Our Boeing 757 from Philly to San Juan
I do not have kids. I am an only child. I have a very small family where I haven’t really been around a lot of kids. By no means do I dislike strangers’ kids, but I am also not one to go out of my way to interact with them. But I do have to say that I love my friend’s kids. But how much?
I was recently invited to head down to San Juan, Puerto Rico from Seattle (with a short layover in Philly) with one of my best friends and his family: his amazing wife, three kids (ranging from 4-11), and his mother. Most of my traveling is done solo or in a small group of adults. How would flying with kids go?
I have seen others do it, I have even read a few stories on it, but I figured that the hands-on experience would be a bit different. I ended up with quite a few (good and bad) surprises.
The Snowball Express folks lined up on the tarmac in Atlanta with some familiar faces – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz
The sun had yet to rise over the control tower at New York’s JFK Airport on the cold December morning, but the party at Terminal 8 was already well underway. This was no ordinary day at JFK. For the ninth consecutive year, American Airlines was beginning a long day of charter flights, celebration, and remembrance with the Snowball Express program.
Since 2006, Snowball Express has partnered with American Airlines to provide a weekend of fun for families that have lost a family member in active military duty since September 11, 2001. American Airlines provides the flights from around the country free of charge for all families, and the scope of the operation is absolutely massive.
The New York passengers of Snowball Express pre-flight at the Christmas tree in American’s terminal – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz
Throughout the day, flights operate from their origins and converge on Dallas while picking up additional passengers at 62 cities. This year, American utilized ten aircraft to support Snowball Express flights, ranging from regional jets to Boeing 757s and Airbus A321s. In total, over 150 American Airlines pilots and flight attendants donated their time to the charter flights. The Snowball Express operation is larger than that of some entire airlines.
The Snowball flight out of New York, operated by a Boeing 737-800, made two stops along the way to Dallas – Norfolk, Virginia, and Atlanta, Georgia. Before departing JFK, the day kicked off with an upbeat party adjacent to the Admirals Club, complete with DJ, photo booth, and emotional support dogs dressed up like Santa. Before long, it was time to depart for Norfolk, but not before a touching send off from the NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority Police Department, TSA, and JFK employees. Once on board, however, the real fun began.
American Airlines’ first Boeing 787-8 being towed at Paine Field – Photo: American Airlines
American Airlines’ first Boeing 787 came out of paint last night giving us a first glimpse at the Dreamliner in AA’s new livery.
When the airline takes delivery, by the end of the year, they will become the second US-based airline to operate the Dreamliner, after United. American has 16 787-8s and 26 of the larger 787-9 Dreamliners on order.
A rear angle of Americans 787 – Photo: American Airlines
Catch more photos of American’s first 787 below.
The MD-11 was probably a bad idea. McAir came up with the aircraft because it was a bigger, meaner, DC-10. So much DC-10 that there originally was not going to be an MD-11, but a DC-10 stretch. There were two attempts at this aircraft: a DC-10-10 stretched by 40 feet, and a DC-10-30 stretched by 30 feet. Concurrently, McDonnell Douglas (McAir) was concerned about the range of the 747-SP and began work on an ultra-long-range DC-10 Global.
This research lead to an aircraft series called the DC-10 Super 60. The DC-10 Super 60 was going to be a series. A simple stretch, an ultra-long-range variant, and an aircraft optimized for both range and capacity. Unfortunately for McDonnell Douglas, the American Airlines 191 crash happened – summarily executing the DC-10 program. It did not help that there was economic malaise going on at the time, either.
Many MD-11s have been converted to cargo duty. An example arriving at Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney. Photo – Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Being the kings of iteration that they were, in 1981 they decided to revive the large trijet research. Leasing a DC-10-10 from Continental, they studied various winglet configurations in conjunction with NASA. For reasons of marketing, this project would be designated the MD-100. This was an interesting project as it actually offered more engine options than the final MD-11, in the form of the Rolls Royce RB.211. By November 1983, it was clear there was no interest in the MD-100. The board shuttered it.