As a youth, a British Airways 737 was a regular sight. The 200 series got a ton of use by BA and, in later years, the 400 series did a lot of work at Gatwick. The A320 family gradually displaced them all. However, Comair in South Africa flies in BA colors. They even had 727s in BA colors in days gone by. IAG, the parent of BA, signed a letter of intent with Boeing for 200 737 Max aircraft but this has not been turned into a firm order that I know of. However, Comair did order the Max and one of their aircraft was on test recently. I am not sure if it is still going to Comair or has been reallocated to another customer but it is still in British Airways markings – for now.
I can waste a fair bit of time panning around in Google Maps looking at things I had no idea were there. I was looking up near Snoqualmie Falls when I saw a label for Tokul Trestle. A look around showed a trail on the track bed of a disused railroad. The Snoqualmie Valley Trail starts down in the valley near Carnation and runs up to the town of Snoqualmie. I had no idea it was there and will be looking at riding it at some point. Anyway, I had a rainy Sunday and wanted to check out the falls – see another post specifically about that – and, having finished up there, I decided to take a walk along a section of the trail. It was intermittently raining but I was dressed appropriately so took a stroll. I did see the occasional cyclist, runner or walker but was on my own for most of the time. It did occur to me that the foothills of the Cascades have plenty of mountain lions but they were obviously elsewhere and left me alone.
The area is quite enclosed by the trees and it is clearly a damp place given the amount of lichen growing on the trees. That will also get another post. It does make for some interesting colors when the light does break through, though. The darkness of the trail contrasts nicely with the greens of the lichen as the sun catches it. Sections of it feel like you are walking through a tunnel. (There is an actual tunnel too but, you’ve guessed it, more of that another time.)
I look forward to getting to explore this trail in more detail. A bike seems like the best bet for checking it all out but there are a few trailheads along the way so driving up and walking along it will be a good option.
A rainy Saturday afternoon had very little going on except the return of a G600 test aircraft to the Pacific Northwest. I have no idea why Gulfstream has not painted this jet but it is still in primer. I half expected to see it had been painted when it arrived, but it was still green. The conditions were alternating between torrential rain and patches of sun. Indeed, the sun was out five minutes before the G600 arrived but, no surprise, it was back to rain by the time it came in. When conditions are like that, I go with a heavy overexposure and then pull things back down in post. Hopefully, before too long, I will be experimenting with a new body, and we shall see whether I need to modify my exposure techniques in bad conditions.
One evening, while up near Everett, I had a bit of spare time on my hands. I had noticed a park along the waterfront called Picnic Park and had noted that I would check it out at some point. This was a good time to try finding out what it was like. The weather was not great but, with time on my hands, I headed down there. It is a small park along the water and there is a bridge across the railroad to reach it. As I walked across the bridge, there was a nice view down to where the coast curves around and the trees along the shore had some nice fall colors.
With the sun popping in and out on a regular basis, I thought this would be a good place if a train was coming. As it happened, the Sounder commuter rail train from Seattle to Everett was not far off so I decided to wait for it to come through. A few minutes later it came in to view. There was a family with a young child standing on the bridge waving to the crew and, when I looked at the photos at home, I could see both crew waving back. It was a pretty short train. The Sounder North has not been too successful and the commuter rail ridership is well down due to COVID. I guess there is no need for more cars just now.
One of the rarer small turboprops is the Mitsubishi MU-2. It is a high performance aircraft that developed a bit of a reputation for crashing. What really was the issue was that it was an higher performance plane than many pilots were used to and, once a specific training program was implemented, it was back in the same level of safety as other turboprops. My late friend, Mike, took part in a round the world trip in an MU-2 which he blogged about and is well worth searching out.
While the MU-2 is a bit of a rarity, for some reason, two of them were up our way recently at the same time. I don’t know whether this was a coincidence or not. One was operating out of Paine Field and the other was at Boeing Field. The weather wasn’t great but it was an MU-2 so, early Sunday morning, I headed down to watch it come in. We had an Air Canada Max arrive shortly beforehand to allow me to check on my exposures in the conditions and then the MU-2 showed up. A quick few shots and then back in the car and head home.
Sunny Saturday afternoon and we were coming back from Discovery Park. Our route took us passed Commodore Park which gives immediate access to the Chittenden Locks at Ballard. With it being such a nice afternoon, we decided it was worth a brief stroll across to see what was going on. There were a number of smaller boats coming through the little lock which we watched for a while. Then, coming up from Puget Sound, we saw a large commercial vessel approaching.
It was a tug returning from time out on the open ocean. There are plenty of tugs in the area – many of which are not too big – but this one was a decent size. No doubt there are larger ones for open ocean recovery of vessels but this was still impressive. The crew was busy preparing for port. Hosing the salt off the superstructure, greasing up exposed metalwork and gathering all of the trash. They had to wait for a short while because the lock crews were still working the smaller lock. Then they were summoned in. A little burst of power from a tug this size can really get the water churning. Since they needed the larger lock, the other waiting boats were brought in too.
Once the water level was raised, the lock gates were opened and the water flowed through to finally balance things out. The current whipping past the tug made it look like it was moving at some speed even though it was standing still. Once cleared to depart, they pulled off gently. Since a lot of small craft were behind them in the lock, they couldn’t just give it the beans or their wash would have bounced everyone around. Instead, a delicate application of power and they were on their way. Below is a little video of them to go with the stills.
Given my recent Avanti posts, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I had some bad luck again. After the arrival of the 777X, the local Avanti was showing due to arrive just before sunset. The weather had been very overcast but, as is often the case up here, the sun was sneaking occasional appearances below the clouds as sunset approached. The Avanti was due soon and it looked like it could either be great or crap. About five minutes before it was due in, the sun popped out. Things looked great for a Cessna that was on approach.
It couldn’t last, though. The clouds took over again and then things got worse. The Avanti, instead of turning on to approach, went off on some weird looping flightpath to the north. I have no idea what it was up to but the time it spent meant the sun was now definitely gone. Now I was playing “How High Can the ISO Go” as the conditions deteriorated. At least modern camera are pretty amazing with little light to work with.
I got some shots of it as it came in and they really came out quite well. At the north end of Paine Field, things are a bit further away so, with a smaller plane, I can make use of the 500mm and f/4 certainly helps in the low light. Just behind the Avanti was a G550 so I figured why not wait for it to come in too. The light was even worse but it was still worth a go. Low light is not great but it can provide some nice shots if you are lucky and this was okay.
Woodland Park Zoo has a pair of Stellar Sea Eagles in an enclosure. The Sea Eagle is a big bird. This pair were pretty active as well. They were making a lot of noise and flapping around the enclosure not stopping at any one spot for long. It made for a fun time trying to get some shots of them. Shooting through the enclosure is a bit tricky but, being close enough to it allowed everything to blur out and the shots worked out pretty well. They are an intense looking creature.
A while back I posted some shots of a Lancia Delta Integrale. The Integrale was the road homologous on version of the rally car that came about when the Group B rally cars were closed out. However, the Group B cars were the really crazy ones. The S4 was the Lancia that competed in Group B. It replaced the Lancia 037 and, at Chateau Ste. Michelle, the two were on show together. Both were road versions for homologous on but they were both beasts.
The S4 was the pinnacle of crazy rally cars. A huge engine and four wheel drive in what was really not a road car. They built some to meet the rules and this was one of them. It was surprisingly nicely finished on the interior given what type of car it was. However, the way in which the body looked like it was different pieces bolted together made you know this was not a car designed for consumers. I was designed with a single purpose in mind. However, it looked like it could eat anything else on the road. What as absolute monster.
The end of 787 production at Everett has also meant that Boeing doesn’t have a need for the Dreamlifter operations center that they had built there, next to the Future of Flight visitor location. I assume the space was leased from the airport but that might not be right. Whatever the case, a new use has been found for it. FedEx has set up a small operation there. SeaTac is their main base in the area and they have a steady stream of wide body freighters heading through there. Everett is a single 757 each day. I assume this is the beginning of things and that there will be more to come. I can’t imagine that they will make that investment for one freighter a day. We get a bunch of FedEx 767s on test prior to delivery but the 757 is a nice addition.