Last weekend at Redondo, I saw a lot of airplanes passing overhead, since SeaTac Airport is a few miles north. Thanks to the zoom lens, I was able to photograph some of the bigger airliners in high enough resolution to see their registration numbers.
So now I can identify aircraft more precisely, which is good. For instance, this is Alaska Airlines' Boeing 737-800 N581AS:
Image credit: All photos by Cujo359
Even at this distance, I find it hard to tell the difference between this model of 737 and the previous generation of stretched 737, the 737-400. The finlets aren't a spotting feature, because they can be retrofitted, and often are.
Speaking of the previous generation of 737, here's Southwest Airline's Boeing 737-300 N345SA:
It looks pretty much like -600s and -700s do, except for having no finlets.
Of course, in this view you can also see the flaps and spoilers deployed on the wings. When an aircraft is landing, these are used to change the amount of lift the wing provide. When fully deployed, they'll both help provide lift and slow the plane down, so the plane can get onto the ground. They're also used on takeoff, but in a different position, as Lufthansa Airbus 330-300 D-AIKJ illustrates here:
During and after takeoff, the plane isn't going fast enough for the wings to provide the lift needed. The flaps (at the back of the wing) and the slats augment lift by exaggerating the wing's airfoil, which increases lift. Once the plane is moving faster, the flaps and slats are retracted.
Looks pretty much like the Southwest Airlines -300, doesn't it? The only difference I can spot is the squared-off fairing on the -300, which was a pretty common feature on those models. I don't know if that's definitive, though, because there are lots of options on every model of airliner. (see NOTE 1).
Just to counter accusations of favoritism, here's another Airbus, United Airlines A320 N411UA,
Airbuses have different cockpits and tail shapes from Boeings. That's the easiest way I've found to tell them apart.
As always, click on the pictures to enlarge, and have a good Sunday.
UPDATE/Afterword: I forgot to mention that I've processed these photos a bit to enhance the contrast and eliminate some of the noise. Last week's Sunday photos are mostly unprocessed. All of these photos were taken at or near full zoom, which is the 20X factor, or about 90 mm focal length.
For a real contrast in modes of transportation, check out One Fly's photos.
NOTE 1: Anyone who follows those links identifying the individual aircraft will note that the model numbers are somewhat different from the ones I've used. That's because each airline gets to specify lots of options when it orders airliners, from engines to interior design. Each individual combination of options got its own individual "sub-model" number when I worked at Boeing many years ago. I suspect that's still the case, but there are many variants of one particular airliner, and that's why the discrepancy exists between the Planespotters.net model identifications and what I wrote here.