A day trip to PHX Sky Harbor airport for some aviation photography

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I’m totally bummed about the looming merger between America West and USAirways. As far as these airline mergers go, I don’t really care all that much – business is business, and these struggling companies have to evolve to stay alive. However, this one hits a bit close to home. America West (HP) is one of my favorite airlines – hands down. I’ve had a great experience every time I flew with them, and I really enjoy their fleet of special-livery 757’s. It’s going to be sad to see them go…

I had been planning on taking a short hop over to PHX as soon as the merger was announced, mainly because it was said that the America West name would disappear and the USAirways brand will live on. I’m not quite satisfied with my small collection of America West photos I had shot throughout the years, so I really wanted to head over to PHX for an all-day mega-shoot before HP is gone for good.

I finally decided to go for it two nights ago. I had no plans for the weekend, and the weather over in Phoenix was looking good, so I purchased a cheap last-minute same-day return fare for Saturday out of SAN and started getting ready.

America West 737-300

America West 737-300

America West 757-200 Teamwork Coast to Coast Livery

America West 757-200

America West Express CRJ-900

America West 757-200 Nevada Livery

Northwest Airlines A320

Ted A320

Southwest Airlines 737-700

The flight over to PHX was great. Typical great America West service, and we even arrived 10 minutes early. But I was not a happy guy.  Why? Clouds! Seriously, the forecast was calling for clear and sunny skies all day in the Phoenix area, but there were clouds building around the airport by the time we landed and there was full cloud cover by the time I entered the terminal. Major frustration at this point.

Still slightly optimistic, I exited the terminal and headed over to the parking structure to set up for an afternoon of photography. It took some time to walk over there, and conditions had not improved much in that time. I could see that the surrounding areas around Phoenix were clear and sunny, but there was one HUGE cloud just hanging over the airport. I was feeling thoroughly discouraged at this point, as I really had no desire to take pictures in overcast conditions. What is is with my bad luck when traveling to a city for the sole purpose of aviation photography?

Patience prevailed, and the sun did peak out a bit in the afternoon. The conditions weren’t totally perfect, but I managed to come home with a lot of great shots anyway. I was satisfied. So long America West!

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