Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 138,116
2013: 330,818

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VIP Tour of TAM Airlines’ New First Class on a Boeing 777-300ER

Time to take a VIP tour of one of TAM's Boeing 777-300ERs at Paine Field. Image: David Parker Brown.

Time to take a VIP tour of one of TAM’s Boeing 777-300ERs at Paine Field. Photo: David Parker Brown

Recently, I was invited to take a special tour of one of TAM Airlines’ brand-spanking new Boeing 777s that was parked at Paine Field. The plane was so new that Boeing was still prepping it for delivery. How could I refuse?

The aircraft I toured (PT-MUJ) and was TAM’s fourth 777-300ER, which was delivered on August 29th, 2013. The airline has ordered a total of nine of the type.

The 777 is the first aircraft that TAM has equipped with their new First Class product, and I was excited to check it out.

Continue reading VIP Tour of TAM Airlines’ New First Class on a Boeing 777-300ER

Virgin Galactic getting Closer to Space

Spaceship 2 under Rocket Power as seen through the Telescope at the Clay Center Observatory - Photo: MarsScientific.com and Clay Center Observatory

Spaceship 2 under Rocket Power as seen through the Telescope at the Clay Center Observatory – Photo: MarsScientific.com and Clay Center Observatory

At approximately 7:47am MDT on the 29th April, the future of space tourism became one step closer to reality. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two (SS2) fired its rocket motor and after a 16 second burn completed a successful test flight.

During the brief time that SpaceShip 2 (christened VSS Enterprise) was in the air, it achieved an altitude of 55,000ft and a speed of Mach 1.2. After a total flight time of just over 10 minutes it touched down safely in Mojave.

Sir Richard Branson & 'Forger' aka Mark Stucky congratulate each other after the completion of SS2's first rocket-powered flight - Photo: Mark Greenberg

Sir Richard Branson & ‘Forger’ aka Mark Stucky congratulate each other after the completion of SS2′s first rocket-powered flight – Photo: Mark Greenberg

“The first powered flight of Virgin Spaceship Enterprise was without any doubt, our single most important flight test to date,” said Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson, who was on the ground in Mojave to witness the occasion. “For the first time, we were able to prove the key components of the system, fully integrated and in flight.”

WhiteKnightTwo, christened VMS Eve after Richard Branson's mother Eve, and SpaceShipTwo, known as VSS Enterprise, take to the skies during a test flight in Mojave, CA, USA. Photo: Mark Greenberg

WhiteKnightTwo, christened VMS Eve after Richard Branson’s mother Eve, and SpaceShipTwo, known as VSS Enterprise, take to the skies during a test flight in Mojave, CA, USA. Photo: Mark Greenberg

SpaceShip 2 was carried to its launching altitude by White Knight 2 (WK2) (named VMS Eve after Sir Richard Branson’s mother). Once at 47,000ft Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot Dave Mackay, who was piloting WK2 at the time, released SS2 into free flight. Once verifying checks were completed, Mark Stucky, the test pilot, triggered the rocket motor ignition system and propelling the spacecraft on-wards & upwards.

“The rocket motor ignition went as planned, with the expected burn duration, good engine performance and solid vehicle handling qualities throughout,” said Virgin Galactic President & CEO George Whitesides. “The successful outcome of this test marks a pivotal point for our program. We will now embark on a handful of similar powered flight tests, and then make our first test flight to space.”

A shot of Space Ship 2 igniting its rocket motor as seen from the Boom Camera - Photo: Virgin Galactic

A shot of Space Ship 2 igniting its rocket motor as seen from the Boom Camera – Photo: Virgin Galactic

As the test program expands and begins it’s final phase Virgin Galactic and the manufacturer Scaled Composites, hope to see the first powered spaceflight by the end of this year. When that day is reached, it will mean the end of the test program and the beginning of entry to commercial service. I wonder how many miles it would take to cover the $200,000 ticket cost.

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

VIDEO: Space Shuttle Being Mounted on Boeing 747

Space shuttle sitting on top of a modified Boeing 747 - Click to see video.

Space shuttle sitting on top of a modified Boeing 747 - Click to see video.

I know it is not directly related to airlines, but close enough. You have a modified Boeing 747 that can fly the Space Shuttle across the country.  The process of getting the shuttle on and off the Boeing 747 is not an easy task. A reader pointed out a site that shows a bunch of photos and also a time-lapse video.

Thanks Dan for the tip!

48,000ft to 300,000ft in 90 seconds for only $200,000

spaceplane_07-28-08-thumb-300x2031

Although not directly airline news, I feel this falls under “future airline news” since who knows, boarding a plane (or spaceship?) might just be as easy and cheap as it is now to fly (hopefully they won’t charge for peanuts).

Anyhow, Virgin Galactic has shown to the world (and galaxy?) what White Knight Two “Eve” Mothership will look like (hmm maybe pick a name?). This aircraft would take SpaceShip2 up to about 48,000 feet before it takes the six wealthy folks 300,000 feet in only 90 seconds.

For a mere $200,000 you can book your seat to fly into space. Even though going to the ends of Earth for $200k might not seem like a good deal to most people, I think it is great since it will pave the way for private space exploration. There are enough wealthy people to support this — 100 have already paid full price and another 170 have put down deposits.

THANKS BEN FOR THE TIP!

Source: The Washington Post Image: The Washington Post