There was a call sign of an inbound flight at Boeing Field that caught my attention. It was Aspen. This is a call sign that the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB has used since the days of the SR-71. I have seen their T-38s show up at Boeing Field before so thought there was a good chance it could be another one. Sure enough, when they called up on approach, I could see a T-38 inbound. However, it was coming in at the same time as something else and it was actually aligned with the short runway.
They put the power on when crossing the airfield boundary and pulled up into the downwind for a second approach. The first approach had made the jet look pretty small in the viewfinder – I hadn’t realized that they were further away than the main runway – so I went with the 500mm when they came back. This made for a tighter shot than expected. However, I managed to get a few shots of the jet as it turned final – a long way away – and then as it was on short final. A nice treat.
One evening, I was shooting at Boeing Field. The light was lower in the sky but it was still pretty bright. The thing with corporate jets is that they are often predominantly white and the brightness of the jet with a darker background can make for more contrast than a camera sensor can adequately deal with. You can sort out things in post but it is often too bright. I figured I wanted to try and reduce the glare on the jet and that the polarizer was a good way to do it.
This has a second outcome. Taking out that might light allows the use of slower shutter speeds without having ridiculously small apertures – a sure fire way to find every bit of dust on the sensor. Since I was shooting bizjets at Boeing Field, things weren’t terribly special so I was happy to play around with going down to lower shutter speeds. A boring side on landing shot is a bit more interesting when the background is blurred and the sense of motion is enhanced. I need to practice this a bit to use it more often since it makes for a more interesting shot which I want to be able to use on something a bit more special. Definitely need to lower the shutter speed further.
Another new airline for me with this post. Belavia is not an airline I am familiar with but I understand that they are from Belarus. One of their Max jets was on test while I was at Boeing Field and it came in late in the day. I was glad to add another unusual carrier to my library of shots. Nothing special about it otherwise but nice to get something new.
While the 777X was the reason for being out at the end of Boeing Field, it wasn’t the only plane to come in while I was there. I also got a couple of bizjets arriving at that time. They are an easier target to deal with than a wide body airliner but they still show up quickly when they come in to view. In this case, though, I stuck with the longer lens and just shot until they got too big.
The Citation Longitude is the largest member of Cessna’s corporate jet family. It was certificated a while back but I had never seen one. I saw that they came in and out of Boeing Field periodically as part of NetJets’ operation but I had never been there when one was on the move. Finally I broke that duck. NetJets was the operator again and the sun was out for its arrival so I was happy to get a shot of what is not a particularly interesting looking plane but not a bad one either.
I was actually out looking for a work project which (I promise this is legit) was right next to Boeing Field. While I was waiting for my project – which ended up being scrubbed due to a serviceability issue – a P-8 took off from Boeing Field. I was basically aligned with the end of the runway so I could see it climbing out and it came right over my location. It turned out to be a good thing since I wouldn’t normally get this angle on a shot so I am glad to have something different. This view really emphasizes the different wing planform of the P-8 compared to the base 737. No winglets and the raked tips really changes the appearance of the jet from below.
The Department of Justice has a fleet of planes for doing whatever they need to do with them. I think they move detainees around but presumably their staff also can travel on them for business purposes. Anyway, I might not know what the details are but I do know they are inconspcuous looking planes (unless you count a plane white airframe as looking more out of place than one with some color on it). Two came in to Boeing Field while I was there a while back. One was a 757 and the other was an ATR. I was in place for the 757 as it was on final approach although the sun did annoyingly go behind a cloud as it came by. It did depart alter but I was actually driving when that happened so no shots. The ATR caught me out completely. I had just pulled up after being away for a bit and was still sitting in the car switching the engine off as a white turboprop sailed by. No chance to even get out of the vehicle let alone grab a shot. That was actually the one I would have preferred but it was not to be.
Having shot the 777X test aircraft a bunch of times, I was looking for something a little different. I figured I could head out to the north end of Boeing Field and be under the jet as it was on short final. I shot something similar at LAX a number of years ago and liked the results so decided to have a go. This was not as simple as I had hoped for. First, the plane is out of sight for most of the approach with buildings and power lines in the way.
Second, I didn’t have lots of big jets to pay with. It was my first opportunity so I didn’t have time to get the hang of it. As it was, I didn’t do as good a job as I would have liked. I was shooting with a wide lens and tracking the airframe to fill the frame was trickier than expected. In the early shots, it was too far to one side of the frame and I ended up with the nose closer to the middle than ideal with the result that many shots lack a back end of the airframe. I will try it again with these issues in mind and I shall skip the long lens shots first. Making a quick switch meant I was not as well prepared as I could have been. I did grab a shot through the fence of the jet heading for touchdown with Mt Rainier in the background too.
I had not heard of Blue Air prior to seeing this Max on test. It is a nice thing about living near Boeing’s production facilities that you see jets that will be heading somewhere you don’t go. In this case, I read not long afterwards that this jet was the first delivery of a Max to Blue Air and that they are a low cost carrier in Romania. I guess I now know about another airline that I previously was unaware of. Looked quite nice in these colors (when you consider how bland airline colors can be there days).
The Bell 206 JetRanger was an immensely successful single turbine helicopter and was ubiquitous for decades. However, the type was dated and more modern helicopters had come along and taken market share. Bell needed to come up with a solution and that was the Bell 505 which has since become branded as the Jet Ranger X. The project was not as smooth as intended but it has now entered more widespread service.
That didn’t mean I had actually seen one, though, until recently when I got to photograph one at Boeing Field. At this point, trouble has reached the program again with fatigue failures in the controls for the right seat meaning you aren’t supposed to fly one solo from that seat until a redesigned control is fitted. This will get addressed, of course, but it is another issue for the type. The example I saw was marked as Experimental so I wonder what purpose it was being used for. According to the FAA, it is registered to Bell but what it is doing is anybody’s guess. Putting aside its technical issues, my biggest problem with the 505 is that I think it doesn’t look very good. It reminds me of a tadpole and seems to have a slight feel of a toy design compared to the other types in this class (or the original JetRanger). That is not going to make or break it of course – just a personal observation.