Browsing Tag: Cargo

Nose-to-nose with a Volga-Dnepr Il-76. The windows at the forward navigator’s station are a distinctive feature of the aircraft.

With Boeing in our backyard, unusual aircraft are not an uncommon sight at any of metro Seattle’s airports. Antonov An-124s are regular visitors, usually delivering engines to Boeing’s Everett factory. I was recently at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) when a rare bird was there to pick up some cargo.

A crane and flatbed trailer were used to load large crates of specialized welding equipment that was to be delivered to Australia

This particular Ilyushin-76-TD-90-VD is owned by Russia-based Volga-Dnepr Airlines, which operates five of these aircraft. Part of the Volga-Dnepr group, the parent company also owns Airbridge Cargo Airlines and Atran Airlines.

Sea-Tac Airport cargo workers push a pallet of freight onto the loading ramp of an Air China Cargo 747-400F.

Sea-Tac Airport cargo workers push a pallet of freight onto the loading ramp of an China Airlines Cargo 747-400F

In what has become an annual early-summer ritual at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, air cargo operators serving Asian ports have increased operations in Seattle for the duration of the roughly two-month long Washington state cherry harvest.

Pallets of cherries destined for Asian markets await shipment at a Port of Seattle warehouse.

Pallets of cherries destined for Asian markets await shipment at a Port of Seattle warehouse

Carriers making stops in Seattle to pick up pallets of Washington cherries include EVA Air Cargo, NCA, China Airlines Cargo, and Singapore Airlines Cargo. Freighter loads vary, but seldom are the large jets filled solely with cherries; mixed loads are far more common, especially as routes can include stops in one or more U.S. cities before crossing the Pacific.

Engine No. 2/vertical stabilizer ("the tail") of the Orbis MD-10-30F Flying Eye Hospital (N330AU). Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Engine No. 2/vertical stabilizer (“the tail”) of the Orbis MD-10-30F Flying Eye Hospital (N330AU) – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

On June 2, Orbis International launched their new, third-generation “Flying Eye Hospital” on board a converted MD-10-30F donated by FedEx. Orbis is a non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) that aims to provide advanced eye care and medical training to communities throughout the world without access to such facilities, technology, and expertise… literally bringing the hospital to patients and caregivers who need it the most.

I was invited aboard for a special private tour to see this mobile hospital for myself and learn about more its history, design, and purpose, and I created a short video slideshow of highlights…

My Alaska 737-400 Combi in Juneau, AK

My Alaska 737-400 Combi in Juneau, AK

For the past six years, I have gotten up early and headed down to Alaska Cargo, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, to welcome the first Copper River Salmon of the season. It has always been one of my favorite yearly events, but I was hoping to do something different this year.

When I was invited to fly up to Cordova, Alaska to catch a ride with the first Copper River fish of the season, I said “yes!” When I was asked if I wanted to fly a “milk-run” to Cordova on the unique Boeing 737-400 Combi, I said “hell yes!” I had never flown on a Combi before and I wanted to get onboard before they retire from Alaska’s fleet.

My adventure would take me from Seattle (SEA) to Juneau (JNU) to Yakutat (YAK) and finally to Cordova (CDV). Bring it!

A TWA Boeing 707 freighter on Runway 25-Right at LAX. Notice that engines 1 and 2 are in reverse and that the spoiler fully deployed - Photo: Jon Proctor

A TWA Boeing 707 freighter on Runway 25R at LAX – Photo: Jon Proctor

Here’s a little background about a wonderful encounter I had with racing legend Andy Granatelli in the late 1970’s.  At that time, I flew for Trans World Airlines on their Boeing 707 and 727 aircraft.

In April and May of 1978, my regular assignment (trips for the month) was to fly a 707 freighter from Los Angeles to Indianapolis. Typically, we would launch very late in the evening around midnight, and arrive in Indy at around 6:00 am local time. A day-and-a-half later, we’d fly a return flight to Los Angeles at 6 pm. That gave us a 36-hour layover in Indy.  On our first trip of the month, I got to the airport quite early, as I had been on vacation the previous month and had lots of accumulated paperwork to attend to. At about nine in the evening, I bummed a ride with a TWA mechanic from the hangar to the TWA cargo facility on the other side of the airport – probably the most harrowing part of my three-day trip.

As we arrived at the air freight terminal, I noticed two large box vans – both painted with the legendary STP logo. The TWA mechanic and I walked over to the vans and looked inside… one was filled with tires, crated engines, tool boxes, and other motor racing equipment.  The second van had two Indy 500 race cars inside!