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Southwest and United Battle in Houston -and- Why Being an AvGeek Rocks

Two stories that I have come across this week that I really wanted to share:

Will Southwest Airlines be able to start flying international flights out of Houston? Image: John Murphy / Flickr

Will Southwest Airlines be able to start flying international flights out of Houston? Image: John Murphy / Flickr

Southwest and United Airlines Battle in Houston

The short of the story is that Southwest Airlines is looking to start flying internationally from William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). United, which has a main hub out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) does not like this idea and is fighting to stop Southwest.

Southwest is pushing back hard with their website FreeHobbyAirport.com. They are asking locals to join in on the fight to start allowing international flights from HOU. The site is a bit salesy stating that Southwest just wants to help the people of Houston, but I am sure profit is a factor in there as well.

I am a firm believer in competition. If there is the space and demand, let’s allow Southwest to fly internationally. It will only cause United and other airlines to step up their game.

Although, if I was United Airlines, I would probably also be trying to slow down Southwest’s progress.

Read more about this story on Brett Snyder’s CrankyFlier.com.

A group from Aviation Geek Fest pose in front of a 777 GE90 engine on the Boeing factory floor. Photo by Boeing.

A group from Aviation Geek Fest pose in front of a 777 GE90 engine on the Boeing factory floor. Photo by Boeing.

Be Proud to Be an AvGeek

Paul Thompson, who is an airline veteran and self-proclaimed AvGeek, recently wrote a story on APEX on his perspective on being an aviation lover and his experience with Aviation Geek Fest 2012.

One should not be embarrassed loving aviation and airlines. There are many of us out there and having events like Aviation Geek Fest allows us the opportunity to get together and share our passion. I had no idea how many AvGeeks were out there until I started this blog almost three years ago, but so happy to see so many that share my passion for airlines.

Southwest Airline’s Perspective on Aviation Geek Fest 2012

Not that long ago, we successfully concluded Aviation Geek Fest 2012. One of the participants was Rob Hahn, Team Leader, Customer Advocacy and Social Media with Southwest Airlines.  He recently shared his avgeek experience on the airline’s Nuts About Southwest Blog and I wanted to share — so head on over and check out Rob’s story.

We are already in talks about what #AGF13 will look like, so it should be bigger and better than this year!

A Successful Aviation Geek Fest 2012 – Photos

A group from Aviation Geek Fest pose in front of a 777 GE90 engine on the Boeing factory floor. Photo by Boeing.

A group from Aviation Geek Fest pose in front of a 777 GE90 engine on the Boeing factory floor. Photo by Boeing.

This weekend was the third Aviation Geek Fest and I think it was a success! We had people come from Denver, Calgary, Vancouver, Dallas and even New York City to share their passion for aviation. In all, about 70 people attended the event and were able to experience unique aviation activities.

The day started with a nice welcome by a Boeing 747 Dreamlifter taking off from Paine Field as some aviation geeks gathered to watch on the Future of Flight’s Strato Deck. Afterwards, folks had the opportunity to check out the Future of Flight’s gallery before we divided into four different tour groups: Boeing Factory Floor Tour, Boeing Dreamliner Gallery, Paine Field Fire Department Tour and How to Become an Airline Pilot with Regal Air.

The folks that took the fire department tour were given a ride in style.

The folks that took the fire department tour were given a ride in style.

Since I have been lucky enough to get a few factory floor tours and a view inside the Dreamliner Gallery, I decided to take the Paine Field’s Fire Department tour and was not disappointed.

I heard that the rest of the events went great and I am kind of hoping that some of you that were able to go on the other tours can leave your impressions in the comments.

Not only did we get to ride on a fire bus, but we also got to stop and take photos of airplanes.

Not only did we get to ride on a fire bus, but we also got to stop and take photos of airplanes.

I went on this tour not to write a story on the fire department (although I hope they welcome me back for one), but I was going as an aviation geek. This means I was able to fully enjoy myself, take photos, ask interesting questions, but did not having to worry about taking notes — like a true avgeek.

Although the actual fire station was very interesting, getting there was half the fun. We were picked up in a the fire department’s Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) bus and were followed by a fire truck. This was in case something were to happen at the airport, the fire personnel in the bus, could hop on the truck and take care of any situation.

The bus had everything that would be needed in an emergency and even a few old first class airline seats to rest on, if needed.

There are quite a few Boeing 787s and 747s still waiting to be delivered.

There are quite a few Boeing 787s and 747s still waiting to be delivered.

As we headed towards the fire department, on the other side of Paine Field, we stopped and were given some wonderful photo opportunities of the airport. It was nice to be able to see aircraft from angles I have never seen before, while being escorted by a fire truck. The kid in me was quite pleased.

Once we arrived at the fire station, it was time for our tour. The station is still rather new and has everything needed to take care of most incidents that might occur at Paine Field. The airport actually has two fire departments; the one we toured that is operated by Snohomish County and a second that is operated by Boeing. They work together to insure proper airport operations.

The Snohomish County’s main duty is to take care of the airport and private operators, while Boeing’s department is to watch after all the new 777, 767, 787 and 747-8 aircraft.

Planes and fire trucks -- what more could you want?

Planes and fire trucks -- what more could you want?

Although there were so many questions that one could ask about an airport fire operation, my big question was if I could turn on the fire truck lights — and I did. A life long dream was finally accomplished.

Seth Miller, who was also on the tour, put on all the fire gear that a person would need during an emergency situation. It make me hot just thinking about sporting all the gear while fighting a fire.

At the end of the tour, one of the fire rigs pulled outside and showed off its two water cannons on the front of the engine. The largest cannon on the roof is capable of pumping out around 1500 gallons of water per minute, which is sure to help put out most fires.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-8F sits next to Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-8F sits next to Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental.

As we headed back to the Future of Flight, we had some additional opportunities to plane spot and enjoy our drive around Paine Field. Although it is a bit sad to see so many aircraft waiting to be delivered, it provides photo opportunities that will soon no longer be possible.

After everyone returned from their separate tours, we received a presentation from a team of the Boeing Moonshine group who specialize in making production lines as efficient as possible. They are a MacGyver-like team that will build tools and equipment on the spot to help the productivity of  supply lines around the world. Their accomplishments has allowed Boeing and their suppliers to become more efficient and able to do more with the same or less space.

Teams of eight got a lesson in supply line management, while building souvenirs.

Teams of eight got a lesson in supply line management, while building souvenirs.

After their talk, we were taken to another room where the avgeeks gathered eight to a table and were given the task of building an unknown item in a short amount of time. At first it was not so clear what the items were, but after fiddling around, it started to become obvious that they were customized business card holders.

When they completed the first round, they had to take them all a part again, the Moonshine team gave them better instructions and explained that they wanted eight of them built in 1minute and 50 seconds. The first team, who celebrated their quickness, completed theirs in less than a minute. An impressive feat, but they did not end up winning the competition.

It was a lesson in how a supply chain successfully functions. You cannot be late, but you also cannot be too early. It is about delivering your product right on time and the team that was closest to the delivery schedule of 1min and 50 seconds became the actual winner.

Members of the Boeing Moonshine team give a presentation to the aviation geek fest.

Members of the Boeing Moonshine team give a presentation to the aviation geek fest.

Once our supply chain tasks were completed, it was time to head to the Future of Flight Cafe to enjoy pizza, soda and beer while handing out prizes that were donated by United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and the Future of Flight. Luckily there were enough that everyone received at least one thing, but I was so into the socializing and talking about airplanes that I managed not to take one photo of this part of the event — oh well.

I think overall, it was an amazing event and I always love getting around others that share my passion of aviation and airlines. A huge thanks to the Future of Flight and Boeing for working to make this event unforgettable and to United for donating gifts and for Southwest to not only donating gifts, but also having one of their bloggers attend.

You better believe there will be another in the future and I hope that you will be able to join us.

OTHER PHOTOS OF AVIATION GEEK FEST:
Rest of my photos of #AGF12
Seth Miller – aka Wandering Aramean
Kevin Frysinger – aka @TxAgFlyer
If you attended and have photos you are willing to share, either leave a link in the comments or email them to me – david@airlinereporter.com

Join Us at Aviation Geek Fest 2012 — Some Tickets Still Available (updated)

The time is getting near. On Sunday February 19, 2012, the Future of Flight, Boeing and AirlineReporter.com will host the third Aviation Geek Fest (#AGF12) at Paine Field. What is Aviation Geek Fest? It is a chance for aviation lovers to come together in Seattle and share their passion and get to do a few cool things. Aviation Geek Fest in 2009 and 2010 were great successes and this one will be better than ever!

Tickets are on sale NOW get yours before they are gone!  Check out the full schedule below. Anyone from around the world is welcome to join us. This experience and the memories from it will be well worth a plane ticket and a hotel.

The Aviation Geek Fest 2010 peeps pose in front of a GE90 engine on a Boeing 777. Photo from Boeing.

The Aviation Geek Fest 2010 peeps pose in front of a GE90 engine on a Boeing 777. Photo from Boeing.

Tentative (as in 99% chance everything will happen as below) Schedule for Aviation Geek Fest 2012:

8:00am: Free Aviation Photography Class @ the Future of Flight
The Pacific Northwest Aviation Photographers abbreviated Basic Aviation Photography Class will cover the essential basics of judging images, selecting equipment, understanding what settings to use and why, and other specialized topics such as RAW versus JPEG and placing yourself for optimal light. The class is designed to bring everyone up to a basic level of understanding about aviation photography.

ELITE TICKETS ($20.00) REQUIRED FOR THESE TWO OPTIONS:

12:30pm: ELITE Meet and Greet
Check in at the Future of Flight and meet the other aviation geeks participating at #AGF12. Share stories, meet people that write on airlines, work for airlines and those who are just fans.

2:00pm: ELITE Adventure Ticket
Guests will pre-register for one of a several aviation adventures:
* Boeing factory floor tour [SOLD OUT]: The Boeing factory is open to the public, but #AGF12 participants will get VIP treatment with a tour on the actual floor. Note: no cameras will be allowed on this event.
* Dreamliner Gallery Tour [SOLD OUT]: Every airline that buys a 787 Dreamliner goes through this gallery to pick and choose what they want inside their aircraft. This facility is not generally open to the public.
* Paine Field Fire Department Tour [TICKETS AVAILABLE]: Getting there will be half the fun. Take a van from the Future of Flight, along the Paine Field flight line (with all the new Boeing aircraft), take photos as you go and then take a tour of the airport’s fire station with Chief Jeff Bohnet.
* Learn How to be an Airline Pilot [TICKETS AVAILABLE]: Just like the Fire Department tour, you will take a ride across the airport and be transported by all the new Boeing planes and after you arrive, you will learn what it would take to become an airline pilot by the professionals at Regal Air.

GENERAL TICKETS ($10.00 – these events are included if you purchase ELITE tickets):

3:30pm: Boeing Moonshine Presentation and Demonstration @ the Future of Flight
Who is the Moonshine Lab? They are a part of Boeing’s Lean Supplier Management Operations. Aviation Geek Fest participants will learn how the Moonshine Lab experts work inside the factory and around the world to streamline processes to save time and money. They are both innovative and scrappy often times making their own tools to get a job done. #AGF12 attendees will have an opportunity to experience a supply chain exercise themselves and even come away with a souvenir.

5:00pm: Aviation Geek Fest Social @ the Future of Flight
Food and drink will be served while you can tour the Future of Flight, get to know folks, take photos in the cockpit of a Boeing 727 and more. Awesome prizes will also be awarded to participants.

There will be a few other surprises added in as well. Stay tuned and make sure to sign up for the Aviation Geek Fest 2012 mailing list for all the latest details.

This was originally posted 2/12/2012 2pm and was last updated 2/15/2012 3:30pm

More Information on Aviation Geek Fest 2012 – February 19, 2012

The Future of Flight, Boeing and AirlineReporter.com are continuing to move forward with Aviation Geek Fest 2012 (#AGF12) and are ready to share a rough draft schedule of events for the day. Times can change — well really anything can change, so this is the basic idea that we are working with right now.

There will be two kind of tickets: ELITE for $20 and regular for $10. The money will be used for the event: food, drinks, prizes and possibly transportation. ELITE will get you to the entire event, including the uber aviation geek experiences during the Select-a-Quest option. Everything will be first come, first serve and when we allow folks to purchase tickets, you can choose when adventure you would like to go on.

We are unsure when we will open registration, but you will have at least a 48 hour warning and everyone will need to register and reserve their spot in the event. Be sure to join the #AGF12 mailing list to make sure you do not miss out. Here is the draft schedule:

Click to design your own Boeing 787 Dreamliner -- probably can do much better than this.

AVIATION GEEK FEST 2012 ROUGH DRAFT SCHEDULE – February 19, 2012

During The Weekend: Self-Guided Aviation Goodness
We will give some options that people can participate in on their own either before or after #AGF12.

Around 12:30pm: ELITE Meet and Greet
Check in at the Future of Flight and meet the other aviation geeks participating at #AGF12.

Around 2pm: ELITE Select-a-Quest
Guests will pre-register for one of a few aviation adventures. We know for sure a group of
people will be able to get a Boeing factory floor tour and another group will be able to visit the
Dreamliner Gallery. We are currently still working on other options.

Around 3:30pm: Special Speaker
A larger group of people are welcome to come hear a special aviation-themed speaker. More
details coming soon.

Around 5:00pm: Aviation Geek Fest Social
Food and drink will be served while you can tour the Future of Flight, get to know folks, take
photos in the cockpit of a Boeing 727 and more.

There will be a few other surprises added in as well. Stay tuned and make sure to sign up for the Aviation Geek Fest 2012 mailing list for all the latest details.