We #AvGeeks are easy to please. Just give us a good view of the planes, and we’re golden. Too few airports in the US have official planespotting points, but San Francisco International (SFO) just made that situation a bit better. On February 6th it unveiled a new outdoor observation deck at the very tip of the international terminal’s G concourse.
How good is it? Very good. How close are you to the planes? Very, very close.
It’s post-security (AKA airside) so you need to be flying United or one of its Star Alliance partners to have access. But don’t worry landsiders: later this year SFO will open a pre-security observation deck in T2.
For now, read on for more info and photos from SFO’s new observation deck!
While visiting the Los Angeles area a month or so ago, I dropped by the headquarters of MotoArt Studios in Torrance, Calif., maker of cool aviation-themed furniture and the originator of the PlaneTag, for a tour and some conversation with owner and founder Dave Hall. I’ve purchased several of his products over the years, including a polished propeller and quite a few PlaneTags, so I was excited to see his operation.
It feels like these products have been around for a long time, but Hall explained that while the idea for making keychains out of old aircraft skin came to him more than a decade ago, the tags have only been on the market for a few years.
“We had a small section of P-51 Mustang skin, and I decided to take a section and make a tag from it. I decided to call it a PlaneTag — it’s small enough to connect to a bag or suitcase, or even put in your front pocket on your keys. That first piece of aviation history sat in my pocket on my key chain for years before I actually had the sense to kick off the idea,” Hall said.
This year’s Black Friday marked the three-year anniversary of what’s become his flagship product. “We started with six PlaneTags: the 767 Gimli Glider, a 747, DC-9, A320, B-25, and a DC-3,” he said. He used the existing MotoArt mailing list, which included contacts dating back to 2001, to promote the new product to existing customers. “It was an instant hit,” he said. His online shop now lists close to 30 different types of aircraft tags, including hull No. 1 of the B-1B bomber.
Brand-new Air Italy 737 MAX 8 looking sharp – Photo: Air Italy
This past Friday, Air Italy received their first 737 MAX 8 aircraft at a delivery ceremony at Paine Field in Everett, WA. Dignitaries from Air Italy were joined by his Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Group CEO for Qatar Airways. In July of 2016, Qatar Airways agreed to purchase a 49% stake in the airline (known previously as Meridiana), with the brand being re-launched as Air Italy in March 2018. As with any event involving Mr. Al Baker, this was a fancy affair, and included a few priceless soundbites.
When the Air Italy brand launched earlier this year, they announced their goal to disrupt the Italian market, and create a “credible alternative” for Italians. From their home base of Milan–Malpensa Airport, Air Italy intends to offer both short- and long-haul routes. The airline will shortly be launching flights to the United States, with a daily service to New York (begins 6/1) and four-times-per-week service to Miami (starts 6/8). The next planned long-haul destinations for Air Italy are Bangkok and Mumbai, with service start dates yet to be announced.
Private jets lined up at MSP, downtown Minneapolis in the distance – Photo: Max Haynes | Metropolitan Airports Commission
For those of you wondering why is there a Super Bowl post on an aviation website; just imagine teams, fans, and corporate fat cats taking the train or bus to the big game. Not likely, right?
When the NFL playoffs started, this native Minnesotan booked a ticket from Seattle to my hometown of Minneapolis in hopes of watching my Minnesota Vikings play in the big game. While the eventual Super Bowl champ Philadelphia Eagles crushed that dream in the NFC Championship game, the scene in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul showed off a Super Bowl of aviation.
If you’re curious why the Super Bowl was played in a city where the game time high was 6 degrees, the NFL told Minnesotans “if you want to keep the Vikings, pitch in for a $1 billion indoor stadium and we’ll give you the big game.”
A quick look at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and smaller feeder airports shows that a whole lot of big-buck fans travel in style.
MSP can handle 275 private planes, so much of the action was at the St. Paul Airport (Holman Field) where private jets were lined up all over the airfield. Two other reliever airports in the metro area also had brisk business
Consider in 1967, Super Bowl 1 did not even sell out the Los Angeles Coliseum. For the 2018 game, Minnesota’s Metropolitan Airports Commission estimated 1,000 private jets made the trip to the North Star state. (My jet was in the shop, so I flew commercial…)