Tag Archives: seattle

Checking Out Seattle from the Air When Coming Home

A previous post included some aerial photos that I got when coming back into Seattle courtesy of an Alaska Airlines 737.  They were of some of the islands in Puget Sound.  As we got back to the city, we turned back towards the approach with a nice view of the locks at Ballard and the waterways into Lake Union.  A close-up view of the north end of Lake Union with Gasworks Park in the foreground and the university campus in the background came next and then a view of the south side of the city and off towards the east side of Lake Washington before we were back on the ground.

A Short Time Between Two Visions

It doesn’t take long for the weather to change in the Pacific Northwest.  One afternoon I got a couple of Cirrus Vision Jets into Boeing Field.  The weather was a bit overcast for one of them and then cleared up nicely by the time the second one showed up.  The result was a far nicer shot for the second jet than for the first.  It is amazing how quickly conditions can change and what a difference it can make to the images.

Finally, the Jetz Black Jet – Just No Sun

Air Canada operates a charter service under the Jetz brand.  While the A320s are not the focus of the mainline fleet, they are part of the Jetz fleet plan.  With a lot of use in sports charters, they do show up at Seattle pretty frequently.  One of the Jetz jets has been painted in a gloss black livery which looks pretty cool.  I really wanted to get some shots of it but they only seemed to be bringing it in late at night and departing in the early hours of the morning.

I wasn’t going to be out that late and photographing a black jet at night was not going to be that worthwhile.  Then I saw one was going to come in on a Sunday morning.  I took a look at the forecast, and it was showing the potential for the sun to be out and I decided to give it a go.  Finding a location on that side of the field for the morning light has got a lot worse since construction has taken away some of the options.  However, there are still some things that can work.  I was hopeful that the sun might be there but, with the jet turning on to approach, there was still some cloud taking away the best of the morning light.  Nevertheless, the jet looked pretty good as it flew by to touchdown.  I wasn’t unhappy with the results.

328Jet Departure Only

A period of some pretty frequent visits to Seattle of 328Jets was nice to have.  Unfortunately, I was unable to be there when one of them was arriving.  Not chance to get the landing configuration but I was there by the time they were heading back out.  I wasn’t sure of how quickly they would be off the ground given that the 328 is able to handle some short fields.  As it turned out, they ran a reasonable distance and I was happy with the results.

I Guess More Harriers Were in My Future

During the trip with Mark, we made the excursion to El Centro to catch the Harriers.  As I wrote in the post about those airframes, I thought it might be the last time I got to photograph Harriers.  Turns out, I was a bit premature.  With an exercise planned up in Alaska, the Marines were planning on taking ten jets to participate.  Their routing staged through Boeing Field.  The plan was for two sets of five jets to come across.

The moves were not entirely smooth.  Bad weather in our area was not ideal, tanker support was not working to plan and then you get the occasional jet that breaks.  However, we did get most of the jets showing up.  The first bunch showed up at Boeing Field from the north.  They were strung out on the approach but, from certain angles, you could see all of them stretched out over Seattle.  One by one they came in and reminded us how loud a Harrier is in STOVL mode.

There was due to be the second wave later in the day, but they ended up showing up on another day.  We had departures of the initial jets as well.  When they called up for departure, they asked the tower to line up on both runways.  This would have put them up at the north and away from where I was.  This was a bad development.  Fortunately, the tower informed them that they were too heavy for the short runway’s surface rating.

Instead, they lined up on the main runway spread out in a line.  They powered up simultaneously and released brakes at the same time.  The northern jet had no problem getting airborne in such a short space because of the STOVL capabilities of the Harrier.  The jets further back were also airborne quickly and accelerating rapidly while still over the field.  They climbed out in a loose line which meant assembling the formation would be a simple process.  What a great thing to see one more time.  Is that it for me and Harriers????

A Detailed Tour of a Clipper Race Boat

In a previous post I discussed the arrival of the Clipper Round the World boats in Seattle.  In that post, I mentioned that I got it wrong about being able to go on the boats to have a look around.  However, I did end up having a second go at looking at the boats and this time, it was a success.  The boat that was open for visitors was named Qingdao.  One of the crew showed us around both up on deck and down below.

When looking at these boats from the outside, they look like pretty sizable craft.  However, when you get down below, it is instantly apparent how limited the space is.  There is a lot of space taken up by the sail locker and the engine room.  Then you have a small galley area and the navigation station.  There are two small heads – no showers, though.  The remainder of the space is for the crew of 22 to squeeze in to.  This is not a luxurious excursion.  (We were told that, had we been on a couple of days before, the odor would still have been pretty ripe.  A long time at sea does not make for great hygiene!)

I had decided to take my widest zoom for the visit and I was glad I did that.  Everything was so confined, it really needed a wide angle to get any shots.  Even maneuvering through the hull while docked required a bit of effort.  I can’t imagine what it would be like when heeled over at 45 degrees while punching through a Southern Ocean storm.  They say you learn a lot about yourself in these races and I don’t doubt it.  I’d probably learn I am not cut out for serious adventures!

The galley was interesting.  Aside from the stabilized hob, all of the cans were stripped of labels and marked up with their contents.  Everything gets wet so labels fall off rapidly.  You need to prep to make sure you can identify the food.  The cans do corrode in the salt water.  Apparently, it’s not unknown to open a can and find nothing inside it because it has already leaked away from a corrosion hole!

The boats were really interesting to see.  The crews spend a lot to be on this voyage and they are definitely getting an adventure.  I hope they have fun ultimately and I like to see what they have done but I won’t be signing up anytime soon.

Son of Ares Catches Me Out (Almost)

I had made a trip early one Sunday to Boeing Field to catch a couple of departures.  One of them had left earlier than expected and was gone when I got there.  While waiting for the next one, I was sitting in the car on a Zoom call with my family.  I was parked somewhere where it was possible to make out through the fence what was the other side, but it had plastic filaments in the fencing which obscured things to some extent.

I was busy chatting away when I saw the shape of something taxiing across the runway from the FBO which looked both unusual and also familiar.  I jumped out of the car, grabbed the camera and climbed the ladder to grab a shot as the Scaled Composites 401 finished crossing the runway and turned away up the taxiway.  I last saw one of these aircraft at their home base of Mojave in California.

While I had missed the crossing shot of the runway, the flow was to the south so I knew the jet would be coming back my way when it took off.  I was bothered that I was far enough down the runway that it could well be quite high by the time it reached me.  It got to the hold point on taxiway bravo and then sat there for ages.  The tension was painful.

Finally, it lined up and started its takeoff run.  Sure enough, it was quickly off the ground, but good news was to follow.  The pilot had decided to keep it nice and low – possibly to give a good view to the people over at the FBO that were watching the departure.  That meant I got a nice landlocked image as it came by before climbing out swiftly.  What a great surprise.

The Holidays Bring Us Some A300s

The freighter fleets of the big operators like FedEx and UPS are gradually being recapitalized.  The older jets are heading to the desert and getting replaced with new airframes.  The A300-600Fs in both fleets are not going away quickly but they won’t be around for a lot longer.  The UPS A300s don’t normally show up in Seattle with 767s and MD-11s being the regulars here.  However, the holiday season results in a big increase in parcel traffic and so extra jets tend to show up.  That meant some A300s at Boeing Field.  Great to have them here and I hope we get another time when they show up reliably.

Steve Ballmer’s G650 I Think

I’ve shot this jet before but, on this occasion, I was really happy with the angles I was able to get on it.  The big bizjets have so many power that, unless they are making really long trips, they are usually off the ground in no time at all.  This time, this G650 ran a bit longer and allowed me to get some pleasing angles on it at rotation.  When I was looking through the images afterwards, I saw the logo on the inside of the winglet.  It looked like that of the LA Clippers.  A quick Google search confirmed that the Clippers are owned by Steve Ballmer and, since he is one of the Microsoft founders, it made sense it would be here in Seattle.  Quite a nice looking jet!

Intelsat’s CRJ Thwarts Me with Weather

Testbed aircraft are the sort of thing I like to see and, when Intelsat brought their CRJ to Seattle, I was hoping to catch it.  Sadly, its arrival and some initial flying were not at good times, so I didn’t get to shoot it.  Then it was due out when I was heading to SEA for a trip of my own.  However, the conditions were awful, and I could barely make it out in the gloom as it got airborne.  Cameras – even with really modern tech – struggle to focus on something that is barely visible in the mist.  I did have one last chance when it was taking off, but I was at the terminal at the time and could barely get some shots of it as it taxied and took off. After that, it left.  I was frustrated throughout its time here.  Will it return?