Saturday, August 30, 2008

As promised, St. Maarten pictures

A significant portion of blogosphere space here at Airplanes I Have Known has been dedicated to St. Maarten. That may be a turn-off to some. Then again, since this blog is dedicated to airplanes and aviation in general, I suspect that my readership approves of my choice of topics. St. Maarten, after all, is "Airplane Mecca." And how could airplane lovers ever tire of sights such as this:As you may recall, two lovely friends of the family treated me and the gf to a week in St. Maarten in June. We stayed here:...right on Maho Bay and walking distance to the approach site for Princess Juliana Airport. Consequently, I spent a great deal of time running from the hotel to the airport as such:By far, the visitor I got to enjoy the most was the B757, operated by several US carriers:
I saw one B767 come in, but it was early on in the trip, and as you can see I was not very good at capturing the pictures yet:Also got a very pleasant visit from this unmarked Fokker. (Not to be confused with this Focker.) I do not know if it was an airliner or a charter, but we did get to see this machine on a couple of occasions:A couple other memorable moments...

A fun shot at this well known spot:And, it was not just airplanes that provided the flight-related excitement. We went to a Butterfly Farm on the French side. At one point, I was caught offguard by one of their killer specimens:

Friday, August 29, 2008

Anchorage, AK to Middletown, OH Flight a VP clue?

This year's presidential election drama once again hinged on aviation.

Senator McCain is expected to announce his VP choice today at noon in Dayton, OH. There is speculation that the choice may be Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, based on the private jet below arriving in Middletown, OH (about 25 miles from Dayton) from Anchorage, AK.
CNN is reporting that one woman, two men, and two teenagers were onboard.
Who knows, it may be a coincidence. All I know for sure is that somebody had a sweet ride on that machine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

UPDATE: Clinton quiet on mystery plane controversy

I was very impressed with Senator Clinton's speech last night at the Democratic National Convention. As I have alluded to before, I voted for the other guy in the primary, but I think that she showed last night why 18 million people chose her instead. It could not have been easy for her last night. As she walked on-stage I could just hear her thinking to herself how she thought she would be making a much different speech at that venue.

As was first reported by this blog on August 15th, 2008, Senator Clinton was raffling off a trip to be her guest at the Democratic National Convention on a mystery plane. Sadly, Senator Clinton did not answer for "Planegate" last night.

I will not let this controversy die down. I pledge to you, my readers, that I will press the Senator's staff until I get an answer. Until then, I offer more evidence in support of Planegate.

Here is Senator Clinton's mystery plane again:

The important detail here is that this is a four-engine plane with standard landing gear underneath the wings.

Exhibit 1: This is an A340. Notice, four engines like the mystery plane, but an additional wheel underneath the wings.

Exhibit 2: Here we have an A330. Only two engines, but landing gear matching the mystery plane. I would like an answer, Senator.

By the way, as a respected plane expert, I will be endorsing a candidate for President in the upcoming general election. My pick will be determined on the color scheme of each candidate's campaign airplane. I will not be making an endorsement until after the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I did make the Obama campaign's short list for VP, although certain incidents in the summer of 2006 at the upper soccer field at Camp Wah-Nee ultimately disqualified me from contention. The McCain campaign has not contacted me yet regarding joining the Republican ticket.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A week of milestones

It happened.

I am now officially way closer to 30 than to 20. I have legally been able to drink for a half-decade. I have lived for more than a half century. Yes, my loyal readers, I turned 26 last Thursday. And, although I was never one to pout about my age, I realized that next year, I will be 27. And that is scary.

At my age, my mother was married and had already had me. Look at me: I have a Batman utensil carrier and Batman pajamas and still play with my Gameboy and model airplanes. I guess I am a little behind her curve.

I gathered with my gf, bs, and close friends at Bombers to take in the celebratory 60 oz. margarita and then we scooted on back to Roessleville to eat some coconut cake that Hemasida had baked. It was fitting that the last get-together at the Towne Towers was also the largest. We fit eight people into my refugee apartment.

We ended up cutting Thursday shorter than a usual birthday party because Friday was going to be a big day. I closed on the condo I bought on State Street. Woot.

After an hour of furiously signing away my life to the bank for the next 22 years and 7 months, I finally became a homeowner. A little space in this giant Earth is in my name now, with help from my mom and savings from years past. On Friday, we did some serious painting. In the living room, I was going for a sandy/creamy color. To my great surprise, the color that I picked ended up looking quite pink. But, thankfully, it has now become more of a salmony tone, which is fine by me. ADB chose a great shade of blue for the bedroom. Unfortunately for her, I decided to help with the painting on the trim, and all I did was create more work for her. Ruh Roh.

Saturday was the all day move. Thanks again to my crew. You guys rocked. We got everything moved out of Roessleville and into State by 2:30pm. The worse part was the couch, which did not fit into the State Street elevator and had to be carried up 8 flight of stairs. I kid you not. Props to the big guy and AK on that.

So now, apart from being only 6 minutes away from work, I also have a great view of flights in and out of Albany International. My condo is a corner property looking North and West. The westward-facing living room and bedroom windows all provide a clear shot of planes coming in and going out. As all of you know, that's the real reason I went for this place.

Friday, August 15, 2008

No one "flied" when Clinton lied

I did not want to inject politics into this blog. After all, the beauty of airplanes and aviation in general is that it is, like the staff of the Colorado House of Representatives, non-partisan. However, I could not resist informing all my loyal readers of this obvious fabrication from the campaign of my junior US Senator (who I proudly voted for in '06), and "former" presidential candidate for the Democratic Party.

What the hell:
Senator Clinton, in an effort to fundraise to pay off some of her debt from the long campaign, is raffling off a chance to be her special guest at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO later this month.

Small problemo: the plane pictured does not exist, so it would be mighty difficult to fly into Denver on it.

It looks like an Airbus A340. In fact, since it's an airliner with four engines in that mold, the only other airplane it could be would be a Boeing 747, and we know that's not possible. However, the A340 has a much different landing gear under the wings. They look like this:

See that extra wheel in the middle? Now look for it on Senator Clinton's picture. I'll save you time: IT'S NOT THERE!

Just one more thing, Senator. If you are planning on flying your special guest to Denver on an A340, you'll have to send them to Germany first, because last I heard, the only airline using A340's into Denver is Lufthansa.

Is nothing sacred in politics anymore?

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Payoffs of Microsoft Flight Simulator

Pretty much all the way through high school, my Sunday evening activity was playing Microsoft Flight Simulator on my home computer. I would spend hours on it. My hub was Merrill C. Meigs Field (pictured below), the legendary airfield on Lake Michigan in Chicago, which sadly was destroyed very suddenly by Mayor Daley.
I started out slowly - computer games have never been a forte of mine. Most of the flights I ran were between Meigs and O'Hare. But, as I slowly improved, I started running flights to Grand Rapids, MI, Detroit, MI and Toronto. I was happy as a clam.

Sure, I could have spent all that time studying or dating or improving my baseball swing or doing a whole assortment of other activities. Maybe all those other activities would have been more productive, but there is no way anybody could have changed my mind at the time.

By my senior year I was working at the District Attorney's Office and I had saved up a little money. I saw an ad in the Fort Collins Coloradoan for a $49 introductory flight at a flight school based at the Fort Collins/Loveland Airport. I decided to drive down to the airport and sign up for the flight.

The introductory flight was going to be conducted on a Cessna 152 - like this one:
It is the same plane that I had spent so much time with on Microsoft Flight Simulator. I got to talking with the pilot who was going to take me up, and I started babbling about all I knew about the Cessna 152, and once I got into the cockpit I kept going on about all the instruments that I recognized. The pilot seemed impressed and said he would let me taxi the plane out to the runway and play around in the air more than the others he had taken up.

True to his word, he let me taxi the plane to the runway, which was very challenging because on the computer you do that with the arrows, and in the real thing you do it with pedals. Admittedly, I did not do too well with the taxiing.

Once in the air, though, I was a superstar. The pilot let me fly, take turns ... he even made me take it out of a stall!!! A lot of times when I am a baseball game I think what it must be like for the batter to step in to bat for the first time as a professional and think, "This is what my dream looks like." And then they get their first hit, and they feel the ball fly off their bat, and they must think, "This is what my dream feels like." The crowd cheers them on, and they know, "This is what my dream sounds like."

Well, that's what that flight was for me. I just kept looking at the control panel, out the windows, and even over at "my" co-pilot, and thinking, "This is what it looks, feels and sounds like to fly a plane." And, in many ways, I owed that moment to all to those Sunday evenings playing Flight Simulator in my room.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Exciting Week at Albany International

Albany International Airport hosted a World War II era fighter last weekend. It was a restored B-17, which travels around the country as a flying museum, and is one of only 14 B-17's that still fly.

For a cool $430, you can take a 20 minute flight on this beauty. I didn't get the chance (because I have a mortgage now) but here is a nice story about a local WWII vet that did.

Last weekend was the induction ceremony at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. All of the dignitaries that attend that event fly in and out of Albany International. Due to the influx of people flying in, we had another special visitor: a US Airways Boeing 757. I know, it may have been more exciting if it had not been the same week as the B-17's visit, but for me it was a thrill nonetheless.

As a side note, I have dedicated two posts to St. Maarten (this one and that one). Yesterday afternoon, after the Valley Cats were rained out, we went to the Control Tower for some ice cream (I had the Oregon blackberry cheesecake, in case you were wondering). The Control Tower is a mini-golf, batting cage, and ice cream place on Route 7, right by the end of one of the Albany International runways. We had a couple of Boeing 737's and one Embraer taking off our way. It's no St. Maarten, but it was still very exciting.

The second B737 was a US Airways and it took off in moderate rain and took a very steep and sudden left turn right after take-off. Neat-o, right? Next time I will bring my camera.

Now, I know that this post may be overwhelming with all this exciting news, but there's more. A family flying in a Cherokee 180 from Piseco Lake in the Adirondacks to Cherry Hills, NJ had to make an emergency landing at Albany after losing part of the landing gear.

Props to the pilot on getting this plane on the ground safely. My favorite part of the story is that the pilot originally thought that the flapping noise made by the landing gear as it was about to fall off may have actually been coming from sneakers left on the wing. Can't you just imagine his wife telling him, "No, honey, it's the landing gear...and there it goes."