My day off work to go plane hunting continued to provide interesting things for me. I had noticed a UH-1 Huey on FlightRadar24 while looking for something else. It was off to the east and had been circling various locations. I assumed it was a firefighting mission and thought no more about it. Actually it was the King County Sheriff’s airframe and, while I was at Boeing Field, it made an approach and landed at Modern Aviation’s ramp. It was a bit distant but I got some shots of it and thought no more.
A while later, I was at Renton awaiting the arrival of the A-26 when I heard the distinctive sound of the Huey again. This time it was close over the top of me and just to the sunny side so rather backlit. I figured I would shoot it again anyway at which point it commenced a tight descending turn to land on the field. It came right around me so I got shots all the way – particularly as it got to the right side for the light. To be honest, it was a little close to me for a good angle but this day was throwing me tons of opportunities and I was not going to complain.
I saw an article in Flight about the first P-8 for the Royal Norwegian Air Force having rolled out at Renton. It showed an airframe with a large saint emblem on the fin. I figured this would be worth a look when I could next get to Renton. My day off to chase planes provided that opportunity. Sure enough, there on the flight line was the new P-8. It was sitting next to an RAF P-8 – their eighth example. The RAF jet flew that day but I imagine it won’t be too long before the Norwegian example follows it in to the air so I shall have to keep an eye out for that.
An A-26 Invader, marked up as Sexy Sue, is based at Renton. It is flown pretty frequently. It is normal for it to take off and head up towards the San Juans before looping around and coming back down to Renton. A flight lasts about 40 minutes which means, even if I knew exactly when it got airborne, the chances of getting to Renton in time to get its return are pretty limited. I have caught it out and about one time when it landed from over the lake on a cloudy day.
My day off with the planes had me at Boeing Field when I got a notification that the A-26 was airborne from Renton. I was anticipating the arrival of something at BFI so wondered where I should put my priorities. It is about fifteen minutes from Boeing Field to Renton so a quick reposition is possible. I figured I could probably just make it when my other arrival touched down. However, I had assumed incorrectly about the direction of flight and the A-26 was heading off through Snoqualmie Pass instead of going north.
I tracked it for a while anticipating a turn but it kept going and eventually landed at Walla Walla. I did wonder whether they were heading to Oshkosh or not. Once it was on the ground, I forgot about it for a while. Then, when checking something else a little later on, I realized that they were up again and heading back home. Again, there was a question about something inbound to BFI but timing looked good so I waited for the first shot to be made and then hopped in the car to Renton. The lights all seemed to take forever but I was at the overlook in plenty of time. I wondered whether they would try for an approach across the lake and I would need to relocate but there was a lot of light aircraft traffic so they slotted in to the normal pattern having gone north a way before turning back in.
They were easy to see while downwind and then turned across the housing around Renton before lining up on final with Mt Rainier in the background. I decided to risk a slower shutter speed since the light was very bright and with such a cluttered background, I needed to blur things as much as possible to try and make the plane stand out. It worked a bit but it was still noticeable how much the background takes over shots from that location. As soon as they touched down, I was ready to head back to BFI since more things were due there. This day off was proving very fruitful.
There is something interesting about amphibious planes. Whenever I come across one, I am hoping I can get a shot of it. This one was parked up tight against the fence at Renton. Shooting through the fence with my normal camera is problematic with the wire strands always being in shot and hard to remove in post. The phone lens is a better bet in this situation. I stitched a few shots together to make something usable. I liked the star formation on the fin which led me to think this one might come from Alaska.
I was riding around Lake Washington on my bike and Renton is approximately halfway around. I wasn’t in any particular hurry so figured a few minutes down at the float plane base were justified and that I can get a bit of a break before continuing the ride. The phone was the only camera I had with me but it would do to get a photo of this Beaver on floats that was moored there. There wasn’t a huge amount of activity during my visit but it was still a good place to pause and have a drink.
The park that runs along the river in Renton has some lampposts that are made out of wood. This is a nice way to provide something more in keeping with a park and it is a nice choice that they made. It does mean, though, that the surface of the lamppost is a bit more amenable to wildlife getting established. The damp weather that the Pacific Northwest is known for means that moss and lichens will find a place. This they did!
I was running some errands in the Renton area one weekend so it seemed inappropriate to not pop to the airfield to see what the latest 737 customer aircraft were. There were several jets scattered across the field with Malta markings on them. None of them were very convenient to get a shot of but I managed to get some from the trail and some longer shots across the field from the park. Quite a nice looking livery I think. I have read that they are a Ryanair operation and these are Max 8-200s
After a visit to a shop in Renton, I stopped by the airport to see what was going on. I was taking a walk along the trail alongside the Cedar River that runs parallel to the runway. As I headed back to the car, I heard a noisy bird making its presence felt. Looking up at a power line across the water, there was an osprey a short distance away. I didn’t have anything other than my phone with me so went back to the car to grab a long lens and to see if it would wait around for me.
Sadly, it didn’t appreciate the situation and had gone by the time I returned. However, the river was not empty. Tons of swallows were swooping along its length feasting on the bugs above the water. Looking along the river towards the bridge from the Boeing ramp, you could see loads of them at work. Getting photos of swallows is not easy. They move very fast and do not hold course for long so getting a track on them with a long lens and keeping it is tough. The 500mm is a challenge for this but it is what I had.
There were tons of failures but you don’t get to see these. I was surprised how often I managed to track one and that the camera did a really great job of getting a focus. There was a little predictability of the flight paths which did help but, even so, I was rather pleased with the results. Also, given that these are still heavily cropped, to get this sharp was quite a result.
Aside from my two HondaJets and a little other traffic, things were not looking too busy at Boeing Field. I was contemplating my next move when I glanced at FlightRadar and saw a Douglas A-26 was flying over Seattle. This is one that is based at Renton and used as a personal transport by the owner. I have never seen it in action before. Consequently, I was quite excited. At first, I thought it looked like it was turning towards Boeing Field which would have been handy but then it headed north up towards the San Juan Islands.
I figured that, even if it was landing up there, it would be coming back to Renton later on so headed off in that direction to work out what flow the pattern was using. The A-26 had departed over the lake to the north but all of the movements now seemed to be from the north so I figured it would come in from that direction. No chance of shooting it from above at the overlook point at the south end but still plenty of options.
Unfortunately, they have closed off part of the park at the north end of the field and erected fencing. This takes away an area of higher ground which gives a good view of the threshold. However, with a couple of Cessnas bashing the circuit, I was able to see roughly what would be good and what wouldn’t. A check on FlightRadar showed that they had finished flying around the San Juans and were coming back over the city.
They followed the water from the coast in to Lake Washington and I thought would be coming straight for me. However, they continued over Bellevue instead. I wondered if they were off somewhere else but soon they had turned back and were heading for Renton. Looking up the lake, I could pick them out a long way out, long before they had even configured for landing. With the fall foliage still evident on some of the shorelines, it made for quite a nice shot – something that wouldn’t have been the case at the other end.
The A-26 is pretty speedy so they were soon on final approach and I grabbed a bunch of shots both tight and wider. Then they zipped by and behind the newly erected fencing! I packed up my stuff and headed off but, as I drove back south, I saw they were still on the ramp outside the hangar. I pulled in a watched them put the plane away. Only at the last minute did I realize that I could have got a closer shot from near the gate but I shouldn’t complain given how lucky I had been to see them out on my day off.
I had seen some photos of the lake side of the Boeing plant at Renton with 737s parked up there. Looking on Google Maps made me think these shots were taken from the deck of the Hyatt hotel by the lake. I drive down there one time to investigate but I was not planning on hanging around and didn’t feel like paying to park in one of the lots there so skipped it. However, riding my bike down through there was a different story. I detoured to the hotel and walked up to the deck area. Turns out you get a good view of the back of the factory. Not a lot of jets parked there but a few to see. Ryanair and their affiliate Buzz in this case.