Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 290,939
2014: 363,407
Total: 1,212,540


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UPDATED – WestJet Gets a New Logo… Really!

WestJet's first 767 arrives at YYC. Photo: WestJet

WestJet’s first 767 arrives at YYC – Photo: WestJet

UPDATE: August 27th – Well, it looks like the response to WestJet’s new logo was so overwhelming that the airline has decided to add it to the rest of its aircraft! WestJet’s Robert Palmer says, “The logo shows how proud we are to be a Canadian company and helps us introduce ourselves to new geographies we’ve never served before. Our intent was to use the logo on the 767s only, given the international nature of the routes they will serve as of next spring, but the response has been so positive that we’ve decided to use it across our entire fleet. It will take time, but eventually all WestJet aircraft will sport this proud new logo.” Although Palmer couldn’t directly point to the positive feedback from our story, he says “We actually tested it [the logo] using focus groups and it was off the charts.”

WestJet Airlines began operations in February of 1996, with a fleet of three 737-200s flying between five cities in Western Canada. Since that time, the carrier has grown to become an international airline, serving over 90 destinations with a fleet of 108 737-600s, -700s, and -800s. In 2013, it launched regional airline WestJet Encore, now with 22 Bombardier Q400s.

The airline hasn’t really changed its teal-and-blue colored livery since its first flights, but has Disney-partnered “logojet” 737s flying, along with two planes painted with the airline’s custom-designed tartan to celebrate its Halifax, Nova Scotia to Glasgow, Scotland service. And every one of WestJet’s aircraft proudly flies the Canadian flag on the fuselage, near the rear exit doors.

Continue reading UPDATED – WestJet Gets a New Logo… Really!

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport – Smaller, Cheaper, but Big on Importance

Line up of planes at FLL - Photo: Maarten Visser | Flickr CC

Line up of planes at FLL – Photo: Maarten Visser | Flickr CC

Although Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is a mere 21 miles north of its huge cousin, Miami International Airport (MIA), it’s worlds apart in its focus and business model. FLL is a hub for low-cost carriers (LCCs) and ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs), and funnels passengers to nearby Port Everglades, one of the busiest cruise ship terminals in the world. In 2014, FLL saw almost 25 million passengers use its facilities, led by ULCCs and LCCs Allegiant, JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin America, and Spirit, which is based at FLL.

Trans-Atlantic LCC, Norwegian Air Shuttle, also serves FLL with Boeing 787s. A number of U.S., Canadian, and Latin American airlines also provide non-stop scheduled service to FLL, along with seasonal charter carriers.

“We complement MIA,” says Allan Siegel, FLL’s Community Outreach Coordinator. “But our landing fees are lower, so our airlines are saving significant costs. That makes us attractive to the LCCs, and in 2014, LCCs handled 62% of our total traffic.” The airport’s traffic has grown steadily, up 25% in 10 years, but that growth led to capacity issues, driven by FLL’s configuration.

Continue reading Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport – Smaller, Cheaper, but Big on Importance

“France is in the Air” Inaugural Flight to Vancouver

Air France's inaugural Paris to Vancouver flight touches down on YVR's  Rwy 08L, just after noon on a rainy Sunday.

Air France’s inaugural Paris to Vancouver flight touches down on YVR’s Rwy 08L, just after noon on a rainy Sunday

C’est magnifique! Air France’s first flight to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) touched down in a huge spray of water on a soggy Sunday afternoon. The Boeing 777-200ER landed on YVR’s Runway 08L, after a nearly ten-hour flight from Paris – Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).

This inaugural flight ran a bit late, arriving at 12:04 PM. The normal schedule has Flight AF374 departing CDG at 10:35 AM, arriving YVR at 11:50 AM, the same day. The return flight, Flight AF379, leaves YVR at 1:55 PM, and arrives CDG at 8:35 AM the following morning.

Flags flying from the cockpit, AF374 taxiies to the gate at YVR.

Flags flying from the cockpit, AF374 taxiies to the gate at YVR

After touchdown, the 777 received a special escort by YVR’s emergency services along Taxiway Mike, before having the traditional “new airline water cannon salute” from two fire trucks. Mind you, with the monsoon-like rain, it was tough to see the water arch!

Then, with Canadian and French flags flying from the cockpit windows, AF374 taxiied to Gate 65 at YVR’s International Terminal.

Continue reading “France is in the Air” Inaugural Flight to Vancouver

Gone Gliding – Conclusion

Another amazing photo by Gordon Boettger, from 26,000 feet over the Carson Valley, during a glider wave flight.

Another amazing photo by Gordon Boettger, from 26,000 feet over the Carson Valley, during a glider wave flight

Let’s pick up where we left off in Gone Gliding, Part Two, shall we?

We’re at Minden-Tahoe Airport in Soaring NV’s LS4 glider, hooked up to the Piper Pawnee towplane, and just starting our takeoff roll. Spencer, our ground crew, runs alongside the glider for a few feet while holding the wingtip. The ailerons are alive in a couple of seconds, and I hold the wings level with the stick, while steering along the runway centerline with the rudder pedals.

With the single main wheel rumbling under my seat, we accelerate quickly as we’re hauled along the runway. A little bit of forward stick gets the LS4’s tail wheel off the ground, and then I move the stick ever-so-gently rearwards. The glider levitates, and we carefully hold position just a few feet in the air, right behind the tow plane. Now that we’re airborne, we’re less drag for the Pawnee, and Silvio lifts off.

On tow behind the Pawnee, heading east, over the Carson Valley

On tow behind the Pawnee, heading east, over the Carson Valley

I’m primed for a possible rope break, and glance at the altimeter as we cross the end of the runway. It shows a bit under 5,000 feet, and I call out “200 feet!” We’ve passed the first “gate” at 200 ft above the ground, and if the rope breaks, we can now safely fly a 180-degree turn to land downwind on the runway. Silvio starts a climbing left turn to cross over the airport, and we’re nicely locked in, on tow. The feeling is something like being pulled behind a ski boat, and I’m not even thinking about what I’m doing to the controls, just reacting and flying. Heading east, and crossing over Runway 34, I relax. If the rope breaks now, we’re high enough to easily complete a normal pattern and landing.

As we continue to climb, I call Silvio and tell him that we’d like to “box the wake,” which is great practice while on tow. He acknowledges, and I start the maneuver by climbing a bit above the towplane, while keeping the rope taut. I stop for a moment, then fly the glider to the right, and stop again at the first corner of the “box.” Descend a bit, and stop below the towplane at the next corner. Now it’s a slide across the bottom of the box, stopping at the third corner.

Gentle nose up, keep the rope taut, climb above the towplane, and stop at the last corner. Then slide back behind Silvio, hold, and drop back down into the normal tow position, lining up the Pawnee’s horizontal stabilizer with its wing. Smooth, smooth, smooth, all the way around, and I don’t think that I yanked the Pawnee’s tail, even once. I realize that I’m grinning – nailed it!

Continue reading Gone Gliding – Conclusion