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.
Sometimes, when in Nevada for Red Flag, I will head down to McCarran in the morning to shoot some of the airliners prior to heading back to Nellis. This time, I barely went down that way. However, I did see a movement that caught my attention. There is a daily rotation of a Shorts 360 freighter from Phoenix up to Las Vegas. I haven’t shot a Shed for a while and figured this was worth a look.
There is a viewing area along the south runway at McCarran but it was closed for COVID and hasn’t been reopened yet. Short staffing means it is low on the airport’s priorities which kind of makes sense. Consequently, I ended up scoping out a parking lot that would give me an alternative. It was pretty hot and heat haze is always a concern plus I didn’t know whether to use the long lens or the zoom. I used a couple of jets coming in before to decide what to do and also stuck the polarizer on to cut the light down to get better shutter speeds for the props. Then the box on wings came on to the approach and I grabbed some shots. If you had told me 30 years ago I would make an excursion to photograph a 360, I would have laughed. Now they are rare enough that is exactly what I do!
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.
The end of 787 production at Everett has also meant that Boeing doesn’t have a need for the Dreamlifter operations center that they had built there, next to the Future of Flight visitor location. I assume the space was leased from the airport but that might not be right. Whatever the case, a new use has been found for it. FedEx has set up a small operation there. SeaTac is their main base in the area and they have a steady stream of wide body freighters heading through there. Everett is a single 757 each day. I assume this is the beginning of things and that there will be more to come. I can’t imagine that they will make that investment for one freighter a day. We get a bunch of FedEx 767s on test prior to delivery but the 757 is a nice addition.
There are some aircraft that have been built and flown in huge numbers which it is almost embarrassing to admit that you have never photographed. One such aircraft is the Antonov AN-12. This was a ubiquitous military transport for the eastern bloc and, while it is now a rather aged design, it still has a good role as a civil freighter. However, I have never seen one in action until recently.
A Ukrainian registered example from CAVOK Airlines was coming in to Seattle. It was due to arrive at around 1pm which meant the light would be right on the nose. The worst possible case. Of course, that was assuming that there would be light. When it actually arrived, the sun was well obscured by clouds. Given the dark colors of the plane, maybe that was a good thing. Two minutes after it had gone, the sun was back out of course. It was trailing smoke from its old generation engines but it was definitely a highlight of the last few months of movements.
October brings the end of MD-11 operations for Lufthansa. When the MD-11 rapidly fell out of favor with the passenger operations, it became a bit of a favorite for freight operations. New build MD-11Fs were joined by conversions of displaced passenger jets. Lufthansa had bought some new jets and added more to their fleet. In recent years, the introduction of Boeing 777Fs had gradually displaced the MD-11s from operations. Now the last one is being retired. FedEx is still using a ton of them so no likelihood of the type going away soon. I only saw them a few times in Lufthansa colors and won’t any more!
A Falcon 20 making an arrival on a Saturday morning when the sun is out is not something to be missed if possible. We were heading out that day but I just had time to make the run over to BFI to get the Kalitta Charter Falcon 20 as it arrived. The timing could hardly have been worse with the sun directly down the runway so right on the nose. (I suppose it could have been right on the tail if the winds were the other way around so maybe not the worst situation possible.) I was able to get a couple of previous arrivals to make sure I had a good angle since I rarely shoot from that location. Then it was get the Falcon and back in the car to do what we had planned for the day. Not a bad result.
The shot you didn’t get. How many of those do we have. It’s easy to get blasé about something and decide not to bother. Of course, many times, this will be just fine, otherwise we wouldn’t be blasé in the first place. A couple of UPS jets had arrived. One was an MD-11 and one was a 767. A second 767 was on approach and I figured why bother. As it touched down abreast my location, something looked decidedly odd about the radome.
I talked to Nick, who had been next to me and had photographed it and asked him to take a look at his shots. Sure enough, the radome was a complete mess. Presumably a bird strike had smashed it during the flight although whether it was early on or during the approach we couldn’t know. It was quite the scene of destruction and I didn’t get a photo of it. 99 times out of a 100, it wouldn’t have been anything but this time… Oh well.
Just before 777X WH003 returned to Boeing Field, I got a nice bonus. Royal Air Freight has a small fleet of Falcon 20s that it uses for moving freight around the country and one was coming in to collect and maybe drop of some material. I do like the Falcon 20. It is definitely an older looking design at this point but it still looks pretty good. Shortly before it lined up on approach, a Falcon 7X taxied for departure from the north end of the runway and right by me.
It then sat at the hold point while the Falcon 20 made its approach. Having one of the newer Dassault jets sitting and waiting while one of the older Dassault creations flew in was a nice symmetry. Once the 20 had vacated the runway, the 7X made its departure. I assume it was going a long way since, despite using the full length, it took a while to get airborne. The 20 taxied to the ramp opposite me where they proceeded to load it up.
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!