Making a cross country flight from Wisconsin to Washington is a long enough trip but it is even longer if you are in something that isn’t too speedy. A DC-3 is not something that is going to cover the ground that fast. It will be a bit quicker if it has been re-engined with a turboprop but, even then, it is going to be a long trip. I think it was the best part of eight hours to make the journey and then overnight at Seattle before continuing on to Alaska the next day.
The arrival of the BT-67 certainly got the attention of a few local photographers. Sadly, things got a bit cloudy just as it arrived so the conditions were not ideal. It was still cool to get a shot, of course. Fortunately, they had parked near the Museum of Flight so I was able to get a few shots of them parked up. The crew were just closing up so the gate to the ramp was open for them and a kind security guard allowed me to shoot past him without having to deal with the fence.
My cloudy Sunday afternoon included a bonus visitor. I saw that a turbo DC-3 was heading this way. Initial estimates had it coming in quite late but they were making good progress and would be in while I was there. The turboprop conversion means a better cruise speed on a long cross country and, since this flight was direct from Oshkosh, it was a pretty long trip.
I have shot plenty of DC-3s over the years but I don’t think too many of them have been turbine conversions. This was a nice surprise. It didn’t hurt that the weather was steadily improving during the afternoon and a hint of sun was showing up by the time it arrived. That hint wasn’t quite as strong as I would have liked but it was okay. I also got to see it on the ramp when it parked up near the Museum of Flight. I think Basler has a base at Oshkosh and, since they do the conversions of DC-3s to turbine power (along with a small fuselage stretch I think), I guess this must be one of theirs.
Everts has based its operations on older airframes. They have recently added some MD-80s to their fleet which, I guess, is indicative of the fact that the MD-80 is rapidly disappearing from service. It is now available for freighter conversion. I shot one on the ramp at BFI quite a while back in nice light but one was due in to Paine Field just before the end of the day. There was always the question about whether the light would play ball or not but I wasn’t going to pass up the chance.
I was sitting at Boeing Field having had a relaxing time getting some shots on a sunny afternoon when I got a notification that the A-26, Sexy Sue, was up again from Renton. It is just over 10 minutes to get over there so I figured I would have plenty of time to get across once my next arrival was in. The trip across to Renton was not an issue and I was there in plenty of time for their return from the San Juans.
They took some really long winded route to the south of the field before doubling back on themselves, all specifically to avoid the best of the light at the field. Things had clouded over a little by the time they arrived but I still was okay with the shots. I then headed down to the parking area at the entrance to the airport to be in position for them to taxi in. I got there just in time and they taxied in towards me and shut down.
I waited for them to put the plane away. I am not sure why they spent such a long time thinking about it. Part of me wondered whether they were waiting for me to get lost but finally they started to move her back in to the hangar. Having a look at some of the shots afterwards, I saw the BOAC Speedbird logo on one side of the fuselage along with a lot of names of individuals. If you know the story behind this, please let me know.
Thanks to my friends, Bob and David, I became aware one Saturday morning that a fly day was underway that day up in Skagit County. The Heritage Flight Museum was going to have a few planes flying so I made a quick change of plans and headed up there. The conditions were a bit overcast so not ideal but it was still worth a look. There were a few of the regulars up there too so it was a chance to see some people I hadn’t seen for a while.
Of the various warbirds that they had flying that day, the A-1 Skyraider was the one that was of most interest for me. It was the only one I hadn’t seen at previous events so I was keen to get a chance to photograph it. On takeoff, it seemed to be trailing a fair bit of smoke. Since it was recently off overhaul, this concerned me a bit but it seemed to clean up as they flew for a while so everything seemed to be fine.
There were straight passes across the field from various formations followed by some arcing turns over the museum ramp individually. I backed up the road a bit to try and get a bit more of an angle on the planes as they ran across. It would certainly have been nicer to have a bit more light on them but it was still good fun to be shooting something different. I’m very grateful to the guys for giving me the heads up.
An A-26 Invader, marked up as Sexy Sue, is based at Renton. It is flown pretty frequently. It is normal for it to take off and head up towards the San Juans before looping around and coming back down to Renton. A flight lasts about 40 minutes which means, even if I knew exactly when it got airborne, the chances of getting to Renton in time to get its return are pretty limited. I have caught it out and about one time when it landed from over the lake on a cloudy day.
My day off with the planes had me at Boeing Field when I got a notification that the A-26 was airborne from Renton. I was anticipating the arrival of something at BFI so wondered where I should put my priorities. It is about fifteen minutes from Boeing Field to Renton so a quick reposition is possible. I figured I could probably just make it when my other arrival touched down. However, I had assumed incorrectly about the direction of flight and the A-26 was heading off through Snoqualmie Pass instead of going north.
I tracked it for a while anticipating a turn but it kept going and eventually landed at Walla Walla. I did wonder whether they were heading to Oshkosh or not. Once it was on the ground, I forgot about it for a while. Then, when checking something else a little later on, I realized that they were up again and heading back home. Again, there was a question about something inbound to BFI but timing looked good so I waited for the first shot to be made and then hopped in the car to Renton. The lights all seemed to take forever but I was at the overlook in plenty of time. I wondered whether they would try for an approach across the lake and I would need to relocate but there was a lot of light aircraft traffic so they slotted in to the normal pattern having gone north a way before turning back in.
They were easy to see while downwind and then turned across the housing around Renton before lining up on final with Mt Rainier in the background. I decided to risk a slower shutter speed since the light was very bright and with such a cluttered background, I needed to blur things as much as possible to try and make the plane stand out. It worked a bit but it was still noticeable how much the background takes over shots from that location. As soon as they touched down, I was ready to head back to BFI since more things were due there. This day off was proving very fruitful.
Aside from my two HondaJets and a little other traffic, things were not looking too busy at Boeing Field. I was contemplating my next move when I glanced at FlightRadar and saw a Douglas A-26 was flying over Seattle. This is one that is based at Renton and used as a personal transport by the owner. I have never seen it in action before. Consequently, I was quite excited. At first, I thought it looked like it was turning towards Boeing Field which would have been handy but then it headed north up towards the San Juan Islands.
I figured that, even if it was landing up there, it would be coming back to Renton later on so headed off in that direction to work out what flow the pattern was using. The A-26 had departed over the lake to the north but all of the movements now seemed to be from the north so I figured it would come in from that direction. No chance of shooting it from above at the overlook point at the south end but still plenty of options.
Unfortunately, they have closed off part of the park at the north end of the field and erected fencing. This takes away an area of higher ground which gives a good view of the threshold. However, with a couple of Cessnas bashing the circuit, I was able to see roughly what would be good and what wouldn’t. A check on FlightRadar showed that they had finished flying around the San Juans and were coming back over the city.
They followed the water from the coast in to Lake Washington and I thought would be coming straight for me. However, they continued over Bellevue instead. I wondered if they were off somewhere else but soon they had turned back and were heading for Renton. Looking up the lake, I could pick them out a long way out, long before they had even configured for landing. With the fall foliage still evident on some of the shorelines, it made for quite a nice shot – something that wouldn’t have been the case at the other end.
The A-26 is pretty speedy so they were soon on final approach and I grabbed a bunch of shots both tight and wider. Then they zipped by and behind the newly erected fencing! I packed up my stuff and headed off but, as I drove back south, I saw they were still on the ramp outside the hangar. I pulled in a watched them put the plane away. Only at the last minute did I realize that I could have got a closer shot from near the gate but I shouldn’t complain given how lucky I had been to see them out on my day off.
Moses Lake was the last stop on my road trip. There were a few things I was hoping to see while I was there but one thing I saw I was not expecting at all. A Douglas UC-67 Dragon, a conversion of the B-23. There weren’t many built at all and I have come across a couple in museums. However, this one looks like it might be airworthy. There aren’t a ton of photos of it online but it has been shot flying a couple of years ago so I hope it is still flyable. It was very close to the fence in nice afternoon light so a great surprise to add to the day.
No great story with this one. I was at SeaTac for a different arrival on the outer runway. A FedEx MD-11F was making an approach to the inner runway while I was waiting. It provides a good alignment with Mt Rainier in the background so I figured it was a shot worth taking and I was pleased with how it turned out. Given how little I have photographed recently, a shot like this from before everything got locked down suddenly seemed like something to share!
When I first started going to air shows, the Phantom was everywhere. The USAF was already well into the process of removing them from front line work and introducing the F-16s instead but there were still some in service. Other air forces still had them in some numbers. For this post I figured I would dig through whatever shots I could find of them to share. Some are more recent including some from the USAF target program and others are a little older. Enjoy.
A JASDF McDonnell Douglas F-4EJ Phantom takes off from Hyakuri AFB in Japan.