T4-TBIT connector at LAX: Overlooking the ramp between TBIT and T4 at LAX.

T4-TBIT connector at LAX: Overlooking the ramp between TBIT and T4 at LAX

A couple of weeks ago, I was one of the first to report on the opening of the new Connector facility between Terminal 4 (T4) and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). While this is exciting news in my world, I will admit that sometimes I forget that not everyone is a frequent-flying fanatic or even an #AvGeek. So here I am, to make the case to the everyday person on the street on just why the new T4 Connector is so monumental to the improvement to the passenger experience at LAX.

A bit overly dramatic? You be the judge…

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The flight deck of N321GG, Gogo’s 737 testbed – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

I’m still grinning from ear to ear. Sitting in the flight deck of a jet during landing is pretty much THE AvGeek holy grail. It’s hard to do – FAA Part 121 regulations, which nearly all airlines operate under, prohibit non-crewmembers on the flight deck during flight. But every so often, you can find a plane that operates under different rules. As it turns out, our friends over at Gogo operate a 737 test bed which just so happens to fall under those rules.

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Entering N321GG from door 1L – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter

About a month ago, AirlineReporter and Gogo teamed up to hold a huge contest for a few of our readers to win a flight on Gogo’s 737, N321GG, from Chicago to Austin, where the annual South by Southwest (SxSW) festival would be going down. I’m sure more than a few of you reading this story were disappointed not to get the ‘congratulations, you’ve won’ email. After receiving more than 10,000 entries, we randomly selected two winners. Our first winner, Meghan, is a flight attendant for a major US airline and a major AvGeek to boot. Our second winner, Shams, is a San Francisco-based tech consultant, and is looking forward to attend his first Aviation Geek Fest this April in Seattle. 

The former American Airlines B727-223, N874AA, at Boeing Field in Seattle, now owned by the National Airline History Museum, Kansas City, Mo.

The former American Airlines B727-223, N874AA, at Boeing Field in Seattle, now owned by the National Airline History Museum, Kansas City, Mo.

In early 2015, in preparation for the construction of its giant new Aviation Pavilion, Seattle’s Museum of Flight moved its Boeing 727 (formerly American Airlines N874AA) from the parking lot on the west side of East Marginal Way where it had been displayed along with other large aircraft. Instead of being towed to the museum’s air park with the other planes, it was towed all the way across King County International Airport (also known as Boeing Field) to a parking stall. Rumors swirled that it was headed for a new home, an unnamed museum in the Midwest.

And there it sat, and sat. And sat.

NAHM Executive Director John Roper in the cockpit of the B727 his museum recently acquired from Seattle's Museum of Flight.

NAHM Executive Director John Roper in the cockpit of the B727 his museum recently acquired from Seattle’s Museum of Flight

On March 3, the mystery was solved when John Roper, the executive director/board member of the National Airline History Museum (NAHM) in Kansas City, Mo., signed the transfer paperwork alongside Museum of Flight CEO Doug King and COO Laurie Haag, officially transferring ownership of the aircraft to the Midwestern museum.

The elderly 727 now has a dedicated Facebook page, and, as of this week, the electrical systems were in the process of being activated and checked in preparation for the aircraft being flown to its new home. Roper said that, as long as the engines are sound, his goal is to get the plane to its new home in Kansas City by May 1.

Supermarine Spitfire at SOU - Photo: Bo Long | Airlinereporter

Supermarine Spitfire at SOU – Photo: Bo Long | Airlinereporter

On Saturday morning, March 5, 2016, Southampton Airport (SOU) welcomed the Spitfire back to its spiritual home in celebration of its 80th birthday. I was both delighted and privileged that the airport’s Managing Director, Dave Lees, invited me to join a small gathering of press and other aviation enthusiasts at the Signature Aviation Hangar to bear witness to the event.  The festivities were to include a ceremonial roll-out and solo flight of the iconic WWII fighter in honor of the first test flight of its prototype, eighty years prior. The event would also include a flyover of the nearby resting place of its Chief Designer, RJ Mitchell, who fought against terminal illness to complete the aircraft.

By P.H.F. Tovey, Royal Air Force official photographer - This is photograph CH 1890 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5838617

Spit fire – Photo: P.H.F. Tovey, Royal Air Force official photographer | Government Public Domain

Armed with my photographer son, we drove down the M3, through unusual arctic-like conditions to get to SOU. It was freezing and cloudy — two conditions that did not bode particularly well for a celebratory flight. Now, you need to remember that whereas most people accept the weather for what it is, in Britain, meteorological conditions are the starting point for virtually any conversation between strangers – ’tis the basis of an entire culture.