Karl Drage's 2012 blogGAR Entries

JAN 31 2012
blogGAR: Some New Year Sunsets at London-Stansted Airport

1 January 2012 did not provide the start to the brand new year that I'd be hoping for; indeed, it was a rather costly one, and rather than risk the maxim of 'starting as you mean to go on' taking hold, I decided to spend the daytime part of the following day well away from my computer.

The forecast was good and, subject to weather en-route, there was a live prospect of catching all three of British Airways World Cargo's brand new 747-8Fs on the same day. I refer, of course, to London-Stansted Airport, now the scene for four consecutive days out!

I'd become aware that some of the flight tracking services hadn't been quite so accurate over the holiday period and suspected that flightplans for certain scheduled cargo routes were being entered into the system regardless of whether the companies supposedly operating them had any intention of doing so or not.

A quick drive-by of the airport at about 1030 showed no sign of the Martinair MD-11F that FlightStats anticipated should be present. Undeterred Sammy and I headed for Hatfield Forest to catch the departing Titan Airways 737-300. Then it was straight over to the approach end for the first of the arriving British Airways World Cargo 747-8s, having thankfully worked up a bit of a sweat along the way, as the air temperature barely lifted above freezing all day long.

Conditions really were beautiful with barely a cloud to be seen. For a bit of variety I stuck the 400mm lens on one of my 50Ds. There's only so many Ryanair and easyJet shots you can take before they start to get more than a bit 'samey'.

Pegasus (my first captured airborne) and Thomson 737-800s looked great against the deep blue before the first 747-8 (G-GSSF, the third and final airframe to be delivered, and having only arrived at Stansted on 30 December 2011) appeared in the distance, inbound from Houston, Texas.

As seems to be the norm at Stansted, things went very quiet, at least so far as arrivals are concerned, in the hour from 1330 through to 1430, but a couple of bizjets provided a little interest prior to the second 747-8 being spotted on the horizon, this time inbound from Atlanta-Hartsfield, Georgia.

As things transpired, the third example had ended up getting stuck in India, where the weather was not so good, but two out of three ain't bad!

A few extra clouds rolled in as the sun sank lower in the sky, but that made for some nice cloudscapes and provided an all too infrequent opportunity to capture something passing in front of the sun.

OY-RCE, an RJ85 (BAe 146 in old money) operated by Atlantic Airways and M-MOMO, a stunning Gulfstream G550 belonging to Fayair, were two of the more interesting movements as darkness drew closer.

It was another enjoyable day but I think I've probably got Stansted out of my system for a while, at least until the days start to get a little bit longer, when some of the more interesting cargo movements take place in daylight hours.

In my next blogGAR entry I'll take you through a Saturday visit to Heathrow, when Runway 09 was in use.

Don't forget that Issue 5 of Global Aviation Magazine goes live tomorrow, featuring articles on the USS George H.W. Bush, interviews with Clay Lacy and a former-Lightning display pilot, a look at the incredible China Aviation Museum, a celebration of 25 years of the A320 and pieces on hot air ballooning and the USAF's piston-powered aircraft. All absolutely free, as usual.

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