Alaska Air is going through a re-fleeting process in the near future. They are consolidating types in service with some aircraft disappearing. The Airbus fleet is on the way out which is no great surprise to anyone. The Horizon fleet is also getting some changes with a focus on the Embraers and the Q400 turboprops also going away. The Q400s have been ubiquitous in the Pacific Northwest for so long that I didn’t always pay them much attention. Now I need to think about them a bit more.
One of the fleet has been painted in a retro paint scheme for Horizon’s days gone by. Despite it being a plane that should appear at Seattle multiple times a day, I had never seen it before. Therefore, I was very pleasantly surprised to see it at Portland when we were down there. Our photo location was directly above the ramp that the Horizon planes were operating from and the south runway, which was their runway of choice, was convenient too so I was able to get a bunch of shots of it in action. How long before this plane and all of its sisters are gone from the area.
I watched this Maule pull out of the hangars on the west side of Boeing Field. It was given taxi instructions by the tower which involved a right turn to taxi south on Bravo. For some reason, they turned left and taxied north. It didn’t take long before a gentle reminder was provided and they did a quick 180 and taxied to the correct end of the runway for departure. As they climbed out, I could see their markings next to the cockpit. They had some mission marks that suggested they may have fought for the Rebel Alliance against the Empire. The Maule is a nice little plane but it is hardly the Millennium Falcon!
While driving around the back of Renton, I saw this nice floatplane. It is a SIAI Marchetti 1019 – a utility aircraft with a turboprop powerplant. Based on the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog, it had a decent military career and now plenty of them have found their way into civilian hands. A short while later, I saw pictures of this airframe at Oshkosh for the annual EAA gathering. Our paths were to cross again, though, when it showed up at Boeing Field, making an approach to the short runway. A bit further away than ideal but definitely cool to catch it again.
Until recently, I had only got one good shot of a Hawker 4000. This was Hawker’s effort at a larger bizjet and it also made extensive use of composites. It originally came under the name Horizon and the development program was very long requiring a couple of extensions to the certification application because it was expiring. The plane did not sell well and it was discontinued. They are so rare, the first time I shot one, I didn’t even realize what it was and figured it was a Challenger 300. Aside from one high overhead, I hadn’t seen one since.
When I saw one was due in to Boeing Field on a Sunday, in figured that was worth a trip on its own. I didn’t have anything going on so I headed over. As it happened, there was plenty of interest at BFI that day so the trip was very productive. However, even if that hadn’t been the case, it would still have been worth it to catch this unusual and rare type.
A sunny Sunday afternoon had me driving past Renton so I figured I would stop off to see a few things. I swung by the floatplane base after I had done whatI came for and things were quite quiet. I had just missed a few planes and wondered whether I would bother hanging around. Then a Cessna made an approach, as covered in another post, and, while it was taxiing back to the dock, I saw a Kodiak heading towards us down the lake. Initially I thought it was going to make a straight in approach but, since the main Renton traffic was operating to the north, I guess it had to fit with that.
Consequently, it made a path that took it towards the eastern shore of Lake Washington before carving a sweeping, descending turn towards the lake. With the hills of that shoreline behind it, things looked pretty impressive. There were plenty of people out on the lake in boats, kayaks and paddle boards and they would have got a really good view as it came in to the lake to touch down.
They taxied back towards the base and I hadn’t appreciated what their plan was. I figured they were tying up at the dock and I had moved away slightly but they had dropped the wheels and were coming up the slipway. A good dose of power was needed to come up the ramp. I wish I had shot that or, better yet, got some video. I will have to go back to the seaplane base there. The new fencing is not great but there are still some good photo opportunities to be had.
The Oregon trip with Mark provided a lot of options for additional aviation experiences while we were en route to the main event in Klamath Falls. This included a stop off at Hood River to check out the museum there. I had heard that it was an impressive collection of both planes and cars and that was no understatement. When it comes to older aircraft, I am well out of my depth. My interest in aviation came out of the military side of things in the 80s and the era of WWII and before was not something I paid any attention to.
The result of this is that a museum like Hood River is full of aircraft that I know nothing about. I couldn’t identify many of them if asked and, when there are many variants of a given make, I don’t recognize what distinguishes them and whether one or other of them is significantly rarer than any other. Instead, I just find it interesting to look at the wide variety of looks and finishes that the planes have.
The Hood River museum certainly provides me plenty to choose from in that regard. There are so many aircraft in there and, while they have several hangars, it is not unfair to say that things are pretty on top of each other in order to get everything to fit in. It is also a little dark but, since modern cameras are so good in low light conditions, this isn’t really a problem anymore.
Mark and I are both plane guys so the car collection was not a big focus for us. We did take a look at to some of the vehicles that were there but, since we had a schedule to keep if we were to get to Klamath Falls in time for some dinner, we had to focus on the planes. There is no way I could cover the collection in one blog post and I won’t even try. Instead, I shall provide a tiny selection of what we saw. Maybe, as I work through some of the shots, I shall revisit the collection in some future posts.
The scanner is a good way of tracking what is about to happen but it can also give you an insight to what might not have gone to plan. I heard a Robinson R66 call in for its approach. When things are on a north flow, the helicopters will run along the river and turn in to land. They can often come at quite a good angle for getting a shot. This one worked out well, despite the backlighting, and I was getting back in the shade as it touched down. I then heard the tower ask if he was ready to take down the phone number he needed to call. Oops! I have no idea what the infraction may have been and I hope it all worked out okay.
British Airways was an early customer for the 787 when Boeing launched it in the form of the 787-8 and has been growing the fleet ever since. They now operate the -8, the -9 and the -10 versions. Their introduction allowed the retirement of the 767-300 fleet so the 787s are now the smallest of the widebodies (although the 787-10 has similar capacity to a 777-200ER). In Seattle, we tend to get the 787-9 or an occasional 787-10. However, Portland gets the 787-8 so, when I got to shoot one there, it was the first time I had seen a BA -8 in ages. They look quite stubby in comparison to the rest of the family.
The trip to Klamath Falls was all about military aircraft but, during the day, we saw some agricultural aircraft launch off the cross runway in the distance. At one point, one of them came pretty close to where we were so it would have been remiss of me not to grab some shots as it flew over.
The monumental screw up that was the 737 Max program has been getting back on track with the return to service of the 737-8 and 737-9 along with the new deliveries coming off the line. The 737-7 has been in flight test for a while now but its certification was going to be delayed until the main fleet issues had been resolved. Reports now suggest that it will be certificated in plenty of time before the year end deadline that Congress set for cockpit upgrade requirements.
A few Southwest 737-7s (Southwest is the significant customer for this marque) have been parked up at Renton for a while. These had been painted and then stored. However, a couple of 737-7s made flights to Boeing Field in recent times. These are Southwest jets but they have yet to be painted. The fact that they are on the move might be interpreted as suggesting that certification may not be too far away and that Southwest may soon be taking delivery. During the downturn that resulted from the pandemic, Southwest increased its -7 orders at the expense of the -8s. Now traffic is booming, I wonder whether Southwest will reverse that reversal and switch more orders to the -8.