The arrival of this Alaska 737 on the flight line at Renton got a lot of attention from the locals. A special livery is always going to be of interest but this one is better than the average. The dark blue combined with the orcas is a really cool look. I first saw the jet while it was on the flight line at Renton ahead of a first flight. I wasn’t able to get it as it left Renton but I was able to catch its arrival at BFI. After a few test flights, it has now been delivered to Alaska so now I just have to hope I can catch it in better conditions.
Sexy Sue, the Douglas A-26 Invader, had returned to Renton one evening and I had gone around to the ramp side of the field to see her taxi in. While I was watching the crew shut her down, a few arrivals were coming in over my shoulder. One of them was a Cirrus Vision. The lighting was behind it but I was still getting a shot. Being so close to it on approach was an interesting angle.
Even better, the aircraft was heading my way after landing. It taxied down to where the Invader was still parked, wiggled around it in the space available and then continued on around the corner and off to its parking spot. It is a small jet so can taxi around much like any piston light aircraft but it seems funny to see a jet in such a confined spot. I do think the Vision is a cool looking plane, even if it is a bit like a tadpole!
S7 is a Russian airline so not one that I normally get to see. Tokyo is the only place I have seen their planes in operation. They have a bunch of 737 Max jets on order. I saw one of them in a Boeing test bay on the west side of Renton one evening when passing by. The bright green colors are hard to miss. Fortunately, it was not long after this that I was at Boeing Field in the evening when the jet came in from a test flight. The light was pretty nice by that time of day but I don’t think it would have mattered with a color that vibrant!
I was sitting at Boeing Field having had a relaxing time getting some shots on a sunny afternoon when I got a notification that the A-26, Sexy Sue, was up again from Renton. It is just over 10 minutes to get over there so I figured I would have plenty of time to get across once my next arrival was in. The trip across to Renton was not an issue and I was there in plenty of time for their return from the San Juans.
They took some really long winded route to the south of the field before doubling back on themselves, all specifically to avoid the best of the light at the field. Things had clouded over a little by the time they arrived but I still was okay with the shots. I then headed down to the parking area at the entrance to the airport to be in position for them to taxi in. I got there just in time and they taxied in towards me and shut down.
I waited for them to put the plane away. I am not sure why they spent such a long time thinking about it. Part of me wondered whether they were waiting for me to get lost but finally they started to move her back in to the hangar. Having a look at some of the shots afterwards, I saw the BOAC Speedbird logo on one side of the fuselage along with a lot of names of individuals. If you know the story behind this, please let me know.
I was riding down along the west side of Lake Washington approaching Renton when I saw something large on a dead tree trunk alongside the road. With the number of bald eagles and ospreys that I see down there, I was assuming it would be one of them. However, it was a woodpecker. I have heard of the pileated woodpecker but had never seen one for real. It was pulling the trunk apart with abandon and it was huge. Combine the size with the crest and it looked just like a pterodactyl. The thing was massive when compared to any other woodpeckers I see. My phone was not ideal for photos but it did a pretty good job of getting some video.
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.