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Taking a Day Trip to Plane Spot in (freezing) Anchorage

Spotters on the back of a Ford F150 taking photos of a Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747-8F.

Spotters on the back of a Ford F150 taking photos of a Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747-8F.

For me, the photo above is the essence of what it means to be an AvGeek. Not many people could understand why I would be willing to get up at 3:30am in the morning, hop on a flight from Seattle to Anchorage to take photos of airplanes for the day in below zero temperatures before getting back home at about 10:30pm. If the thought of that excites you — then you are surely an AvGeek.

Nippon Cargo Air Boeing 747-400F in special green livery. JA04KZ.

Nippon Cargo Air Boeing 747-400F in special green livery. JA04KZ.

I can admit that I am not  die-hard plane spotter. I think I am probably too weak. Sitting outside waiting all day for the perfect shot normally doesn’t appeal to me. But then again, Anchorage is different. It is a main hub for large Boeing 747 aircraft to make a technical stop from Asia before continuing on their journey. So when given the chance to spot for the day (I have never done it before at ANC), I jumped at the chance. Well… I wasn’t so excited when my alarm went off at 3:30am, but it was all well worth it.

I woke up just in time to catch some of the sweet views into Anchorage.

I woke up just in time to catch some of the sweet views into Anchorage.

Our flight out of Seattle went well… I think. I remember boarding. I think I remember taxiing, but I surely do not remember take off — I was asleep. After picking up our rental truck (thought we needed 4-wheel drive, but the roads were actually okay), we were off to look at airplanes.

It is a bird. Nope, it is a plane. Wait, wrong again. It is a moose.

It is a bird. Nope, it is a plane. Wait, wrong again. It is a moose.

One of the first great spots that we had was not a plane; but a pair of moose (mooses? meese?). Yes, I know I looked like a total tourist pulling over to take photos of the local wildlife, but I didn’t care, I hadn’t seen one in the wild before. The moose above was interested in a bicyclist (and omg, I saw like half a dozen people riding their bikes in this freezing weather — wow) and I watched at the guy got off his bike and climbed a nice embankment to avoid the moose. I was using a long lens and stayed close to the truck — I heard that they can be quite aggressive.

I haven't seen a Boeing 737-200 take off in a while. Check out that smoke out of the engines.

I haven’t seen a Boeing 737-200 take off in a while. Check out that smoke out of the engines.

I came prepared: long underwear, hat, gloves, multiple jackets and more. But I was still freezing. The whole -1deg F temperature wasn’t too bad, it was the 10-15mph wind that was a killer. I could only stay outside for a few minutes before having to retreat back to the warm truck (yea, I am a wuss).

Two Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F's welcome the new 747-8F.

Two Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F’s welcome the new 747-8F.

But I have to say that I loved spotting in Anchorage. Where else can you get a collection of small aircraft and big aircraft with almost no medium sized aircraft like this? The small ones are used to shuttle people around the region, while the large ones are mostly making technical stops to fuel up before continuing their long journeys.

Eva Cargo Boeing 747-400F and MD-11F.

Eva Cargo Boeing 747-400F and MD-11F. Photo taken from inside the airport.

The day was long, but it went quick. We knew it would be a quick process to get through security at ANC, so we waited until the last minute to head back over to the terminal. Turns out that not only was gas pretty far away for the truck, but someone (okay it was me) missed the exit for the car rental return, so we ended up missing our flight. Luckily there was another flight to Seattle only two hours later that we were able to make.

Not everyone can understand making a day trip up to Anchorage, but that is what us AvGeeks do — I am sure most of you understand.

SEE ALL THE OTHER ANCHORAGE SPOTTING PHOTOS ON FLICKR

This story written by…David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder.

David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

@AirlineReporter | Flickr | YouTube

PHOTOS: State of Kuwait Boeing BBJ 747-8 and Others at Paine Field

The government of Kuwait will take delivery of this BBJ 7478.

The government of Kuwait will take delivery of this BBJ 7478.

This  Saturday was a nice enough day to head up to Paine Field to check out what was going on. I heard that the State of Kuwait’s BBJ 7478 would be high-speed ground testing and I also wanted to track down American Airlines first 777-300ER — I wasn’t disappointed.

The livery for the State of Kuwait aircraft is very similar to Kuwait Airway's design.

The livery for the State of Kuwait aircraft is very similar to Kuwait Airway’s design.

The State of Kuwait’s BBJ 7478 used to have a different look — it was the first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental that sported the orange sunrise livery (N6067E) and was recently re-painted.

The first BBJ 7478 was delivered to the government of Qatar in February 2012, even though Boeing and the Qatari government still has not confirmed that to date.

It is bit more obvious what customer will take delivery of 9K-GAA. Even though the government of Kuwait is willing to put their livery on the aircraft before delivery, they aren’t quite ready to give details on how their aircraft will be configured.

American Airline's first Boeing 777-300ER will have a special livery.

American Airline’s first Boeing 777-300ER will have a special livery.

Paine Field has quite a few Boeing aircraft sitting outside at any given time. The planes might be large, but it can be a challenge to track a particular aircraft down and Boeing does not go out of their way to park aircraft to make them easy to spot.

After some time I was able to track down American Airline’s first 777-300ER. What makes this aircraft special is it is painted gray. American is known for having a bare metal livery and is this just a special livery to celebrate the aircraft type or will this be the airline’s new livery? (stay tuned, I am working to find out more about this).

LOT's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner is looking good.

LOT’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner is looking good.

There are plenty of 787′s sitting around waiting for different parts before delivery, but LOT’s Dreamliner is getting closer to delivery, which is expected soon. The new livery is simplistic, but it works and looks better in person than it does in photos.

BONUS: See an interior mock-up of LOT’s Dreamliner

A special Beijing livery on an Air China Boeing 777-300ER (B-2035).

A special Beijing livery on an Air China Boeing 777-300ER (B-2035). You can see the State of Kuwait BBJ 7478.

A last treat before heading back home was seeing this special Beijing livery for an Air China Boeing 777-300ER.

There were a few other odds and ends you can take a look at my Flickr profile. I have to say that I love living in Seattle.

NYCA Short Take: Is Plane Spotting Under Attack?

Should one have the cops called on them for taking photos like these? Probably not.

Are photos like these illegal? – depends on who you ask.

Phil Derner, owner of NYCAviation.com, posted a very important story about plane spotters and law enforcement today that I wanted to share.

I personally feel lucky that I have never been stopped by law enforcement while taking photos of aircraft, but it is always on my mind. People should be able to take photos of airplanes without being harassed, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. It is important to report suspicious people, but it is not okay to harass AvGeeks taking photos. READ THE FULL STORY

Plane Spotting at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan

One of the benefits of world travel is plane spotting in different locations. Although spotting at Paine Field can be highly entertaining, it doesn’t compare to spotting at Tokyo’s Haneda airport which handles most of Tokyo’s domestic traffic. Sure, busy American airports like Atlanta sure see a lot of traffic, but it is mostly smaller aircraft like regional jets, MD-80′s and Boeing 767′s. At Haneda you are seeing much bigger aircraft like domestic Boeing 747-400′s with no winglets and plenty of 777s. Although Japan is only about the size of California, they fly very large aircraft on domestic routes due to demand and slots.

A few Boeing All Nippon Airways aircraft at Haneda Airport.

A few Boeing All Nippon Airways aircraft at Haneda Airport.

Haneda Airport had observation decks on all three terminals. During my recent trip to Haneda to check out the new International Terminal, I spent a good amount of my time enjoying the nice rainy outdoors (what a break from Seattle right?) and of course taking photos of aircraft I can’t always see in the US. I wanted to share some of my favorites and of course you can check out all 115 airline photos at Haneda via my Flickr page. I got onto the deck on Terminal 2 the very first thing in the morning at 6:30am local time when it opened. I had to wait for the guard to open the door and he looked at me oddly when I rushed out in the rain to check out the aircraft.  It was great to see all the large All Nippon Airways and Japan Air Line large aircraft waiting to be pulled to their gates (photo).

All Nippon Airways Boeing 747-400 (JA8956) in Pokemon Livery

All Nippon Airways Boeing 747-400 (JA8956) in Pokemon Livery

I knew that All Nippon Airways flies two Pokemon themed 747-400′s but seeing one in person is quite the scene. It was a little bit too much for me, but quite the interesting sight.

One of two observation decks at Terminal 2. Why can't the US have sweet decks like this?

One of two observation decks at Terminal 2. Why can't the US have sweet decks like this?

Haneda treats spotters with a lot of treats. Almost the entire roof on all three terminals have spotting decks. One side of Terminal 2 had comfortable seating and even a few restaurants. I wish more American airports treated airline spotters with such goodies.

ANA Boeing 747, 777, 737 and Q400 with ships in the background.

ANA Boeing 747, 777, 737 and Q400 with ships in the background.

Check out all the other fun photos.