Back in June 2008, I attended an airports conference in New Orleans. It was my first trip back to the Big Easy since Hurricane Katrina. I had some time to kill at the gate, so I took some random shots. Mexico’s Aladia was a low-cost charter carrier that went out of business in October 2008. Below is an Aladia Boeing 757.
I had the chance to attend the celebration of United Airlines uber frequent flyer Tom Stuker, who hit the 10 million mile Mileage Plus mark in July 2011. As part of that event, the nice folks at the airline took us on a great tour of its flagship Chicago O’Hare hub. I’m a huge fan of the lights that spark up the escalator tubes that connect the airport’s terminals. I snapped this as we took our walk. Enjoy!
Regular readers of this blog know I am a HUGE fan of social media, especially Twitter, where I do my aviation geek posts as @AvQueenBenet. You also know that my day job is handling media relations for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) — a job I found via social media.
Our headquarters are directly across the street from Frederick Municipal Airport, where I happen to be taking my flight lessons. Last Monday as I was coming into work, I saw the MetLife blimp parked at the airport. It had flown to cover the Preakness horse race in Baltimore. I got out, snapped a few pictures and thought that was that. I kept seeing the blimp, so finally on Thursday, I thought I’d send a tweet to @MetLifeBlimp.
I was amazed when I got such a quick response.
Pilot Charlie Smith was kind enough to pick me up and off we went. First, I was amazed at how big the blimp was. I was also surprised that it’s just a big bag of air, as Charlie aptly described it. I got to talk with Charlie about how he became a blimp pilot, the traveling life of the crew of 13, and everything it takes to get the blimp from point A to point B. As far as him getting in the door, Smith said he was in the right place at the right time. “Not too many people dream of doing this, but we all fall in love with it.”
I know what he means. I actually felt an electric thrill when I got into the blimp’s cockpit. Forgive me as I go into uber avgeek mode. Amazingly enough, the cockpit looked amazingly like the one I’m using in my flight lessons on the Cessna 172 Skyhawk SP. Smith agreed, noting that the blimp’s cockpit only had three instruments that were unique to the aircraft. And the blimp doesn’t have ailerons, which are hinged flight control surfaces on the trailing edge of the wing on an aircraft and are used to control the aircraft in roll. As a current student, it seems weird to me that such a key part of flight is not there!
Smith noted that the @MetLifeBlimp social media team is pretty quick about responding to tweets. He said the blimp has responded to tweets to fly over schools or other places if they can fit it in the schedule. I really appreciate the folks at MetLife for allowing me to have this grand adventure! And if the blimp shows up in your city, send them a tweet — they may just fly by!
I’m still feeling nostalgic for Memorial Day, so today’s photo is one I took at last year’s EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis. Despite my military upbringing, I never felt the love for military aviation like I do commercial aviation — until I saw all the warbirds at Oshkosh. Below is Miss Geraldine, a gorgeous and pristine North American P-51D Mustang. Enjoy!
One of my last duties before leaving Delta Air Lines was working on the events surrounding the retirement of The Spirit of Delta, a Boeing 767 bough by the airline’s employees, retirees, family and friends in 1982. I left before the plane was brought to its final home at the Delta Heritage Museum at the carrier’s headquarters campus in 2006. So I was so excited to see it in the museum during a visit to Atlanta in April 2011. Enjoy!
Back at the beginning of my journalism career in the late 1980s, I wrote for the Employment and Training Reporter, a newsletter that covered federal job training programs. Under that broad umbrella fell welfare reform, education and economic development.
My favorite thing to write about was economic development, because back then, the country was recovering from the Reagan recession and states were throwing around money like drunken sailors to lure new companies to bring in jobs and taxes. Two of the biggest battles I got to watch was the fight for German luxury automaker BMW’s first U.S. plant (it went to South Carolina) and two United Airlines maintenance bases (Oakland and Indianapolis won, but eventually lost as both plants were closed). Looking at a more recent example, we recently learned that bankrupt aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft turned down $500 million in incentives from Louisiana to leave Wichita, Kan., reports the Wichita Business Journal.
States, counties and cities worked hand in hand to offer everything from tax breaks to infrastructure changes to subsidies to bring in companies and jobs. Some states were so desperate they made deals they knew they could never see a return on their investment.
So it was with great interest that I read this story in the Denver Post — Frontier Airlines wants tax incentives to bring jobs to Colorado — with great interest. The airline was created in 1994 by executives of the original Frontier, which was bought by Texas Air in 1986 and folded into Continental Airlines. The idea was to fill the gap left when Continental Airlines decided to shut down its Denver hub.
The carrier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2008, and was bought by Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings in August 2009. After that purchase, the company moved some of Frontier’s operations to Indianapolis.
Now Frontier executives are asking the city and state to come up with incentives in order for them to stay put. The company wants to bring back approximately 430 call center, mechanical, dispatcher and headquarters jobs to the state. In exchange, it wants breaks on state and local taxes on jet fuel, parts and software, according to the Post, adding that they wanted “appropriate” incentives to bring in the jobs.
My hometown airport is Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. You can click on my BWI tag to see my past posts on why I I love my airport. Every time I depart from the airport, I take a nice pile of pictures. In the shot below, I saw Southwest Airlines’ Shamu Boeing 737; in the background is a McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Enjoy!