A Boy Scout walks by an Alaska 737 at Aviation Day
Passion, dedication, and giving back to the community. These are the main things that really made Alaska Airlines Aviation Day shine. Since I have been running AirlineReporter, for almost eight years, I have met many people in the airline business and aviation. Almost all have a strong passion, but no matter where I travel and who I meet, it is hard to find people that are more dedicated than those who live and work in the Pacific Northwest.
Multiple planes on display at Alaska’s Aviation Day 2015
We have deep roots in aviation here, and I think one prime example of this is Alaska Airlines’ Aviation Day. This yearly event, which is only open to formal youth groups, allows guests to experience and learn about aviation and potential careers in the field. I was invited to this year’s event, and although there were plenty of amazing things to see and do, I was more in awe of all the wonderful people who work hard to make this event happen.
Taxiway Mike at Sea-Tac Airport is closed during reconstruction of runway 16C/34C – Photo: Lauren Darnielle | AirlineReporter
Last week, I had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the construction currently in progress on Runway 16C/34C at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA, aka Sea-Tac). The center runway closed on May 4th for a complete reconstruction and is scheduled to re-open October 30th, so the project is already well underway.
At 9,426 feet in length, 16C/34C is Sea-Tac’s second-longest runway, consisting of over 4,000 concrete panels, each measuring 20 feet x 18.75 feet. Needless to say, reconstructing a runway is a huge undertaking, so there was plenty to see on our tour!
During construction, it is business as usual on the other two runways and the open taxiways – Photo: Lauren Darnielle | AirlineReporter
Originally built in 1969, 16C/34C is the oldest runway at Sea-Tac. It was designed to last 20 years, so it has more than done its duty. Upon completion of this reconstruction project, all three of Sea-Tac’s runways will have been constructed or rebuilt within the last seven years. 16R/34L (the hotly-contested “third runway”) was built in 2008, and the longest runway, 16L/34R, was reconstructed in 2009.
“We continue to grow at a tremendous rate and the reconstruction of Sec-Tac’s center runway is vital to serve the demands of our region with progressive steps to improve safety, efficiency and environmental stewardship”, said Mike Ehl, Director, Aviation Operations. “This will bring all of our runways up to modern standards for reliable use for decades to come.”
Welcoming a 53lb Copper River salmon to Seattle
In what town do people get up before 4:00am to greet some fish? In the land of the flying fish, of course!
This was the sixth year in a row that I woke up earlier than I probably should to greet my breakfast, which was flying in on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 Combi. Why? Well, it is a special (aka delicious) kind of breakfast; some Copper River salmon.
Also, I enjoy the fun event that Alaska Airlines puts on each year to celebrate the official start to the salmon season.
The Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 Combi (reg N762AS) arrives to SEA
Why are these salmon different? Well, they like to travel — about 300 miles from the ocean to their spawning grounds and that type of journey requires lots of energy (aka fat). That fat gives the fish its special flavor for which many people are willing to pay a premium.
One of two avian radars located at SEA. This one is in a ditch adjacent to the third runway.
Have you ever looked up in the sky, seen a hawk or eagle soaring, and admired the beauty? Although exciting, the birds can cause major problems for aviation.
The “Miracle on the Hudson” is a prime example of why birds and aircraft do not mix. But what do airports do to ensure that our journeys, from one airport to the next, are safe? I recently took a tour of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and saw what their wildlife management team was doing to keep both airplanes and birds safe.
A Snowy Owl is captured at SEA, then released in the upper part of Washington state, near Bellingham – Photo: SEA
SEA has been a leader in wildlife management since the 1970s, when they were the first airport to hire a dedicated wildlife biologist onto their staff. At the moment, Steve Osmek runs the wildlife program at the airport and has done so for a number of years. Previously coming from the USDA and NOAA, he gets to combine his love of animals and an interest in aviation into on job. It was Steve who took me around the airport and introduced me to a number of ways that the airport is helping to mitigate bird strikes.