Bremerton’s naval yard has been cleared out a bit in the last few years. It used to be the resting place of a bunch of decommissioned aircraft carriers. Most have now gone to the breaker’s yard. If you drove into Bremerton, it was quite something to come along the shore and see all of those carriers in front of you. Many years ago, I was on a trip that included a flight from Seattle. We climbed out over the top of Bremerton, and I was able to grab a quick couple of shots through the window of the airliner. I do wish I had got some better shots of the carriers lined up before they all went away.
I was actually out looking for a work project which (I promise this is legit) was right next to Boeing Field. While I was waiting for my project – which ended up being scrubbed due to a serviceability issue – a P-8 took off from Boeing Field. I was basically aligned with the end of the runway so I could see it climbing out and it came right over my location. It turned out to be a good thing since I wouldn’t normally get this angle on a shot so I am glad to have something different. This view really emphasizes the different wing planform of the P-8 compared to the base 737. No winglets and the raked tips really changes the appearance of the jet from below.
I stopped for lunch and to take some calls at Boeing Field. While I was eating my sandwich, a US Navy P-8 rolled out of the Boeing military ramp to head off on test. With Seattle on a southerly flow, the P-8 needed to taxi the length of the field for departure. It came past me so the sandwich had to take a pause while I got a couple of shots.
Prior to take off, they carried out a rejected takeoff and backtracked for the real departure. One a sunny day like this, the heat haze looking that far up the field is pretty bad so not real chance to get a good shot. The departure itself was a lot better. By the time it rotated, it was close enough to mean the haze, while still present, was a lot less troublesome. As soon as it climbed out, the problem went away. Its interesting that the low light angles of the winter are already being replaced with a transition to the harsher high sun but it is still worth being out.
The first decent sized arrival I got on my BFI visit was a US Navy P-8 Poseidon returning from a test flight. It gave me a chance to get the hang of picking the arriving planes up against the background and working out their positions as the are on final. Things are pretty cluttered in the background which doesn’t help make a photo look interesting but, once they are over the airfield itself, the background is a lot cleaner and the plane stands out more.
Once over the runway, everything is unobstructed so you get a good view of the touchdown and roll out. The runway wasn’t too damp so not much in the way of spray from reverse thrust but a good amount of tire smoke as the mains hit the ground. Heat haze was not too much of a problem as the conditions were not too sunny but you still had to be pretty close in before the shots were sharp enough to look at closely.
NOLF Coupeville was scheduled for FCLP training and strong winds from the Southeast were forecast which suggested the right runway would be in use. I also had a day off scheduled. While the rest of the weather was potentially not ideal, I figured I would make the trip. Why. Not? They were due to be flying from late morning but, as seems to be usual, it was just after noon by the time things started to look active.
I was worried about the low cloud base but it was actually not a problem. The wind was really strong gusting 20-30 kts. This was giving them some interesting flying. Early on, there was a hint of sun sometimes which really helped the photos. As they climbed out after each touchdown, the skies behind made from interesting backgrounds and showed off the heat haze from the exhausts as well as the streaming tip vortices courtesy of the damp conditions.
After a while, I got a visit from the Navy Police. The young lad informed me I wasn’t allowed to photograph the jets. I pointed out I could be he was most insistent that I couldn’t. Rather than have trouble I decided the stop shooting. As it happened, the conditions got a bit worse anyway so I had got the best of what was on offer. I just watched the rest of the flying which included quite a few bolsters and some sketchy touchdowns as the wind got stronger.
Boeing Field always has the possibility of something interesting going on and a P-8 test flight for a US Navy jet was on the cards while I was there a while back. Even better news was that it wasn’t a long flight that they had planned. Consequently, I was going to be there for both departure and return. Since the jet was lightly loaded, takeoff was not labored and they were well up by the time they were close to me. Still, not a big angle on the jet with the light as it was.
I didn’t head to the approach end for the return as I was waiting for something else. It did mean I was closer to the jet as it rolled out on is landing run. The military ramp for Boeing is at that end of the field so the jet rolled to the end and turned off. Heat haze is always a problem at this time of year but things looked surprisingly good considering.
My trip to Coupeville to shoot Growlers undertaking FCLP worked out well as described in this post. What I didn’t emphasize in that post is just how close the road is to the north end of the runway. While southerly flow is not normal, when that is happening, you are very close to the action. The pano at the top of the post is the view you get of the runway from the road and plenty of people will show up to watch the jets bouncing.
The fields around the runway need to be looked after. There was a tractor cutting the grass while the jets were bouncing and you can see what a good view the driver probably had of the jets. I assume he had good hearing protection on while he was working in those fields. I also include a shot of a jet coming low over the field. Hopefully that shows just ow close everything is to the road.
One of the fun things about shooting the FCLP proactive at Coupeville when they are on a southerly flow is that you can stand on the centerline a shot distance from the threshold. The jets are passing very low over the road as they head for the runway so you get a very up close and personal feeling. Hearing protection is definitely worth having.
I experimented with a variety of shots. Looking head on at the jets as they turn on to final is good. They come right over you so you can get a very close up shot head on or, if you want, go to a wider angle lens and have the view right up as they come over you.
You also get to look down the runway once the jets have passed over you. You do have loads of heat distortion as a result of the jetwash behind the jets but that is a small price to pay. You don’t get anything sharp from that angle but it is an interesting view and the jelly air gives a hint to what it is like being behind the jets as they pass overhead.