Seafair provided me with my first opportunity to shoot the Blue Angels during a display since they transitioned to the Super Hornet. I was interested to see whether the display seemed any different with the new jets. Seafair is a nice location over Lake Washington but the alignment of the display box relative to the shore of the lake is not ideal and this does result in the planes being further away than for most venues. The increased size of the Super Hornet is probably a benefit in this situation.
I was interested whether the larger jets would make things seem a bit slower somehow but I didn’t notice anything in practice to support that idea. The normal tight flying that the Blues are famous for was there and, if anything, the bigger jets look closer as a result of the changed perspective. It is not that big a deal, though, so I suspect some of this was in my imagination. I would like to see them at a different location where the display axis is closer in order to get another view of the display, though.
Aside from watching the display at Lake Washington, I did also Watch them depart and return from Boeing Field. They always departed to the north and returned from the north even if everything else had been landing from the south. I spent one arrival down at the south end and watched then run the length of the runway and break for landing. It was a good spot to watch this from. Overall, I was happy with the new look for the team. I hope the jets hold up well. The Blues have a reputation of having to live with some of the oldest jets in the fleet and reliability will be something to watch.
I went to see Seafair itself for the first time this year. I had been to Boeing Field to watch launches and recoveries before but this was my first time down by Lake Washington for the show. I was down close to Seward Park and, on one of the small bits of land jutting out in to the water was the location that the Coast Guard had parked their MH-65E Dolphin. It was part of the display but I suspect it was also on duty if there were any issues during the show.
I was looking forward to getting shots of it moving but, as a result of a re-planning of a presentation to a client which had been originally scheduled for the day before, I needed to take this call on my day off at the show. The call coincided with the Coast Guard demo. I was sitting on a Teams call on my phone as the Dolphin lifted off right next to me and did a dynamic low transition. Oh to have been able to photograph that!
I did get shots of it on the (sloping) ground and, at the end of the show, they took off to head back to wherever they were overnighting. At least this time, I was able to get shots of them starting up and taking off. Sadly, the departure was far less dynamic than the one for the show. However, there was nothing I could do about that. It was still cool to watch them from relatively close quarters.
I spent the Friday of Seafair down at the shore of Lake Washington watching the flying demonstrations (and taking the occasional work call). The planes weren’t the only aviators over the lake though. Despite a TFR being in place, a local osprey decided to ignore it and cruise along the shore line. I never saw it actually dive after any prey for the whole time I was there. Instead it would just start towards the south end and gradually drift northwards. After it had completed the leg, it would return to the start and repeat the process.
Fortunately, it was very close to the shore and nowhere near the display box so there was no risk being posed to the performers in the show. However, it was quite a distraction to everyone around where I was and we would turn to watch it rather than the display aircraft each time it came through. Initially it was a little offshore and a bit of a reach with the long lens but it came progressively closer in and was right overhead on a number of occasions.
We relocated to the other end of Boeing Field for the return of the Blue Angels. They ran in across the field trailing white smoke. Unfortunately, with little wind, this meant a pall of smoke was now hanging over the airport. As they broke into the downwind and then turned onto final, it was sometimes hard to see them at all. A healthy boosting of the contrast makes some of the shots a bit more visible but, in truth, the viz was really awful. I only hope they had a slightly better view of the ground than we had of them since their being able to see was slightly more important.
The F-22 Raptor that displayed at Seafair took off from Boeing Field away from us. It kept things nice and low building up speed before pulling hard to the vertical. Impressive but a long way away from us. Unfortunately, the pilot then elected to land on the opposite runway. All of this was away from us. The only upside was that, when he ran in to break, he ended up breaking right over the top of us. A brief window to get some shots and rather close in for the longer lens I was using but, all things considered, it was a good consolation prize.