The C-130H is on its sunset tour on active duty, but it will always provide a unique travel experience – Photo: David Lynn

I know many of you are used to reading fancy business class reviews on the newest aircraft with well-known airlines all over the world.  While those are all well and good (feel free to send me anytime) I felt it was important to share the experience of an aircraft that has carried millions of people all over the world for more than 40 years.

This aircraft caters to an elite type of passenger that is so special you can’t even buy your way on.  No, you have to work long and hard, and give up a lot, to get a seat on this amazing plane.  You can’t find this type of service on any other airline in the world.  If you want to talk about accommodations?  Let’s just say I guarantee you won’t find this type of comfort anywhere else.

This trip was scheduled to take place from Tokyo, Japan to Mansfield, Ohio, and if that seems like a strange city pair, you would be right.  But, being an AvGeek is all about special planes and special events.  In this case, the special plane was a C-130H Hercules, and the special event was its last flight in the active duty Air Force before being delivered to the National Guard.

That’s right, after 43 years of service all over the world, this beauty was moving on to a new life back in the United States, where it will continue to serve in new ways.  As you will see below, a 43-year-old airplane provides for a very unique and memorable experience.

Firefighters from the Port of Seattle remove a simulated casualty during the airport's recent triennial disaster drill.

Firefighters from the Port of Seattle transport a simulated casualty during the airport’s recent triennial disaster drill

The FAA requires airports to conduct a comprehensive disaster drill every three years. On July 12, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) did its thing, and it was quite a sight.

Volunteer "victims" hung out in a comfortable hangar, waiting for the drill to begin.

Volunteer “victims” hung out in a comfortable hangar, waiting for the drill to begin

Volunteer victims included employees of the airport, several airlines, airfield support companies, the FAA, and the TSA. They received elaborate makeup at a remote hangar in order to maximize the realism of the drill.

An old Boeing 757 fuselage mock-up, trucked in from Moses Lake, Wash., was placed between runways for the drill.

An old Boeing 757 fuselage mock-up, trucked in from Moses Lake, Wash., was placed between runways for the drill

Unlike the past two events I’ve covered, which were held on a runway that needed to be closed for an entire morning, this drill was held in a small valley between runway 34L and 34C, allowing most airport operations to run normally.

A new wooden staircase made the old fuselage section a bit easier to access.

A new wooden staircase made the old fuselage section a bit easier to access

Safety outweighs absolute realism, so a staircase was constructed to allow access to the fuselage to avoid any real injuries during the exercise.

Several "victims" were coached to drag their luggage with them, while others were asked to hang around the fuselage taking selfies to provide rescuers the opportunity to work around a couple of trending hazards.

Several “victims” were coached to drag their luggage with them, while others were asked to hang around the fuselage taking selfies to provide rescuers the opportunity to work around a couple of trending hazards.

The volunteer victims were instructed to provide realistic issues for rescuers to confront, ranging from dazed people dragging their luggage aimlessly around the scene, people with various injuries (or no injuries) slowing things down by trying to take selfies, people yelling and screaming, walking wounded, and more.

BONUS: My Day as a [Mock] Airline Accident Victim!

The exercise's faux victims didn't lack for realistic-looking trauma.

The exercise’s faux victims didn’t lack for realistic-looking trauma

 

An up-close look at a responding airport fire truck.

An up-close look at a responding airport fire truck

There was no shortage of equipment – more than 50 rescue vehicles turned up: airport fire trucks, ladder trucks, hazmat vehicles, police cars, ambulances, and more.

A right proper mess, that.

A right proper mess, that

 

There were plenty of rescuers, and plenty of faux victims for them to attend to

Dozens of police and fire agencies from across the region participated in the exercise, drawing an estimated 175 firefighters.

Even though they used a partial 757 fuselage, the exercise was designed to simulate the crash of a 737-sized aircraft with 150 passengers.

Training is an essential component of properly-functioning emergency services – it’s always comforting to see how well prepared these agencies are for a real disaster scenario.

Neon vests required for Aviation Geek Fest 2016 – Photo: Future of Flight/ Boeing

IT’S HAPPENING! Aviation Geek Fest 2017, is a go! There was a lot up in the air (heh), so things were kept a bit hush-hush, until we knew we could announce something. Here is the announcement coming from the Institute of Flight:

The international Aviation Geek Fest 2017, the most important event for commercial aviation fans from around world, is set for September 29, 30 and October 1 at the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour at Paine Field, Mukilteo. The annual confab brings the top AvGeeks for three days of intense networking, VIP tours, special speakers, drone flights and more. Presented by the Institute of Flight with sponsorship and support from Airlinereporter.com. Details are being finalized. Preregistration will open in August.

I know. That doesn’t give you much time to plan and you have lots of questions. Things are going to be moving fast, so hold on to your AvGeek boots. Be sure you have joined our e-mail list — folks on that list get all the juicy details as they go live. Also be sure to check back on our page AirlineReporter.com/AGF.

WHAT IS AVIATION GEEK FEST?

Aviation Geek Fest is an opportunity for fans of flight to get together and experience some awesome behind-the-scenes aspects of airlines, airports, and aviation. Much of it — is not open to the general public. The event can be as small as 10; the largest we have had so far is about 350.

The last event was held in Seattle in April of 2016, and 250 tickets sold out almost instantly. The demand is high for people who are interested in aviation to have a unique, special, and fun experience.

Previous events have done VIP tours, including the Boeing wide-body factory floor, the 737 factory, Dreamliner gallery, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Alaska Airlines maintenance, and much more!
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Last month, I wrote about the amazing time I had flying seat 1A on a United 747. I mostly focused on the 747 and the awesome view from my seat, which may have left some of you wondering about my experience with United’s so-called “Polaris Global First.” It’s a cabin class that won’t exist for much longer, as United is phasing out long-haul first class as part of its long-awaited Polaris rollout.

Well I’m back with an in-depth review of the Polaris Global First seat, service, food, features, and more. Did the experience leave me delighted or disappointed? Should you be rushing to try Polaris Global First out before it’s gone for good? Read on to find out.