N755NW, a 42-year old NWA DC-9-41 Blasts Out of STL
Happy New Year! Heck, happy new decade while we’re at it.
With the closing of each year I invest a considerable amount of time in reflection before setting my goals and aspirations for the future. A perennial resolution I have set (and then catastrophically failed to meet) has been to make sense of the ~150K+ PlaneSpotting photos I have amassed since diving into the hobby over the summer of 2009.
While trying to determine what goal – if any – I would set around this, an intriguing question dawned on me. How has PlaneSpotting changed in the past decade? Sure, we didn’t have JetTip, ADSBexchange, or FlightRadar24 to allow for surgical, dare I say lazy, spotting. We just had to show up, maybe listen to ATC, and see what the day would bring. But how has what we might see changed?
Well, I have photographic proof of what aviation looked like at a number of airports over the course of 2010. In retrospect, it was a good travel and spotting year for me. What if, perhaps, I set a mini goal to at the very least look at every photo shot over that one year and highlight particular items of note? I spent a number of hours over the past weekend doing just that. One clear difference? My skill and equipment have come a long way over the past decade! But I digress.
Click through to join me for a stroll down AvGeek memory lane for a year which proved transformational to the AvGeek world.
Noses of a Boeing 747 and 727 – Photo: Caleb Howell | Flickr CC
This guest post was written by Andrew Vane (@pipelinedrew) for AirlineReporter.
Recently I saw that someone posted pictures of old Northwest 727s and DC-10s in North Carolina and I became curious. This is my home turf and I was not aware of any tri-holers “enjoying” their retirement years nearby.
I quickly started looking up Google Earth images and was able to confirm that, sure enough, there was what was left of some vintage aircraft stored in an out-of-the-way airfield somewhere in my home state. Now, how to get out there to see them.
Laurinburg-Maxton Airport (KMEB) is nestled in the pine barrens of the south-central part of North Carolina, off of US Highway 74 about halfway between Charlotte and Wilmington. Originally a U.S. Army Air base for glider training during World War II, this small airport currently is the home to the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, has a nice local Fixed Base Operator (FBO) for civil air service, and also holds something not often seen in the eastern U.S.; a commercial airliner salvage yard.
When you normally think of aircraft storage, the first airports that come to mind are Victorville, California and Tucson, Arizona. Now add KMEB to that list.
A little over ten years ago, Air France took delivery of its first Airbus A380 and flew its first commercial service from Paris to New York. Since then, the superjumbo has been the flagship of Air France’s fleet. But ten years is an eternity in the fast-moving airline world, and time takes its toll on hard-working airplanes. Air France originally announced plans to retire its A380 fleet by 2022, but with COVID capacity cuts, the airline just announced yesterday that the plane will be removed from service immediately. So whenever your last flight on an Air France A380 was — if you ever flew it — it was your last.
I had the chance to fly an Air France A380 last year on the same historic route that started its story with Air France: CDG to JFK. I’ve had some good times flying A380s in the past. My very first AirlineReporter story was a Lufthansa A380 trip report. And I got to fly a BA A380 in Club World a few years ago.
But by the time the flight was over, I could see why it was a plane that wasn’t going to be in the fleet for much longer. I did appreciate some things, like the super-smooth takeoff, whisper-quiet ride, and soaking in the spectacular scale of the double-decker. But the AF A380 is a plane that’s stuck in the past, and overall I won’t miss them much as they transition to their well-earned retirement. Whether you’re an A380 fan or a hater, read on for the full scoop.
Long Exposure of STL Airport from across the highway the evening before STLavDay
Airports across the U.S. are recognizing the value in opening up and partnering with local aviation enthusiasts (AvGeeks.) We have been delighted to recognize, encourage, and report on this trend. To that end, AirlineReporter recently featured two airports looking to forge relationships in their own unique ways. How can we tell that this is indeed a trend rather than a few random events? Now, even airports known for being aggressive are looking to thaw relations. While this should not come as a surprise to locals or anyone who has recently tried PlaneSpotting in the area, it’s worth stating: The St. Louis airport has a well deserved, longstanding spot in the “AvGeek unfriendly” category.
But the airport’s recent #STLavDay event suggests that may very well be changing.