Air Caraibes Airbus A330 over the bay, about to land – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
My fiancee and I, chatting earlier this year while I was at my computer:
“Hey sweetie, did you realize our honeymoon cruise stops for a day at St. Martin?”
“Um, I think so, yea…”
“Did you know that is where they have the beach with the planes that just about land on your head?”
“Like the videos and pictures you showed me? Wow! That’s awesome! Sounds like we should spend that day there at that beach, you think?”
“Oh man, I am SO marrying the right woman!”
The author standing directly below a Boeing 737 about to land – Photo: Julian Cordle
When I tell people I’m into aviation, my (now) wife likes to describe me to others as “like the super-excited train guy, but with planes”. Tongue-in-cheek, of course. In any case, once we made plans to visit world-famous Maho Beach on St. Martin, she listened to me tell her many times “I can’t believe I get to actually BE THERE” while I was browsing the many stunning photos online.
Continue reading Planespotter’s Bucket List: A Day at Maho Beach, St. Martin (SXM)
Slow morning at Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) in upstate New York – Photo: Steven Paduchak
Ever wonder what it’s like to be “that guy?” Specifically, when trying to get on a particular flight, standing up at the kiosk as the gate agent scans everyone’s boarding pass? Well people, I had the distinct opportunity to be “that guy.” Welcome to the world of flying via standby.
What is “standby” flying? Well, I’ll tell you. People who are on a standby list for a particular flight have the option to snag any available seats left over once the boarding process is complete. By “standard passengers,” I, of course, mean people who actually paid money (or miles) for their ticket. Flying standby is most commonly a result of a friend or relative working for that specific airline, or regional affiliate. My first week being a part of this kind of travel was entertaining, exciting, nerve-wrecking, aggravating, and unorthodox, to say the least. Here’s how it all got started.
Continue reading The World of Flying Standby
The Airbus A350 (MSN002) waiting to be boarded – Photo: Owen Zupp
A flight test program is a finely-tuned schedule, down to the most detailed demonstration, with every minute of flight time accounted for. The deadlines of certification and delivery loom ever-closer as the engineers and pilots continue to put the aircraft through its paces. Still, recently, Airbus was able to somehow wedge a 60-minute flight into their A350 XWB timeline to showcase their newest family member to a media contingent visiting Toulouse for their ‘Airbus Innovations 2014′. I was fortunate to be one of those that flew aboard that flight.
The A350 wingtip with special escort – Photo: Owen Zupp
The fact that Airbus was prepared to conduct the flight reflects two rather key points. Firstly, that their flight test program is on track and secondly, that they are confident enough in their product to take a load of media scribes aloft. Furthermore, Airbus created specific social media channels for the journalists to share the flight with the world. Consequently, there was a buzz of texting and tweeting as 200 passengers cleared a security channel and filed down the aero-bridge.
The aircraft’s cabin was still in flight test mode, so interspersed amongst the passenger seats were stations of data-gathering equipment, computer screens, and cables taped to the floor. Even so, as one walked through business class and into the economy cabin, there was still that new airplane smell. The interior boasted all of the mod-cons of inflight entertainment systems and even the fasten belt sign was a scrolling digital display. As we all settled in, there was no mistaking that this was a new generation of passenger jet and we were very privileged to take flight.
Continue reading My First Flight on the Airbus A350 XWB
A Travelers Aid desk at DCA – Photo: Ryan Ewing
I love airplanes and sometimes I think airplanes love me. It is hard to fathom that these beautiful, curiosity-instilling works-of-art can fly. Throughout my life, I have always had a strong interest in aviation. My parents tell me that I would always ask a family friend, a pilot for a major carrier, questions about airplanes. I never caught the aviation bug – I was just born with it.
It was a summer day in May of 2013 when I came to the realization that I needed to find something to do during the summer besides sitting on the computer or watching TV. I talked to some people and found an organization called Travelers Aid International. Initially, I didn’t know Travelers Aid even existed, but I knew this would be a perfect place for me. I contacted the organization at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and they sent me a very kind response telling me where to meet for the interview. There, during the interview, was where I would start something that I would never be able to end.
Continue reading Being a Youngster Working as a Travelers Aid