P-8A T-1 flying again
On a rainy and windy April day, P-8A Poseidon T-1 taxied down the
bravo taxiway to runway 13R at Boeing Field. This would be the
airplanes first flight since October 2009 after five months of ground
vibrations testing. Today, T-1 was flying with the call sign "SCORE 85
Experimental." T-1 would be flying with a Boeing commercial airplanes
(BCA) chase plane, N416X, and would be performing an airborne pickup of
SCORE 85. Just around 1600 local time, N416X took off and flew a left
downwind pattern while SCORE 85 taxiied onto the runway to position and
hold. N416X would then line up with the bravo taxiway, which
parallels with runway 13R, and when ready, would tell SCORE 85 to start
their departure roll so N416X and SCORE 85 would meet side by
side at the point of rotation. N416X would fly alongside the
plane for the entire duration of the two hour flight and would be
labeled by ATC as "SCORE 85 Experimental Flight."
the Poseidon is a US military ITAR compliant programme, you cannot
track these planes on any free or subscription based flight trackers.
Because of this, I followed SCORE 85 on the radio as long as I could
and heard it cleared direct to Pendleton (PDT) via V 4 vectors and was
last heard cleared to FL350. After loosing radio contact with the
plane, all I could do was sit and wait. Not knowing for certain how
long the flight would be, I chatted it up with some fellow BFI spotters
to pass the time.
Roughly two hours after SCORE 85
departed, I heard it call into Seattle Approach. A few minutes later as
it was about to land, a dark rain cloud dumped it's load on me while
winds challenged my balance while standing on a 120 cm (four foot) step
ladder. The plane touched down perfectly on runway 13R with N416X following it in side by side flying 15 m (50 ft) over the bravo
taxiway. After landing, the plane taxiied back to the runway for a high
speed taxi test. The US Navy test pilots who were in command of the
airplane must've thought I was one crazy guy. Drenched, even in a rain
coat, wearing my P-8A Poseidon baseball cap, I was feverishly shooting
the plane before my lens was covered in rain drops as they taxiied by.
After the high speed taxi test, they came back on the bravo taxiway for
one last photo pass, which is when the photo above was captured.
All three airworthy Poseidon's are due to return to the air by the end
April with T-1 transferring over to NAS Pax River for US Navy
evaluations late in the month. There are also two test frames that will
never fly (YP002 & YP005) that are finishing up static and fatigue
tests over at Boeing's Renton facility.