Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 201,532
2013: 330,818

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EPIC AVGEEK PHOTO: Three Dreamlifters & a Starship at Paine Field

The Dreamlifter Operations Center at Paine Field. Image: Future of Flight

The Dreamlifter Operations Center at Paine Field. Image: Future of Flight – Aviation Center & Boeing Tour

It is rare to catch more than two Boeing 747 Dreamlifters at Paine Field. It is even more special when one is able to catch three Dreamlifters. But three Dreamlifters and a  Beechcraft Starship (NC-50 / N8285Q)? Oh yes!

On November 10th, that is exactly what happened next to the Future of Flight – Aviation Center & Boeing Tour – and what a view. The Dreamlifters were parked at their new Operations Center and the Starship was at a fund raiser for the Future of Flight.

There are four Dreamlifters that have been built (you might have remember that one recently landed at the wrong airport) and they are modified Boeing 747-400s used to transport 787 Dreamliner parts around the world.

From Buying a Ticket to Walking on a British Airways 747

British Airways Boeing 747-400 at Seattle.

British Airways Boeing 747-400 at Seattle

Although I know many readers of this site are more interested about the flight itself, I tend to be more intrigued with what goes one between searching for a ticket and stepping on to the plane. Odd for some, I know, but I wanted to share my own insight.

My most recent adventure started when I decided to go to Paris (CDG) from Seattle (SEA) for vacation. After some work, I narrowed my dates to flying out on a Thursday so that I could have a full weekend in-country. Last year, I made the same trip on Icelandair and chose that airline mostly on having the lowest fare. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with the lowest fare this time; I was also interested in the experience, so I decided to start my ticket hunt early. This all resulted with me flying on a British Airways Boeing 747-400 out of Seattle.

Continue reading From Buying a Ticket to Walking on a British Airways 747

Does the Boeing 747 Have a Future?

The first Boeing 747-8I. But how long will the model last?

The first Boeing 747-8I. But how long will the model last?

There are few who can make a case against the Boeing 747 as the most majestic and beautiful airliner in the sky.  I love the 747 (any variant) for its unique shape and instant recognition; you just won’t find folks lining up to tell you about the classic lines of the A380.  Originally released in 1970, the Queen of the Skies has defined the term “jumbo jet” for multiple generations.  But, despite the 747′s 40+ years as a long-haul mainstay for airlines around the world, is the future of the 747 and its latest variant, the 747-8, in jeopardy?

The Fiero Problem

The issue doesn’t seem to be that the 747 has gotten stale in its old age (in fact, Boeing’s latest version features new engines, a redesigned wing, a fuselage stretch, and advanced avionics; some might argue that Boeing spent WAY too much capital on a plane with so few orders).  Rather, the problem seems to be that other planes have gotten so much better.  This reminds me of that 80′s darling, the Pontiac Fiero, and its cool uncle, the Chevrolet Corvette.

GM and Pontiac built the Fiero from 1984-1988.  A mid-engined, two-seater sports car with sharp (for the 80′s) looks, the Fiero did a lot of things well that the Corvette also was known for.  Although not officially acknowledged by GM as a reason for ending the program, enthusiasts maintain that GM killed the Fiero because it was encroaching on the performance envelope of the ‘Vette, at lower acquisition and operating costs.  Sound familiar?  If you’ve ever flown on a Boeing 777, it should.

Continue reading Does the Boeing 747 Have a Future?

Denver, Dreamliner, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong & Back in 77 Hours

A view from the Singapore Flyer. Photo by Blaine Nickeson.

A view from the Singapore Flyer. Photo by Blaine Nickeson.

INTRODUCTION

Maybe it’s not to the extent of the regular contributors to this site, but I’m an #AvGeek.  I love planes, airlines, and miles.  But given my busy career, two toddlers, and a wife who thinks I’m crazy, I don’t get to participate in nearly as many adventures as I would like.  My wife’s come a long way in supporting my habit; I think it may have had something to do with flying her to Europe this spring in Lufthansa First Class on miles.  Maybe that helped lead to the amazing adventure I had recently.

I live in Denver, and I fly United Airlines (UA).  There has been lots of local media coverage about the introduction of UA’s DEN-NRT flight, operated by the 787 Dreamliner, which started on June 10th (unfortunately that flight had an issue after having to divert back to Seattle).

This is a big deal for DEN, not so much because of the Dreamliner, but rather it’s our first nonstop to Asia.  A few weeks ago my wife casually opened a can of worms, stating, “I looked at booking you on that Dreamliner flight for Father’s Day, but it was just too expensive.  I know you really want to fly on a 787, and also need to re-qualify for your status-thingy.”  I, of course, sprung in to action trying to take advantage of this moment that was sure to be fleeting.

Long story short, I scored a ride on the (re)inaugural ANA 787 Dreamliner flight from San Jose (SJC) to Narita (NRT).  To make the ticket cheaper (this logic fails me) I continued on to Singapore.  Final routing was 19,000 miles; DEN-SJC-NRT-SIN-HKG-SFO-DEN, or about 39 hours in the air during a 77 hour period.  Yes, I’m crazy, but it was worth it.

Continue reading Denver, Dreamliner, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong & Back in 77 Hours

Airline Livery of the Week: Pullmantur Air & Their 747s

Pullmantur's Boeing 747-400. Photo by Ken Fielding.

Pullmantur’s Boeing 747-400. Photo by Ken Fielding.

Madrid-based Pullmantur Air recently changed up its livery and it is quite the drastic change from the old livery if do say so myself. The fuselage of their aircraft is still predominantly of a white paint scheme, but the tail, forward section and winglets are now proudly sporting aqua & navy blue paint.

This charter airline, founded in 2003, currently operates a fleet of four 747-400s out of Madrid Barajas International Airport (MAD).

Continue reading Airline Livery of the Week: Pullmantur Air & Their 747s