Best of Aviation Queen: Why We Travel

29 May

Editor’s note: Kids, I’m still recovering from the holiday weekend, so today you get a Best Of.  This post first appeared on the blog on Feb. 16 and was inspired by a great New York Times slide show and presentation on why we travel. Enjoy!

There’s so many bookmarks under my aviation/travel links.  The New York Times has been doing this ongoing slideshow called “Why We Travel.” It features some fantastic photos, along with the stories behind then, from the newspaper’s readers.  Looking at those slideshows got me to thinking about some of the cool places I’ve been, confirming why I travel (besides the fact that it has been a part of my job the past 20 years). So below are 10 sights I’ve seen on my travels.

  1. The vast bareness of Greenland. I was flying a 30-seat Saab 340 turboprop from Linkoping, Sweden (where the plane was built) to Minneapolis to deliver it to then-Northwest Airlink carrier Mesaba Airlines.  You just can’t fly direct on a turboprop, so we made several stops, including one in Greenland. It was cold and so stark and barren, it was almost beautiful in a bizarre sort of way.
  2. The colored roofs of Iceland. On that same trip, we spent the night in Reykjavik. As we were landing, I got to sit in the cockpit, which gave me a stellar view of this island nation’s ubiquitous colored roofs.
  3. New Year’s Eve, Times Square, New York City.  I hate crowds.  But in 2004, my sister the police detective, who lives in California, came out to the East Coast with a friend to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Times Square. We spent the day wandering the Times Square area. Everywhere we went, she chatted with cops, who were out in full force.  So as the celebration drew closer, the area went on lockdown. But we got a prime watching spot because the cops recognized my sister and gave us better and better viewing spots. Sweet!!
  4. The food halls of Singapore. During my second trip to Singapore to cover the biannual air show, me and some of my journalist friends found ourselves frequenting these great eat places.  One of my favorites was outdoors, and if you’re adventurous, just order a Tiger Beer and let your server choose what to eat. I sampled whole fried duck (which included the head and feet), chili crabs, fish ball soup and shark’s fin.
  5. Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.  I’ve been an on-again, off-again Catholic for quite a while. During one of my on phases, I happened to be in Paris for the Paris Air Show. Some friends said we should go to mass, and off we went. One of the best things is no matter what the language, you know exactly what’s going on.
  6. Honolulu International Airport. I was on my way to Indonesia for the launch of a new turboprop, and we had a 3-hour layover here.  It was pre-9/11, so I actually ventured outside to see the gardens.  The flowers were colorful and beautiful, and I can still smell them to this day.
  7. Embraer aircraft plant, Gavião Peixoto, Brazil.  I was on one of my many visits to this Brazilian manufacturer, which is headquartered in São José dos Campos.  We flew a small jet to this city, located in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, which is home to, among other things, the assembly lines for the Embraer 190 and 195 jets and final assembly for Phenom business jets. I noticed was how incredibly green and lush the region was, home to sugar cane fields and orange groves.
  8. The Corn Palace, Mitchell, S. Dakota. Back in 1992, completely burned out from a very stressful job, I quit and decided to take a road trip across America with my friend Mark, who was moving to Seattle to do his medical residency. Since neither of us was in a rush, we took the scenic route, which included a trip to this facility, which features ever-changing murals made out of corn on the outside walls and colorful onion domes.  The moon landing — in corn. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — in corn. The Iwo Jima flag raising — in corn. You get the picture.
  9. Bandung, Indonesia. This city, about 110 miles southeast of Jakarta, is the third-largest city in the country and was home to aircraft manufacturer Industri Pesawat Terbang Nurtanio (IPTN, now Indonesian Aerospace). I was there for the roll-out of the IPTN N-250, which never took to the skies. But the highlight for me was to see an amazing display of Dutch colonial architecture, defined by the tropical Art Deco style. Amazing buildings I saw included the Institut Teknologi Bandung, the Hotel Savoy Homann and Villa Isola.
  10. Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona.  This was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, near the McDowell Mountains. It serves as the home for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and offers tours and programming year-round. When I lived in Phoenix, I actually bought a membership and took visitors on tours of this estate. I was never bored, because each guide at the facility always managed to tell me something about Wright that others missed.

Speaking of missed, why do you travel?  What are some of the more interesting or off-the-beaten-path places you’ve seen in your travels?

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