Seeing a KC-46 at Boeing Field is not necessarily such a surprise. However, seeing one parked up at the FBO was more unusual. I am not sure whether the aircraft had been accepted and was ready for delivery or had actually come across country for a visit. Either way, a USAF crew was about to fly it back across the country. The size of the taxiways meant that it had to cross the runway to taxi up to the departure end where it could line up and head off on its way east. Was it a delivery? Who knows?
From my new spot, you have a good view of the main civil ramp at Boeing as well as a slightly more distant view of the military ramp. The civil ramp was full of Max jets waiting to get delivered now that customers can start accepting the jets again. Not all agencies have cleared the Max so I guess Boeing was focusing on those that have and aiming to get as much cash as they could in before year end. You could also see the stored jets on part of the ramp as well as those in the parking lot across Marginal Way.
There were three 777X development airframes parked while the second jet was out on a test flight. I was hoping to get it returning but it was out over the Pacific off the Oregon coast and I rightly guessed that, despite the online forecast, it wouldn’t be back before sunset. The military ramp was a little quieter than I expected with a couple of KC-46s and some P-8s including the next one for the Royal Air Force. There were also two KC-46s up on the civilian flight test ramp. Plenty to see and it would have been better in morning light.
Adobe periodically updates the processing algorithms that are used by Lightroom and Photoshop. Each update provides some improvements in how raw files are processed and it can be good to go back to older shots and to see how the newer process versions handle the images. I find this particularly useful for images shot in low light and with high ISO.
I have some standard process settings I use but have also experimented with modified settings for use with high ISOs and the higher noise levels that come with them. I got to some night launch shots from an old Red Flag exercise and had a play with the images. The E-3 launch was actually as the light was going down but it still had some illumination so it didn’t need much work.
The KC-135 and B-1B shots were a different story and were at high ISOs and with very little light. I was able to update the process version and apply some new settings I had worked out since the original processing and it resulted in some pretty reasonable outputs considering how little light there was to work with.
In this previous post about the hangars at Moffett Field, I mentioned that I was there to cover an exercise. The MC-130s were a big part of the exercise. They were loading up and launching down to remote landing strips on the California coast. The holds were full of equipment including off road vehicles. Loading these up was a tight fit. While the crews spent time getting everything ready to go, I was reasonably free to wander around the airframe and get some shots.
Here are some that I got that day. These were some of the oldest Combat Shadow (and maybe Hercules) airframes around at the time and I suspect that they have been replaced by now, I think by Combat King J models.
The Japanese (JASDF) were a customer for the tanker version of the Boeing 767 when Boeing was offering it in the early days. Japan and Italy were the only customers that I am aware of for that aircraft. Therefore, it was not a massive surprise that Japan ordered the KC-46 when Boeing developed it for the USAF. The first aircraft is now being completed and has been parked on the ramp up at Everett recently. Here it is undergoing some testing. Hopefully we shall get to see it flying soon.
Boeing seems to have addressed a lot of the problems with the KC-46 Pegasus program (but not all of them yet) and so the Air Force is taking delivery of jets at a regular rate. Since plenty have been built, there are enough to deliver. I was at Paine Field a while back when one of the jets was heading out on a test flight. I ended up being there for both the departure and the arrival since the flight was not that long. The good summer light that Seattle gets but we don’t like people to know about meant I got some reasonable shots of it.
The heat haze was a bit of a problem on this day so I was hoping that they would roll out a bit long to get into usable range. They couldn’t have been more obliging. It turned out to be a US Marine Corps KC-130J. They didn’t exit early for the taxiway even though they could have done so with ease but instead rolled all the way to near me before exiting and taxiing back to the ramp in the other direction. This was very kind of them. I got them close enough in to have little in the way of heat haze and to get a decent look at them.
I was sitting at Boeing Field awaiting the return of a couple of jets. Apps like FlightRadar24 allow you to keep an eye on where things are and when they are due in. What they don’t usually cover is military flights. Fortunately, I had the radio scanner sitting on the dash so, while I was busy doing something else while waiting, the sound of someone calling up on approach caught me by surprise. I finished what I was doing and then got the camera just as a KC-135 hove in to view. What a nice surprise.
A while later, something similar happened. Another plane called up with what sounded like a Navy callsign. This time I had a bit more time to get out and look up the approach to see what it might be. A P-8 was coming in. They got bounced around on short final by the gusty conditions which were combining with the airport buildings to make things pretty interesting for the crew. I had an easier time taking the pictures I think.
Prior to the KC-46 Pegasus, Boeing had another go at selling the 767 to the USAF as a tanker. The aircraft that they had intended to be the solution at that point was a different configuration to what ultimately made its way in to the inventory. They went as far as building a speculative airframe for the project. However, when the project was aborted (for reasons that are far too complex for a simple blog post), the airframe lay unfinished. It was stored for a while at Paine Field before eventually being scrapped. Here is a shot of it prior to its demise.
Boeing is now delivering KC-46s to the Air Force at a rate that is a bit of an improvement. There are still plenty of issues with the project (with some only recently discovered) but at least jets are now making their way to the customer, even if they are not flying them too much! However, there are still a lot of the jets parked at Paine Field. The early morning sun provides some nice light on the line of aircraft. It is a rather cluttered view with plenty of airfield material in the shot but the light makes it a bit more appealing.