Browsing Tag: Review

An Air Koryo Ilyushin IL-62 in Beijing, ready for boarding. Photo by.

An Air Koryo Ilyushin IL-62 in Beijing, ready for boarding. Photo by Bernie Leighton.

To fly on an Ilyushin IL-62 in 2012 is not something many people would think of doing, let alone going to the lengths I did to enjoy the privilege.

On October 20, 2012 after months of planning, amounts of Euro cash that had bank-tellers convinced I was a spy; a lovely jaunt to Beijing on Air Macau and a visit to Datangshan, I was standing at the check in counter for Air Koryo in Terminal 2 at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK).  Oddly, and unfortunately for collectors of rare boarding passes, flights to Pyongyang are issued on Air China stock.

Chinese police, and politeness didn’t really allow me to capture the sight of the sheer amount of cargo the North Korean people were taking back but it was the contents I found more curious than the volume. A cursory search of the bindles and exposed boxes showed mostly flat-screen TVs and other completely civilian commercial goods.

For many of us, we have a love for aviation, but do not actually have our own licenses. Although learning how to fly is on my to-do list, before I get there, I have the ability to fly things a bit smaller.

I was approached by Xenonproject.com and asked if I might review a remote controlled (R/C) helicopter and write about my experiences (disclaimer: they mailed the helicopter for free).

I have owned an R/C helicopter before, but it did not fly very well and it broke pretty quickly. I was hoping this one would be a bit better.

I received my yellow Syma S107 Mini Gyro quickly from XenonProject.com’s facility in El Monte, CA. Unfortunately I was pretty busy, so it took a few days before I could give it a spin. I was happy to find that the S107 is very easy to fly and darn fun. It is a perfect helicopter to learn how to fly. It stays pretty stable, even outside and you can beat the crap out of it and it won’t break.

Best part is if you it does break, you are only out $25. It seems to take about 45-60 minutes to charge (using USB) and you only get about 5-15 minutes of action. Wish it would last a bit longer, but it is a small helicopter with small batteries.

My friend liked mine so much that he ended up buying his own (the red on in the photos). You are able to change channels and fly two helicopters at the same time without interference. It turned into a game of bumper-helicopters (I think I won).

Xenonproject.com has much more than just helicopters, they also have planes and ground vehicles. I thank them for reaching out and getting me back into flying RC helicopters. Now time to fly.

Video of the Syma S107 R/C Helicopter.

Watching television is not one of my favorite things. Most shows just annoy me and I haven’t had cable TV in years. Sure, I watch stuff on Hulu and Netflix, but that is about it. Most of what is out there is poorly done reality TV, with bad plots and worst acting. Recently someone  started talking to me about this show “Ice Pilots” that was in production and on the air in Canada and at first I wasn’t sure what to think.

I was told the show  takes place way up north in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada and follows the company, Buffalo Airways, as they fly around the great white and cold north. Hmm, okay — keep talking. Then I was told that they use DC-3, DC-4, C-46, L-188 Electra and some other odds and ends planes –that got my attention. They are also the only airline in North America that flies scheduled flights for passengers using a DC-3 — oh heck yes.

WATCH THE FIRST SEASON IN THE US ON THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL THIS FRIDAY APRIL 22ND AT 10:00 PM & 1:00 AM (EST) or 7:00 PM & 10:00 PM (PST).

The owner, Buffalo Joe, is one cool dude. If you had to create a personality of someone who owns a charter airline using a bunch of old planes, Joe would be that guy. I think Joe’s statement, “If you really want to experience flight in this life, you really have to strap a DC-3 to your ass, let the wings extend out, and that’s the closest thing you’ll come to a human flying,” really says it all.

That is a Buffalo Airways DC-3 on the left and C-46 on the right. Both rock!

That is a Buffalo Airways DC-3 on the left and C-46 on the right. Both rock!

To make a successful show takes more than a few old planes flying around. Sure that could satisfy us airplane nerds, but the show needs a wider audience to stay on the air. I had the opportunity to preview the entire first season (the first two seasons have already aired in Canada, they are currently working on their third) and I asked my good friend Ben and girlfriend Amy to watch it with me to get their non-airplane-nerd opinions.

Ben likes to watch reality TV shows and has a few favorites that take place up north. He watches Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch and Alaska State Troopers and was a little skeptical of another “up north” show. He thinks airplanes are pretty cool, but is not an airplane geek like most of us.

“I thought it was going to be yet another show about people doing stuff in up north, but David made me try it out,” Ben explained to me. He was happy I made him watch it for after watching a few episodes he wanted to keep on watching. “They set up the show so you do not have to be a plane nut to watch it. There are some interpersonal relationship stuff thrown in, but it doesn’t distract from the from the flying too much.”

Amy on the other hand really isn’t a plane fan. It took a bit more convincing to make her watch Ice Pilots (I had to promise to watch Glee, which I have been refusing to do). “It’s pretty absorbing and well-made.  Even knowing nothing about airplanes, I was drawn into the stories of the employees of Buffalo Airways.”

Hopefully others will enjoy this show and it will take off (heh, pun intended). Check it out this Friday  on the National Geographic Channel and let me know what you think.

DC3 & C-46 Photos by Jason Pineau