Airline sponsorship deals around the Star Wars franchise are a big deal these days. I have shot a variety of them over time. The United Rise of Skywalker jet recently got repainted back in to standard United colors. Alaska Airlines has signed a new deal associated with the Disney park attraction and they unveiled the jet after it had been painted in Spokane. I missed its initial visits and then got it one weekend but only in some pretty dingy conditions.
Then I got a second chance at both the arrival and departure one morning when the weather was far more favorable. The airframe is mainly black with a variety of graphics across it. There is a graphic of a porg in a location that is designed to look like a front window. They are also on the winglets. I find that creature annoying so don’t have much interest. However, the addition of Tie Fighters and the Millennium Falcon are better from my perspective. I guess that shows my age.
The creation of the airline alliances has allowed airlines to serve a wider range of routes than they could sustain themselves. Part of their obligation as a member of the alliance is to have some of their aircraft painted in alliance colors. Sadly, these liveries are not that exciting but I suppose it is some variety. I was quite surprised to get an Air France 777-300ER in SkyTeam colors vacating the runway at the same time a United 777-200ER in Star Alliance colors was taxiing the opposite direction. I felt like the scene for a stand off but no such thing occurred.
Early morning at Washington National and I was waiting for my flight home after a work trip to DC. As I sat at the gate, a JetBlue aircraft was coming up from the south end of the field. It was painted in a red scheme representative of the fire department of NY. They have a few different special liveries on their jets but a bright red one is quite the opposite of their normal look. Sadly, the light was a bit dull but I wasn’t passing up the opportunity to get a shot, even if it was through the terminal windows.
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.
Since I haven’t been out photographing aircraft as much as I would normally like to do, the blog has got me looking through older outings. I was discussing with Nancy what things I might look back on and, since some balloons were flying overhead at the time, we got on to the topic of our visit to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. The blog has been going for nearly ten years so I tend to think that most of what I have done is on here but there are things that predate the blog and have yet to appear. A search through the archives suggests this is one.
We went to the fiesta because it was something I had long wanted to see but also because I was going to cover it for GAR and had arranged press access. This meant several days of being onsite early in the morning and later in the day. Having not been to a balloon event before other than a fleeting visit to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta in the UK, I didn’t appreciate the timing until I was there. Everything starts really early and is pretty much done by just after breakfast. The evening might be the second wave of activity but, since the winds were getting up in the evening, that didn’t prove to be much good and, besides, Nancy wasn’t wishing to give up all her time to this so we could do other things during the day and the evening.
I made sure to be there well before sun up each day. The crews would be getting their balloons out at their respective launch locations across the large grass area. The sound of fans filling the envelopes would then be followed by burners bringing them up to temperature. We had a glow one morning to watch which was pretty impressive and then, as the light came up, the launches would start. These had to be well coordinated given the number of balloons there. Marshals, dressed in zebra outfits, moved around the site keeping everything under control.
The variety of balloon shapes and colors was fantastic. To see the skies filled with balloons was amazing and the specials that were shapes of interest or for advertising would get particular attention. There were three balloons that were bees which carried a single person beneath them and flew around together which looked great. Since there were so many interesting balloons, there are a bunch of shots below of some of the cooler ones. I would like to go back one day to see this again.
When a new Star Wars movie is released, it seems to be the thing to arrange a tie in with an airline and have them paint jets in special Star Wars themed liveries. ANA was a part of this and I have shot a variety of their special paint scheme jets which you can see here and here. For the most recent movie, The Rise of Skywalker, United got in on the game and painted a 737 in a black livery with special marking including one side with a blue lightsaber and one with a red. I had not seen the jet before. It has been to SeaTac a few times but never when I could get there (or when it was daylight). Finally it showed up one evening when the weather was great so nice light. Only one side to see of course but here it is!
Japan Air Lines has been taking delivery of a bunch of Airbus A350s recently. I was interested to see them at Haneda where they seem to be based as opposed to Narita. Interestingly, for a plane with substantial range, they are being used from a lot of short sectors at the moment. On the station platforms, they had some posters about a special A350 that was celebrating the 20th anniversary of a Japanese boyband, Arashi.
Fortunately, this jet was being used on internal flights and it was due back in to Haneda when I was there. With the crummy weather, the JAL terminal roof top viewing deck was fine for photos in the afternoon since, with no sun, there was no backlighting. The A350 came in to view and stopped in a cloud of spray from reverse thrust and then taxied back and parked right under me. Plenty of opportunities to get some shots of it.
I spent a little time at Haneda on a recent trip to Tokyo. It was not an ideal day for photography but it had its possibilities. One thing that really surprised me was that I seemed to see a bunch of planes with special paint schemes. I don’t know whether Japanese airlines just have a lot of specials or whether Haneda is the place that they all come but I saw a lot. One of them was from China too. Here are some shots of the specials from that day excluding one that will have its own post.
I once got to shoot the United retro
colors on the A320 while I was at SFO up the tower but I had not got a decent
shot of it actually flying. When it
showed up on approach to SFO, I was pretty pleased. Sadly, the cloud cover was not cooperating
terribly well. Only when it had got past
me did it pop into better conditions. It
was okay when further out on final but neither of these were too helpful. One day!
Boeing has marked up a 787-9 is a special color scheme to reflect their internal charity organization. It is a jet that was supposed to go to Hainan Airlines but the financial issues with the airline means that they have not taken delivery of a number of jets. This is not a paint scheme but is a giant vinyl wrap. It looks very impressive. The jet has been used for flyovers at events Boeing has sponsored and it is also going to Dubai for the air show (which will be in the past by the time this post goes live).