Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 25,266
2014: 363,407
Total: 946,866

Delivering the Mail 100 Years On – Following Maurice Guillaux’s Historic Route

A Jabiru J-230D - Photo: Owen Zupp

A Jabiru J-230D – Photo: Owen Zupp

Things weren’t looking good.

The next morning I was scheduled to depart Essendon and reenact the historic air mail flight undertaken by Maurice Guillaux in 1914. As I sat in my air-conditioned hotel room I logged onto the digital service, only to find that the weather forecast seemed endless with ‘clouds on the ground’ at critical locations and line after line of low clouds and heavy rain. I flicked the pages on my iPad between the weather radars for Mount Gambier and Melbourne, endeavouring to get a clearer picture of the waves of water blowing in from the southwest.

Was there a possible route out of Melbourne to the west with lower hills and a higher cloud base? I entered in alternate flight plans on the iPad app and compared how much extra time such a plan would cost, and then converted that into fuel; there were viable options available. Still, the best news came from the MSL synoptic charts on the Bureau of Meteorology website. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a window of opportunity between the two deep cold fronts that threatened to ruin the centenary air mail flight.

And then I paused…

I had a world of information at my fingertips, mobile phones and mass media. 100 years ago, Guillaux had none of this and yet he set out from Melbourne bound for Sydney in his Bleriot monoplane; exposed to the elements and a simple railway line as his navigation system. On board were 1785 commemorative postcards and Australia’s first air freight – orange juice and tea. His weather forecast was his line of sight through the spinning propeller. I had it easy.

Guillaux and his Bleriot XI monoplane after the Melbourne-Sydney flight in 1914 - Photo:  State Library of New South Wales | WikiCommons

Guillaux and his Bleriot XI monoplane after the Melbourne-Sydney flight in 1914 – Photo: State Library of New South Wales | WikiCommons

It became even easier when the rain on the roof abated and breaks of blue sky appeared over Melbourne. By the time the many media commitments had been met and departure time loomed, things looked positively hopeful. Furthermore, each stage of the flight would have aircraft flying in company with my Jabiru J230D ‘air mail’ aircraft. Veteran pilot, Aminta Hennessy, in her Cessna 182 was the support aircraft and offered an IFR alternative should the weather close in. For this stage she would be joined by a CT-4 and a Cessna 172 and all three would depart for me, offering some ‘eyes in the sky’. As it transpired, as I climbed overhead Essendon, I could see for 100 miles and any reservations that I’d held melted away. The centenary air mail flight was underway.

Very Different Times.

Continue reading Delivering the Mail 100 Years On – Following Maurice Guillaux’s Historic Route

Delta Air Lines Completes Second Phase of JFK Terminal 4 Expansion

A Delta pilot makes his way to one of the new gates as Delta Air Lines, unveiled the next phase of a Terminal 4 expansion at JFK - Photo: Michelle McLoughlin | Newscast Creative

Delta Air Lines unveils the next phase of a Terminal 4 expansion at JFK – Photo: Michelle McLoughlin | Newscast Creative

As part of their $1.2 billion effort at improving their space at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s (JFK) Terminal 4B, Delta, along with the JFK International Air Terminal LLC (JFKIAT) has completed the second phase of expansion of the terminal and held a media event to show off and officially open the new space (a soft opening occurred last week).

BONUS: Delta Previews JFK T4 With T4X In Lower Manhattan

In attendance, and speaking on behalf of their organizations, were Gail Grimmett, Delta’s senior vice president for New York; Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ); Gert-Jan de Graff, president and CEO of JFKIAT (the operator of Terminal 4); Kyle Kimball, president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation; Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company; and Melinda Katz, the Queens borough president.

Press entrance for the special Terminal 4 event - Photo:

Press entrance for the special Terminal 4 event – Photo: Doug Wint

The expansion adds 75,000 additional square feet and 11 new gates to Terminal 4B, and will allow 80% of Delta Connection operations to move from Terminal 2. These new gates are enclosed and climate-controlled, and can handle mainline narrow-body jets, if needed. The new addition provides access to a renovated Sky Club, iPad stations, and world-renown eateries.

The carrier has also added a third stop to its Jitney shuttle service, which carries connecting passengers between its two terminals to the new terminus on the B side. This is to help alleviate the walking for connecting travellers (65% of Delta’s JFK passengers) between opposite ends of Terminal 4B.

Continue reading Delta Air Lines Completes Second Phase of JFK Terminal 4 Expansion

Flying Andy Granatelli’s Indy 500 Race Cars on a TWA Boeing 707

A TWA Boeing 707 freighter on Runway 25-Right at LAX.  Notice that engines 1 and 2 are in reverse and that the spoiler fully deployed - Photo:  Jon Proctor

A TWA Boeing 707 freighter on Runway 25R at LAX – Photo: Jon Proctor

Here’s a little background about a wonderful encounter I had with racing legend Andy Granatelli in the late 1970’s.  At that time, I flew for Trans World Airlines on their Boeing 707 and 727 aircraft.

In April and May of 1978, my regular assignment (trips for the month) was to fly a 707 freighter from Los Angeles to Indianapolis. Typically, we would launch very late in the evening around midnight, and arrive in Indy at around 6:00 am local time. A day-and-a-half later, we’d fly a return flight to Los Angeles at 6 pm. That gave us a 36-hour layover in Indy.  On our first trip of the month, I got to the airport quite early, as I had been on vacation the previous month and had lots of accumulated paperwork to attend to. At about nine in the evening, I bummed a ride with a TWA mechanic from the hangar to the TWA cargo facility on the other side of the airport – probably the most harrowing part of my three-day trip.

As we arrived at the air freight terminal, I noticed two large box vans – both painted with the legendary STP logo. The TWA mechanic and I walked over to the vans and looked inside… one was filled with tires, crated engines, tool boxes, and other motor racing equipment.  The second van had two Indy 500 race cars inside!

Continue reading Flying Andy Granatelli’s Indy 500 Race Cars on a TWA Boeing 707

A Different Perspective: A Non-AvGeek Flies on a British Airways 787

British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner - Photo: Martin Hartland | Flickr CC

British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner – Photo: Martin Hartland | Flickr CC

People who love to fly don’t fly economy.

For the past several months, my husband has pitched the idea of AirlineReporter readers likely being interested in a trip report written by a “normal person” like me. In this case, “normal” is defined as someone who doesn’t choose flights based on the aircraft model, or speak in cabin class codes (e.g. Y, J, M, F). I am not an AvGeek and I am sort of proud of it (although I still love you all).

My husband and I fly together several times a year and, when we do, I am able to piggyback off of his status and occasionally get a free upgrade to business/first for domestic flights. However, the “opportunity” for me to fly long-haul economy eventually arose when I needed to fly from Seattle to Hyderabad, India for work.

CLICK FOR LARGER: British Airways Boeing 747-400 seen at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on 3/14/13. AirlineReporter.com writer Ben will be writing a story on his flight to London. Photo by Ben Whalen.

British Airways  747 seen at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport flying to London – Photo: Benjamin Whalen | AirlineReporter

To establish some context, I consider myself to be an experienced economy flier. Before meeting my husband and learning of the world of mileage runners and aviation geekdom, I had several flights between the US and Europe to visit distant relatives, as well as a semester studying abroad where I tried to fly to another city every other weekend. In all of these cases, I only ever flew economy, and have fond memories of being nestled under a blanket and binge-watching in-flight entertainment on a few good-length flights. Even though I didn’t pay much attention to the seat dimensions, I enjoyed flying and viewed it as a chance for peace, quiet, and self-reflection.

However, my flight to and from India was going to be much more rigorous than my previous travels. I had two back-to-back ten-hour flights in British Airways’ economy class, traveling from SEA>LHR>HYD. To top it off, I needed to do the reciprocal leg within five days of my arrival.

Continue reading A Different Perspective: A Non-AvGeek Flies on a British Airways 787

The New Eastern Air Lines Takes Delivery of First 737 in Miami

Eastern Air Lines' first 737-800 flies over Miami - Photo: Airways News

Eastern Air Lines’ first 737-800 flies over Miami – Photo: Airways News

This story was originally published by Chris Sloan and Luis Linares on AirwaysNews.com

Nearly 24 years after the original Eastern shut down on January 18, 1991, the new Eastern Air Lines welcomed home its first new aircraft on December 19.  Ex-Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 “The Spirit of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker,” N276EA, arrived from Shannon, Ireland (SNN) via Portsmouth, New Hampshire (PSN) into the airline’s base at Miami International Airport at 3:13 p.m. local time on Runway 8R to a water cannon salute.

The flight crew outside of EAL's first 737 in Miami - Photo: AirwaysNews

The flight crew outside of EAL’s first 737 in Miami – Photo: AirwaysNews

EXTRA: Flashback Friday; The History of Eastern Air Lines

The fanfare reached far beyond that of a traditional airline launch, particularly in Miami. Miami was the original Eastern’s headquarters, and the carrier was the city’s largest employer from the mid-1970s until its 1991 shutdown.  It was evident that the event and ceremony were an emotional, tear-felt occasion for the new team, and especially for the retirees and former employees of the original Eastern.  Their turnout was quite moving.

A water cannon salute at MIA greets Eastern's 737 - Photo: AirwaysNews

A water cannon salute at MIA greets Eastern’s 737 – Photo: AirwaysNews

The airline has 10 Boeing 737-800s on order, with purchase rights on 10 737 MAX 8s. Moreover, the company announced in July 2014 that it had placed an order for 20 Mitsubishi MRJ90s, with rights for an additional 20 of the regional jets. Eastern starts flying in March 2015 and will initially operate as a charter carrier, with scheduled operations due to begin in the next 12 to 18 months following FAA certification.

Continue reading The New Eastern Air Lines Takes Delivery of First 737 in Miami on AirwaysNews.com