I have posted some photos of the arrival of Doc previously on the blog. However, at the weekend, it did a series of flights and I went down one morning to get some shots of it before heading off to Skagit for the fly day up there. Shooting at BFI in the morning is not ideal so I decided to head up the hill to look down on the airport. I headed up there and met my friend Mark. We went in to the clearing to get ready and realized we had timed it well. It wasn’t long before several other people had arrived and things were getting rather crowded. Early arrival meant the choice of spots.
You are shooting from quite a distance at that location but you are elevated so the heat haze is not such a problem. Even so, not the simplest of shots to get. The crew kept Doc really low on departure, much as they had done on the first flight I saw. They were flying right by the Boeing ramp so you had a combination of modern Boeing planes and 1940s products!
Once they had headed out, we moved down to the approach end. Originally, I set myself up next to the fence. However, a Beech came in to land and I realized that the proximity to the fence, even with ladders, was not ideal. I relocated to the other side of the road and awaited the return of Doc. They made a pretty sporty turn from downwind. I got shots of it but none that were a combination of sharp and as dramatic as I would have liked. Then they were rapidly on to short final and swooping across the threshold.
It was all pretty good fun. I was okay with the results I got, even if they weren’t amazing. I could have hung around for more but had another place to be. It would have been good to go back over the weekend but timing wasn’t good with the other things I had on. I didn’t get the visit the plane itself which was a disappointment. I do hope they come back at some time and I can have a tour of the aircraft.
I have only seen one flying B-29 prior to this year. That is Fifi from the Commemorative Air Force which I got to see in DuPage IL many years back and also saw overflying Oshkosh. A second B-29 was returned to flight about four years ago – Doc. It is based in Wichita KS and has been on a tour which included a visit to the Pacific Northwest. Its previous stop was in Spokane and then it came to Boeing Field for a week.
I saw when it was due in to BFI and got down there in time for the planned arrival from the other side of the state. It was a little later than I expected but that was fine. It was easy to track as it came across the mountains and then across the city and on to the approach for Boeing Field. The light was pretty good on it as it came down final approach although the reflective nature of the polished aluminum fuselage meant it took on a greenish hue as it flew over the grass inside the perimeter fence.
Shortly after arrival, they crewed up to make a press trip. Sadly, I was not part of this but it did give me a chance to get some more shots. The winds meant they were doing a southerly departure and I didn’t anticipate them climbing too fast when babying these old engines. They certainly didn’t climb aggressively! They kept it nice and low while cleaning up the gear and were still very low when they came past me. It was ideal. They then put in a surprisingly aggressive turn downwind where they kept it low enough that they were behind the trees.
I decided to try for something different for the next return. I headed to the end of the runway to try for some shots directly underneath the plane. It is a tricky place to shoot with buildings in the way for a while and more power lines than is ideal. Still, it provides a cool perspective and something a little different. I was very pleased with the success rate of the shots because, while you are shooting at a wide angle, there is a lot of relative motion.
Once on the ground, the plane was going nowhere for a few days until the paid flights started at the end of the week. There would be another encounter. I got to see it one day as it flew over the city but I did make a more deliberate effort to shoot it again. More to come…
As part of her tour of the country, Fifi, the B-29 operated by the Commemorative Air Force was coming to the Chicago region. She was scheduled to appear at DuPage Airport, west of Chicago. I had been in contact with the team about covering the visit for GAR. This is something to be published soon so I won’t spoil everything just yet! However, it is safe to say that I did head along and meet up with the team and see Fifi flying.
She was scheduled to fly three times during the day with the first trip being in the morning. The layout of the main part of the airport meant that the light wold be bad in the morning but better later in the day. I found an alternative spot to catch her as she took off and got myself ready. Unfortunately, my brain was not totally in gear and I had one camera on the wrong settings. I did get lucky though and did not end up with frozen props in the shots, even if they are a little less blurry than I would like!
I then headed around to the approach lights to get her heading back in. It was very impressive to have a B-29 coming right over your head. I got the shots but did peak out the side to enjoy the experience – something that is a little lost some times when focusing too much on getting the shots. I was about to head back when I noticed a P-51 on approach too. A nice bonus. Then it was back to the airport to get the interview and some ground shots. A great bunch of people and a very interesting day.