Shortly after my A220-300 landed, another Delta jet was due in. (Actually, quite a few were but they weren’t terribly interesting.). It was an A330-900, the NEO version of the A330. I have shot a few of them but have really struggled to get them in good conditions or nice lighting. Since the weather was crummy on this Sunday morning, that luck wasn’t changing. However, it was there so why not get a few shots. At some point I will get one in good light.
During the winter, I shot a British Airways 787 as it approached landing at Seattle Tacoma International. There was some low cloud base and it was just skirting the bottom of the clouds as it passed me by. It was appearing and disappearing from view within the clouds and, even when clear, was pulling a bit of vapor along with it! An all-white jet against a cloudy backdrop does not make for a contrasty shot but the elusive nature of the plane with such a background made the shots interesting to process.
It’s true that the C Series is no longer called that but the A220 is not such an exciting name and the title was dull enough as it was so I figured some artistic license was allowed. I have shot A220s a number of times both in Seattle and Dallas Fort Worth since Delta flies them to both locations. However, to date, my only experience had been with the original aircraft, the A220-100. The -300 is the stretch version (or the actual original idea if you believe some analysts) which is proving to be the more popular seller. Delta has started taking delivery of them and one was coming to Seattle on a Sunday morning so I went out to catch it. Conditions were not ideal. In due course, these will be a common sighting but a first is still a first. Loads are flying in to Vancouver with Air Canada but, until the border opens, I will have to make do with this one.
The gradual relaxation of travel restrictions means that there are more long haul jets showing up in Seattle. Some are still just taking freight but passenger ops have expanded. The reduced number of passengers does mean that smaller capacity jets will suffice for some routes. Qatar has restarted operations to Seattle. They are using their 777-200LRs for the time being. I caught one as it was passing overhead on final approach.
These shots aren’t particularly nice but, at the time I took them, I didn’t realize that they would be a bit more significant for a friend of mine. He was a skipper for Virgin Atlantic and making his first run to Seattle. I went out to get his arrival despite it being a bit gloomy. We met up afterwards for a beer and some food. He flew back the following day.
Since that time, the airline business (along with many businesses) has taken a bad turn and Virgin Atlantic has been getting rid of staff. My friend was eligible for retirement and decided to take it. Consequently, this flight turned out to be the last landing he made in his commercial flying career. The return leg landing was made by another member of his crew. It would have been nice if the conditions were better but I am glad I was there to see it. Happy retirement Chris and see you soon I hope!
While I had headed to SeaTac to see the 21Air 767 arrive, I hung around for a couple of other arrivals. Delta operates a variety of long haul types into the airport and this includes A330s of the older and newer generations. First to arrive was an A330-300. A little while later, it was followed by an A330-900, the A330neo version. I thought I would try and get identical shots of both jets to see how much the engine and winglet changes showed up when looking at them in flight. Here are shots to compare the two types for you to make your own comparisons. I think the differences are there but they are not drastic.
One Saturday morning, I was scanning what was moving around the Seattle area and saw a Boeing 767-200 coming to SeaTac, operated by 21Air. I had never heard of this operator before and the picture online made the jet look like it was painted more interestingly than the average freighter. I figured I would pop down to get some shots, even though the conditions were not great. The light actually perked up a bit when the jet arrived so the results were better than I hoped. I asked a buddy about the operator and he, having never seen them before, was actually looking at two of their jets in LA. I wonder why they are suddenly on the west coast.
Alaska Airlines has a 737 flying in a special scheme as a Salute to Veterans. I have shot that in the past and it appeared on the blog in this post. I wasn’t aware until recently that they had painted a second jet in a similar scheme – this time from their regional fleet. This is an Embraer E175-E1. Here it is departing SeaTac one morning while I was awaiting my flight out.
If I hadn’t been with Joe who is a bit more familiar with the regular movements at Tucson International, I would not have been too interested in this aircraft. It looked like a pretty standard C-26 to me. However, Joe was quick to see it and told me it is one that he had not seen move (I can’t recall whether this was ever or just for a long time). Apparently, the turret under the fuselage is for surveillance activities of a spooky nature. Why it was moving on this day (was it watching me?) I have no idea. I was just glad that, rather than dismissing it as I might have done, I found out it was a little different.
The layout of SFO with the two pairs of cross runways makes for some operations that are quite specific to this airport. At peak times, parallel approaches are made to the 28 runways from along the bay shore. These approaches require the following plane to make sure it does not overtake the leading plane. I don’t know for sure but I imagine the choice of which side leads is based on the wind direction so the wake turbulence doesn’t affect the downwind plane.
Getting them close together is the goal as a photographer. Often they end up being separated by a lot more than you thought. When further out things look like they are close but then the approach turns out to be more offset than you expect and you don’t get a good shot when they come in to land.
Arrivals aren’t the only parallels though. The departures are sent of the 01s from both sides. The clearances are usually offset and the thresholds are slightly different so the planes often get airborne well apart. However, that is not always the case and sometimes you get what amounts to a formation takeoff. Once airborne, the planes turn to increase their separation. Getting a shot of them close together is something to try for if you can. They are too far away when they take off to be a great shot individually but getting both in frame certainly makes for a more unusual shot than is the case for most departure procedures for big airliners.