On Tuesday and Friday, because of the generosity of your donations to Operation: Puerto Rico Care-Lift and AirwaysAid 22,000 pounds of supplies were flown into Aguadilla, Puerto Rico (PR). This is the northwest corner of the island that is cut off from San Juan. The airport infrastructure is quite damaged and not open to commercial flights.
However, we were able to work with the miracle-working partners at Spirit Airlines and Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico who made this special relief flight possible — the biggest relief flight into PR’s second largest airport as of Friday. A Lufthansa Cargo MD-11 has since arrived on Saturday with even more aid. Lufthansa Technik is not only instrumental in handling some logistics for us, but amazingly was already operational again undertaking MRO work.
Flying a fully loaded 228 passenger stretch Airbus A321 is an expensive endeavor under normal conditions and this operation was anything but normal. The logistics and clearances Spirit and Operation Care-Lift faced were daunting. But, Spirit Airlines has shown their true colors with this second relief flight into Aguadilla alone, on top of others into St. Maarten and St. Thomas, USVI.
Chris Sloan (on the right) gets his Boeing 747 book signed by Joe Sutter (father of the 747) during the recent Lufthansa 747-8I Delivery.
I first met Chris Sloan during ANA’s delivery celebration of their first 787 Dreamliner. However, I already knew his name. I had previously seen his work in Airways Magazine and I knew of his site Airchive.com, although I didn’t realize he was the man behind it. We have quickly bonded over airlines and enjoy sharing our unique stories with each other.
When it comes to airline collections, there is no question that Chris has me beat. He has so many airline collectables it blows the mind. Luckily he has spent a great deal of effort to share his collection with the rest of the world. I wanted to learn a bit more about him and his website. Here is our interview:
An old United Airlines Boeing 747-100 and 747SP at Ardmore Graveyard. Photo by Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.
AirlineReporter.com (AR): What is Airchive.com?
Chris Sloan (CS): Airchive.com is what I call an online “webseum of commercial aviation”. I strive to be different from other sites out there that do pure plane-spotting, breaking news, and travel reviews so well. We are basically an online museum of commercial aviation with some contemporary twists:
We curate timetable, route maps, airline and manufacturer memorabilia of 1000s of airlines going back to the 1920s to the present. We really try to write a historic perspective of the history of an airline or aircraft model through it’s memorabilia and route maps.
Another thing that sets us apart is our focus on airports. Lots of attention, and rightly so, is directed to plane spotting which Airchive.com does but we feature virtual in-depth photographic tours and background info on airports around the world. We are as interested in the terminals as we are what’s on the ramp. Likewise, these virtual tours extend to aviation museums with slide-shows that transport the user there virtually. One of our most popular sections are rare photographic behind the scenes tours of airplane manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus
Other unique features include detailed galleries on airliner cabins, scrapped airliners, airline models (including cutaways), and aviation firsts such as trip accounts of the inaugurals of the Airbus A380, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the upcoming Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Inaugural.
An image from the Boeing SST 2707 brochure from 1966. Chris Sloan / Airchive.com
AR: Why did you start it?
CS: I started the site back in 2003 as a way to give back to the commercial aviation community and share my massive collection as others had done online in person. It has turned into a passion project which has allowed me to meet many other folks of similar passion and undertake unique experiences. Also, at this time, the airline industry was engaged in the nadir of it’s turmoil following 9/11 and running up to the Gulf War II, so I wanted to remind the flying public and airline staff just what an incredible industry they have. I now try to tweet @airchive relevant items everyday to provide a historical or different take on what is in the airline zeitgeist.
1955 Boeing 707 Intro Brochure. Image from Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.
AR: When did you get into collecting airline memorabilia?
CS: I began collecting at the age of 6 years old. I would visit airports and city ticket office’s back then when those existed, and pester airline reservation agents to mail me timetables, route maps, safety cards, whatever. I’d also inhabit my favorite airports snapping off photos. It’s a life-long passion but I frustrated that I didn’t have anyone to share it with. At this point, my model collection numbers over 300 including gigantic 747, DC-10, and Concorde cutaways; 10,000 timetables, brochures, airline seats, service items, even a desk made from the wing of the Lockheed L1011 prototype. I am not in this for the money. In fact, to borrow an old stock market adage “I buy and hold.” I have never sold anything, though have donated and loaned items to other museums.
As I have grown older running my own TV production company which leads to extensive travel – this only increases my enthusiasm for this fascinating industry. One cool thing is I have combined some business with pleasure such as overseeing the John Travolta hosted documentary on the building of the Airbus A380, back when I ran production at TLC, and now creating and executive producing a reality series called “Airport 24/7: Miami” which is an unprecedented behind the scenes look at all the goings on at Miami International Airport. It’s a compelling, eye opening show for enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. It will premiere later in the Summer on Travel Channel.
Cutaway of a Pan Am Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. Image from Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.
AR: Have you ever thought of starting some in-person museum?
CS: This is a long-term goal, or if I win the lottery a short-term goal, to either start my own or collaborate with others of like-minded interest. My “dreamseum” would be a cross between LAX’s Flightpath Museum and the Delta Airlines Heritage Center and American’s C.R. Smith Museum. It would cover a broad swath of airlines like Flightpath but with the depth and actual aircraft of C.R. Smith and Delta Heritage. As a passionate Miamian, I would like it to have a South Florida focus on Pan Am, National, and Eastern.
I have taken part in public displays where I loaned materials out. There was a Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) Exhibit at the former TWA Terminal T5 @ JFK a few years back, but unfortunately about $5000 of my collection was stolen and never recovered so I am much more careful these days. Who would’ve thought MOMA didn’t carry insurance.
AR: What is your favorite piece you have on the site?
Meeting the Father of the Boeing 747, Mr. Joe Sutter at the Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Delivery. Spunky, Pugnacious, and Outspoken…
Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-7B at Opa Locka - August, 2010. Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.
Chartering the world’s only flying passenger DC-7 for a company party high over Miami. We buzzed the beach at 1,000 feet. Travolta and his daughter came on one of our flights from Miami to Key West where Pan Am was founded.Countless private ramp tours of LAX, Miami, and Mojave. These are hard to get and very gratifying, especially when friends and family have joined in awe as an A380 lands 100 feet away.
A very rare 1973 vintage factory DC-10 cutaway. Image from Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.
AR: How many airline models do you have?
CS: 100’s literally but the pride and joy are 3 restored cutaways: 1 of 3 Douglas DC-10 Prototypes made for the factory back in the 1960s to demo the airplane. Also a Concorde cutaway that used to apparently be in the lobby at the Bristol Fulton Factory. It was in found in the attic of the interior designer of the Concorde, after 20 years.
AR: What is Airchive.com’s relationship with Airways?
CS: I have been an avid reader of “Airways” since it began publishing. In fact, I deserted commercial aviation for many years until 1994 when I picked up one of their first issues in an airport newsstand. I was immediately infected again by the bug. I still eagerly await my issue each month like every other enthusiastic subscriber. We have a strong cross-promotion and content-sharing relationship. As well, I am a frequent contributor to this excellent publication as it really speaks to my passion.
1965 "End of the Plain Plane" ad campaign for Braniff. Image from Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.
AR: What do you want to add?
CS: I view Airchive.com as pure passion. It takes a lot of time and money, frankly but it is a passion. It has been so much fun, particularly getting my sons interested in this field and meeting so many interesting, like-minded people. I get a lot of gratitude when people write from around the world how much the site inspires them or takes them back to memories they had in the business. When someone says “I got lost for hours on Airchive”, that is the greatest compliment. I am adding features to allow more contributors as many wonderful folks send me items and photographs. As my children get older and business obligations grow, it gets harder to do this on your own. So I welcome anyone who wants to get involved and collaborate. We’re all stronger together then apart.
It is hard to believe that it has been over two weeks since I took a ride on All Nippon Airways (ANA) second Boeing 787 Dreamliner (JA802A). Since then I have finally been able to get my video done (which is shared in this story) and it has allowed me to think more about flying on the 787 Dreamliner. I also reached out to a few others who were able to take a flight that week and see what their thoughts are after having a bit of time to mentally digest.
When flying in the 787 I knew it was different. It took off very smoothly and it was quiet as I expected it would be. I didn’t fully appreciate how nice it was until my flight home. The day after the 787 excursion, I was on a ANA Boeing 777-300ER back to LA. The 777 is by no means a bad aircraft and it seemed amazing when I flew to Tokyo, but it seemed very different on the way home. This was the exact same plane that I flew from LAX to Tokyo just a few days earlier. On my 777 flight to Japan, the 777 seemed new, fresh and comfortable. But flying on it after the 787, it now seemed outdated, cramped and not nearly as nice.
To be fair, this 777 did not have ANA’s newest staggered business class product, but the current one is not horrid. I think my perception of my 777 flight to Japan versus going home was a real eye opener on how different the 787 is to the airline business. In the words of Reading Rainbow, “But you don’t have to take my word for it…”
Mount Fuji seen from ANA's second Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
AirlineReporter.com: What was your favorite part of the 787 flight? Norris: The fact that despite I was with 240 of my newest, closest friends, the big windows and open architecture made the cabin feel larger than it actually was. The smoothness of the flight and the skyline of the windows gave the unusual sensation of almost flying in a dirigible – like a luxury airship. I didn’t expect that. Interestingly I found the light control on the window shade very useful for modulating light levels – like having sets of giant sunglasses with various tint levels.
Was it what you thought it would be? It was just what I hoped – and expected.
Will it be difficult to fly on non-787 aircraft now? It already is!
The view of the wing from the lavatory. Not too bad eh?
AirlineReporter.com: What was your favorite part of the 787 flight? Sloan: I was absolutely in awe of that raked wing. Watching all the control surfaces react to gusts and chop was mesmerizing to me. I think you commented in a post how it’s difficult to appreciate from in-cabin just how curved up the dihedral is. I agree. The in-flight entertainment of the wing could not be beat. The positive, upbeat, convivial atmosphere of passengers and crew in being a part of history was equally wonderful to the aircraft itself.
Was it what you thought it would be? I wouldn’t say anything could be better. As I think many of us have remarked, had the flight been the longer-haul, we would have been able to discern the affects on the lower pressurization and higher humidity on our well-being. It was very difficult to tell after just a 4 1/2 hour flight. I also actually wished for turbulence just to feel more of the gust suppression system’s affect. It really couldn’t have been better, well maybe… just a bit if I were sitting in Business Class…but I’m not complaining!
Will it be difficult to fly on non-787 aircraft now? I flew back on an ANA Boeing 777-300ER. The service and aircraft were superb, so I wasn’t feeling any pain, but perhaps the question should be “will it be difficult to fly on a non-ANA, ordinary flight?” Now if I am an airline, I would say I would want every aircraft in my medium haul fleet to be a 787 to start reaping those savings now.