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Taking a Look at New Seattle Startup Airline Using a Piaggio: Arrow

A Piaggio P 180 Avanti II at Boeing Field (BFI). Image by Colin Cook / Air

A Piaggio P 180 Avanti II at Boeing Field (BFI). Image by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.

It’s not every day that you hear about a new airline starting service. With the immensely strong barriers to entry including existing airlines, financing issues, and federal regulations, there are not many new airlines founded today. Anymore, it seems like the industry is consolidating via mergers, but Arrow is aiming to show that new niche airlines can succeed even in this economy. This new airline is banking on people valuing their time and wanting to avoid the hassle of traveling with traditional airlines and long security lines. I had the opportunity to meet with Arrow CEO Russell Belden this past Monday and take a flight from Seattle to Oakland (and back).

Arrow is unique in few ways. First of which is that it is a private club in which people can purchase memberships ($500 per month with a one year commitment) and then have access to purchase tickets on their aircraft. But unlike other private jet services which operate similarly, Arrow will have scheduled services.

They are planning to launch Seattle (out of Boeing Field – BFI) to Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC), which will cost members about $500 each way. The ticket costs are comparable to a first class ticket on other airlines serving similar routes.

Once Arrow receives 200 membership commitments they will purchase their initial aircraft and make plans to begin service within three months (delivery time-frame for a new plane).

The interior of the Piaggio. Photo by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.

The interior of the Piaggio. Photo by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.

Arrow has a target market of business professionals who have much better things to do than simply wait in line. Sure, a flight on Arrow might cost slightly more than a typical first or business class ticket, but isn’t a CEO’s time exceptionally valuable?

Arrow believes they will be able to shave off as much as two hours simply due to eliminating the added hassles of the typical airport experience. With on-board Wi-Fi to be installed on their new aircraft, it will also enable professionals to keep in constant contact and be productive at 30,000 feet. While our test flight did not have Wi-Fi on board, we actually had an intermittent signal on our mobile phones throughout the journey.

She looks as good coming as she does going. Image by Colin Cook / AIrlineReporter.com.

She looks as good coming as she does going. Image by Colin Cook / AIrlineReporter.com.

Arrow has selected quite a distinctive aircraft for their new service – the Piaggio P 180 Avanti II. Looking at the plane, one immediately notices the propellers are facing to the rear. The aircraft is often mistaken for being the Beechcraft Starship with their similar layouts.

This technology enables the aircraft to move quite quickly for a propeller driven plane, reduces turbulence, and makes for a quiet passenger experience. The continuous curvature of the fuselage, starting from the very front, actually provides about 20% of the lift which enables the wings to be smaller. Smaller wings ultimately reduce turbulence which is of course a big win. So even though you are flying in a small plane, we encountered very little turbulence on our flight.

Landing the Piaggio Avanti. Photo by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.

Landing the Piaggio Avanti. Photo by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.

Fun Fact: We should expect such distinctive design from Piaggio given its Italian heritage. Oh, and Piaggio is owned by Ferrari. The largest operator of the Avanti is the Italian Air Force who uses it for various uses including utility transport operations. If you’ve got a cool seven million dollars, I’d highly recommend adding this plane to your collection!

I asked Mr. Belden why they selected Piaggio and he told me this really was the best option for their planned services. The Avanti II is a very efficient aircraft, burning roughly 100-120 gallons (800 pounds) of fuel per hour. Compared to similar sized jets, this represents approximate 30% improvement. Not only is this aircraft highly efficient, but it can certainly keep up with many private jets.

Our cruising speed was around Mach 0.68 or nearly 500 miles per hour. Even though we had a 70 MPH headwind on the way to California, we still made it in just over two hours. And the return flight was a mere 90 minutes — not bad. Combine that with a comfortable cabin and a quiet passenger experience and you have an aircraft that Arrow believes is destined to succeed.

The Avanti II is certified to operate with either one or two pilots, but Arrow plans to operate with two.

Part of their allure is treating customers like they are rock stars. Rather than needing to be at the airport some 60-90 minutes before a flight, Arrow only asks their passengers to arrive 10-15 minutes prior to departure. But that’s not the only way they save time for their clients. Say you need a rental car or town car at your destination? Arrow will have one waiting for you on the tarmac outside the plane.

One might notice that the colors chosen for the new airline (yellow and black) and the font might look familiar with another Seattle-based small carrier: Kenmore Air.

With a limited number of Air Carrier Certificates and the lengthy process required to obtain one, Arrow has hired Kenmore Air to operate their new service. The planes will still have the Arrow branding, but Kenmore will perform maintenance, operate the service, and the flights will have the Kenmore call sign.

You might want to try and use the restroom before take off.

You might want to try and use the restroom before take off.

As far as pilots, Kenmore Director of Flight Operations Thomas Tilson told me that depending on overall demand, they will utilize a 50/50 mix of existing Kenmore pilots and also hire new ones. This is also not the first time that Kenmore has helped other airlines get off the ground (pun intended).

“We get approached all the time,” Tilson explained to AirlineReporter.com. “Kenmore has done multiple contractual and theoretical planning analyses for companies around the world. We really specialize in turn-key planning efforts. Kenmore really is the world’s authority on float plane operations and translating that success to other areas of the world. For example, we have done planning for operations in China and other places in Asia and South America.”

If this route succeeds, Arrow will begin promoting a LA Area to Bay Area service. Similarly to using two less traveled airports in the Bay Area, they are planning to fly into Long Beach and Burbank in the LA area. Future target markets will be big cities that are 300-800 miles apart as they determined that distance really allows for maximum profitability. If they have success on the west coast, they are considering future city pairs of Boston/Washington D.C., Chicago/New York, and Atlanta/Miami among others.

While Arrow will fly into some lesser traveled airports, they are certainly flying into large markets. In another time saving measure, rather than having to taxi to the main terminal after landing, they have contracted with the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO) to handle their aircraft. The FBO will essentially handle all ground operations for Arrow including fuelling, catering, and rental car services. The other nice part is that generally speaking, Arrow won’t have to queue up and land on the main runway that major carriers must use. For example, Oakland has two runways designed specifically for small aircraft that are located near the FBO.

Arrow's infographic showing time saved by flying them.

Arrow’s infographic showing time saved by flying them.

The biggest challenges facing Arrow will come from established carriers already serving the markets which Arrow enters. While they will not have nearly the capacity that many other carriers have (the Avanti II will be configured to seat nine), Arrow still poses a threat to win business travelers with their superior product.

After experiencing their product this week, I wish them nothing but success going forward.

SOME ADDITIONAL TRIP PHOTOS:

This story written by…Colin Cook, Correspondent.Colin is an avid AvGeek who works in finance and is based in the Seattle area. He has an immense passion for aviation and loves to travel as much as possible.@CRoscoe2121

Things to Do While Visiting Seattle: It is Not Just About Aviation

Downtown Seattle Skyline  Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Downtown Seattle Skyline Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

As a newly transplanted Australian to the Pacific Northwest, I sometimes feel that I am a tourist in my own city.  David has lived here quite a while, so to him, this is his backyard.  But to me, this is all new, though I have visited a few times; I am still constantly exploring this city.  With Aviation Geek Fest approaching, I am sure there are other people who are visiting and wondering what other non AvGeek things can be seen in Seattle.

Seattle has so many different things to see & do that the possibility is endless, but if you are in town for just a few days, well these sights should be on your “must do” list. If you live in the area or have visited and have other ideas, be sure to share them in the comments.

  1. Pike Place Market– The quintessential experience in Seattle.  The longest operating Farmers Market in the USA, home to fresh fruit & veggies, fresh seafood and anything your heart could desire.  The Market contains the “Pike Place Seafood Market” home of the flying fish and make sure to take a walk downstairs to the Market Theater Gum Wall, shove on a piece of gum — just don’t touch. If you are looking for souvenirs to bring home, you will have no problem finding something.

    Pikes Place Market in Downtown Seattle is one of the most iconic places to visit  Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

    Pikes Place Market in Downtown Seattle is one of the most iconic places to visit Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

  2. Coffee, need more Coffee – Seattle is home to a number of coffee companies but I am sure you have all heard of this small company with just a number of shops around the country.  They call themselves Starbucks.  Their first ever store (well not really the first but that is a whole other story) is located down in the Pikes Place Market area.  Not only can you line up to buy a cup of their coffee (and sometimes that line is looooong) they also sell merchandise that is not available anywhere else.
  3. Seattle Center– This is easy to find since it is the home to that weird looking pointy thing, the Seattle Space Needle.  Built for the world’s fair in 1962, the Space Needle and the surrounding area is a big draw card for tourists.  The Space Needle will set you back around $20 to get up to the observation deck, but remember what Seattle’s weather is known for — not seeing very far.  One way to cut back on the fee is to have a meal in the restaurant (Sky City Restaurant) at the top (or check out tip #5).  Also in the area are the Pacific Science Center and the Experience Music Project & Sci Fi Museum (EMP). The EMP building alone is worth a visit just to see this spectacle from the outside (see photo below).

    Experience Music Project/Sci Fi Museum is an eclectic looking building  Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

    Experience Music Project/Sci Fi Museum is an eclectic looking building Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

  4. Ride the Seattle Monorail- The nation’s first commercial monorail, at $2 a ride, is a pretty good way of going from Seattle Center to the downtown area.  Still running the very retro styled monorail cars, this is a good flash back.  The ride takes barely 2 minutes and is a great way to skirt above the streets.

    The Nations oldest Commercial Monorail, marked 50 years of service in 2012!  Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

    The Nations oldest Commercial Monorail, marked 50 years of service in 2012! Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

  5. Columbia Center Tower – Located on the Corner of Columbia Street & 5th Ave, the Columbia Center is the Pacific Northwest’s tallest building.  It towers over the Space Needle and dominates the skyline on a clear day.  There is an observation deck on the 73rd floor that has views over the city that will astound you.  They don’t go 360 degrees like the space needle, but the entry is only $9 per person!  What is even better, if you are there mid-week (Monday to Friday), there is a Starbucks on the 40thfloor with views almost as good for free.

    View of Seattle from the Columbia Center Tower Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

    View of Seattle from the Columbia Center Tower Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

  6. Take a flight seeing tour around SeattleKenmore Air and Rainier Flight offer aircraft tours of the city and with Seattle HeliTours you can go in a helicopter.   What better way to see Seattle than from the sky? As an AvGeek it should come as no surprise that these might be some of the best touristic options in Seattle.  But to make it even better, why not do it on-board a Seaplane taking off from South Lake Union, right next to downtown, with Kenmore.
  7. Ride a Ferry – If you like planes, you might also like boats. For a few bucks, you can walk on to a ferry in downtown Seattle and enjoy the ride. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, head north to Anacortes, WA to catch the ferry up to the San Juan Islands.

No matter what you want to see, or what you enjoy doing, you are sure to be able to find it in Seattle. There are so many more things to do, please share some of your favorites in the comments.

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

Flying a Kenmore Air Seaplane to the San Juans

AirlineReporter.com correspondant Colin Cook prepares for his Kenmore Air seaplane ride. Image by Colin Cook.

AirlineReporter.com correspondent Colin Cook prepares for his Kenmore Air seaplane ride in a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver. Image by Colin Cook.

This story was written by AirlineReporter.com correspondent Colin Cook:

A few months back, Kenmore Air announced via their Facebook page a competition to select a destination in the San Juan Islands for a special fare. The contest allowed fans of their page to vote on whether to offer the special $69 fare to Orcas Island, San Juan Island, or Lopez Island. Having never been to any of the islands personally, I was quite interested. At the end of the week, they announced Orcas Island as the winner and I quickly began planning my trip. Having flown Kenmore previously, I know that flying with them is just such a treat (note: Colin paid for his own trip out of pocket).

One of the benefits of flying Kenmore Air -- you can sit in the co-pilot seat. Image by Colin Cook.

One of the benefits of flying Kenmore Air — you can sit in the co-pilot seat. Image by Colin Cook.

When traveling through traditional airlines, we all know the hassle the airport and the TSA regulations can be. Well with Kenmore, you don’t have to deal with any of that. The only caveat being, there is a 25 pound weight limit on luggage to ensure the plane can lift off the water, so one needs to pack on the lighter side. I showed up about 30 minutes before my flight and it couldn’t have been easier. No security. No long lines. They even allow regular size liquid containers. It is such an enjoyable contrast to the type of travel I’m used to.

Depart: Kenmore Air Harbor (KEH) to Rosario Resort (RSJ)
via stops at Lake Union (LKE) and Friday Harbor (FBS)
Equipment: de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver
Date: Friday 9/28/12; Depart 3pm, arrive 4:45pm (15 mins late)

You can't get views of Seattle like this on just any airline. Image by Colin Cook.

You can’t get views of Seattle like this on just any airline. Image by Colin Cook.

On my journey to Rosario, I got the unique pleasure of stopping at Lake Union to pick up some additional passengers. Typically, it would be a drag to have to make multiple stops en route to our destination, but that is not the case on a sea plane. Not to mention, that it was so cool to get to take off and land multiple times along the way. It was awesome to see the downtown Seattle skyline as I approached and landed to the south on Lake Union. After picking up the other passengers, we all continued our journey north to the San Juan’s.

BONUS VIDEO: Landing in Lake Union in a Kenmore Air Seaplane

The flight from Lake Union to Rosario was roughly 40 minutes. I was extremely lucky in that I was able to ride up front next to the pilot, which provided for great views (not only of the scenery, but also the controls of the plane). The Beaver traveled roughly 100-120 MPH ground speed, cruising at 1500 feet for most of the journey. While our pilot looked quite young, you could tell he was experienced as our take-offs and landings were as smooth as water (pardon the pun).

City views are pretty nice, but San Juan Island views are even better. Image by Colin Cook.

City views are pretty nice, but San Juan Island views are even better. Image by Colin Cook.

For anyone that’s been up to the San Juans, I don’t have to tell you how amazing it is up there. To say that it’s gorgeous is an absolute understatement. The panoramic views of the water with shimmering reflections of the sun, stately green trees, and multiple islands of various sizes are spectacular. We arrived at Friday Harbor to drop off a few passengers and then continued our short remaining journey to Rosario. Once we arrived, we checked into the resort and took a moment to learn about some of the history.

Part of the Rosario resort taken from the seaplane. Image by Colin Cook.

Part of the Rosario resort taken from the seaplane. Image by Colin Cook.

One thing I would definitely recommend to anyone staying at Rosario Resort is the Saturday afternoon session with the assistant manager, Christopher Peacock. During that event, Peacock plays the pipe organ and piano while showing some historic photos and telling guests about the history of the resort. The resort was the one time home of Robert Moran who made his fortune as a shipbuilder in Seattle, in addition to serving as Mayor of Seattle from 1888-1890.Mr. Moran retired at Rosario when he was given two years to live due to a heart condition.

The house was constructed with the same meticulous attention to detail as the ship building, and the stained glass window & chandelier are beautiful period accents. He moved there in 1905 and lived there for the majority of his life before passing away in 1943. Apparently getting out of the city life and away from work-related stress really does wonders for the human soul.

While visiting the island, I was able to check out some other areas as well, but using a rental car service. I drove through Moran State Park and went up to the observation tower on top of Mount Constitution. The view from the summit was quite impressive as you could see Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Victoria, and Vancouver in the distance. The panoramic views were definitely worth the drive up and cost of the rental.

After the drive, it was time to leave and the float plane was there waiting for my journey back home.

And lift off. Kenmore Air seaplane takes off from the water. Image by Colin Cook.

And lift off. Kenmore Air de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver seaplane takes off from the water. Image by Colin Cook.

Depart: Rosario Resort (RSJ) to Kenmore Air Harbor (KEH)
via stops at Friday Harbor (FBS) and Lake Union (LKE)
Equipment: de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver
Date: Sunday 9/30/12; Depart 4:30pm, arrive 5:50pm (10 mins early)

During the return trip, the weather was absolutely phenomenal. Very sunny and the visibility was quite good. It was interesting for me to use my iPhone to see exactly where we were traveling as we flew. As long as it is okay with the pilot, passengers are allowed to use any electronic device and since we were flying low, I had signal over populated islands. (If using my phone on a small plane like a Beaver doesn’t impact the instruments, how would using it on a large jet impact things? Just asking).

Flying over Gasworks park in Seattle. Image by Colin Cook.

Flying over Gasworks park in Seattle. Image by Colin Cook.

The return journey went quite quickly and we stopped both at Friday Harbor and Lake Union again. This time on approach to Lake Union, we flew over downtown Seattle and landed to the north, which was pretty sweet. It is a unique experience to fly over buildings that I recognized only from the ground. w

Soon after, we were back in Kenmore and my trip was over. It was an awesome trip and I’m glad I got to see Orcas Island and flying on a Kenmore Air seaplane.  If you live in the Seattle area and haven’t experienced it or plan to make a trip in the future, I would highly recommend making this trip!

ADDITIONAL KENMORE AIR TRIP PHOTOS:

Flying With Kenmore Air to the San Juans: They are more than seaplanes!

Beautiful Kenmore Air de Havilland Canada Beaver seaplane (N6781L) coming to pick me up at Friday Harbor

Beautiful Kenmore Air de Havilland Canada Beaver seaplane (N6781L)

Flying in a seaplane is one of the coolest things I have done. Add in that we were flying over the San Juan Islands on a sunny, yet smokey (bunch of fires from Canada) day and it was amazing. A few months back I had the opportunity to fly around Seattle with Mary Kirby on one of Kenmore Air’s scenic tours, but I wanted to look at the other services that they provide as well.

If you are in the Seattle area, you might have heard of Kenmore Air, but think of them as the “seaplane airline.” Heck, they have that saying posted on a billboard outside their Lake Union terminal and on their shuttle. However, they also fly a fleet of Cessna Caravans with wheels, not floats. The land-based service they market as “Kenmore Air Express” and it provides more options for passengers.

I wanted to take a look at their operation first hand, so worked with them to set up a flight on a Caravan from Boeing Field up north stopping in Orcas Island and dropping me off at Friday Harbor. I was able to enjoy the sunny island weather for a few hours before heading back south on a de Havilland Canada Beaver to Lake Union.

Flying over the San Juans in a Kenmore Air Cessna Caravan with Pilot Tony!

Flying over the San Juans in a Kenmore Air Cessna Caravan with Pilot Tony!

As I have discussed previously, I love flying on small planes. When I wrote up my Horizon Air review raving how much I enjoyed flying on the Q400 turbo props, some questioned how smaller could be better? Flying at 600 feet in a seaplane through the San Juan islands is how! In the Caravan we flew at about 2,500 feet, which is pretty nice too, but lower does give a bit more of a thrill. The Caravans normally fly a bit higher, so if something does go wrong, they have that extra altitude to make it to an airport.

One of the benefits of Kenmore running a dual operation is to provide back up and I got to see it first hand. Kenmore will fly out of Friday Harbor both via the airport and from the local marina. They are only about 15 minutes apart by foot. When I was flying last Thursday, a land-based Caravan from Friday Harbor had a faulty battery. Instead of the passengers being stranded, they were shuttled over to the marina where one of Kenmore’s seaplanes met them and got them on their way.

Kenmore Air Express Cessna Caravan (N426KM) at Boeing Field (BFI)

Kenmore Air Express Cessna Caravan (N426KM) at Boeing Field (BFI)

Kenmore Air also provides a shuttle from Lake Union and Boeing Field down to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). They have scheduled seaplane and land-based flights to 28 destinations throughout the Pacific Northwest and up into Canada. They also allow you to rent a charter flight or spend a few extra bucks for an unscheduled stop on a main-line route.

One of my favorite parts of flying Kenmore were the TSA security lines. Oh wait, there weren’t any! No body scanners, no putting your toiletries in plastic bags and no taking off your shoes. Go to the ticket counter, show your ID and you are welcome to hang out in their waiting room. From walking in the front doors at their terminal at Boeing Field to sitting waiting for my flight: 2 minutes. Yea, that is right…two minutes. I showed up 30 minutes before my flight (the suggested amount of time), but got to sit waiting for 28 minutes. They can start giving your seat away if you don’t arrive 15 minutes before departure, but I saw people arriving just minutes before take off; try that flying other airlines (okay really don’t, you will miss your flight).

Kenmore Air de Havilland Canada Beaver seaplane (N6781L) coming in for landing on Lake Union right by Seattle. That darn Canadian fire-haze!

Kenmore Air de Havilland Canada Beaver seaplane (N6781L) coming in for landing on Lake Union right by Seattle. That darn Canadian fire-haze!

It was very cool to fly on the turbo prop Caravan and compare it to the classic (aka older) Beaver. The Caravan was solid, quiet, newer and quicker. However, I would pick the Beaver any day! It is a beautiful airplane and I never mind a little extra noise for the sake of adventure. If you aren’t quite the enthusiast (or nerd) as I am, don’t worry, they will provide you with a set of ear plugs on the Beavers if you want. I got to sit in the co-pilot seat, but this is not something just reserved for media. Any passenger has the ability to request the seat up front to get a truly unique flying experience.

There were signs on ticket counters and the planes proudly displaying Kenmore’s new relationship with Alaska Airlines. Passengers earn 250 Alaska Airlines miles per flight and can also book Kenmore Air tickets through AlaskaAir.com.

Heck, you don’t need to visit someone to take one of their flights. A seaplane ride up to the San Juans for the day and flying back would make an awesome trip for any airplane enthusiast. Just make sure to bring your camera!

Additional Fun Stuff:
* 216 pictures of the day’s flights
* Video from Beaver front right seat of landing at Lake Union
*  Video of the Cessna Caravan taking off from Boeing Field (check the new Boeings on the left)
* Video of Caravan’s turboprop start up at Orcas Island Airport (I love this start up)

Aviation in Seattle: Taking a Scenic Flight on a Seaplane with Kenmore Air

Turbine Beaver ready to fly on Lake Union just north of Downtown Seattle

Turbine Beaver ready to fly on Lake Union just north of Downtown Seattle

Those of you who live in the Seattle area got quite the treat on Tuesday. Almost to 60 degrees and sunny (not your typical February 2nd kind of weather). It was a perfect day to take a scenic seaplane ride over Seattle in a Turbine Beaver with Kenmore Air.

Mary Kirby, who writes the awesome Runway Girl blog, was in town for the Boeing 787 interior tour and we both got the opportunity to tour the city from above and it was an awesome trip. We were both excited about being able to fly on a seaplane, “There is something about a seaplane that makes me giddy,” Kirby told me after the trip.

About half way through we noticed a familiar looking plane in the sky, one with unique wings. It was ZA002, the second Boeing 787 above Seattle. Luckily the pilot is an aviation fan as well (how could a pilot not be?) and he turned the plane so we could all get a better look. Unfortunately my camera wouldn’t focus on the Boeing 787, but I did get a few blurry shots.  “Seeing the Dreamliner from a seaplane might be one of the very best vantage points in the world. In short, I was in heaven,” Kirby told me when asked how she felt about seeing the Dreamliner flying for the first time.

Seeing the Space Needle from the air is always amazing

Seeing the Space Needle from the air is always amazing

It is amazing to see Seattle from the sky. The town is really beautiful and seeing her from the air gives a unique perspective. Sure I see Seattle flying in and out of the airport quite a bit, but it is a different experience being in a smaller plane.

If you have always wanted to check it out, but weren’t sure, this is the perfect time! Kenmore Air is having a Valentine’s sale where you can buy one ticket for the scenic tour at normal price and get another half priced.

Kenmore Air doesn’t just do scenic tours. They also have quite the network of flights around Washington, but I will cover that in a future blog!

SEE REST OF MY PHOTOS OF THE FLIGHT ON FLICKR

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