Tag Archives: Boeing

Rainy Sunday for the National Queen

Given that National Airlines has a better than average livery, I will always be happy to get a shot of their planes.  The 747s are a favorite given that they are less common post the pandemic.  I was therefore really pleased that one was due into Paine Field one weekend.  Of course, this is the Pacific Northwest and that means no guarantee of good weather.  Sure enough, it was a bit overcast, and the air was damp.  I wasn’t going to get gleaming illumination of the airframe, but I might get some vapor.

Things weren’t that great but there were some vortices streaming from the flaps as they came across the threshold at the north end of the airport.  The grey of the livery was blending a bit with the clouds behind it, but the blues did still have a bit of punch to them.  It could have been better, but it was still something I was pleased to get.

RCAF Hornet Tests High ISO Performance

The later stages of the Abbotsford Air Show included a performance by the RCAF CF-188A Hornet.  By the time it was performing, the light was pretty much gone.  The late performance has some benefits in that the burners are more striking against a darker sky, but the RCAF display often ends with a landing with the hook lowered.  I had seen this before at Chino and the same problem as happened there occurred here.  The touchdown point was a long way away from the spectator line, so it was too far away to get a decent shot.

However, there was the rest of the display to go for.  My current cameras seem very able to handle low light conditions.  The focus might be a touch slower or less accurate as the light diminishes but I wasn’t noticing a significant problem.  Also, the high ISO capabilities of current generation cameras are really impressive so shooting in such conditions is not necessarily a problem.  The camera will be able to perform although that won’t compensate for a jet just not looking that good with so little light.  You still have to pick your shots.

The Hornet is a good display jet with the ability to point the nose in different directions rapidly and to pull a decent amount of vapor from the air.  It can turn and it can blast through, so it makes for a good show.  Original generation Hornets are starting to become a rarity.  It won’t be long before the Canadian jets have been replaced by F-35s.  Other operators have already transitioned and more will follow.  Catch the legacy Hornets while you can and, preferably, in interesting lighting conditions.

At Last, a Japanese Pegasus Airborne

Japan is one of the few countries to order the KC-46 Pegasus tankers for its Air Force.  Their initial four jets have been coming through the production line at Everett and I had seen the occasional one when it was on the ground being prepared.  However, I had never seen one fly.  I finally broke that duck a while back.  I was at Everett not only for the departure but the return of a Japanese jet.  I thought I was going to miss it taking off because it was lined up when I was getting close to the airfield.

Fortunately, it was doing a high-speed taxi first and then backtracked for the real departure by which time I had arrived.  The return was a lot more relaxed from my point of view and I was pleased to finally get one airborne.  I doubt I shall have many opportunities to see them once they are delivered.

They Continue to Fly the Max10 But it Is Going to Be a While

The 737 Max program continues to be a total bear for Boeing.  As I write this, they are just recovering from the Max9 door plug incident.  Prior to that, it was issues with rudder components not rigged properly and then it was rear bulkhead production issues.  All of these follow on from the disaster that was MCAS.  The Max7 and Max10 have both been flying for ages but still haven’t achieved certification.  The Max7 was thought to be close, but it needed an exemption for inlet heating which Boeing had applied for.  In the aftermath of the door plug incident, that exemption application has been withdrawn and now the Max 7 might be a year away from approval.

The Max10 is behind the Max7 so it is possible that it might get approval by 2025 but, at this point, who knows when it will actually be.  Meanwhile, there is still testing underway.  The first Max 10 jet is active at the moment undertaking testing work.  It was due out from Boeing Field on another test heading off to Texas.  I figured it would run a little longer given that it would be heavier so chose my spot for the shots.  However, I did still use a longer lens to get a tighter shot for rotation.  The light came out nicely as they rolled and the rotation was ideal for where I was.  It is going to be a while before I see these in service but at least I get to see them on test periodically.

I Should Just Enjoy the Old Pods

I have seen some pictures recently of Growlers bouncing at Coupeville with the latest jamming pods on the underwing pylons.  I was hoping that the jets I saw from the Rooks might be carrying the new pods.  Instead, they were using the older pods.  At first, I was disappointed by this but then I realized that this was the wrong way to look at things.  The new pods will be around for a long time and the chances are I will see them a lot in the future.  Making sure I have some shots of the older pods on jets as the bounce is something to make the most of before they are gone.  We only miss stuff when it is going away so time to think ahead.

Is This My Last Kalitta 727?

The 727 is a rarity already and one of the remaining operators, Kalitta, is close to ending their operations too.  I read that they only have two left and that they will both be gone later this year.  Consequently, I was rather pleased when one was due into Seattle.  Unfortunately, it was due to land at about 8pm.  I did think of getting out to try and see what the ambient light would be like but decided against it.  It then got delayed and didn’t arrive until after 10pm.

They filed to head straight back out that evening so I figured I would miss out.  However, something was not right with the jet, and they didn’t leave.  The following day, when I saw that they hadn’t gone, I was able to come by and see if they were still there.  Indeed they were.  It wasn’t long before I heard the sound of an engine running and thought I might be in luck.  Sadly, the open panels were a sign that they were just doing an engine test.  I had to leave shortly afterwards and was wondering whether they would depart while I was absent.

Luck continued to be on my side, and they were still there later in the day.  No flight plan filed, and I was wondering whether they were either not going at all or might wait until after dark.  I was pondering driving around to the other side of the field to see if I could find out anything when my friend messaged me that a flight plan had been filed for a departure shortly.  Now, I never trust the timing of a flight plan for a freighter, but this was still promising.

Needless to say, they did not go promptly.  This was not a bad thing, though.  As I waited, the conditions were steadily improving with some nice light.  At this time of year, though, that light doesn’t last too long, and I was fearing it might disappear before they left.  Fortunately, they finally fired up and taxied past me.  The light was looking great. Now to hope that they didn’t have a long wait for ATC release.

I had wondered whether they would get off the ground fast or not.  The 727 was capable enough in short fields but they don’t leap off the ground.  I chose a location that I thought might be good for rotation shots and I am glad I did.  I had just about the perfect spot.  They rotated in front of me, climbed out in lovely light and disappeared.  I wonder whether this will be my last Kalitta 727 shot or not.

CAG Growler is Clean

A trip to Coupeville is always going to be a bit hit or miss.  Will the weather play ball, will the jets show up, how much will they bounce, how many of them will there be, will they be RAG jets or operational squadrons?  All sorts of options.  I was really happy that the weather suited a pattern direction that was better for photography, but it was mainly cloudy so not quite as good-looking light.  It was the Rooks of VAQ137 that were bouncing so that was cool, and they brought their CAG jet.  Getting this in its nice colors was cool.  The jet was operating clean which was slightly disappointing but, fortunately, the other jets that came in were carrying pods.

It Might Have Been Green but the Light Was Excellent

An Air Tanzania 737 Max 9 made its initial flight from Renton and was due into Boeing Field at the end of the day.  The timing of its arrival was looking promising.  However, I was dealing with something else, and it was a higher priority.  If that could be completed in time, the Air Tanzania might just work out.  Having shot their 767 freighter, I was hoping that it would already be painted.  That was not to be the case with only the rudder and winglets showing the colors that are to come.

The evening light was developing nicely so the green of the protective covering really looked pretty good.  However, the real benefit was once the plane had passed me.  The sky to the east was developing a really cool purple hue.  The evening light was working wonders with the clouds over there.  Stick a green 737 in front of that and things really did look good.  I hope I get to see it once painted before it heads off to its new home.

Alaska Air Cargo’s Newest Freighter – Finally!

Alaska Air Cargo has a bunch of converted 737-700s that it uses to run freight around Alaska and down to Seattle.  The -700 is not a popular freighter conversion with the -800 being the basis for most NG freighters around the world.  Alaska must have decided that they too need the additional capacity and are converting a pair of their passenger jets.  The first returned from Kelowna, where the conversion was undertaken, and entered service.  I went out one weekend to catch it heading north.  I waited a long time as its departure time slipped and slipped before it eventually canceled.  It then flew to Oklahoma City for some work of some sort.  It did return but then went back to OKC so something was clearly not right.

Recently, it finally returned to Seattle.  The weather was not great but it was a weekend and I had some time so I decided to catch it coming in from Ketchikan and then heading back the same way.  With the cargo door in the front fuselage and the Air Cargo markings added, it looks pretty good.  It hasn’t been used hard yet, so the paint is in good shape.  Let’s hope its teething troubles are behind it and I might catch it in nicer conditions.  Its sister ship is in conversion currently, so we should have a pair of them before too long.

Omni 777 Takes the Band to Houston

The appearance of UW in the national championship game meant a lot of people flying from Seattle to Houston.  That included the band and I believe they were the ones to fly in an Omni Air International 777-200ER.  We get plenty of Omni’s 767s at Boeing Field but a 777 was an interesting change.  I hung around quite a while one Saturday waiting for them to depart.  As with so many charters, they went late.  (Late enough to mean I got stuck on I-5 heading back for lunch when a protest closed down the interstate.)  I took a chance by going with a long prime rather than a zoom and, fortunately, they rotated just early enough for that to work out for me.  I was rather pleased with the tighter shots of them getting airborne.