Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 290,939
2014: 363,407
Total: 1,212,540

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Helicopter Flightseeing Over the Las Vegas Strip

The Northern end of the Las Vegas Strip, with the Wynn, Encore & Stratosphere dominating the skyline.

The northern end of the Las Vegas Strip, with the Wynn, Encore, & Stratosphere dominating the skyline

A great way to get a different perspective of a place is to take a flight over it.  Heading to somewhere you haven’t been before, well why wouldn’t you take a flightseeing trip to get that different perspective?  As part of my honeymoon with my wife Heidi after our AvGeek wedding, we wanted to have a few new experiences each on this trip.  One of the things that I like to do is take a helicopter ride over cities.

A Maverick Helicopters Eurocopter EC-130 Ecostar on the flightline at Las Vegas Airport

A Maverick Helicopters Eurocopter EC-130 Ecostar on the flightline at Las Vegas Airport

When we decided to visit Las Vegas, I really wanted Heidi to get that experience of seeing the city by hovering above (since this was her first trip to the city).  This would also be not only her first visit to Vegas, but also her first helicopter flight.  How could she marry an AvGeek and never have flown in a helicopter before? It was time to change that.

Continue reading Helicopter Flightseeing Over the Las Vegas Strip

Touring the Bigelow Aerospace BA-330 Space Habitat Mock Up

This manicain is doing important experiments in the BA-330

This mannequin is doing important experiments in the BA-330

Space… the final frontier. Sorry, I just always wanted to start a story with that and figured this was the time.

When I was recently invited down to Las Vegas to learn about Boeing’s CST-100 and Bigelow Aerospace’s BA-330 space habitat, I lit up. I love space and, even more so, commercial space. This is the area of space where maybe someday an average Joe might be able to experience what it is like to be up in the heavens. Until then, it will take companies and individuals with money to get commercial space off the ground (literally).

Once inflated, the BA-300 is quite large.

Once inflated, the BA-300 is quite large

The International Space Station is currently expected to have a useful lifespan until about 2020. Firms like Bigelow Aerospace are looking at ways to provide a commercial space habitat to nations and companies who are willing (and able) to pay. Although they have tried a few variants, they are putting quite a bit of effort into the BA-330 Space Habitat (no, it is not related to the Airbus A330).

It is one thing to see drawings of what the BA-330 will look like, versus having a full mock-up. And that is exactly what Bigelow had at their facility in Las Vegas – a true, life-sized version of the BA-330, and I was lucky enough to get a look inside.

Continue reading Touring the Bigelow Aerospace BA-330 Space Habitat Mock Up

Touring Allegiant Air’s Headquarters in Las Vegas

View of Allegiant's entrance at their Head Quarters in Las Vegas

View of Allegiant's entrance at their Headquarters in Las Vegas

I always enjoy it when I get the opportunity to check out an airline’s headquarters. It is an inside look at the airline’s culture and of course it is always nice to picture where they work when interacting with them as a media contact or customer.

Allegiant is located in a new business park just outside of downtown Vegas. It is away from the flashing-lights and casinos and in an area that just looks just a few years old.

When pulling up, it was not obvious it was Allegiant’s HQ since there was no signage outside, even though their roof prominently has “Allegiant” on it. However, after stepping into the lobby, there was no question.

Their lobby is two stories with two Allegiant sun’s on the floor. The best part was the replica of an MD-80 tail used as their front desk. Not too shabby. After checking in, I had the opportunity to sit down and wait on some airline seats. They were blue and leather like Allegiant’s, but quite a bit larger. They must have been taken from another airline’s first class or business seat — I wasn’t able to tell which.

Allegiant's MD-80 trainer for flight attendants.

Allegiant's MD-80 trainer for flight attendants.

I love walking through an airline’s operations to be reminded how most people there truly enjoy their job and have a smile. I always feel many passengers feel like there are airline people just waiting to screw them over. The nice part of Allegiant’s smaller operation is it didn’t take long to get through all departments. From those who take reservations to President and CEO’s Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr’s desk. Speaking of him, he doesn’t even have an office. All the Allegiant executives work in cubicles out in the open, bettering their interaction with other employees. Of course the executives have a little bigger than others, but they kind of deserve that.

There are also quite a few Allegiant models spread around the facility. Most are MD-80’s, but there were a few Boeing 757’s. The biggest 757 model was located right in the middle of all the executive’s cubicles (photo).

This is probably the coolest front desk ever.

This is probably the coolest front desk ever.

A second building holds Allegiant’s training facility. They have the rear section of an MD-80 used for flight attendants. It is raised above a hole in the floor, where employees can practice evacuations. I need to find one of those for my home.

All through out the facility there was quite a bit of Allegiant spirit. Not only where many walls painted in Allegiant blue, but many desk areas were showing off holiday spirit with a decoration contest. Almost every area had decorations and one thrilled worker actually turned their cubicle into a ginger-bread house.

It is fun to imagine the folks sitting in the operation center while flying back home to Seattle, planning the aircraft’s flight and dealing deicing. I only wish they sold those tables they used as their front desk.


Get Boozed Up at Las Vegas Airport — They’re Looking At Opening a Liquor Store in Baggage Claim

Welcome to Las Vegas! Liquor Store Ahead!

Welcome to Las Vegas! Liquor Store Ahead!

Ah Las Vegas. Gambling, fancy hotels, bunch of college students and of course alcohol (ok the list could go on and on, but we will stop with that). Remember in the olden days how you had to wait to get to downtown before getting sloshed? That time between your buzz wearing off from your $6 beer from the plane and having to take a cab all the way downtown? How many times have you been waiting for your bag and thought, “dang, I sure could use a Jaeger shot right about now.” I know…LAME! Well have no worry — the Vegas airport is here to help.

The McCarran International Airport is proposing to open a liquor store in baggage claim. That’s right! This would be the first airport to have a true liquor store. Sure you have those duty free stores and bars, but this you can buy full bottles and take them with you (or finish them before leaving the airport).

Steven Sisolak, a Clark County Commissioner stated, “Oh, I know it will be a gold mine for some liquor store, but does this mean we’ll do anything for money?”

Seriously? Does this guy know Vegas? It is based on making money! He continues, “What’s next? Airport strip clubs? Topless bars? Is that appropriate for county property? I mean, that’s ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, too.” Maybe, but really alcohol is already served on planes and in bars, is a liquor store really that much of a jump?

Sisolak also states he is worried about travelers drinking the alcohol in public and having public drunkenness. But isn’t that pretty standard in Vegas, people walking around quite buzzed with a drink in hand?

The airport is hoping this might bring in some extra cash. “We’re strapped for cash just like every other county department, and because of the smoking ban our gaming revenue has gone down and advertising has been a little slow,” said Elaine Sanchez, airport spokeswoman. “We believe, in hard times, this is a good idea.”

What do you think? Is this a good idea?

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Source: Las Vegas Sun Image: lonnypaul