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August 13, 2013

Plane Spotting at PDX

Noah and I have a new father / son activity that we both enjoy immensely -- plane spotting at PDX. We have gone three times this summer already, and seen a variety of different aircraft.

There used to be spots along Marine Drive where you could pull off and watch planes take off and land, but now most of those are closed. The Port of Portland suggests heading to the short-term parking garage and heading to the seventh floor. At $3/hour, it really is pretty inexpensive entertainment.

With the help of websites like Flight Aware, we have been able to plan our last two visits during some of the busier times. But even with advanced planning, you never know what you will see at PDX -- could be private planes, could be smaller Cessna Caravans, or it could be a "heavy" with a fresh coat of paint from Boeing's painting facility at PDX. On our second visit, we saw all of these plus traffic being diverted from San Francisco due to the crash of Asiana Flight 214 -- PDX even got a visit from a Cathay Pacific 747-8 (Boeing's largest commercial aircraft) because of this.

Emirates 777-300ER, freshly painted.

The most exciting event we've witnessed at PDX so far has got to be an empty Emirates 777-300ER that took off with a fresh coat of paint. The space needed for take-off was shorter than what is typically needed for the Alaska Q400 turboprops. The size of the aircraft combined with the dynamic sound of those massive jet engines was exhilarating.

Here is a video of the take-off. This vantage point was a couple hundred feet to the left of where we were standing: