Tag Archives: gulfstream

Steve Ballmer’s G650 I Think

I’ve shot this jet before but, on this occasion, I was really happy with the angles I was able to get on it.  The big bizjets have so many power that, unless they are making really long trips, they are usually off the ground in no time at all.  This time, this G650 ran a bit longer and allowed me to get some pleasing angles on it at rotation.  When I was looking through the images afterwards, I saw the logo on the inside of the winglet.  It looked like that of the LA Clippers.  A quick Google search confirmed that the Clippers are owned by Steve Ballmer and, since he is one of the Microsoft founders, it made sense it would be here in Seattle.  Quite a nice looking jet!

Two C-37s With One Being a Bit Shy

The US military operates a bunch of Gulfstream jets for transportation of key individuals.  One afternoon, I was at BFI and there was a C-37 from the USAF sitting on the ramp.  It had the powder blue livery common across the USAF VIP fleet.  I was hoping to see it takeoff, but it was not moving while I was there.  A little while later, it was joined by a second example.  This one was a lot less conspicuous.  It had no livery and no obvious markings at all.  The USAF has been toning down its planes recently and this was definitely in that style.  The lack of a registration might have told you that it wasn’t a civilian Gulfstream but the bigger giveaway would be the array of antennae that were on the fuselage.  This clearly could communicate with more than the average bizjet.

A Rapid Turnaround for a G700

I managed to get some shots of one of the Gulfstream G700 test aircraft earlier in the test program.  Certification (at time of writing – not sure when this post goes live) is still not complete but they have built a lot of jets.  One of the test fleet (I think, based on the registration and the Experimental markings) filed to fly in and out of Boeing Field.  It was coming up from Monterey in California and then turning around quickly to go to Portland.  It was a quiet Saturday so I headed out. I had also seen some shots of this jet and it looked like it had a nice livery compared to the average bizjet.

The conditions were not great with a lack of light and some washed out skies, but I still managed to get some okay shots of it landing.  I then headed down the field to be ready for the departure.  Normally, I see a scheduled time and figure it will be a bit later.  Not this time.  By the time I got there, someone was already doing the walk around checks.  It was not long before they fired up and taxied.  Unfortunately, I had chosen a location quite a way down the runway.  The performance of these jets is good, and Portland is a short hop, so the jet was light.  They rotated very early compared to where I was.  I still got okay shots but a little less dramatic than I was hoping for.  Certification can’t be too far off so we might start seeing a lot more of these jets soon.

Black Gulfstreams in the Rain

Previous posts have shown that I like a bizjet that isn’t painted like all of the others and being painted black is even better.  It won’t surprise regular readers, therefore, that when I got to see not one but two black Gulfstreams on one afternoon at Boeing Field, I was quite a happy chappy.  The weather was not great, though.  It was raining pretty steadily which doesn’t make for ideal conditions.  However, it isn’t all bad.  Sunny days with black jets can produce some harsh contrast conditions while overcast light is more even and soft so it might not be all bad.

Rain in the shots is still going to be an issue though.  Depending on the shutter speed you choose, you may well end up with the raindrops being visible in the images.  A bit of tweaking of the settings when processing can boost the contrast a little, but those raindrops are not disappearing.  Still, the subject is an interesting one to me and that’s what counts.

G700 Test Jet

I posted about the arrival of some Hunters and, in that post, I mentioned that I was there for a Gulfstream test jet.  A couple of years ago, I managed to get some shots of a G600 test jet and I had been hoping to catch a G700 at some point.  When one of the test aircraft filed a flight plan for Boeing Field, I finally had my opportunity.  I was waiting for it when the Hunters showed up.  It wasn’t far behind them that my original target showed itself.

This is the fourth test aircraft.  It is in a nice paint job typical for the average anonymous bizjet but it gives hints to its true purpose by having some of the windows replaced with instrumentation.  I was able to get it as it came in from the south, albeit with the usual cluttered background that Boeing Field has.  Fortunately, they were operating out of the field for a few days and I was able to come back at a later date to catch it on approach from the other end.

Shooting at SEA After Sunset

One of the things that photographers that have only used digital cameras can’t appreciate is ability to shoot in low light conditions.  When I was shooting film, you were already struggling with image quality with ISO 400 film.  Early digital cameras got very noisy as the ISO got ramped up but, these days, the capabilities of shooting in very low light are truly amazing for those of us that are old enough to remember what it was like.  ISO1000 black and white film was adventurous!

Now I feel quite comfortable trying all sorts of silly things.  I had gone down to SEA one evening to try and get a departure that was possibly going out just before sunset.  Sadly, it didn’t play ball and the sun was gone by the time it headed out.  However, I was there and the camera can do silly ISO numbers so why not.  It still needs to drop the shutter speed down quite low but, with a fast burst rate, the chances of getting a reasonable shot are not bad.

I figured I would play around with shooting departure shots as the last of the light was fading away.  It was more about trying something different rather than aiming for the perfect shot.  I did have some interesting planes to play with but also plenty of Alaska 737s.  The  light was pretty dim  and ISO51200 is quite something to work with but the image quality is really very impressive considering what conditions you are shooting in.

In From Manila And On To Teterboro

A sunny Sunday morning trip out for a bizjet got a bonus.  I was a touch late for the arrival unfortunately but this G650ER had come in from Manila on its was to Teterboro.  It would have been nice to catch it landing but, after it cleared customs, they taxied out for departure to the east coast.  I’m sure it was nice to stretch the legs after a trans-Pacific trip although I doubt a G650 is that uncomfortable!

NASA Formations

Edwards AFB might be the home of the USAF flight test center but it is also home for NASA’s Armstrong test center.  Consequently, NASA was included in the flying display.  They put up a three ship formation that mad a series of passes.  The formation was led by a Gulfstream with an F-15 and an F/A-18 on the wing tips.  The Eagle is one that has been with NASA for years and is painted in a white scheme.  The Hornet was still in Strike Test colors from Pax River but I have no idea how long it has been with NASA.

The two jets also did some demonstrations of sonic booms as they maneuvered high above the crowd with the booms reaching the ground at different times depending on how high they had been created.  The sound was also modified by the maneuvering of the jet. Formations like this don’t appear regularly at air shows so this was a welcome addition to the flying program.

Gulfstream Graveyard

I had seen photos from the visits people had made to the airport in California City that showed a lot of old business jet airframes in storage.  I was curious to see this place myself and so headed up there when I had some time one evening.  There is a local business that takes old jets – principally Gulfstreams – and strips them for any components that will be useful in the secondary market.  The owner of the place is welcoming to visitors and a friend was actually already there when I arrived.  A little while later after sorting out issues with the gate opening, I was inside and free to roam around.

There are so many jets, it is hard to know where to start.  Some of them are basically intact while others have had substantial elements removed.  Sides of the fuselage might be cut out, gear may have been removed and engines are definitely a valuable commodity.  Some of the control surfaces will have found a second life supporting an airworthy jet.  Older generation jets like the G-II and G-III are represented but the G-IV is now knocking on a bit and so there are quite a few of those too.  Some very old jets are scattered in amongst the carcasses including one that had been used as a military testbed.

The planes are squeezed in to all available spaces.  As you walk around, you have to pay a lot of attention to make sure you don’t trip over anything or smack your head on part of an airframe.  Also good to try and avoid getting in the shots of other photographers!  I didn’t see any hazardous wildlife which helped make the walking around a little easier.

While most airframes were Gulfstreams, there were occasional exceptions.  I came across a really old HS125.  It was from the days of Viper engines so definitely an old one.  It didn’t look to be in great condition but the dry desert air means that they survive pretty well for a long time.

Return of the G-III On A Sunny Sunday Morning

A G-III is going to be of interest but when it comes on a Sunday morning when the sun is out and conditions look nice, I am going to try and be there.  This was the One Flight jet which I had seen before but I wasn’t going to pass it up because of that given how good the conditions were.  I got there in time to see it land and it parked up on the ramp a little north of me although not easy to get a shot of.  It wasn’t staying for long so I was able to catch it taxiing back out for departure and then taking off too.  Not a bad result for a start to a Sunday morning.