Friday, April 23, 2010

New Southwest logo jet - Florida One

Southwest unveiled its latest logo jet today - Florida One - A Flying Salute to the Sunshine State. After being unveiled in Tampa this morning, it departed on a "round the state" tour going from Tampa to Jacksonville then West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Fort Myers before heading to Dallas, the home of Southwest. I was lucky to be able to get out to Fort Lauderdale for her arrival.

Nice to catch such a special plane on a lovely day!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ft Lauderdale - I must have done something......

And - I don't know what. I wonder if the spotting gods decided to listen to my "Ft Lauderdale is getting boring". Or, maybe they liked the diet that I started and saw my salad that I took to Ft Lauderdale for lunch and liked it, or someone reading my blog contacted friends to get some schedule changes. I don't know what it is or who did it, but all I can say is THANK YOU!!! :) For the last two days, I have taken my lunch and headed up to Ft Lauderdale for about 30 minutes over lunchtime to take a break from work and on both days, there have been special schemes all over the place.

It started on Wednesday with Southwest's Nevada 1. There is a little story behind this one. Several years ago when I started spotting a Ft Lauderdale, I used to stay to the last possible moment before heading back to the office. One particular lunchtime, I did decided to head back a little early as all I saw in the distance was a blue aircraft - obviously thinking it was a regular Southwest. As I headed over the bridge over I-95 back towards the office, I turned and saw it was Nevada 1 - it was blue - it was a special blue! Ever since then, I have wanted to catch this - and - finally Wednesday was the chance again!

There is a difference between the special airTran sports colors and some of their other special schemes. Usually, the sports special colors can be seen a long way away - Falcons 1 with it's read and black, Colts 1 with it's blue with white writing. The other special schemes have to be searched for - like the one below - Orlando makes me smile.

Two days after this jetBlue special scheme went into service, I saw it on a terrible day at Ft Lauderdale - cloudy, dark, no hope of a decent shot. Wednesday was totally different weather, and I'm glad I finally caught it.

Those three all came in a matter of 30 minutes. So, salad in hand, I decided to test my luck again on Thursday lunchtime - again - 30 minutes was all I could spare. And, testing my luck was really worth it again. First of all, this Sunwings with it's Viking hybrid scheme came out. Sunwings has been one of the regulars this past winter season, sticking to their regular schedule, but always with the regular color schemes. Finally, the Vikings scheme came today. Now there is only one left that I need to catch of theirs - the Travel Service hybrid. Anyone have friends at Sunwings? Next Tuesday - Sunwings 025 - lunchtime - Travel Service??? I wish!! :)

This Continental started taxiing out during a dark cloud period, and I thought it was just a regular -800 or -900 color scheme until it got closer to the end of the taxiway and then I finally realized it was the Eco-Skies color scheme. The cloud was still covering the sun and I was starting to wonder if I would get it in decent light. But, thanks to landing traffic, it stayed on the taxiway, the cloud disappeared, and it's green winglets stood out in all their glory! Another nice job Continental!

Finally, as mentioned above, the non-sports airTran special schemes can be a little difficult to tell from a distance, and again this was the case. As it taxied out, I could see something on the fuselage, but thought it might be the Orlando scheme again. And, I'm glad I was wrong! Little Debbie adorning, interestingly, only one side of the aircraft - if you saw her from the other side, you wouldn't know - it's a plain scheme on the other side. So, if you see N950AT from the wrong side - try to get to the other side!

I guess the next few days, I'll be filling up the salad bowl, packing the ranch dressing and see what hopefully the spotting gods might reward me with again. Greedy? Sure - why not - lots of special things still to catch......

Another few days spent behind the camera lens....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Right place...right time...right airport..Opa-Locka

This was definitely a case of being at the right airport at the right time and in the right place. My son and I had been down in Miami for something apart from aviation photography. It was a cloud day today but on the way back from Miami to West Palm Beach, there were breaks in the cloud, so we stopped off at Opa-Locka to see what was around. The one thing about Opa-Locka is always expect the unexpected. The first thing that struck me is the S7 Airlines A310 that I'd shot in various states of dismantling has now totally gone - they didn't take too long to break that ship up at all. We drove around to the top of the airport, and this little thing caught my eye.

It's nice to see rare aircraft like this - this a private L-39 that was parked on the ramp. While shooting this, I heard the sounds of powerful engines starting - not the normal sound you hear at Opa-Locka, so turning around and looking, on the main ramp were three US Navy Northrop F5-N Tiger II's. I quickly jumped into the car and headed over to the ramp and managed to get them departing the ramp and taxiing to the runway. We saw their powerful but low take-off's to the east. This was definitely being in the right place at the right time! I'm not sure why they were at Opa-Locka - my guess is a refuel in between training sessions, but if any of my readers happen to know, I'd be interested.

Always expect the Opa-locka....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A real special visitor to FLL

I haven't been around for a while, because, it has been one of the worst winter shooting seasons in years - many people have said that. A lot of westerly operations because of cold fronts, airlines going out of business, like SkyService, and generally lower volumes of operations.

However, at the end of March, there was a really special visitor to Ft Lauderdale. I missed it on the way out - it was in transit from Russia to an airshow in Chile. After missing it on the way out, I was hoping that it would come back through on the way back to Chile, and on Tuesday, April 7, 2010, it did - and - I was able to catch it - a Beriev Be-200Chs from the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations - here is the Wikipedia entry

I'm hoping that we are going to get some better traffic soon - Ft Lauderdale is getting a little boring :)