Monday, May 31, 2010

Seen 3!

We've had some nice weather lately and they just cleaned the tower windows, so I've got some more new shots to share with you; let's get started.

I promised you some better pictures of Hawaiian's new Airbus A330, and here they are.
Seen here with an arriving American B767 in the first shot and a Southwest B737 in the second.

Another new A330 operator here at LAX is Aeroflot; this is the first one I've seen, and it caught me by surprise - I hadn't heard that they were going to bring in Airbuses. I had noticed that we haven't seen Aeroflot much since the Iceland volcano. I've since been informed that the B767's that they had been using on the LAX-Moscow route were not able to carry enough to be very profitable, I assume because of the amount of fuel required for the 12-hour flight.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the return of Air Berlin, for whom Los Angeles is a seasonal destination. We've since seen the return of another seasonal carrier, Sun Country, who operates B737-700's and -800's. What I've seen so far is a triangular route from San Diego to LAX and then on to their base in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Here are shots of both B737 models, each with a Hawaiian B767. I like Sun Country's paint scheme, which is a nice break from most carriers' "white plane with a logo on the tail" liveries.

And speaking of colorful paint schemes, here are a couple more of my favorites.

While talking about volcanic ash last month, I mentioned KLM Flight 867, which lost power after flying through volcanic ash while approaching Anchorage, Alaska, in December, 1989. That B747-400 was then less than a year old, and was returned to service after repairs that included replacement of all four engines. That same aircraft is a regular visitor at LAX; I took this shot just this past week as it was preparing for departure to Amsterdam.

Here's something different - How often do you get to see a B747 from this angle?

UPS retired its fleet of DC-8 freighters last year, but somebody else has found them useful; this one passed through last week, flying for National Air Cargo

We don't normally see low approaches at LAX, as training flights are not allowed here. This NOAA P-3 was an exception. NOAA has been conducting air sampling flights in the LA area, and I caught them as they passed by a couple of weeks ago.

I'd like to wrap up this time by noting the end of an era at LAX. Our last ex-PATCO controller retired this weekend. For those who need a refresher, PATCO was the controller's union that illegally went on strike in 1981, saying that 'they can't fire us all.' Well, President Reagan did just that, and fired over 11,000 controllers after a 48-hour warning period. It took the FAA about ten years to replace all those fired controllers (I'm one of the last of the replacements). In 1993, President Clinton signed an executive order that allowed some of the former PATCO controllers to be rehired. We had a couple here at LAX, and I worked with others at other facilities. The few I knew were all great guys, and their experience was a benefit to those who came along later.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


As I think I've mentioned before, I'm a long-time fan of the NPR radio program Car Talk. The other day, while doing some yard work, I was listening to the latest program on my iPod. In the opening segment of the show, the hosts Tom and Ray described a "disorder" which I had already diagnosed in at least one member of the population - namely, myself. Have a listen:

This is how I can spend an entire day doing stuff, and yet have seemingly nothing to show for it. For example, it took me most of a weekend to get a couple of simple plumbing projects done:

Along the way, I also put new string in the weed eater, hung one curtain in the motorhome (but not the other one), cut an ad out of Trade A Plane, brushed a cat (who was "helping"), sorted some recycling, walked to the hardware store three times, read part of the instructions for the sprinkler system, folded some laundry (but haven't yet put it away), got on the computer to pull up a map and directions to a restaurant in Beverly Hills, boxed up some stuff that I need to send out for repairs, trimmed the palm trees in front of the house, went out to the hangar to put away some tools, helped a buddy pull an engine out of a twin Cessna, investigated air brushes at the hobby shop, pulled up another map and directions for a Habitat for Humanity meeting, cleaned the cat boxes, replaced the glow plug relay in the truck (which still isn't running right), dropped stuff off at the cleaners, looked at windows at Lowes, vacuumed the front half of the carpet in the motorhome, and dead-headed the roses in the front flower bed. Oh, and messed around on the Mac putting together a blog entry.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seen 2!

As often happens, after posting the shots of Southwest's latest special livery, I had several inspirations for other new things to show, and here are a few:

I'd heard a couple of years ago that Hawaiian was going to be getting new Airbus A330's, and this is their first. It showed up the first week of May, and its first revenue flight was LAX to Honolulu. So far, my only sightings have been after dark, so we'll have to make do with these shots for now. The A330-200 seats up to 40 additional passengers (294) as compared to Hawaiian's B767-300's (252-264). It occurred to me that we haven't had a regular operator of A330's here for some months now, so naturally, the next day:

Air Berlin returns to LAX for the summer. Los Angeles is a seasonal destination for Air Berlin, who also uses A330-200's configured for 303 passengers.

While I was stationed in Memphis, I'd heard that FedEx was planning to add B757's to their fleet, and in fact got to see the first one when it first came in one afternoon. Now, a few years later, here's the first one I've seen in service at LAX. I haven't seen it again, but it has occurred to me that it's also been a while since I've seen a FedEx B727 here.

WestJet has brought in a special livery B737-800 (166 seats) that promotes their customer service promise, "Care-antee". As Westjet is from bilingual Canada, it's in English on one side of the aircraft and in French on the other:
WestJet also recently brought in a 119-seat B737-600, which is the smallest of the B737 Next Generation series. This also happens to be the first -600 I think I've ever seen, as they are not common.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The ones that got away (aka The Bloopers)

Occasionally, I have received complimentary comments about some of the photos I've shown here. In a few instances, someone will even ask how I get a good shot. My secret, as with many other photographers, is to shoot many more pictures than I will ever actually use. A good part of the work in assembling blog entries is selecting, and perhaps editing, the shots to be used. Beyond selective cropping, however, I usually don't do a lot of image editing. Some people will run every shot they intend to use through Photoshop, but I'm not one of them; apparently they have a lot more time on their hands. There have been times where I've had to delay a particular entry because I didn't yet have a suitable photo of something or other. In a few cases, I've had to resort to borrowing an image from somewhere else on the web.

The point of today's entry is just to show you a few of my shots that didn't make the cut. Most of the ones like these don't ever make it into the Mac in the first place, since if I know it was a bum shot I'll delete it out of the camera to save space and processing time. The idea for this entry goes back to over a year ago, when I was transitioning to the (then) new camera. As you'll see, it was not a completely smooth transition, and even now not all my shots are usable:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Changes in the air

Spring has sprung, and changes are afoot. Last time, I showed you Southwest's latest new plane. This time, we'll go to the other side of the airport, and start by noting American's continuing phaseout of the MD80:

At one time, American had over 300 MD80's, but they're now down to about 250. Some of them were acquired in the TWA takeover. These airplanes were built in the Douglas plant in Long Beach, and despite the wire bundle inspection debacle of 2008, have been reliable members of the fleet.

New B737-800's are replacing the MD80's. Besides seating 20 additional passengers, the Boeings also burn about 25% less fuel. I've lately noticed B738's on the routes to San Francisco and San Jose del Cabo, both of which have traditionally been 'Mad Dog' destinations from LAX.

Speaking of aircraft traditionally used on routes, I've also observed the next phase of the Delta - Northwest merger. First, the planes started getting repainted. Then, Northwest moved into the Delta terminal. Northwest cargo went away entirely. After that, the flight numbers changed (for example, Northwest 1 became Northwest 283); then the Northwest callsign went away (now it's Delta 283). Now, the latest development: Delta airplanes have started going to Northwest destinations, and vice versa. This just started a few days ago, maybe on the first of the month - I didn't think about that until later. I have several examples:

The first one I noticed was a B763 going to Minneapolis-St. Paul. The B767's were Delta airplanes, but MSP was a Northwest destination.

The Airbuses and B738's have traded routes as well; Delta had the Boeings, while Northwest went with Airbus. I've now seen B738's going to Detroit and Memphis, both NWA hubs; and A320's going to Cincinatti and Cancun, which were Delta routes.

Skywest is also flying more routes for Delta out of LAX; for instance we now have two Skywest planes going to San Diego: one for United, the other for Delta. The former Northwest flight to Las Vegas is also now covered by Skywest. This is a CRJ9.

Mutt and Jeff: a Skywest CRJ2 next to a Delta B763. The 'Skyteam' B752 started life at TWA, then went to American before ending up in Delta paint; I'll bet it's been repainted a half-dozen times!

Alright, where's the fan belt on this thing?
Besides American, Delta is the other big operator of MD80's, although Delta has the MD-88, while American uses MD-82's and MD-83's. Unlike American, however, Delta's MD80's aren't regularly seen at LAX. Also unlike American, Delta flies the follow-on MD90, which we do see at LAX, although less frequently as of late. This is the last one I took a photo of, some months ago, although I know I've seen one since then. Out of LAX, the MD90's are used almost exclusively on the Salt Lake City route, which is now often flown by Skywest CRJ's (which look kinda like mini Mad Dogs)

Continental has been using B737-800's (seen here) and B737-900's on the route to Honolulu for a few months now, in place of B752's, and has recently also added B738 service to Maui. While Continental is the first carrier to operate B737's from LAX to Hawaii, Aloha used to and Alaska still does fly 737's to Hawaii - just not from here. For a short time last summer, Continental was flying B738's from LAX to Havana, Cuba. Flight time was about four and a half hours (shorter than the five-plus hour flights to Hawaii). Wonder if they'll do it again?

Here's a Continental B737-900, about to depart off Runway 24 Left. The -900 is the biggest (so far) model in the 737 family. Alaska also operates B739's at LAX.

We still see Continental B752's (and B753's), although it's been quite some time since I've seen this one, wearing Star Alliance livery. For that matter, it's been quite some time since we've had enough rain to give the concrete a good wash down.