Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 93,970
2014: 363,407
Total: 1,015,570





Growlers in the Pattern: EA-18s Practice Carrier Touch-and-Goes

An EA-18G Growler from VAQ-129 climbs out of NOLF Coupeville in Full Afterburner

An EA-18G Growler from VAQ-129 climbs out of OLF Coupeville in full afterburner

Picture this: the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and yellow dandelions are beginning to bloom in the green grass.  Sounds pretty good, right?  As AvGeeks, what could make this better?  Well, how about the sound of jets?  Not just any jets but fast moving jets, the kind that are flown by the U.S. Navy.

Interested?  You might want to head about 90 minutes northwest of Seattle and check out the NOLF (aka OLF) Coupeville. I recently got to experience all of the above, and more, and figured I should share what I experienced.

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For the Birds: Wildlife Management at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

One of 2 Avian radars located at SeaTac.  This one in a ditch at SeaTac adjacent to the third runway.

One of two avian radars located at SEA. This one is in a ditch adjacent to the third runway.

Have you ever looked up in the sky, seen a hawk or eagle soaring, and admired the beauty? Although exciting, the birds can cause major problems for aviation.

The “Miracle on the Hudson” is a prime example of why birds and aircraft do not mix.  But what do airports do to ensure that our journeys, from one airport to the next, are safe? I recently took a tour of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and saw what their wildlife management team was doing to keep both airplanes and birds safe.

A snowy owl is captured at SEA, then released in the upper part of Washington State, near Bellingham - Photos: SEA

A Snowy Owl is captured at SEA, then released in the upper part of Washington state, near Bellingham – Photo: SEA

SEA has been a leader in wildlife management since the 1970s, when they were the first airport to hire a dedicated wildlife biologist onto their staff.  At the moment, Steve Osmek runs the wildlife program at the airport and has done so for a number of years.  Previously coming from the USDA and NOAA, he gets to combine his love of animals and an interest in aviation into on job.  It was Steve who took me around the airport and introduced me to a number of ways that the airport is helping to mitigate bird strikes.

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Opinion: Carry On’s Getting Out of Hand – Start Checking Your Bags People!

Familiar to anyone?  Perhaps we could change this scene?

Familiar to anyone? Perhaps we could change this scene?

On a recent flight, I was getting myself situated in my seat, while boarding continued around me. I had boarded in Group 1 (thank you Star Gold) and was waiting for the other people in my row to join me.  It was about halfway through the boarding process of the fully sold-out flight that I saw something that shocked me. A passenger was carrying a giant hiking pack through the aisle, heading for their seat. I was blown away that this giant backpack somehow made it past the gate agents and on-board the aircraft. Surely this person was not seriously thinking that a giant backpack like that would pass as “carry on.”  But sadly, it had.

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United Airlines is Updating Their Gate Experience

Updating the United Gate area means that they can have seating that can be enjoyed by everyone - Photo: United

Updating the gate area means seating that can be enjoyed by everyone – Photo: United

On my recent trip to Chicago with United to experience their new United Club cuisine, we were shown something that the airline had been working on. Something that would have been obvious to so many, but that not so much to others. United has been working on many different ways to improve their boarding experience.

We have all had a bad boarding experience. A delayed flight, people massing at the gates (gate lice), no order at all, bad communication, and confusion. Airlines all board aircraft in different fashions, and each airline has someone (or a team) of people, who are consistently re-evaluating how the boarding process can efficient. Some new methods work well, others are silently stopped and never spoken about again.

But what is sometimes forgotten about in the boarding process is what that gate area looks like, how it is handled, and how passengers actually feel about it. United has decided to take a look at all of these factors and decided on trying a new boarding experience — one where even passengers had some role in the decision-making process.

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The Boeing 757 – A Beloved Airliner

Icelandair use 757s to connect their hub in Reykjavik to European and North American Destinations - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Icelandair use 757s to connect their hub in Reykjavik to European and North American destinations – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter

What has been the most talked about aircraft as of late in aviation circles?  I would have to say it is the Boeing 757 — an aircraft that seems irreplaceable.  This aircraft is beloved by some, hated by others, and yet so many people have flown them, no matter where you are from (unless you are Australian, then it’s going to be rare).  I can remember the first time I saw a 757 (Royal New Zealand Air Force at Avalon Airshow); I can also remember my first flight on a 757  (United P.S from JFK to LAX). I’ve got so many wonderful memories of the 757 that I wanted to take a little trip down memory lane and bring you all along with me.

One of Allegiant Air's Boeing 757s (N902NV) while still in Everett, WA.

One of Allegiant Air’s Boeing 757s (N902NV) while still in Everett, WA – Photo: David Parker Brown

 The Boeing 757 was the last clean-sheet narrow-body aircraft to come out of the Seattle area.  The aircraft was produced in Renton and, much like myself, the 757 was an 80’s baby.  Rolled out on January 13, 1982, it took flight just over a month later on February 19th. Deliveries of the 757-200 began in December 1982, less than a year after roll-out, with the launch customer being Eastern Air Lines for North America (since dissolved and now reappeared) and British Airways for Europe.  The aircraft was last delivered in 2004, after over 22 years of production.  The final aircraft was delivered to Shanghai Airlines, giving the 757 family a total of 1,050 of the type.

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