Having seen the increasing number of 777s and 787s parked up at Everett (777X won’t be certificated for another year or two and the 787s have stopped delivery since October due to fuselage issues and are only now starting to be accepted again), it reminded me of the number of 787s that were stored in the early days due to the extended test program given how many issues there were with the jet. (Does this all sound rather familiar?)
I didn’t live in the Pacific Northwest in those days but came up to Seattle for an ISAP symposium. The field trip included time with the Heritage Flight Museum n Paine Field. We were checking out the collection and also getting to see a few of the aircraft in action. A few of the attendees had also paid to get flights in the planes as well. We got to hang out on the ramp as well as on the berm which I understand was a popular spot in days gone by but is now out of bounds.
There were plenty of 787s parked around the field in those days. To be honest, I can’t recall whether deliveries were underway and the numbers had thinned a bit but the earliest airframes were the most trouble and they might have been the ones still sitting around awaiting a long list of rectification issues and the potential that the original customer wouldn’t even take them. These are some of the jets that I got shots of that day.
I have posted a fair few things from an evening spent at Paine Field after work. Ironically, the reason for actually being there is the last topic to get a post from that visit. Boeing continues to build 777s ahead of the introduction to service (eventually) of the 777X. Almost all deliveries are of the 777-300ER. Its sister ship was the 777-200LR, a lower capacity plane with longer range to meet the need of extreme range operations.
None of these have been built for a while but one more was on order. (The 777F is a variant of the 200LR and it continues to sell well.). This final 200LR was order by Turkmenistan. Getting the last of the type was of some interest but an aircraft from Turkmenistan was more unusual so I wanted to see it. Turned out it was on a test flight in the afternoon when the weather was nice and it was due back at the end of the day.
I thought it was going to mess with me. When it showed up approaching the field, instead of lining up on approach, it flew across the approach path to the west. However, this was just a feint and it then came back and flew an approach. Not the most exciting of colors for an aircraft but the last of the line and an unusual country made it worth going – besides, it was a lovely evening so being out was worth it anyway!
The evening departure of the C-32 was covered in this previous post. I hinted then about the arrival of some of the passengers. I’m not sure where they had been visiting but they returned Ina. Three ship of Black Hawks. Some of those who had been around earlier in the day had seen the departure and apparently it followed the same process.
The three ship of Black Hawks flew downwind on the west side of the field having approached from the south. They then turned to final in a stream, descending to a lower level and flying the length of the runway prior to setting down near the fire station and close to the awaiting C-32. Since it was late in the day, the light on them was really nice once they were over the field (conversely, they were seriously backlit while downwind).
After dropping off their passengers, they pulled up and departed back to the south, presumably heading towards JBLM. I haven’t seen any UH-60s for a while so this was a nice change from the norm. It was also fun looking at the crew on board with the helmet and face masks as they looked back at us. Hopefully they didn’t mind being photographed too much!
A nice bonus during my evening photographing at Paine Field was the visit of a 777X test airframe from Boeing Field. They often file to go to Paine for a low approach and maybe some pattern work before returning to Boeing Field but don’t always follow through – sometimes just heading back to BFI. This time, they did show up. A nice evening with smooth conditions and they flew down the approach before powering up and going around as they cross the airfield boundary. A few shots in nice light are always welcome.
The USAF operates a small fleet of Boeing 757s for VIP transport. These C-32s are often thought of for their role transporting the Vice President when they adopt the call sign of Air Force Two. However, they transport a lot more people than just the Veep with other cabinet officials using them as well as senior Air Force staff.
One of them was at Paine Field for a while. I had heard that it had flown in but had assumed it had gone again. When I went up one evening after work (when the light was looking great and another jet I was interested in was due back), the people there told me it was still around. I figured it would be there for a lot longer and paid no further attention until someone noticed that it had moved out of its parking area on to a taxiway.
As with all of these things, nothing happened fast. Since the light was just getting better and better, I didn’t mind too much. Eventually a bunch of the passengers showed up – that will warrant its own post – and then they started up and taxied. They had to hold for a short while near the threshold so there was lots of time to get some shots. Then they were off. I figured, being a 757, they would be airborne quickly. They must have been heavy, though, since they ran a long way down the field before rotating.
I wasn’t close to the FedEx 767 as it came in and shot a missed approach but the low sun angle on the underside of the jet looked quite nice. The crew flew a tight pattern back to make their approach and landing. They did run reasonably long so I got to see them as they turned off the head back to the ramp. They were going to take an earlier exit but something was in the way so I got a bit lucky.
A holiday visit to Paine Field saw that something interesting was heading for departure. It was unlikely I would get across the field in time to catch it and I didn’t. However, since I was there, I thought I might as well hang around for a bit and shoot some departures. There were a few piston types heading out as well as a PC-12. Since none of them were too important to me, I decided to play with shutter speeds around 1/100th of a second. With the 500mm, this doesn’t result in a high keeper rate.
It does provide a lot of prop blur which was the point since, with no background, you aren’t getting any sense of speed. It was more a case of seeing what I could get and having some panning practice. When looking at the shots on the computer, some of them are clearly junk without much inspection. Others look okay until you get zoomed in. A few of them are sharp even zoomed right in and they are the ones that don’t get culled.
When the pandemic first hit in a big way, I wasn’t going anywhere to shoot but, once it was okay to make trips without interfacing with other people too much, I did got to Paine Field to see the stored Southwest 737s and I wrote about it in this post. I was back up there recently and, while they have been cycling jets in and out, there are still a lot of their 737s parked there – predominantly but not only, 737-700s.
Some of them are up near the old cross runway and lined up in a good spot for a shot when the morning light is on them. I was a little later than ideal but I still managed to get something. Many of them are around near the FHCAM facility – still sadly closed and with no idea what the future might hold. I had brought some steps which meant I could shoot over the fence. The planes are really tight in there so I may a lot of use of panos to get decent coverage of the planes. I did also get some of the planes further away.
The coverings on the openings on the airframes were pretty comprehensive. Everything that is exposed has been taped over to prevent moisture or creatures getting in and causing harm. There have been various stories coming out of the issues affecting planes that have been in storage for a long time so, while this prep is good, there will still be much to do when these planes are returned to service. Meanwhile, Southwest is now taking delivery of its Max jets so it will be interesting to see how many of these planes do have a future.
The Pacific Northwest suddenly seems to have a bunch of Dornier 328Jet ops at the moment. I posted here about one coming in to BFI. I saw another one on the BFI ramp recently too and Paine Field had a visitor over the holidays. The weather was pretty nice for this one when it showed up so I popped out to get a shot of it coming in. I was not familiar with Taos Air. They had made a couple of stops before arriving at Everett and departed for California shortly afterwards. I wonder what the story was behind that?
I shot an XOJet Citation X at Paine Field over the holidays. The light was at a nice low angle since it was not long after the shortest day and it picked out details on the airframe nicely. I was surprised to see that the jet was in a grey paint finish. I have shot a few XOJet Citation Xs over the years. Some of the earlier ones were in a pretty standard looking livery, not unlike NetJets.
I then started to see them in an all white paint finish. This was definitely not too exciting and had the look of someone that was ready to save money when they sold their jets without the need to repaint them. The new scheme is not much better but at least it looks slightly more deliberate than a plane you couldn’t decide what to paint it. I wonder if this is a new standard for them or just an oddball?