Below ground, one of the trains arrives at SEA
The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) has been my home airport most of my life. I have seen the many changes over the years and I am proud to call it mine. Growing up, I lived in Oak Harbor, WA (about 90min northwest of Seattle) and I would often fly by myself from there to Reno, NV (where my dad lived). After I was 12, I didn’t need to be escorted and I would usually have a few hours of layover from my tiny home airport (ODW) to SEA. To burn time, I would often ride one of the satellite trains to the remote terminals and watch the airplanes come and go. Being a kid, sometimes I would just ride the train a few laps for fun.
Above ground, Mount Rainier in the background at SEA
Throughout the years, I always wondered how they worked. I knew there wasn’t a person controlling them, but how were they programmed? How many cars were there? How did they get fixed? And how fast can they go? Luckily adult-me was in a position to find those answers, so I reached out to SEA to get a behind-the-scenes tour of their train operations. Once again, the adult-me was making the child-me jealous.
Nose-to-nose with a Volga-Dnepr Il-76. The windows at the forward navigator’s station are a distinctive feature of the aircraft.
With Boeing in our backyard, unusual aircraft are not an uncommon sight at any of metro Seattle’s airports. Antonov An-124s are regular visitors, usually delivering engines to Boeing’s Everett factory. I was recently at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) when a rare bird was there to pick up some cargo.
A crane and flatbed trailer were used to load large crates of specialized welding equipment that was to be delivered to Australia
This particular Ilyushin-76-TD-90-VD is owned by Russia-based Volga-Dnepr Airlines, which operates five of these aircraft. Part of the Volga-Dnepr group, the parent company also owns Airbridge Cargo Airlines and Atran Airlines.
A Xiamen 787-8 glides in for a landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on the airline’s inaugural U.S. revenue flight
Xiamen Airlines launched its Xiamen-Shenzhen-Seattle service on Sept. 26, creating both the first long-haul route from Xiamen to the United States and the first direct service to the States from the Chinese city of Shenzhen. We were there to welcome the inaugural flight.
Sea-Tac Airport cargo workers push a pallet of freight onto the loading ramp of an China Airlines Cargo 747-400F
In what has become an annual early-summer ritual at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, air cargo operators serving Asian ports have increased operations in Seattle for the duration of the roughly two-month long Washington state cherry harvest.
Pallets of cherries destined for Asian markets await shipment at a Port of Seattle warehouse
Carriers making stops in Seattle to pick up pallets of Washington cherries include EVA Air Cargo, NCA, China Airlines Cargo, and Singapore Airlines Cargo. Freighter loads vary, but seldom are the large jets filled solely with cherries; mixed loads are far more common, especially as routes can include stops in one or more U.S. cities before crossing the Pacific.