The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival at Dulles

In April of 2012, Washington Dulles International Airport celebrated the National Cherry Blossom Festival by lighting up the historic Main Terminal Building in pink uplighting throughout DC's Spring celebration's three week duration.  This new tradition has been reignited in 2014, made notable by the ongoing restoration work to the airport's original Air Traffic Control Tower, obscured by scaffolding similar to the Washington Monument in 2013.

I shot the pink illuminated Terminal in 2012, and again this year from the same position, plus a few new spots by request.  But first, I got some spectacular shots as the sun set.  This image is the closest I have come to date to getting the stereotypical jet-silhouette-against-the-sun shot I have wanted since I began shooting... and it is of a very suitable aircraft - Lufthansa's 747-8i, which I covered its inaugural flight in 2012 as well.

While this location isn't a good spot to view aircraft movements, it is the best publicly accessible overlook of the airport's Main Terminal and ramps, which has made it a well known staple to local photo / aviation enthusiasts.

The sun finally set, and the lights gradually blanketed the Main Terminal in a soft pink.  The effect is achieved with large plastic color gels covering the 5000K up-lights alongside the Departures Level guardrail.  In 2012, the first year anything like this was even attempted, the pink effect was plagued by melting gels, however this year higher quality gels are being used, and heat is a problem of the past, with the added benefit of a richer pink color than previously.

Does any of this sound familiar, you photographers out there?

These next two are the official Press Release photos.  You can see spots in the first photo which look like dead pixels, but they are actually aircraft on approach.

As I walked along the Departures Level to get close-up photos from beneath the Terminal, I coincidentally ran into TCO Moore, who I previously photographed last month.  Here is the portrait I shot for his recent Going the Extra Mile Award, which I apparently forgot to blog.

Like most press photos, the photos were needed short-notice, so I hand delivered them the next morning while taking care of a few other things at Dulles.  While there the next day, I stopped by MWAA's Shop 1, where maintenance continually takes place behind the scenes to keep Dulles' fleet of Plane Mates and Mobile Lounges operating and serving passengers.  This is an unseen side of Dulles, but it is vital to the airports ongoing function.

Since the AeroTrain's opening in 2010, Mobile Lounge need and use has dropped dramatically, however there are some functions for which these fascinating behemoths are still required.  All arriving international passengers are transported to the International Arrivals Building for customs processing via Plane Mate, and there are a number of concourse areas which are not serviced by the AeroTrain, so Mobile Lounges are still utilized.  Additionally, Plane Mates are used to transport passengers to and from aircraft parked on hardstands.

While Plane Mates are colloquially known as Mobile Lounges, at Dulles, Mobile Lounge typically refers only to the Bud Lounges original and unique to the airport, which have driver cabs on both the front and back, whereas Plane Mate refers only to the lounges as seen below, easily distinguished by the extendable canopy, and "shark fins" which house the screw-lifts to raise and lower the lounge's height.