In case you heard it too: About the small jet that was looping West Seattle

Aircraft noise is no rarity over much of West Seattle, but after we heard what sounded like the same jet pass over HQ multiple times, we checked it out. Our favorite flight tracker showed a repeated oval (screengrab above) but didn’t identify the plane. With some help from Twitter crowdsourcing, we’ve since confirmed with the FAA that the plane (a Learjet 60) was theirs, “performing flight checks of the instrumentation at Sea-Tac Airport.” The tracker shows it’s done now and headed back eastward.

22 Replies to "In case you heard it too: About the small jet that was looping West Seattle"

  • just wondering August 26, 2020 (1:29 pm)

    For a moment I thought the Blue Angels were here and that made me smile!

  • AdmiralE August 26, 2020 (1:34 pm)

    Any insight on the recent military cargo planes flying low over Admiral District? Another went over mid-afternoon yesterday, likely a C-130 (but maybe a C-141) heading WSW…

    • MS August 26, 2020 (2:07 pm)

      C-17 from McChord. Performed a touch and go at BFI and then headed back to base.

    • alkiplane August 26, 2020 (2:27 pm)

      The one last night was a C-17. Radar tracker had it looping from JBLM, to north California, to Spokane, then here. 

    • MS August 26, 2020 (2:57 pm)

      It was a C-17 from McChord AFB. Performed a touch and go at BFI and then headed back to base. 

      • JW August 29, 2020 (10:11 pm)

        Thank you, I thought I was going crazy.

  • IheartBBP August 26, 2020 (2:57 pm)

    Tracy, you and the whole WSB team are just amazing.  I was just thinking, “hmmm…I wonder what was up with that plane…” as I clicked on my WSB bookmark and, boop, there ya go.  Please never change.  You’re a wonderful reminder of what is right in this world. 

    • Zak August 26, 2020 (6:18 pm)

      Couldn’t agree more! Love the West Seattle Blog for their timely and excellent information on things like this! 

    • John B. August 27, 2020 (8:54 pm)

      Im a west seattle resident and mostly WSB lurker. Cant agree with any more enthusiasm or better words. Awesome resource and keep being stellar!

  • aRF August 26, 2020 (3:25 pm)

    There was C-17 that flew low over Admiral/Alki yesterday, WSW.

  • Matt P August 26, 2020 (5:20 pm)

    Speaking of aircraft noise, I’m apparently right in the path of small private planes taking off and landing at Boeing Airfield going to and from the Olympics.  They often fly much lower than the FAA say they should – less than 500 feet above my house, which is much less than the 1k feet they’re supposed to be above densely populated areas.  I spoke with the FAA a few times about it – they first copped out and said densely populated is hard to define, but eventually they said since the Airfield has a tower, that it’s up to the airfield.  I called and left a message at the airfield and haven’t gotten a response yet, but planes have all been staying much higher for the past week, so maybe they listened to it.  I understand that planes will be lower for take off and landing, but it was not all planes, just the vast majority doing it, so if some can keep the correct altitude, then all should be able.  

    • MC August 26, 2020 (6:43 pm) Matt,I am a local pilot and am very cognizant of noise and it’s impact on others-especially for those that are not familiar with small aircraft (General Aviation) or may not care for the noise they create. I fly out of Boeing Field with private aircraft, and out of SeaTac for my flying job. Boeing Field is a unique place to operate from due to its close proximity to SeaTac, downtown Seattle and sports stadiums, and Renton airport, as well as the local terrain. The airspace overlying Boeing Field (BFI) is the most restrictive airspace there is (Class B). This is due to the commercial aircraft taking off to the north or landing to the south at SeaTac. The direction of operation is dictated by the wind. Typically north flow during nice weather this time of year, and south flow most of the remaining times.   When small aircraft depart BFI under visual flight rules they are required to remain underneath the lower limits of SeaTac’s airspace. And there isn’t a lot of airspace left to operate in west of BFI due to the rising terrain. There are very specific established procedures for small aircraft to follow when departing from BFI, especially when departing to the west. This is necessary to provide separation from the commercial aircraft above arriving or departing SeaTac. Typically small aircraft will be at 1000’ when departing BFI as they approach the east slope of West Seattle and slowly climbing to reach 1500’ by the Lincoln Park shoreline. That puts the aircraft at 500’-1000’ above the ground. Any higher will impact safe operations at SeaTac. These operations are in full compliance with the Federal Aviation Regulations and established over many years by BFI and local operators.  Attached is a copy of the procedures for VFR (Visual Flight Rules) operations at BFI. You can see that most of the specifics apply to operations west of BFI-operating between BFI and the Fauntleroy ferry dock vicinity. Hope this helps clarify a bit. 

      • El Jefe' August 26, 2020 (8:51 pm)

        My boys and I love it. My mother alerted me to this article after I commented that that is the same plane circling over our head and it was odd because it is not a normal flight path. Anyways a couple times the military I assume was shuffling planes overseas and those guys were taking off between 12-2pm every weekend some right over our house. Some fast single engines out there. I grew up in Renton and my school was under the flight path so when those new green commercial planes took off we all stopped to stare. Loved it then love it now. 

      • Ben August 27, 2020 (2:00 am)

        Thanks! Very informative. I’m blown away by how much useful info from local source contributors we get from the WSB. Thx to them as well!

      • Matt P August 27, 2020 (10:03 am)

        MC, thanks for the link.  I found and read them before I started complaining.  Planes are not following those guidelines.  They’re passing over my house which is just west of California at as low as 725 feet of altitude and since my house is 260-300 feet of elevation at its highest point above sea level (the apartments that are in front of me on California even higher), that means they are below 500 feet above me.  Most are below the 1000′ they’re supposed to be at when crossing West Seattle and very very few ever reach 1500 by the time they hit Lincoln Park.

    • pilsner August 26, 2020 (6:50 pm)

      Its the standard west arrival/departure route out of BFI. They are sandwiched between the ridge and downwind traffic for Sea-Tac, it is standard for them to stay low.

  • Yma August 26, 2020 (5:34 pm)

    Ah WS Blog -you are wonderful.I saw the jet – white with light blue sides- when out in the backyard. Then saw it again . Was wondering what was up.

  • Bradley August 26, 2020 (6:27 pm)

    This test happens every year or so this time of year.   This isn’t the first time this jet has done this   It’s been mentioned on WSB before.   

  • 22blades August 27, 2020 (6:13 am)

    The traffic depiction above shows the aircraft as a small learjet. This very same aircraft was in the same vicinity a month or two ago. The FAA goes out in these jets to verify various navigational aids, commonly called “flight check” aircraft or flights. They repeatedly fly through the beams emanating from the aid located at the airport like Boeing or in this case SeaTac. I actually flew with a pilot that did these flights & she described the process.(monotonous)🙄 They are critical in nature & can cause an accident if not inspected repeatedly & diligently. Boring infrastructure stuff until a horrific accident happens. 

  • JeffB August 27, 2020 (5:56 pm)

    Excellent reporting WSB!  I was tracking this plane also and wondered what was going on.  So glad to have this local resource.

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