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!
A lot of attention has been focused on the end of 747 production at Boeing (and this blog will not avoid that topic) but, in the meantime, Boeing continues to produce 777 freighters which are selling well. One evening I was able to be up at Paine Field when a 777F that will be operated by Atlas but is under contract for MSC Air Cargo, a subsidiary of a large shipping organization, returned from a test flight. Getting a nice shot in good light is what you want when you have a new livery to shoot. Sure, it isn’t like some artistic masterpiece, but it looks pretty good.
If you were to ask people what characteristic Seattle would be known for, I suspect a fair few people would tell you it is rain. It is true that we have damp winters here but summers (while a little late in starting) are actually rather dry. However, we can still have some humid conditions which can be good for forming vapor and, if you watch the jets heading in to SEA, you will often see vortices streaming off the flaps and the occasional puffs of moisture above the wings.
Occasionally, the conditions are just right and you get a lot more vapor. Better still, if this happens in sunny conditions and the planes are slightly backlit, you can get some lovely rainbow effects showing up. I got lucky with one such day. Asiana had an A350 coming in at this time so I was treated to some interesting effects. A Lufthansa 747 and CargoLogic 777F also arrived but I decided to go with video on those to show off the fleeting nature of the vapor is it formed and dissipated.
The only 777s coming out of Everett at the moment are freighters. This can mean unusual airlines but not usually and I don’t head up there terribly often at the moment. However, one of the jets on test recently was destined for DHL’s operations in Singapore. Consequently, it is a hybrid of the DHL and Singapore markings. It seemed worth a look and it helped that they had taken off mid afternoon and were due back after work.
A few photographers had showed up for this arrival as was expected. At this time of year, even early evening is not the best of the light, but it was pretty good. They could be seen out as they set up for approach with Mount Rainier in the background. They touched down with the sound of the RAT buzzing in the background. I was ready to go and headed for the car, but I heard a shout from Royal and Nick that it was coming back. Sure enough, they had taxied back to do one further acceleration and abort on the runway, so we got a second chance at some shots.
We were walking along the shore in Mukilteo on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I looked up and saw something large on the approach to Paine Field. At first I assumed it was one of the scheduled E175s but, as I pulled the camera up to my eye, I realized it was a 777. As it got closer, it was apparent that it was a China Airlines Cargo freighter on test – the first time I have seen one. The midwinter light made for a nice shot.
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!
I was out one evening awaiting the arrival of something that currently escapes my memory. In the meantime, I was in position to get the arrival of a few widebodies. Since SeaTac tends to put the widebodies on the inner runway, they are the ones you can get from this park location while almost everything else (plus the occasional wide body!) goes to the outer runway behind you and through the trees.
On this evening, we had four widebodies come in. Condor brought their regular 767 flight. This were joined by an Air China Cargo Boeing 747-400F, a FedEx 777F and last but by no means least, a British Airways 747-400. The evening light was very favorable and this location is both easily accessible and pretty good for this approach.
Summer evenings can be a good time to visit Paine Field as flying seems to be busy and the light is often quite nice. On two separate visits, I saw this FedEx 777F flying. The first time it was on some acceptance flights and it flew an approach followed by a low go around. The gear doors had been blown down prior to this approach and the RAT was deployed. It then flew a pattern and landed.
Next time I saw it, it was heading off to Memphis on its delivery flight. They seemed to have a few issues with the transponder prior to departure which was fine for me as it delayed them until the light was a bit nicer. Not sure I would be so happy to take my new plane with a snag though! Memphis when empty is a piece of cake for a 777F so it made it off the ground pretty speedily.
A lot of freighters come out of Everett these days. All 747s are now freighters as are the 767s. The 777 passenger variants are a regular feature but there is quite a demand for 777Fs too. I saw one go to DHL not long ago. They have some aircraft already in service but they are in a hybrid scheme. This was the first one to be delivered in the full DHL yellow colors. It taxied out and went to the other end of the field for a northerly departure which meant we got a good view of it airborne. The short delivery flight across the US meant it was rather light so it got airborne quickly and was a long way up by the time it got to us again!
Ethiopian Airlines has been taking
delivery of some Boeing 777F freighters for their cargo operations. One of the new jets was being readied for
delivery while I was at Paine Field.
Operations were in a northerly direction so, from the terrace on top of
the Future of Flight, we were going to get a good view. I was hoping that a direct flight to Bole in
Ethiopia would be sufficiently long to mean that the jet would be very heavy
with fuel and would run long on take off giving us a good view of
rotation. However, while there was a lot
of fuel on board, the lack of any other payload meant it still got off the
ground pretty swiftly. Still, it was a
good view of the initial climb out.