Hello everyone. Today I went to Boeing Field on a planespotting trip. I thought it was going to be a normal day, but the second I arrived I knew it wasn’t. Across from my spot (the first parking lot past the tower) I could see a USAF C-130 Hercules and just next to it was a USN F/A-18 Hornet.
After sitting for a while it seemed like a normal day (lots of corporate jets, the occasional Boeing test flight, and of course private planes) but then I saw a grayish camouflaged private jet. It taxied past and I could see some markings: A large “GA” on the side, “Phoenix Air” written on the fuselage, and some kind of odd equipment under the left wing (I later saw a normal colored private jet with the same equipment).
At first I thought it was strange to have a civilian aircraft with military camouflage and military style markings (the GA on the side looked like a tail marking on a fighter jet). But when another “Phoenix Air” aircraft taxied past I caught the tail number. Using an app on my Iphone I ran it through a database and found all the info. It was a Gates Learjet, registered to “Phoenix Air Group”. Just after the “Phoenix Air” passed, another Gates Learjet (plain white colors but with the same equipment under the left wing) passed. Out of curiosity I ran the tail number through my Iphone. Although it was not camouflage it was still registered to “Phoenix Air Group”.
After that I searched “Phoenix Air Group” online and on the main page it listed several sub-pages. One of them said “Military Ops”. I went to that page and it talked about its contracting missions with the military and how it is “a world leader in providing real-time threat training to military fighter aircraft, ships and air surveillance units.”
That explained what Phoenix Air Group does with its military camouflage Gates Learjet’s. Now, back to the two military aircraft on the tarmac. I noticed the rotating beacon light (activated when the main electronics are on) on the F-18 was on. The canopy (a fighter jets door) was still open, but I could see people walking around the jet. Several minutes later, I looked over and saw the canopy had closed and then I saw it start to taxi out. I didn’t catch the callsign on my scanner, but I heard something get cleared for takeoff. Then the F-18 came down the runway and lifted off almost directly in front of us. I had a great view and could almost feel the full afterburner being used.
It was very exciting and one of the best sightings I have had at Boeing Field, but the day wasn’t over yet. I had a few more rare sightings. One time, I was sitting on the hood of the car, and heard a piston engine. This one sounded very old, and loud for a piston. I looked up and saw what looked to be a WWII era fighter with US military markings. I barely caught the tail number. After running it through my phone it said that it was an AT-6 Texan, the AT-6 was a US military trainer. One odd fact is that the AT-6 Texan WAS a trainer but the current USAF trainer is the T-6 Texan II. So if this keeps going, then there will only be one name for the USAF basic trainer.
I also spotted several old fashioned biplanes and I spotted a Turkish Air Force 737 Wedgetail (the Wedgetail is… Well a wedged tail, but it is used like an AWAC for electronic warfare and early warning. Techno-stuff). All in all, this was one of the best days at BFI, but I still have un-answered questions. What is that thing under the left wing? (It sounds like an aviation horror movie). When will the C-130 takeoff? Why was the F-18 not with a friend (another F-18)? Oh, well! Thanks!