shot E-8s.  Not a lot of encounters with Red Flag having been my most productive venues.  They were old jets when they became E-8s and I heard from a friend that one of them had gone through some interesting other configurations before making its way in to the E-8 fleet.  They are consequently old enough to deserve retirement.  It will be a shame not to see them around anymore.

Rails on the End of the Bridge

The railway that runs from Seattle up to Everett and either on to Vancouver or east across the Cascades crosses a bridge that is just outside the locks at Ballard.  The bridge is a bascule bridge and, since there is quite regular boat traffic including sailing boats with high masts, it is frequently opened.  The low winter light does a nice job of illuminating the underside of the deck of the bridge when it is open.  I was more interested in the shapes at the end of the bridge where the rails end.  They are clearly shaped to interlock with the opposite rails on the bridge approach and also to have a shape which allows the wheels to smoothly pass over without some sudden impact forces.  As they stand up in the air, they strike me as rather fascinating.

Silk Way West Can’t Avoid Me Forever

Having been operating 747 freighters, Silk Way West, an Azerbaijani cargo airline that is upgrading its fleet with 777Fs.  They took delivery of their first one a while back and there was no time when I could be anywhere close while the jet was on test or being delivered.  I was a bit annoyed to miss it, but these things are part of the process.  When a second jet came off the line, I was similarly unable to get anywhere near it while it was on test.  However, the delivery flight did coincide with some free time I had.

I headed to Everett with the hope of catching it leaving.  Delivery flights are not always reliable.  The timing of getting airborne can move and sometimes odd things happen and they don’t go at all.  This is not the norm, though, so I was hoping it would all work out and I was lucky.  The flight was direct to their home base so, while the jet had no cargo in the hold, it was going to be heavily fueled up so I was hopefully of a reasonably long takeoff run.  It rotated in a good spot for getting some shots but was still quite well off the ground when it came by me.  Still, not a bad location for some shots.  I wonder if/when I shall next see this jet!

Old Filming in SF

Making my way through old shots for other projects often results in finding stuff I had completely forgotten about.  Before we lived in the Bay Area, I was there for some other reason.  I was down near the water and there was a film crew working on a production of some sort.  The character was on a dock and was approached by some other guys at which point he falls into the water.  There was a diver that got set up in the water beforehand for safety purposes.  Then they filmed the sequence.  I don’t recall them doing it more than once which made it easier than drying the guy off and giving him fresh clothes, I guess!

The Old Horizon Fleet

The departure of the Q400s from Horizon’s fleet means that they are now fully equipped with Embraer E175-E1s.  I know some people didn’t like the Q400 but I actually found it to be perfectly fine when I flew in them.  Not a ton of space but not the longest flights.  Certainly nothing as long as I have done in the Embraers!  However, before the Q400s, there were other aircraft in their fleet.  I was scanning through some shots for some other reason and came across shots of Dash 8-100s and CRJs.  I figured I would remind people of some of the older times that Horizon operated when I was shooting stuff.  Of course, there are far older types that they would have had but they are before my time.

Mission Hills Winery

During our visit to Kelowna, we stopped off at a winery in the city that produces wine we have had before and that we wanted to get some more from.  It is called Mission Hills and is on the hillside overlooking the lake.  It isn’t a long drive from the center of the city, and you approach it through a residential area.  After passing through the main gate, it all still looks rather anonymous.

However, walk from the parking lot and things open up considerably.  The architecture is styled to resemble an Italian villa.  There are some colonnaded areas, a large chapel type building, the main building in which the wine tastings and sales are handled and a carillon.  Being up on the hill, this all has a lovely view down to the water with some vines on the slopes below.

It was a rather overcast day so not ideal for photographing it, but I had the phone with me, so I was not going to let the visit go unrecorded.  There were a few other people wandering the grounds, but I managed – on the whole – to exclude them from the shots.  Getting the whole carillon in the shot from close up required a little contortion to get the phone on the ground and looking at the right angle.  I think it worked out okay.

The location is very nice, and the wine is even better.  If you are in Kelowna, I do recommend a visit.

USAF Moose Low Over Canada

The air show at Abbotsford has the conspicuous backdrop of Mt Baker.  For the evening show, the light was really nice on the mountain and I think I have already posted about that.  Some of the display aircraft would make turns in front of the mountain.  Most are too small to be obvious in a shot but something the size of a C-17 Globemaster is going to show up.  The USAF Moose was one of the display and here it is as it reverses course back towards the airfield.