Around the World

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

Virgin Galactic getting Closer to Space

Spaceship 2 under Rocket Power as seen through the Telescope at the Clay Center Observatory - Photo: MarsScientific.com and Clay Center Observatory

Spaceship 2 under Rocket Power as seen through the Telescope at the Clay Center Observatory – Photo: MarsScientific.com and Clay Center Observatory

At approximately 7:47am MDT on the 29th April, the future of space tourism became one step closer to reality. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two (SS2) fired its rocket motor and after a 16 second burn completed a successful test flight.

During the brief time that SpaceShip 2 (christened VSS Enterprise) was in the air, it achieved an altitude of 55,000ft and a speed of Mach 1.2. After a total flight time of just over 10 minutes it touched down safely in Mojave.

Sir Richard Branson & 'Forger' aka Mark Stucky congratulate each other after the completion of SS2's first rocket-powered flight - Photo: Mark Greenberg

Sir Richard Branson & ‘Forger’ aka Mark Stucky congratulate each other after the completion of SS2’s first rocket-powered flight – Photo: Mark Greenberg

“The first powered flight of Virgin Spaceship Enterprise was without any doubt, our single most important flight test to date,” said Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson, who was on the ground in Mojave to witness the occasion. “For the first time, we were able to prove the key components of the system, fully integrated and in flight.”

WhiteKnightTwo, christened VMS Eve after Richard Branson's mother Eve, and SpaceShipTwo, known as VSS Enterprise, take to the skies during a test flight in Mojave, CA, USA. Photo: Mark Greenberg

WhiteKnightTwo, christened VMS Eve after Richard Branson’s mother Eve, and SpaceShipTwo, known as VSS Enterprise, take to the skies during a test flight in Mojave, CA, USA. Photo: Mark Greenberg

SpaceShip 2 was carried to its launching altitude by White Knight 2 (WK2) (named VMS Eve after Sir Richard Branson’s mother). Once at 47,000ft Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot Dave Mackay, who was piloting WK2 at the time, released SS2 into free flight. Once verifying checks were completed, Mark Stucky, the test pilot, triggered the rocket motor ignition system and propelling the spacecraft on-wards & upwards.

“The rocket motor ignition went as planned, with the expected burn duration, good engine performance and solid vehicle handling qualities throughout,” said Virgin Galactic President & CEO George Whitesides. “The successful outcome of this test marks a pivotal point for our program. We will now embark on a handful of similar powered flight tests, and then make our first test flight to space.”

A shot of Space Ship 2 igniting its rocket motor as seen from the Boom Camera - Photo: Virgin Galactic

A shot of Space Ship 2 igniting its rocket motor as seen from the Boom Camera – Photo: Virgin Galactic

As the test program expands and begins it’s final phase Virgin Galactic and the manufacturer Scaled Composites, hope to see the first powered spaceflight by the end of this year. When that day is reached, it will mean the end of the test program and the beginning of entry to commercial service. I wonder how many miles it would take to cover the $200,000 ticket cost.

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent.

Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

Must Watch: Airport 24/7 Miami Season Two Starts Tomorrow

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Airport 24/7 Ad in Baggage Claim at MIA. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

Last Friday, AirlineReporter.com was in Miami to cover the season two premiere of Airport 24/7: Miami. This season will air on the Travel Channel and have 13 original episodes beginning Tuesday April 30th at 9/8C with a special 1 hour premiere.

Customs check through produce for contraband. Image from the Travel Chanel / Airchive.com.

Customs check through produce for contraband. Image from the Travel Chanel / Airchive.com.

Much like the first season, the second starts off with a bang as two aircraft collide and the airport has to quickly come up with a solution.  The incident causes issues as other aircraft are ready to depart but are unable to push back. The airport must figure out how to perform its investigation but also get the way quickly cleared to prevent more delays.

BONUS: Sneak peak of episode one of Airport 24/7: Miami season 2.

One of the Beagles on Airport 24/7: Miami. Photo by Brandon Farris.

One of the Beagles on Airport 24/7: Miami. Photo by Brandon Farris.

The second episode follows medical crews along after a bus tries to drive under an overpass that is too short, causing the top of the bus to be cut open. Glass and debris is scattered everywhere leaving 35 people scared and some quite injured. Emergency crews try to save them and also keep traffic from backing up and people from missing their flights.

The other main story goes into how customs makes a huge drug bust and talks about how they go on to destroy it following the investigation. While I would love to tell you what happens on these two episodes, you will have to tune in to find out yourself!

BONUS: Sneak peak of episode two of Airport 24/7: Miami season 2.

The cast of Airport 24/7: Miami at the premiere event. Photo from 2CMedia.

The cast of Airport 24/7: Miami at the premiere event. Photo from 2C Media.

At the premier event we were lucky enough to get a visit from Customs and Border Patrol where we got to meet the airports Beagle Brigade that are trained to look for smuggled agriculture products and others animals. They easily stole almost everyone’s attention after the viewing and quickly became the stars!

Having the show produced by a true AvGeek really shows. Chris Sloan, who also writes for AirlineReporter.com and runs Airchive.com, does a great job working with the others on the show to make the show factual for those who love airlines, but also interesting to those who might not (yes, there are people out there like that).

Watching the premiere of the show in Miami. Photo from Chris Sloan / Airchive.com / 2C Media

Watching the premiere of the show in Miami. Photo from Chris Sloan / Airchive.com / 2C Media

The show is fast pace and exhilarating. It is fascinating how it takes you behind the scenes and shows how the airport operates on a daily basis. This season is sure to please AvGeeks and anyone else that has an interest in to how an airport operates.

CHECK OUT ADDITIONAL BEHIND THE SCENE PHOTOS OF AIRPORT 24/7: MIAMI

This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent. Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.@BrandonsBlog | RightStuffPhotography | Flickr

Three Airports, Three Days, Three Different Boeing Dreamlifters

N780BA in Everett. Photo by Brandon Farris.

Dreamlifter N780BA in Everett. Photo by Brandon Farris.

This past week I have traveled all over the place from Anchorage to Miami and even in Seattle a little bit.  Something that was awesome while traveling to all of these places was the fact that I got to see three different Boeing Dreamlifters. It all started on Sunday when I got treated to N780BA coming into Everett.

N718BA in Anchorage. Photo by Brandon Farris.

Dreamlifter N718BA in Anchorage. Photo by Brandon Farris.

The next day I was taking a day trip up to Anchorage for some spotting and was treated to N718BA making a fuel stop on its way to Paine Field.

Photo by Brandon Farris.

Dreamlifter N249BA in Miami. Photo by Brandon Farris.

And finally on Friday, while on the ramp tour in Miami I got to see N249BA being towed around the airport making it the third different Dreamlifter I had seen in a mere week!

The Dreamlifter is a transport aircraft that flies Boeing 787 parts around the world to Paine Field and Charleston, similar to the Airbus Beluga. Some might not see it as the most eye pleasing aircraft but it gets the job done one day at a time!

CHECK OUT MY OTHER AIRLINE SPOTTING PHOTOGRAPHY

This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent.

Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.

@BrandonsBlog | RightStuffPhotography | Flickr

Uber Classic Video: Pilot Changes Tire Mid-Flight

There are classic videos and then there are CLASSIC videos. Obviously cameras were not quite a popular as they are today and I would imagine that this whole video was staged, but who the heck cares? You still have a pilot going out and changing a tire mid-air and that is quite impressive.

Gladys Ingle, seen in the video, was part of the high-flying group 13 Black Cats, where she was a well known wing-walker and looks like tire changer.

Mileage Runs: Why Do People Fly Just for Miles? LEG 4

Time to earn some miles on Delta. Image by Mal Muir.

Time to earn some miles on Delta. Image by Mal Muir.

In the first three parts (LEG 1 & LEG 2 and LEG 3) of my mileage run series I talked about what a mileage run is, why you would go on a mileage run and I also spoke about why I got into the mileage game.  What hasn’t been talked about yet is what it is like to actually go on a mileage run.

Mileage runs can be fun, they can be interesting, but one thing that is certain is that you will spend a lot of time in those airline seats.

I have already completed two mileage runs earlier this year;  one to Dallas (DFW) and another to Newark (EWR).  Even though both of the mileage runs were on Delta, one gave me quite a lot more points, as the Newark run was in First Class (thanks to a cheap K Up fare, but that is a story for another day).

The two different mileage runs I did.  To Dallas (in Red) and to Newark (in black)

The two different mileage runs I did. To Dallas (in Red) and to Newark (in black)

The Dallas run had me away from Seattle for just 1 night, with three flights each day going from Seattle to Salt Lake City to Minneapolis to Dallas on day one.  Day two had me flying Dallas to Memphis to Minneapolis to Seattle.  The Dallas run had me visiting three new airports (MEM, DFW & SLC), flying two new aircraft types (CRJ-900 and MD-90) but there were some very tight connections:  45-60 minutes at each airport.

I booked my tickets with the minimum time legally allowed, which probably was not so smart!  It made for some interesting times that weekend with me having to run from Gate F7 to C17 in Minneapolis (MSP) to make my flight to Dallas. I made the flight with 5 minutes to spare and covered the distance between gates (roughly ½ to ¾ of a mile) in about 6 minutes.  Making the flight meant I could enjoy some BBQ in Dallas before a good night’s sleep.

The First Class seat may make mileage running a little bit more comfortable - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The First Class seat may make mileage running a little bit more comfortable – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The Newark run though was much longer.  More time between flights and I had to position down to San Francisco.  With Seattle to San Francisco on United and my run from SFO to Atlanta to Newark, returning back to San Fran via Minneapolis, this run was definitely a lot more comfortable.  However the killer was the five hour layover in San Francisco on the way home.  It did give me plenty of time to relax in lounges, explore the airports but there were two very sleepless nights.

The lack of sleep, the long waits in the terminals, getting back to Seattle close to midnight after leaving Newark almost 18 hours prior was a challenge, but still all worth it for me. I was lucky enough to get First Class seats on these flights and was being fed and watered on each leg, but it still was quite a bit of time spend inside an airline cabin.

A common site for mileage runners.  The back of the seat in front of you. Get used to it!

A common site for mileage runners. The back of the seat in front of you. Get used to it! – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

No matter what kind of run you do, you’re going to want to make sure you plan accordingly. You definitely don’t want to have a checked bag as then you can’t take a bump here or there to help out on the costs (none offered on my flights).  You need to stay hydrated and fed so snacks and plenty of water help (biscoffs from the lounges kept me going on the Dallas run).  The biggest thing is you need to stay entertained.

Staying hydrated and nourished on a flight means getting food however you can get it. A breakfast thanks to the Delta SkyClub

Staying hydrated and nourished on a flight means getting food however you can get it. A breakfast thanks to the Delta SkyClub

You can’t rely on airline provided entertainment, such as seat back TV or WiFi as most of the time it is not fitted or they might not work.  So a laptop/ipad with some videos is a good choice.  The things that I found worked perfectly were a good book/magazine, which never need charging.  Make sure to wear good comfy clothes as you’re going to spend long hours in them…  running shoes might help too!

Even though the mileage runs took two full weekends to complete, it gave me more than enough points to re-qualify for my status with Virgin Australia.  I earned more than I thought I would with the Dallas run and then earned more than half of my year’s worth of points on that one run to Newark.

Then I was able to do a mini mileage run during my recent trip to Australia (future stories coming soon), to get my four minimum segments and I am set for another 12 months.

I know putting this mileage run into words might make this sound, no so exciting, but try taking a look at my photos of this mileage run and telling me it was not a fun time!

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent.

Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos