Tag Archives: jet

Sunset Comes Too Soon for BA

My Arizona trip with mark started out in Phoenix.  I got there earlier than he did and shot a little at Sky Harbor but, once we had met up, we decided to try what the evening shooting might offer there.  I was particularly interested in getting the British Airways A350 when it arrived.  Phoenix is a busy airport but does not have a huge amount of variety so this would be one of the more “exotic” arrivals.  It was due to make it in just before sunset, but the flight was running a touch late, and I wasn’t sure if it would make it.

Keeping an eye on the track of the flight was one thing, but we were also keeping an eye on the horizon.  There was low cloud in the distance which suggested that the sun might disappear from view before it actually set.  Sadly, this proved to be the case.  Things got gloomy rather quickly once the sun went behind the cloud bank and then, as it got low in the sky (out of sight) the light was fading fast.  That’s when the jet arrived.  Still, it wasn’t a total loss.  Sometimes low light can be interesting.  It wasn’t as good as the last light of the day glowing on the nose, but it was alright.  We watched the jet taxi in and then decided to see what low light shots we could make work.

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.

Avelo Visits BFI – Can They Last Too?

A while back I posted some shots of New Pacific and commented on whether they would survive.  They are not alone in starting up an airline and operating tenuous routes.  Avelo is another airline that has been created and runs between secondary destinations.  I guess all of these new starts undertake charter work as well to keep utilization up and cash coming in.  Avelo did a run to Boeing Field, and I figured that, unless I get to one of their destinations at any point soon, this might be my only chance to photograph one of their planes.

The arrival was not in the best of light, but conditions weren’t too bad, and I was happy to get some reasonable shots.  When it came to departure, they were due out later in the day and the one thing you know about charter flights is that they won’t go even close to he planned time unless you are running late.  Then they will be off early!  Sure enough, they were dragging it out.  I was wondering whether there would even be any light left when they went but, having spent a bunch of time waiting, I was not giving up.

One of my friends had been waiting too but finally decided enough was enough and headed home.  I was not so sensible and stuck around.  Finally, they closed up the jet and got the engines going.  They taxied across the runway in a location that was quite convenient for me, so I got a bunch of shots.  Then they got to the hold point and waited.  I was thinking that they were toying with me, but it wasn’t too long and then they rolled.  Overall, I was quite happy with the results.  If I don’t end up seeing them again, these will have been worth it.  If they become a major success and are all over the country, this will have seemed a touch futile!!

My First Sighting of F-16Vs

The designation of the F-16V is one that leaves me a bit confused.  There are A model jets that are upgraded to this standard, but I thought some new build jets were also having the designation.  Maybe I am mistaken about that.  I also see two-seaters upgraded to the standard so an A or a B model can now be a V model?  Anyway, enough about that. I got to see some.

Taiwan has been upgrading its fleet of A and B model F-16s to V models.  The program is nearly complete from what I have read.  They operate a number of the jets from the Guard base in Tucson at the international airport.  While Mark and I were there, we got to see a bunch of them launch and recover.  This included one with special markings in the fin.  The markings are otherwise not too conspicuous but, because they are early model jets, the lack of the bulged fin root with its antenna is the thing that allowed me to identify them.  Must be some life left in those airframes despite their age!

GlobalX Has Interesting Passengers

GlobalX charter flights are pretty common in our area these days.  The company is expanding aggressively, and any charter work seems to be on the cards.  This one flight was a bit unusual – at least compared to what else I have seen then do.  The buses pulled up with the “passengers”.  However, instead of all walking up the steps, they went one at a time.  A closer look showed that their hands were in front of them – presumably in cuffs.  I’m not sure whether this was a criminal transfer or a deportation flight, but I suspect the latter.  I have seen plenty of DOJ flights into BFI but this was a first for me to see.

Gripen Two Ship Departure

Flashback to RIAT and 2019.  I was working through the catalog looking for something for another project and came across these shots of Swedish Gripens departing from RAF Fairford after the show had concluded.  A section departure is always more interesting than a singleton even if it does give you something to think about when deciding on which plane to focus on.  The Gripen is a great looking jet and one that has been pretty successful given that it was built specifically for Swedish needs.  Always happy to get to shoot one.

A Black Challenger 850

What do you do if you have built a large fleet of 50-seat regional jets and now no one really wants a 50-seat regional jet?  You take that jet and refit it into a corporate configuration and change the name to match your other bizjets.  That is the way a CRJ200 suddenly transforms into a Challenger 850.  It’s a bit ironic because the CRJ was developed from the original Challenger jet anyway so maybe the reverse process is not a big deal.  Anyway, it finds a second life for some jets.

I wouldn’t have gone out specifically just to get a Challenger 850 (you might ask why that is when I go out for any number of other aircraft of niche interest), but this one was painted all black and I am partial to any jet that doesn’t look like all of the others.  A glossy black finish is definitely worthy of some attention and, if the light is going to play ball, it should look pretty good.  In the event, it did come out rather nicely.  I don’t know whether the operator will be back here on a regular basis, or this will be counted as a limited time offer but good to have had the chance!

At Last, I Get a Shot of Another Icelandair Special

Icelandair painted a couple of its 757s in special liveries a few years ago.  One of them, called Vatnajökull, has never been where I was or, if it was, the conditions were bad, or I couldn’t take any images.  Finally, I saw that it was coming in one weekend and would be departing when there was a northerly flow, and the sun was likely to be out.  I finally had a good chance to get it.  Icelandair is adding plenty of Max 8s to the fleet and they are becoming more common into SEA and they will be getting some A321neos soon so the 757s might not be a reliable visitor here before too long.  Consequently, I was glad to finally get some good shots of this lovely looking jet.

Calspan’s GIII Makes a Brief Visit to the PNW

The arrival of a Gulfstream III would be a good reason to head out in any circumstances but, when that GIII is one operated by Calspan, it definitely is worth a look.  It was due to come to Paine Field but only for a very brief stop before heading back across the country.  Why it was there I have no idea.  It was due in early in the day so I was actually hoping for overcast weather since I would be on the wrong side for the sun.  Of course, the sun burst through just as it lined up for approach.  Nevertheless, it was still possible to get a reasonable shot of it.

I then headed off to the departure end to be ready for it to go.  I did stop by the terminal to shoot it on the ramp but, when I saw one of the crew remove a chock, I didn’t hang around and got the departure end.  The sun did last a little, so I had some nice light on it as it got airborne.  The wind was very strong that day, so they were off pretty rapidly and climbing steeply.  Of course, the sun was obscured as they got closer to me but what can you do?

The Harriers Really Are Here

While Mark and I were in Arizona, we were talking about the sighting of Harriers down at El Centro.  Harriers are getting pretty rare these days and the Marines only operate them on the east coast at this point.  A detachment to this side of the country is of interest!  We debated the merits of a drive across to El Centro and decided to go for it.  We left Tucson mid morning and got to El Centro in early afternoon.  A quick drive around the south of the base saw one Harrier out in the open.  We could hear it too but, before too long, all had gone quiet – at least as far as Harriers are concerned.

As the day wore on, we were beginning to wonder whether we had been mistaken or just unlucky when a call came up on the radio of what sounded like a Harrier call sign.  A flight of four.  The daylight was beginning to get a little thin, so it was quite late to be going out but, since they have night attack avionics, no reason for them to be limited to daylight only.  Sure enough, we soon see a four ship of Harriers taxiing to the departure end.

The four of them launch in stream and, while they didn’t turn towards us when we would have liked them to, they did keep it low enough to get some nice shots.  One of the jets even had some color.  With them off, we decided to head around to the other side of the base to hopefully get their return.  Not long after we got there, one appeared overhead and alone venting fuel.  Clearly something was amiss, and it was making an early return.  A long straight in approach was best for them if not us!  Then we waited.  Unfortunately, it became clear that they would not be back before it got dark, so we eventually gave up and started our return journey.