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Miles flown for stories
2014: 228,152
2013: 330,818

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Video: Airbus A380′s at Los Angeles International Airport

The Airbus A380 is one impressive beast. Even if you might not find her to be the most beautiful aircraft built, her beauty is in her ride. It is amazing to watch one fly over, while just a few feet above head.

SpeedbirdHD posted this video showing Airbus A380s from Qantas, Korean Air, and Singapore Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

How a Car Guy Fell in Love with Aviation?

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner and a 2012 McLaren MP4-12C at Paine Field. Photo from Road and Track.

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner and a 2012 McLaren MP4-12C at Paine Field. Photo from Road & Track Magazine.

This story was written for AirlineReporter.com by Travis Griffith, who blogs for CarGurus.com, Enjoy… David.

How does a car guy fall in love with aviation? Perhaps it’s actually the other way around. Maybe I’ve always been an aviation guy, briefly grounded by the allure of the automobile.

Allow me to explain.

For the first six or seven years of my life, my lone obsession came in the form of Superman. I wore the outfit three Halloweens in a row. I remember leaping off the couch in the blue costume so my red cape would flutter, ever so briefly, as my feet touched neither couch nor floor. In those moments, I flew, just like the Superman I’d see in the movies.

Looking back, I realize my interest in Superman was actually a budding interest in flight. Superman embodied the freedom to travel wherever and whenever, unbound my human limitations. I wanted that.

At about seven years old, on a trip to the Oregon coast, my parents surprised me with a trip in a seaplane. I vividly remember the feeling of walking toward that plane as it gently rocked in the waves. I remember climbing through the door and being greeted by the cockpit and its array of buttons and gauges. My heart leapt when I received instruction to sit in the empty seat next to the pilot.

“You’ll be my co-pilot today, okay?”

I’ll never forget those words.

The plane took off and I saw the world beneath me shrink as the sky grew. I virtually climbed the windows trying to see everything outside, but kept getting drawn back in by the pilot’s motions on the equipment inside the plane.

“Would you like to fly it?” he asked me.

I don’t even remember how I responded but before I knew it I held the yoke in my small hands and the pilot held his hands in the air.

“You’re flying an airplane,” he said.

It became one of those childhood moments that defined me as an adult.

Flying and airplanes were the focus of the rest of my childhood. I remember meeting captains on board 737s on family vacations and I remember going to the airport and sitting in the terminal as a teenager just to see the planes take off and land (back when that was allowed). As an early adult I bought a flight simulator and all the accessories and practiced landing a Cessna at O’Hare. I even took another trip to Oregon to fly in a seaplane, where I again took the front seat and relived that defining childhood moment.

As tends to happen in life, I grew up, went to college and got regular jobs. I became a writer. The adult me became fascinated with cars and car culture, and I’ve spent a good portion of the last five years blogging about cars and the car industry. I still love it.

But I haven’t forgotten about airplanes and never stopped following the industry.

It doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to wonder why other car-loving people would fall in love with aviation, too. Check out that picture on top of this story. The one with four wheels is a McLaren MP4-12C, a $240,000 supercar capable of 205 miles per hour and a 0-60 mph time of 3 seconds. That’s as close to flight as any car will ever get (well, unless you count the Terrafugia Transition, but that’s another topic for another time.)

A passion for aviation, though, can take over when at 200 mph you find yourself wishing for just one thing:

Liftoff.

Delivering Qatar Airway’s First Boeing 787 Dreamliner – PART 1

Qatar's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at BFI. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Qatar’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at BFI. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

This multi-part series was written by AirlineReporter.com correspondent Mal Muir (note: Qatar Airways paid for Mal’s trip to Doha).

On Monday the 12th of November 2012, Qatar Airways took delivery of their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at a special ceremony at Boeing Field (BFI) in Seattle.  Held in the 3-390 Hangar at Boeing Field the event was an extravagant ceremony for an airline that has one of the youngest and most technically advanced fleets in the world.

The event began with a mystery arrival into the hangar where an Arabian style oasis could be found as guests mingled and waited for the main event.  A press conference was held at the ceremony by not only Boeing and Qatar Airways but also the Ambassador to Qatar.

The decorations in Seattle for the delivery ceremony.

The decorations in Seattle for the delivery ceremony. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Mr. Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways, heralded this momentous event while being bombarded by questions from the global media including Flightglobal, Aviation Week, USA Today, Al Jazeera, and also the local news media as well such as King 5 News Seattle (and of course a select few web bloggers).  With financial delivery having being made a week or so earlier (as evidenced by flight QR999 from Everett to Victorville to continue its fit out) rather than the usual signing of paperwork a short gift swapping ceremony was completed to signify the handover of the aircraft.

With the press conference completed a short Promotion Video put together by Qatar Airways to show off their 787 was shown before the big moment. A white sheet was lowered and there standing proud behind it was A7-BCB, the first Qatar Airways 787.  After a quick ribbon cutting ceremony by the dignitaries, we were invited on-board and it was like a being a kid in a candy store.

The economy class of Qatar's Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The economy class of Qatar’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Everyone swarmed the aircraft, trying out the seats, seeing the larger windows evident on all 787 aircraft and anticipating the first flight the next day.  The 787 configured for a longer haul routes was a sight to behold.  Cutting edge In-Flight Entertainment (IFE), new tailor made and designed seats by Recaro and the latest in Wi-Fi connectivity by OnAir, the shiny new airplane just screamed out to everyone.

With thousands of photos taken of both the interior, exterior, candid shots, poses by media, special guests, staff who built the aircraft, we were all back on the buses for the delivery dinner.  Heading away from Boeing Field (soon to return though) and heading for Seattle Center and Chihuly Gardens.

The delivery dinner was held at the Chihuly Garden and Glass in the shadow of the Space Needle. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

The delivery dinner was held at the Chihuly Garden and Glass in the shadow of the Space Needle. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

The dinner was a relaxed, fine evening with a menu that was focused on local, seasonal produce, plenty of fine wine and drinks and some relaxing and mingling by the guests.  This was the culmination of so much hard work and effort by so many people who worked tirelessly to get to this day that they were all in the mood to celebrate and honor as well some of those who made huge efforts into getting this aircraft to this point.

The night drew to a close with many tired heads as we were bussed back to respective hotels. The journey was only just beginning for me, but for some, tomorrow would show the end of a journey that had begun five years earlier when Qatar Airways signed the contract for their first of 60 787s.

Stay tuned for the rest of Malcolm’s adventure as he flies in Business Class on Qatar Airway’s first 787 Dreamliner to Doha.

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

Flying a Kenmore Air Seaplane to the San Juans

AirlineReporter.com correspondant Colin Cook prepares for his Kenmore Air seaplane ride. Image by Colin Cook.

AirlineReporter.com correspondent Colin Cook prepares for his Kenmore Air seaplane ride in a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver. Image by Colin Cook.

This story was written by AirlineReporter.com correspondent Colin Cook:

A few months back, Kenmore Air announced via their Facebook page a competition to select a destination in the San Juan Islands for a special fare. The contest allowed fans of their page to vote on whether to offer the special $69 fare to Orcas Island, San Juan Island, or Lopez Island. Having never been to any of the islands personally, I was quite interested. At the end of the week, they announced Orcas Island as the winner and I quickly began planning my trip. Having flown Kenmore previously, I know that flying with them is just such a treat (note: Colin paid for his own trip out of pocket).

One of the benefits of flying Kenmore Air -- you can sit in the co-pilot seat. Image by Colin Cook.

One of the benefits of flying Kenmore Air — you can sit in the co-pilot seat. Image by Colin Cook.

When traveling through traditional airlines, we all know the hassle the airport and the TSA regulations can be. Well with Kenmore, you don’t have to deal with any of that. The only caveat being, there is a 25 pound weight limit on luggage to ensure the plane can lift off the water, so one needs to pack on the lighter side. I showed up about 30 minutes before my flight and it couldn’t have been easier. No security. No long lines. They even allow regular size liquid containers. It is such an enjoyable contrast to the type of travel I’m used to.

Depart: Kenmore Air Harbor (KEH) to Rosario Resort (RSJ)
via stops at Lake Union (LKE) and Friday Harbor (FBS)
Equipment: de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver
Date: Friday 9/28/12; Depart 3pm, arrive 4:45pm (15 mins late)

You can't get views of Seattle like this on just any airline. Image by Colin Cook.

You can’t get views of Seattle like this on just any airline. Image by Colin Cook.

On my journey to Rosario, I got the unique pleasure of stopping at Lake Union to pick up some additional passengers. Typically, it would be a drag to have to make multiple stops en route to our destination, but that is not the case on a sea plane. Not to mention, that it was so cool to get to take off and land multiple times along the way. It was awesome to see the downtown Seattle skyline as I approached and landed to the south on Lake Union. After picking up the other passengers, we all continued our journey north to the San Juan’s.

BONUS VIDEO: Landing in Lake Union in a Kenmore Air Seaplane

The flight from Lake Union to Rosario was roughly 40 minutes. I was extremely lucky in that I was able to ride up front next to the pilot, which provided for great views (not only of the scenery, but also the controls of the plane). The Beaver traveled roughly 100-120 MPH ground speed, cruising at 1500 feet for most of the journey. While our pilot looked quite young, you could tell he was experienced as our take-offs and landings were as smooth as water (pardon the pun).

City views are pretty nice, but San Juan Island views are even better. Image by Colin Cook.

City views are pretty nice, but San Juan Island views are even better. Image by Colin Cook.

For anyone that’s been up to the San Juans, I don’t have to tell you how amazing it is up there. To say that it’s gorgeous is an absolute understatement. The panoramic views of the water with shimmering reflections of the sun, stately green trees, and multiple islands of various sizes are spectacular. We arrived at Friday Harbor to drop off a few passengers and then continued our short remaining journey to Rosario. Once we arrived, we checked into the resort and took a moment to learn about some of the history.

Part of the Rosario resort taken from the seaplane. Image by Colin Cook.

Part of the Rosario resort taken from the seaplane. Image by Colin Cook.

One thing I would definitely recommend to anyone staying at Rosario Resort is the Saturday afternoon session with the assistant manager, Christopher Peacock. During that event, Peacock plays the pipe organ and piano while showing some historic photos and telling guests about the history of the resort. The resort was the one time home of Robert Moran who made his fortune as a shipbuilder in Seattle, in addition to serving as Mayor of Seattle from 1888-1890.Mr. Moran retired at Rosario when he was given two years to live due to a heart condition.

The house was constructed with the same meticulous attention to detail as the ship building, and the stained glass window & chandelier are beautiful period accents. He moved there in 1905 and lived there for the majority of his life before passing away in 1943. Apparently getting out of the city life and away from work-related stress really does wonders for the human soul.

While visiting the island, I was able to check out some other areas as well, but using a rental car service. I drove through Moran State Park and went up to the observation tower on top of Mount Constitution. The view from the summit was quite impressive as you could see Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Victoria, and Vancouver in the distance. The panoramic views were definitely worth the drive up and cost of the rental.

After the drive, it was time to leave and the float plane was there waiting for my journey back home.

And lift off. Kenmore Air seaplane takes off from the water. Image by Colin Cook.

And lift off. Kenmore Air de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver seaplane takes off from the water. Image by Colin Cook.

Depart: Rosario Resort (RSJ) to Kenmore Air Harbor (KEH)
via stops at Friday Harbor (FBS) and Lake Union (LKE)
Equipment: de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver
Date: Sunday 9/30/12; Depart 4:30pm, arrive 5:50pm (10 mins early)

During the return trip, the weather was absolutely phenomenal. Very sunny and the visibility was quite good. It was interesting for me to use my iPhone to see exactly where we were traveling as we flew. As long as it is okay with the pilot, passengers are allowed to use any electronic device and since we were flying low, I had signal over populated islands. (If using my phone on a small plane like a Beaver doesn’t impact the instruments, how would using it on a large jet impact things? Just asking).

Flying over Gasworks park in Seattle. Image by Colin Cook.

Flying over Gasworks park in Seattle. Image by Colin Cook.

The return journey went quite quickly and we stopped both at Friday Harbor and Lake Union again. This time on approach to Lake Union, we flew over downtown Seattle and landed to the north, which was pretty sweet. It is a unique experience to fly over buildings that I recognized only from the ground. w

Soon after, we were back in Kenmore and my trip was over. It was an awesome trip and I’m glad I got to see Orcas Island and flying on a Kenmore Air seaplane.  If you live in the Seattle area and haven’t experienced it or plan to make a trip in the future, I would highly recommend making this trip!

ADDITIONAL KENMORE AIR TRIP PHOTOS:

My Review: Taking a LAN 767 From Santiago to Lima to LAX

LAN's Boeing 767 sits at Santiago.

LAN’s Boeing 767 sits at Santiago.

LAN AIRLINES PREMIUM BUSINESS CLASS REVIEW BASICS:

Airline: LAN Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER
Departed:  Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL)
Arrived: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Stops: Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM)
Class: Premium Business Class
Seat: 4L (right window), missing one window
Length: 13.5 hours

Cheers: A long flight made easy with LAN’s product.
Jeers: Lima is on my naughty list… first impressions count.
Bottom Line: A great product, but it is hard to fly on a Boeing 767 after flying on a 787.

My home for 12.5 hours - the other hour was spent in the Lima airport.

My home for 12.5 hours – the other hour was spent in the Lima airport. Too bad I was missing a window.

LAN AIRLINES PREMIUM BUSINESS CLASS FULL REVIEW:

I was excited to compare LAN’s Business Class configuration during my flight from Santiago back home to Seattle.  Only a few days earlier, I had flown down on LAN’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner non-stop from Everett, WA. It was an impressive flight, and I was awestruck by the new 787’s atmosphere. I was looking forward to checking out LAN’s older product on the flight back home, to see how it measured up. (note: LAN paid for my trip to Santiago and flight back home to cover their 787 delivery).

A Boeing 767-300ER would carry me from Santiago to Lima, and on to LAX.  (I had to catch an Alaska Airlines flight back home to Seattle). My schedule had me reach SCL about five hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. No problem — my premium ticket gave me access to the LAN lounge which includes complimentary food, beverages, and even shower facilities.

The time flew right on by (pun intended), and soon it was time to board the aircraft. I knew the product on the 767 was not going to be as new or modern as the 787, but I was quite delighted with what I found. The Premium Business Class is in a 2-2-2 layout, and I went for a window seat. I ended up with a vacant seat next to me – I felt like I had almost unlimited space, a sensation unheard of in current-day air travel.

While everyone settled in, flight attendants came around asking if I wanted anything to drink, which is pretty standard. The lead flight attendant also went around to each customer, introduced himself, and shook everyone’s hand. This was new which I’d never seen before and I was quite impressed.

I’d never before seen Lima, so I decided to stay awake during the first leg, holding sleep off until the second leg into LAX. I didn’t think it would be easy since I was pretty tired , but I had more than enough to keep me entertained.

The food was fresh, colorful, tasty and filling on my LAN flight.

The food was fresh, colorful, tasty and filling on my LAN flight.

The in-flight entertainment system was a bit slow and cumbersome, but it did what it needed to do – it kept me entertained. The controller lived on the side of the seat, which meant I would accidentally hit it with my leg and stop my movie a few times. I’ve experienced this with other airlines, but here I could at least get the movie to easily resume where I left it. Other comparable systems from this era required me to fast forward. I solved the issue by simply pulling out the remote and letting it dangle so I wouldn’t hit it (keep it classy people).

Initially I was pretty excited about idea of stopping in Lima. I’d never been there and figured it would be a unique FourSquare check-in. I imagined we would land and those stopping at Lima would depart while those of us going to LAX would stay on. Sigh… no, it cannot be that easy.

We were told that we would have to de-plane and re-board. Okay, sure… it is 2:00am Chilean time and midnight in Lima, but I can play this game. The problem was, we didn’t just de-plane and wait at the gate area. We had to go through customs and be re-scanned – sweet.

I suggest using the pre-set buttons. I had a hard time manually getting the seat to do what I wanted it to.

I suggest using the pre-set buttons. I had a hard time manually getting the seat to do what I wanted it to.

Yeah, I am used to the process. Ask me why am I was in Chile and how long I was there. Now take out my laptop and put my bag in the scanner. The security person saw something in my bag they didn’t like and wanted to do a hand search. Sure, go ahead.

As they started going through my bag, I had difficulty getting through the metal detector. I am not a travel newbie and knew I had no metal on me, but it kept going off. After a nice little pat down, it turns out that my chip in my Passport was setting it off. They apparently have those detectors turned all the way up.

Back to my bag. The agent searches through and takes out my cork screw, while giving me a dirty look and shaking their head like it was a big knife or something. Okay, fine, take my cork screw that I have flown around the world with me.

I was a bit annoyed with the Lima security, but figured it was all over when I got to the gate. Guess what? Before we could re-board, all of our bags were hand-searched again. This time they took my nail clippers…really? Again, I have flown all over the world with nail clippers, but sure, at this point I just wanted to get back on the plane.

It takes quite a bit to get me annoyed when dealing with airlines or airports, but this did it. And when I am annoyed, it means that your standard passengers are super annoyed and upset — and oh boy were they.

Many left the plane in good spirits, but those returning were not happy. Not a great first impression Lima, might want to think about having a little better customer service, because I am in no hurry to visit again.

LAN's 767 In-Flight Entertainment product is not as slick as the 787's, but not too shabby compared to other airlines.

LAN’s 767 In-Flight Entertainment product is not as slick as the 787′s, but not too shabby compared to other airlines.

This experience was not LAN’s fault; they have no control over what happens when they land at Lima. “When we have a stop-over in Lima, the government dictates whether or not our passengers are going to have to deplane and go through customs, or just deplane and then get back on the same plane for departure,” LAN spokesperson Megan Kat Williams told AirlineReporter.com. “We realize that this can be a huge inconvenience for our passengers, but we usually do not have much notice as to what they are going to require us to do.”

I was happy to get back on the plane. I was planning to get some rest, but was almost done with a movie that I wanted to finish while we took off. Argh! Even though I had the same seat, the system must had been re-started, because I had to fast forward. Normally not a big deal, but I was pretty grumpy after my experience with Lima.

After takeoff, I finished my movie and it was time for sleep. The seats fold flat and do their job well. I slept for six hours but, I have to admit, it wasn’t super comfy. If LAN would let passengers have a padded cover to put on top of the seat before going to sleep, it would make a huge improvement.

I think that LAN provides a great business class product on their Boeing 767 and upgrading to the 787 is only better. I only wish there was no need to make a stop in Lima.

ADDITIONAL LAN 767 PHOTOS: