Glorious weather had greeted the B-17, Sentimental Journey, when it came to Seattle. The following week, it moved up to Arlington but was not so lucky. The skies were pretty overcast and the air was more humid. It didn’t make for great conditions to shoot a bare metal aircraft. However, many times before, I have written here about how poorer conditions can sometimes be worthwhile. This was one of those times.
I started off shooting from further up the field and, as the B-17 started her takeoff roll, it was clear that the props were pulling a fair bit of vapor from the air. Consequently, I headed further down the field for the next flight. This also provided a close look at the plane as it taxied out. The real benefit came when the power was applied. Vortices were streaming from the tips of the props and swirling back across the wings. It is always a tricky call when trying to shoot in these conditions. A good bit of prop blur is good as is a blurry background to emphasize speed but, this will result in the vortices being less defined. A faster shutter speed helps make them stand out. I tried to get a good balance with the speed I chose.
My friend, Paul, had advised me that Lancaster CA had a couple of aircraft on poles that were worth a look. One is a retired Air Force test F-4 that sits at a busy intersection next to a rail station. The other is a NASA F/A-18A that is at the entrance to a baseball stadium. I decided to try and photograph both one evening when the light would be most favorable.
The guys hanging out near the F-4 looked a little perplexed as I drove up and started photographing this plane on a pole. I think they didn’t see the interest in it that I did. I think I attracted a few strange glances and I grabbed some shots and then headed back to the car. The Hornet at the baseball stadium was a different story. Not too many people around at that time so I took some shots and then headed off. There was one more target of interest but that would have to wait for a morning visit.
The Vice President made a visit to Seattle a while back. Much of the discussion was about how the traffic downtown could be disrupted but the first thought that I had was that there would be jets visiting. I was unable to see anything of the visit of Air Force One and the Marine Corps support when the president came to town but I was able to catch the Veep’s jet. For this visit, Air Force Two was provided by a USAF C-32. It arrived while I was elsewhere but I was able to catch it depart.
It was parked over near Modern Aviation and, when the motorcade arrived and delivered everybody, they were swiftly on their way. The taxi route came out towards me and then direct on to the runway to backtrack. Since a TFR was in effect, no one else was flying so no need to use the taxiway. Just straight back down the runway, do a 180 and power away. I think the 757 is a good looking jet and the C-32 certainly looks great. They were off the ground swiftly and climbing away.
Seafair provided me with my first opportunity to shoot the Blue Angels during a display since they transitioned to the Super Hornet. I was interested to see whether the display seemed any different with the new jets. Seafair is a nice location over Lake Washington but the alignment of the display box relative to the shore of the lake is not ideal and this does result in the planes being further away than for most venues. The increased size of the Super Hornet is probably a benefit in this situation.
I was interested whether the larger jets would make things seem a bit slower somehow but I didn’t notice anything in practice to support that idea. The normal tight flying that the Blues are famous for was there and, if anything, the bigger jets look closer as a result of the changed perspective. It is not that big a deal, though, so I suspect some of this was in my imagination. I would like to see them at a different location where the display axis is closer in order to get another view of the display, though.
Aside from watching the display at Lake Washington, I did also Watch them depart and return from Boeing Field. They always departed to the north and returned from the north even if everything else had been landing from the south. I spent one arrival down at the south end and watched then run the length of the runway and break for landing. It was a good spot to watch this from. Overall, I was happy with the new look for the team. I hope the jets hold up well. The Blues have a reputation of having to live with some of the oldest jets in the fleet and reliability will be something to watch.
Nothing too special about this post. I was out at Boeing Field for the flights of Sentimental Journey but the traffic to SEA was passing overhead. Most traffic is domestic but you do get the international movements too. In this case, I got three 787s in very short order. They came from British Airways, JAL and ANA. I figured they could have their own post so here you go.
One of the highlights of the show at Edwards Air Force Base was the appearance of NASA and DLR’s SOFIA airframe. A Boeing 747SP that has been converted for infra-red astronomy, this was my first time seeing SOFIA. It has a large telescope mounted in the rear fuselage with a huge rotating door that opens up when at cruising altitude – above the majority of the atmospheric blockage to IR – to allow the telescope to make observations.
SOFIA is being retired. There is a debate about whether this is purely budget related or whether the successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (which also observes in the infra red spectrum), means that it is no longer needed. Whatever the reasons, it is being retired and this show was a bit of a swan song. As part of this, they actually opened up the door for the telescope which, apparently, is a first since it was first commissioned other than while it was observing.
The plane made a run in from show left making a cool pass but this was the side without the telescope visible. They then turned around and made a banked pass along the crowd line with the telescope visible. At first I thought that they had blown it because they had a nice bank angle on but were lining up too soon. However, they straightened up for a while before bringing the bank back on and giving the crowd a good view.
They landed after this and taxied in to where I was waiting but that will be a separate post.
I saw this jet on the flight line at Renton a while back. It is a 737-10 and is the first one to be in the colors of United Airlines. It will probably be their first jet in service (assuming the 737-10 ever gets certificated) but, in truth, the development jets are also going to United (again assuming that ever happens) so they are really United’s first jets. However, you get the gist of what I am saying.
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.
There are a few operators of large warbirds that take their planes on tours around the country providing people with an opportunity to check out the planes or, if they are willing to splash some cash, take a flight in them. Sentimental Journey is a B-17 that undertakes such flights and it came to the Pacific Northwest during the summer. I was at Boeing Field for a week before moving on to Arlington (of which more another time).
Because it does much of its business at the weekends, it is relatively easy to find time to come and see it fly. It did also do some flying later in the day so I was able to see it a few times. It certainly helped that the weather was really nice. I got some shots of it as it came to Boeing Field and then made some trips around the Puget Sound area. Here are some of the shots from that time. I did spend a little more time trying out shots from different places and those will get another post soon.
One weekend, I saw an early arrival of an Icelandair 757 was scheduled for Boeing Field. The weather was not looking great but it was an unusual arrival and I didn’t have any competing things top do so I went across. Icelandair has some charter aircraft and this one turned out to be one of those. I have shot the Abercrombie and Kent jet before. This is a high end tourist operation that takes people from exotic location to exotic location. On this occasion, it was something similar. This time the operation was National Geographic. When I saw the plane, I was quite surprised but not so much that I could grab a few shots!