The Aloha Air Cargo 767 was the reason for me being out early one morning but it wasn’t the only freighter coming in. (Indeed, this was the case for both of my efforts to get the Aloha jet.). Kalitta were also operating a 767 which is under contract to DHL. Some of Kalitta’s jets are plain white so you wonder whether a given day will bring something in that has a bit of color to it or not. On this occasion I was lucky. It might not be the most dramatic of the DHL schemes but it is better than no color at all!
A 767 freighter conversion made its way across the country and stopped off at Boeing Field recently. Unfortunately, there was no way I was going to be able to get there to see it so I figured it was just one of those things I had missed. However, not long after that, it showed up with a flight plan to SEA. The flight plan was listed against Northern Air Cargo but the plane is marked for Aloha Air Cargo. I was taking the day off and it was due in at the beginning of the day so I decided to head down to try and get a shot.
Sadly, the traffic was getting busy at SEA and, with plenty of departures and not too much on arrival, they put it on the outer runway. It was a bit far out from where I was but I got some shots, although nothing too special. I then saw it was coming back on the Sunday but this time it was due to land at 5:30. With sunrise just after 5am, this would produce some good light. However, I didn’t plan on getting up.
At 4:30 on Sunday morning, I woke up. I thought this was an opportunity so decided to get up and head out. At that time of the morning, no risk of traffic problems. I got down there in good time and, while it was a few minutes early, I was ready for it. The sun was barely up so the light was really excellent. Also, with no departures at that time of the morning, they came in on the closer runway so a total win!
Dreamlifter operations at Paine Field are heavily curtailed these days. No more 787s are being built there so no parts deliveries are required. However, the jet is being used to deliver the occasional 767 cockpit section which means there are still occasions when they show up. One morning, the light was great, and one was due in. Moreover, the wind was from the north and the airport was on northerly flow, so it meant getting an approach shot was achievable. I was ready and waiting. However, despite the other ops being northerly, the Dreamlifter was sent to the north to make a southerly approach – maybe for the ILS? I was at the wrong end. It didn’t even taxi all the way to the end, so I only got it as it turned off a bit north of me. These chances are not frequent, so I was pretty annoyed!
This was a bit of a mistake. I saw a Boeing 747-8 was due for a flight at Paine Field. The 747-8I that Lufthansa declined to take delivery of has been active recently and I thought this was it. Instead, it was a freighter that was due for a short test flight. Not what I had in mind but still not too bad. It was another UPS jet. There are some non-UPS 747s still to be built before the line is closed soon and I will want to see some of those.
It was early in the day so the light was best on the east side. That limits your options but I got it taxiing down for departure and heading out. It was a 30 minute flight so I got the return too before heading off. I wish I hadn’t been so eager to get back because a Janet 737 showed up half an hour after I left! Oh well.
MD-11 freighters are still a big part of the UPS fleet. In visits to Boeing Field before I lived up here, I got to see them quite often. For some reason, my more recent visits have not included many MD-11s. However, one nice evening with pleasant light, a UPS MD-11 was due in. They were on a northerly flow so a touchdown shot was not a problem. The bigger issue is that the 100-400 is fine for most of the sequence but, at the closest point, it is a bit too much lens. Still, nice to get one of these again. No idea what the long term plan is for UPS and the MD-11 but I hope they hang around for a bit.
A step back in time to the mid 2000s. I had a work trip to Anchorage having been invited up by a potential client to discuss their business. We lived in Chicago at the time and I needed to fly to Seattle to connect to Anchorage. (Interestingly, the return leg was possible to make direct overnight.). I had not expected Anchorage airport to be too much. I knew, even then, that it was a hub for freight traffic across the Pacific but I did not think it would be that busy.
When we landed and I walked down the jet bridge, I looked out of the window to see rows of 747s, MD-11s and DC-10s. It was quite an eye-opener to see just how many large jets were laying over there. There was a steady stream of movements too. These planes were not just waiting around for business. The airport downtown was another reminder with everyone I spoke to in the bar being a crew on layover.
The meetings went well but didn’t lead to anything. The timing of the trips meant I had some time to kill so I spent a bit of time out at the airport watching the arrivals and departures. There were the unusual locals that Alaska is known for and the props will definitely be worth a separate post. For this one I shall share the jets that came and went. Many of these are types or operators that have ceased to be. It was a great thing to see and I’m glad I got the chance to be there, however briefly. A specific trip up is something I would like to try and do at some point. All those Alaska Airlines points have got to be worth something!
An unusual operator is a good reason for a trip out. I had seen some 757 flights in and out of Seattle that seemed to be running a circular route including LA and Hawaii. The airline was called Asia Pacific Airlines and was flying 757s. However, I didn’t have the opportunity to get to see them while these flights were underway. Jump forward to Christmas Eve and I had a day off and they were coming in to Boeing Field. This seemed like it was worth a trip.
They appeared to be providing additional capacity for UPS which was dealing with the big rush in the last days before Christmas. Although the jet was due in a bit later than ideal, I was definitely hanging around to see it. I had got everything done for Christmas so I wasn’t under pressure. The green and white scheme is an interesting change from the usual UPS colors. It landed and taxied to the UPS ramp where the ground crew went to work unloading and reloading it. I didn’t wait for departure, though. Christmas was coming!
In the run up to Christmas, online retail had clearly been very busy. UPS runs their Seattle flights to Boeing Field and, while I was there, the traffic levels were well above the norm. I have posted the Asia Pacific 757 freighter in a previous post but UPS’s own fleet were really moving. Arrivals and departures were pretty frequent. As soon as the jets were on the ramp, the team whirled into motion getting the containers off and loading up the outbound loads.
We were walking along the shore in Mukilteo on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I looked up and saw something large on the approach to Paine Field. At first I assumed it was one of the scheduled E175s but, as I pulled the camera up to my eye, I realized it was a 777. As it got closer, it was apparent that it was a China Airlines Cargo freighter on test – the first time I have seen one. The midwinter light made for a nice shot.