TagBoeing

SFO airport showed me some cool planes

I flew on Virgin American to Portland, Oregon, last year and had to stop in San Francisco on my return journey to Chicago. The layover was over 2 hours long, and I spent that time relaxed in the new Terminal 2. The terminal has great window coverage of the airfield.

I saw for the first time an Airbus A380, the largest of the so-called jumbo jets (is that phrase even used anymore?). It was flown by Lufthansa (see photo).a

I also saw a lot of Boeing 747s from different airlines, including United, OneWorld, Star Alliance, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific. I may have seen a Chinese airline.

I also saw President Barack Obama land in Air Force One. I recognized the plane from far away, as it was coming in for landing, but I wasn’t completely sure until it touched down. My camera was probably hanging around my neck; I was too dumbstruck to do anything about it. After it landed and I was positive that Boeing 747 was flown by the United States Government, I walked around the terminal until I could see it.

The plane had been parked far away from a terminal, near a hanger and two C-17 military cargo planes.

American airports should have viewing platforms. Not just plane spotters like to photograph them. Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) airport has a viewing platform and there was over 50 people up there, including lots of families.

Boeing plane spotting in Marana, Arizona

A lot of people got really excited when the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft took off from their testing airfield outside Seattle, Washington, on December 15, 2009.

I found the videos mildly interesting (it shows the “Delay Liner” lifting off and landing). It seemed like the top topic on Twitter that day.

But traveling to Tucson, Arizona, 11 days later (December 26), I spotted the Dreamlifter, or Boeing’s modified 747-400 large cargo lifter. It looks like a 747 (the largest passenger plane until the Airbus A380 came along) with a hunchback (or broad shoulders). I didn’t see it flying, but I saw it a couple miles away from a highway while it sat and waited for something at the Pinal Airpark. Pinal Airpark hosts a boneyard for unneeded airplanes; Northwest Airlines keeps many planes there (see photo at end).

The plane is unmistakable, even from a distance. Measuring perpendicularly from I-10 (going southeast), the runway is 2.6 miles from the road. I believe this plane sat about .2 miles closer, on the maintenance tarmac.

However, it’s more likely the Dreamlifter is waiting for a fixup at the on-site Evergreen Aircraft Maintenance Center. Evergreen International Airlines (unrelated to the Evergreen Group of shipping companies in China) operates the Large Cargo Lifters for Boeing. The Dreamlifter is named such because it typically carries parts from suppliers around the world to the Boeing assembly plant in Everett, Washington.

And not to be outdone, Airbus has a funnier looking plane called the Beluga.

A satellite photo from July 2, 2005, shows the many Northwest Airlines planes parked at the Pinal Airpark boneyard. Their red livery gives them away.

© 2014 Steven Can Plan

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑