Friday, 28 December 2012

Two Firsts, over Seattle

The first ever 747, and the first of a new breed - the 747-400, fly in formation over Seattle in September 1988.
We've seen the first flight of the 747, and here's that same airframe, still flying almost 20 years later, but this time it's got company. The conspicuously shiny aeroplane in the foreground is N661US (test registration N401PW - as shown here), which was ultimately delivered to Northwest Airlines in December 1989 and later, in December 2008 to Delta, with whom she still flies, as far as I know. 

Still awake? Very well. Then you might be interested to know that 
N661US was the first of a new breed of 747 - the 747-400, which these days is by far the most common passenger variant. The most noticeable external difference compared to the prototype is the stretched upper cabin, but from a distance you're more likely to notice the upturned winglets on the end of the wings of 400 models. These increased the range of the 400 variant by ~3% and also allowed for higher cruising altitudes. How exciting. 

Two jumbos in the same picture is pretty special, but this shot is special for another reason, and that's the scenery. This is Seattle! In the foreground you can see our shudderingly unlovely waterfront, dominated by the Alaska viaduct, and the downtown towers just behind that. To the mid-left is South Lake Union, now home to's vast campus, and snaking noisily through the middle of the picture is I-5. Just beyond that, Capitol Hill, where I currently live. In September of 1988, however, I was six years old, and 5000 miles to the right. Good times. 

This picture was part of a collection of several 8x10in prints I found in a junk shop near Seattle, and I haven't done much to it. After scanning, adjustments were limited to dust and scratches removal (pretty standard) and minor brightness tweaks to bring out the planes, which in the original print were slightly silhouetted against the bright sky. I also increased the contrast of the buildings in the background, and boosted the saturation of the blue sky at the top of the image.

Looking through various published pictures,
 I have found an image similar to this (same flight, different framing) credited to Boeing photographer Ken Dejarlais. Whether this particular image was taken by Dejarlais I don't know.

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