The new international arrivals facility at SEA includes a long walkway that overlooks the ramp between the A concourse and the South Satellite. I was able to get a few shots as I wandered through there. A Delta A220-100 was taxiing by when I got there and there was another shortly afterwards. They are pretty common here these days. Since A Concourse is heavily used by Delta, no surprise that a lot of their jets were present. A few Southwest jets were over on B with some widebodies on the satellite.
For a while, I was able to shoot up at Arlington a bit. Our location there in the afternoons is close to the ramp used by Airlift Northwest. They have some Airbus Helicopters EC135s that they use for aeromedical flights. It is a nice looking airframe and theirs are painted well. (They have recently painted one in UW colors which I have only shot from a distance.). They seemed to be in action a lot while I was there so was able to get the teams crewing up, departing, arriving and shutting everything down. They are happy to give you a wave too which is nice.
I stopped at Boeing Field to make a couple of calls and I was pleasantly surprised to see that a Boeing T-38 chase jet was not far out. I was able to get the camera out in good time for it to arrive and, even better, while there was plenty of cloud around, the sun popped out to allow me to get a reasonable shot. I then went back to dealing with my calls. I had noticed a USAF T-38 further east in the state but had assumed it was not coming my way. However, I was wrong. A short while later, it called up on approach. The sun was less cooperative which was a shame for a gloom black painted jet but it was still good to shoot. From expecting nothing to getting two T-38s in short order was a nice surprise.
Singapore Airlines has been taking delivery of a bunch of 737 Max8 jets. These were bought by the Silk Air subsidiary but, after the order was place, Singapore decided to integrate that subsidiary into the main airline. Plenty of the aircraft had been painted before this decision was made and I guess Boeing’s price to repaint the jets was higher than the other options available so they were delivered in the old colors and then repainted after delivery. However, more recent jets have been painted in Singapore’s colors from new. 737 deliveries usually happen from Boeing Field but, for some reason, this jet was delivered from Paine Field. The sun popped out as it lined up to depart for Hawaii where it would stop en route. Not often you get an airline flight between Paine Field and Hawaii!
While I am happy to shoot a Phenom 100 if it happens to be passing, I am not usually going to go out of my way for one. However, if I have a cloudy Sunday afternoon with nothing much going on and one is coming to Boeing Field with Millennium Falcon paint on it, why not? This jet was making a tour around the west and was coming to BFI from Bellingham. I got it arriving and the side I shot had the Falcon painted on it. Apparently the other side has an X-Wing. The underside looked like it might be interesting and I did get a departure shot but it wasn’t as special as I had hoped.
Airlines seem to be consolidating their fleets these days with less and less types showing up. I am sure that this is true for Air France too but, recent experience at SEA feels like the opposite. We seem to have been the destination for a lot of the Air France long haul fleet. We have had 777s coming in here for a while. I imagine that they will be the ones we won’t see much of again but you should never bet on that. The 777-300ERs are likely to be around for a while, even if the -200ERs go away.
Then we have had the A330s and the A350s. I like the look of the A350 so was pleased to see them bringing that on this route. I had wrongly assumed that, with the A350 being deployed here, that was going to be a regular feature. Instead, we have now got 787s coming in. I was north of the airport when I got to shoot a 787-9 lining up for approach. When I have looked more recently, that is the jet showing on the schedule. Who knows what we will get next? I am pretty certain it won’t be the A380!
For a while, I had been thinking about trying to do some night photography of airliners. I had seen some good shots people had got but SeaTac does not have a lot of ambient light to illuminate aircraft flying overhead. It would be better if there was a large public space under the approach that would provide so brightness to work with. I was down at SeaTac to pick up a colleague and knew I would be there as the sun went down so I decided to have a go at some shots.
I used the 70-200 f/2.8 to get as much light as possible. The sun was going down so I was going through quite the transition of lighting conditions. Some were just twilight while other were when things were getting quite dark. The autofocus was also struggling since the center point was being used and the underside of the jet lacked much contrast in the dark. I still got a few usable images. The lack of light means they aren’t too great but it was fun to try something different. Now to find a better location!
The creation of the airline alliances has allowed airlines to serve a wider range of routes than they could sustain themselves. Part of their obligation as a member of the alliance is to have some of their aircraft painted in alliance colors. Sadly, these liveries are not that exciting but I suppose it is some variety. I was quite surprised to get an Air France 777-300ER in SkyTeam colors vacating the runway at the same time a United 777-200ER in Star Alliance colors was taxiing the opposite direction. I felt like the scene for a stand off but no such thing occurred.
When I was last at LAX, there was plenty of construction underway in the middle of the field. The Bradley International Terminal was being expanded to accommodate the growth that had taken place. This was all pre-pandemic of course. On this visit, it looked like everything was complete. The new midfield terminal area was looking finished and there were aircraft on the gates including a China Southern A380. With that fleet due for retirement, that might be my last chance to see one. Not sure whether I will get to use the terminal or not but it looked good.
I got another new freighter while at LAX although not a great shot of it. Cargologic has a pair of 747-400Fs in service. The threshold for the south runways is a long way east of Imperial Hill so it is easy for freighters to stop and turn off before they get past all of he buildings that are in the way. Consequently, I didn’t get a clear shot of this jet. At the time I took this, a bunch of restrictions had been imposed on Russian operators as a result of the invasion of Ukraine. Cargologic is a British registered airline so was not restricted. Its ownership traces back to Volga Dnepr which is restricted. Not sure the distinction is a real one but, at the time, it was enough to allow them to keep operating. I suspect the UK government is not going to look too hard.