Given my recent Avanti posts, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I had some bad luck again. After the arrival of the 777X, the local Avanti was showing due to arrive just before sunset. The weather had been very overcast but, as is often the case up here, the sun was sneaking occasional appearances below the clouds as sunset approached. The Avanti was due soon and it looked like it could either be great or crap. About five minutes before it was due in, the sun popped out. Things looked great for a Cessna that was on approach.
It couldn’t last, though. The clouds took over again and then things got worse. The Avanti, instead of turning on to approach, went off on some weird looping flightpath to the north. I have no idea what it was up to but the time it spent meant the sun was now definitely gone. Now I was playing “How High Can the ISO Go” as the conditions deteriorated. At least modern camera are pretty amazing with little light to work with.
I got some shots of it as it came in and they really came out quite well. At the north end of Paine Field, things are a bit further away so, with a smaller plane, I can make use of the 500mm and f/4 certainly helps in the low light. Just behind the Avanti was a G550 so I figured why not wait for it to come in too. The light was even worse but it was still worth a go. Low light is not great but it can provide some nice shots if you are lucky and this was okay.
The end of 787 production at Everett has also meant that Boeing doesn’t have a need for the Dreamlifter operations center that they had built there, next to the Future of Flight visitor location. I assume the space was leased from the airport but that might not be right. Whatever the case, a new use has been found for it. FedEx has set up a small operation there. SeaTac is their main base in the area and they have a steady stream of wide body freighters heading through there. Everett is a single 757 each day. I assume this is the beginning of things and that there will be more to come. I can’t imagine that they will make that investment for one freighter a day. We get a bunch of FedEx 767s on test prior to delivery but the 757 is a nice addition.
The 777X program is hardly zipping along. The four test aircraft have been in use for a while now but the certification is not due until the end of 2023. After being built at Everett, the test jets all headed to Boeing Field. However, the fourth test aircraft, WH004, recently went back to Everett. I’m not sure why but it did a bit of flying out of there. One evening, I popped up to get a photo or two when it was returning. Conditions were ideal but a white jet will always have a bit of light on the airframe.
I posted about a trip to Paine Field one evening to photograph an Avanti which was unsuccessful because the plane diverted back to Sacramento. A little while later, I got a notification that it was due in again. The arrival time was about 6:40. With sunset just after 7 at that time, it had the potential to be very nice. Of course, any delay could make it a bust. I figured it was worth a shot and Nancy was fine with waiting from me to get back before having dinner!
The evening light was looking really good. I practiced panning with some of the local traffic while watching for the progress of the Avanti. It was on its way but arrival time was slipping a little. It should still be okay. Meanwhile, I noticed the progress of the shadows of some of the trees where I was as they crept closer to the runway. It was going to be tight. We would make sunset without a problem and there was no low cloud to cause concern but it was a risk that the tree shadows would be on the plane.
Nothing I could do about any of this and, with the plane still airborne as it was due to pass me (assuming that they didn’t land near the threshold), the chances are things would be okay. I kept my eyes peeled for the sight of the Avanti lining up on approach. Eventually it came in to view and zipped down the glide slope. By now the light was low and the shadows were creeping on to the runway but it made the silver of the airframe positively glow. I clicked away as it came by and then I was done. Back home for dinner!
I saw a notification that an Avanti was heading to Paine Field and due to arrive later in the evening and not long before sunset. This seemed like an ideal opportunity. I waited to see it depart from Mather Field in Sacramento and then got stuff ready to head up after dinner. I made good time getting up there and the light was looking great. Everything was on a northerly flow which was not what I had hoped for but never mind. However, a quick check on my phone showed no sign of the Avanti.
Eventually I discovered that it had diverted back to Mather. I don’t know the reasoning but it was on the ground down there and not close to arriving near me. I was rather annoyed I hadn’t checked this out just before leaving because it would already have been back on the ground by then. However, I was there and the light was nice so why not make the best of things. A variety of planes were making the most of the conditions including a nice Stinson, some bizjets and a Horizon jet so it wasn’t a totally wasted trip.
Boeing is not having a good time of it at the moment. The 737 Max saga hurt it significantly and it is still getting in to delivering jets that have been stored for a long time. Some countries have still not cleared it to fly. Meanwhile, the 787 program is in a bit of a hole with a variety of quality problems showing up such that deliveries have almost ground to a halt. Those two programs are supposed to be cash generators at the moment which allow investment in the next program. The KC-46 is also not what you would call a success!
That program is the 777X and it is not going well either. In the aftermath of the Max problems, the certification program is getting significantly dragged out. Initially engine problems delayed first flight but now that is a distant memory as all sorts of other things are meaning that service entry is not likely until early 2024. They should have been in service last year under the original plan.
Production of the last original 777s other than freighters is now complete and production of 777X airframes is well underway. However, there is nothing to do with them for now so a steady stream of green airframes is piling up at Paine Field. The cross runway (it doesn’t seem fair to call it a runway given that Boeing has used it as a parking lot for the last decade) is now filling up with airframes with weights where the engines would be and either no wing tips or they are covered with film to disguise the customer airline markings. Line numbers are taped to the gear doors. It all looks rather familiar and sad. It will be a while before these jets are readied for customers and it will be interesting to see how many Paine Field can hold before the production line churns out even more of them than there is space for.
I’ve seen the JetStar prototype a few times in various visits to the Museum of Flight restoration facility up at Paine Field. The JetStar is a favorite of mine as might be determined by several of my posts over the years. The prototype is a bit different, though. It was built with two engines – Bristol Orpheus turbojets. After the first two aircraft, the rest were four engined. After it finished testing, it was used by Lockheed for transport duties. It ended up in Vancouver before coming into the museum’s collection. These shots are of it in the restoration shop.
I have posted a few shots from a visit to Paine Field one evening when the light was really nice. The bigger movements of that evening have got their own posts but there was a fair bit of light aircraft traffic that evening. Some of these were vintage types or at least types that have been a round so long that they should probably qualify as vintage these days. The warm, low light made for good shots of what otherwise might not be the most interesting of photo subjects.
I was up at Paine Field one weekend morning awaiting a Dreamlifter movement – more of that in another post – and one of the local Embraer operations was departing while I was waiting. Sure, an Embraer E175 is not the most exciting photo subject but I wasn’t doing anything else and the morning light was alright so why not get some shots of it as it taxied by and lined up to depart.
I posted some shots of the Black Hawks that were delivering personnel to Paine Field for their onward flight in a USAF C-32. There were only a few shots in that post, but I took a lot of photos of the Black Hawks as they made there approach. Since there is a limit to what I get to shoot these days, I felt a post could certainly be made of some of the other shots from that day. Nice evening light really helps a Black Hawk look good.