Four Red Arrows Hawks lined up at YVR, including Red 5 flown by Squadron Leader Steve Morris.

Now an Executive Officer with the Red Arrows, Squadron Leader Steve Morris has been flying with the RAF since 2002 – Photo: John Jamieson

This past September, I was fortunate enough to attend the Red Arrows’ media event in Vancouver, BC.  During the event, I was given the opportunity to meet and interview Steve Morris, a senior pilot with the aerobatic team. In addition to learning about Steve’s day-to-day role with the Royal Air Force (RAF), he also talked about his career plans after aerobatics.

NOTE: In the interview, we discuss some of the team’s maneuvers and aerobatics. To provide some context, I’ll be including a few of my photos from the flypast. With a little help from the media guide, I’ve been able to identify some elements from their performance. I’ll do my best to explain the maneuvers as best that I can.

The main-terminal side of the forthcoming pedestrian bridge from SEA's south satellite terminal will feature epic views of Mount Rainier, at least when it's not raining. This photo is from Nov. 21, 2019.

The main-terminal side of the forthcoming pedestrian bridge from SEA’s south satellite terminal will feature epic views of Mount Rainier, at least when it’s not raining. This photo is from Nov. 21, 2019.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA aka Sea-Tac) is going through some large-scale renovations that will make it a much more competitive transit hub beginning later this year – if construction plans stay on track.

The main focus of the renovation is Sea-Tac’s international arrivals facility, which is woefully undersized for the airport’s growing passenger traffic. The new elements include a 450,000-square-foot grand hall for baggage claims and customs processing, a picturesque aerial walkway connecting the south satellite terminal to the grand hall (which is being installed Jan. 23-25), and a corridor connecting arriving international passengers on Concourse A.

We recently walked through the construction site with Port of Seattle staff to see what’s coming. Bottom line: Sea-Tac is going to be able to better handle the mid-day crush that often happens when flights from Asia arrive en masse.

The under-construction great hall where international passengers will retrieve their bags before heading to customs and immigration.

The under-construction great hall where international passengers will retrieve their bags before heading to customs and immigration

“The grand hall is sized for 2,600 passengers per peak hour, and we know that the peak is mid-day,” says Janet Sheerer, IAF project manager, landside, at the Port of Seattle. “There were very few overall design parameters for this project, and that was the biggest one.”

BONUS: Snow operations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), the architect of the renovation project, and Clark Construction Group, the contractor, ran models to make sure the new facility could handle peak passenger traffic. “They ran robust models based on the type of aircraft, when the flight is arriving…to figure out where things need to be located and how many bag claim devices are needed,” says Sheerer. “The output from those models is what drove the design.

N755NW, a 42-year old NWA DC-9-41 Blasts Out of STL.

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.

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Click through to join me for a stroll down AvGeek memory lane for a year which proved transformational to the AvGeek world.

#A380CAT, after landing an EA-6B on an aircraft carrier - Photos: David Parker Brown

#A380CAT, after landing an EA-6B on an aircraft carrier – Photos: David Parker Brown

My apologies. My subject might be a bit misleading. Or maybe totally misleading. One might even call it a fib. Well mostly a fib. I do have a cat. His name is Harley, but goes by #A380CAT. Although he might tell you otherwise, he has never flown or landed a plane… he mostly just eats and sleeps.

I do have “some actual legit stuff”, which is really a yearly review. Yes, yes, everyone does a yearly review this time of year, and every year I start to get annoyed after seeing about 100 different versions or so.  Then I become a hypocrite and write one for AirlineReporter. I figure since I am going to look at the yearly data anyhow, why not share? But I figured if I added some crazy cat stuff to the story, maybe it would make it more interesting. Keep on reading to see our year end stats and also more of my cute kitty cat! Here we go…