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.
I have shot a lot of Antonov 124s at Everett since they are there on a regular basis. One weekend recently, a Volga-Dnepr flight was scheduled in to SeaTac. Shooting at SeaTac is a bit restricted in what you can achieve given the layout of the airport so I decided I would go for something a little different. The heavy traffic usually comes in on the inside runway and there is a small park that puts you pretty much under the approach. I thought this might be a slightly different position to shoot from.
The timing of the arrival was supposed to be later in the afternoon. However, something about the routing meant the jet ended up getting in a bit later than I had expected. Some lovely afternoon light had disappeared and had been replaced by a dull light which was also fading fast. I was ramping up the ISO settings pretty quickly as the jet turned on the approach as it was disappearing by the minute. Finally, the Ruslan appeared in view and I got some head on shots prior to shifting to a wider lens as the plane flew overhead.
The regular AN124 visitors to Everett continue. This time of year can often bring northerly winds which means a departure up past the Future of Flight building. Having a heavy Ruslan depart that way can mean a nice angle to get on rotation as well as the climb out which, while a bit backlit, makes for a good change. I was happy with the takeoff but, as the jet climbed away to the north, the smoky combustion of the old D-18 engines was clear to see. The further that they climbed out, the less the plane was obvious and the more the smoke trail was. A bit of mixing from the trailing vortices helped as well. A lot of the people around me were commenting on how dirty it was.