Tuesday, September 28, 2010

JFK Emergency Landing

In case you missed it, a Delta CRJ-900 made an emergency landing at JFK on Sunday night after a malfunction in the back-right landing gear. The plane landed and then skidded on its wing to a rest in a shower of sparks. A passenger captured the final moments on a cell-phone camera. At 0:12 you can hear the plane touch down and it takes until about 0:18 until you start seeing sparks, which means that the pilot was able to keep the wing off the runway for a good 6 seconds.
I like how at the 0:24 mark after the plane has been skidding for a while (and has not yet veered off the runway or otherwise become destroyed) the flight attendant gives out a triumphant "Heads down! Stay down!" You can sense in her voice that they are gonna make it.

And of course, the spontaneous cheers and applause are nice. I smirked at this because on virtually every foreign airline I have flown on (save British Airways, but including LanChile, Austral, Aerolineas Argentinas and EgyptAir) the foreigners always applaud the landing. Even in perfect weather. But then again, in Argentina we always applaud the asador - we are a very grateful people I guess. (<-- By the way, I am always shocked at what you can find on YouTube.) One final item you may have missed, which appeared in the NY Daily News today, is that there have been 5 similar incidents with the CRJ in the last two years. This, of course, is problematic, and the Daily News writer explains why (with tongue firmly in cheek):

"...Landing gear being generally recommended for the landing portion of a flight..."

Although, I would go a step further and say "properly functioning landing gear being generally recommended for the landing portion of a flight..." Right JetBlue?

These are facts.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hockey Season is Back

There is a chill in the air. The leaves are turning. The Mets are playing out their final meaningless games. All of these are signs that the Night Owls Hockey Club Fall/Winter season is back.

This fall I am playing on both the Thursday and Sunday squads. We are already three weeks into the season and so far it has been a boon on the scoresheet for me, including a Hat Trick and two sick and professional backhand goals. In fact, Diane was alert enough to capture one of them right before the moment of greatness:
She also, rather passive-aggressively I might add, captured some photographs detailing the temperature inside the arena.
On another note, Diane's mom deserves some sort of medal for the very selfless act of washing my hockey equipment. If you are lucky enough to have never smelled hockey equipment, perhaps my good friend the Sports Guy will give you a level of appreciation for how powerful it is. This is an excerpt from a 2007 article:

"My theory on why all hockey players are so boring: It takes three beers to loosen them up because their brains are rendered senseless by the stench of sweaty, stinky hockey equipment. It's like the smell of death -- you can't get it out of your nostrils once it gets in there. Hence, they're on autopilot until that fourth beer makes the stench go away. And then? All hell breaks loose."

The last time I had my equipment washed (which was also by Diane's mom) Bush was still president, the New York State Senate was still a Republican (yet dignified) body, and the world was unaware of Bristol Palin's sexcapades. It was getting so bad that I was getting dirty looks in the locker room.

Monday, September 20, 2010


In July 2008, I began an installment called the Best Color Scheme Among Flag Carriers Tournament. I envisioned it as a summer project. More than 2 years later, here I am - trying to finish out this damned thing. Just to refresh your memory, because god knows I needed my own memory refreshed, I picked a winner from eight regions with all the winners advancing to a huge Elite Eight tournament to determine once and for all the best color scheme among flag carriers. Today is the final qualification tournament as we (I) select the US representative to this elite field.

As you know, America does not have a flag carrier, since, you know, that sounds communist. So today we are picking the US winner from a group of 16 airlines (including 2 defunct, yet classic US airlines - PanAm and Eastern).

There are two 8-airline brackets seeded as follows based on numerous factors, including regional balance, yearly passenger load, and other factors that I, as commissioner, determined but do not have to divulge. Here are the brackets:

South/West Bracket:
1. Southwest (appropriately enough)
2. American Airlines
3. Eastern Airlines
4. US Airways
5. Northwest
6. Allegiant
7. Hawaiian
8. Alaska

North/East Bracket:
1. Delta
2. United
3. PanAm
4. Continental
5. Spirit
6. Air Trans
7. JetBlue
8. Frontier

So...onto the work at hand. Let's start with the South/West Bracket:

Round 1 Matches:
(1) Southwest vs. (8) Alaska: I dislike having to make difficult decisions and already I have been saddled with a tough choice. One the one hand, the Southwest colorscheme is pleasing to my eyes - but it also seems quite loud to me. And while the Alaska colorscheme is simple, it still does just enough (like having lines of different widths running down the fuselage) to keep my attention. I am also fascinated by the Eskimo on the tail. I am going with Alaska on this because in the end, I don't think I like the wavy blend of red and blue on the southwest fuselage. I don't get it - why can't they have a straight line where the colors meet? Winner: Alaska.(4) US Airways vs. (5) Northwest: There are things to like about both of these color schemes. Although US Airways has the basic white color scheme, there is a lot of activity around it. I am a huge fan of the subtle gray that Northwest uses - and I really like the lower case "nwa" that they use here. It's a nice touch. The only part of the US Airways color scheme that I am not getting is the block of red at the top of the tail. It is out of place. Winner: Northwest.(3) Eastern vs. (6) Allegiant: I have always had a soft spot for Eastern since that was the airline that brought us to America. So even though it no longer exists, I thought that they merited a spot in this important tournament. I also am a big fan of Allegiant since they are the only commercial airline to fly in and out of Fort Collins. In this case I am going with Eastern because I believe they need to be rewarded with the fuel-saving and Earth-friendly polished color-scheme. Being green pays off, people. Winner: Eastern.
(2) American vs. (7) Hawaiian: Props for the polished look that American uses (see above). But American is not advancing simply because of the polish - it's also advancing because of the fine eagle on the tail and the great font. And Hawaiian - I am sorry but that lady on the tail is cartoonish. For reference on how to put an acceptable face on an airplane, see Airlines, Alaska. Winner: American.Round II Matches:
(8) Alaska vs. (5) Northwest: There certainly is a charm to a simple colorscheme such as the one used by Alaska. The problem with that, as I see it, is that it can result in a less dynamic appearance. Take Northwest's old color scheme (see it here): it was exciting and "busy." But when the time came for a new look, Northwest was able to adapt and come up with a new look that preserved the heritage of the old colorscheme. I am fascinated with how Northwest adapted the tiny triangle in the N/W on the tail and used it as the main point of attention on the new colorscheme. I think that although the Alaska colorscheme is certainly attractive, it has nowhere to go from here. On the other hand, I am excited to see what Northwest does next. As a side note, props to Alaska for some very well crafted special colorschemes, like the Salmon Plane below. Winner: Northwest.
(2) American vs. (3) Eastern: It is fitting and good for the environment that these two eco-friendly color schemes have advanced this far. Despite the significant similarities between these colorschemes, there are, in fact, substantive differences. First, the stripes on the Eastern fuselage rise through the tail at the back of the plane. That is not a very aesthetic look in my mind. On a similar note, while American sports the AA and eagle on the tail, there is nothing new or unique on the Eastern tail. Winner: American.

Round III: South/West Bracket Final
(2) American vs. (5) Northwest: This final has come down to a battle between two different styles. While Northwest was praised for its dynamic colorscheme, American has advanced largely on its ingenuity and classic symbols. And, ultimately, that is where I make my determination - the symbols. The American tail is distinctive and recognizable. Not to take anything away from Northwest, but sometimes the price you pay for product rebranding is a loss in identity. And what is more important than identity in a colorscheme? Winner: American.
Now it's time for the North/East bracket. Here we go with...

Round I Matches:
(1) Delta vs. (8) Frontier: Perhaps in a preview of what may be coming in subsequent rounds, I am just going to have to put out there that I have a slight problem with the Delta flag on the tail. I can see how the country's flag would be helpful on an airplane, but I don't think a "company" flag is appropriate. That being said, although I have shown some love to the hint of gray earlier in this post (see Airlines, Northwest), I am not a fan of the large, fuselage-encompassing soft gray used by Frontier. But the animals on the tail are cute and they made for some good commercials back in the day. Winner: Delta.(4) Continental vs. (5) Spirit: I like both of these colorschemes very much. Continental offers a nice two-toned fuselage with a fine golden line to separate the colors. And it is hard to mess up the globe on the tail. Spirit - like others before it - very effectively uses the soft gray. I don't think their colorscheme would work well with a white background so I give them props for that. I go with Continental here though because I don't like how the square-fade works in the tail of the Spirit colorscheme. Winner: Continental.

(3) PanAm vs. (6) AirTrans:
There is a lot to like about the traditional PanAm colorscheme. The lettering is bold, and although similar in font and size to Frontier, it differentiates itself in that it is dark lettering instead of the light, almost "excuse me" lettering on Frontier's fuselage. And again, like I said about Continental, it is hard to mess up the globe on the tail. Huge props as well for writing the names of the planes near the cockpit. AirTrans essentially offers Southwest lite and I am not feeling it. The lower case "a" on the tail is a nice touch, but not nearly sufficient to knock off PanAm. Winner: PanAm.(2) United vs. (7) JetBlue: This was a very one-sided contest for me. United's new colorscheme is pretty awesome by my estimation. And actually, I would even say that their previous two colorschemes have been awesome and awesomer. I have always believed that a great colorscheme is one that can evolve and retain the greatness of the previous design and incorporate that into the new colorscheme. By that yardstick, United has been very successful. There is nothing inherently wrong with JetBlue's colorscheme. It is pretty dull by comparison here, though. Winner: United.
Now...on to Round II Matches:

(1) Delta vs. (4) Continental: I am somewhat conflicted here because I genuinely don't have major issues with these colorschemes. Sure, I made some disparaging remarks about the flag on Delta's tail earlier - but in reality the design is well laid out. Upon some research into the Continental colorscheme, I did find that I do not like how it looks on the Boeing 757 - which is my favorite plane at the mo'. Just like a great colorscheme must be able to evolve, it should also look good on the planes you fly. The problem with the Continental colorscheme on the Boeing 757 is that it makes the plane look disproportionate. Look at the Boeing 767 here: See how the gold line runs down the middle of the nose? Now look at the Boeing 757: See how the gold line is higher than the middle of the nose? Winner: Delta.

(2) United vs. (3) PanAm: Huge props to PanAm in this contest since it is the closest the US has come to a "flagcarrier." However, in this match up, I think PanAm bows out. If I had to pick one reason that United wins here it's the tail design - there is nothing wrong with PanAm's globe, but the United "U" is very imposing and, dare I say it, almost intimidating. Winner: United.

And now for the North/East Bracket Final:

(1) Delta vs. (2) United: I had not mentioned this earlier, but Delta does employ a partly-polished look on its planes' underbelly, which on these pages has been rewarded due to it's eco-friendliness. However, from a purely, purely aesthetic standpoint, the polished underbelly clashes too strongly with the white of the rest of the colorscheme. While I applaud Delta for it's partial green colorscheme, the artist within me must also punish them for an unbalanced look. Plus, if you're going to save Earth, you might as well go all the way. Winner: United.

So here we are at the final. East meets West. North and South will collide. Again. The winner advances to the big dance and will represent the US.

(2) American vs. (2) United: In a way it is very fitting that one of these airlines will be representing the US in the final tournament. Even in their names they embody the spirit of this country. These two airlines arrived here for different reasons. American has had a traditional look that has endured. And - yes, I am mentioning it again - the polished look helps. United has gone through various colorschemes even in my short lifetime - and each of the looks has been impressive. This is going to be a very difficult decision indeed. As I study both of these colorschemes closely, I am find it challenging to find a significant enough flaw on either of these colorschemes. In fact, I just keep finding pleasant surprises. For example, even the order of the red, white and blue stripes on American make sense. In any other order I am not sure if they would look that good. And the gradation and fade-in of the blue to white on United is very well done. The shades and sizes of the stripes are ideal. However, at the end of the day this is a competition about colorschemes on airplanes. The colorscheme that best suits airplanes should be the one that wins. While the polished look on American is beautiful and well complemented, I can't help but feel that the colors and variations on United help bring the different parts of the airplane out. American is like the naked human body with all its imperfections and faults. United planes are dressed up and ready to shine. Winner: United.And here are the eight finalists who will be competing for the title of "Best Colorscheme Among Flagcarriers:"

South America:
North America:
Air Vanuatu
Middle East:
Saudi Arabian
Air Tanzania

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dunkin Run Results

Diane, AK and I ran the Dunkin Donuts 5K run last weekend. The race started and ended at the Jewish Community Center. The course was nothing out of the ordinary - the second and third mile actually overlapped.

I improved on my Valley Cats 5K run, which I ran in 25:25. Here is the Garmin view of the race.

Sun, Sep 12, 2010 8:33 AM added by niquin21
Map data ©2010 Google - Terms of Use
2000 ft
500 m
Activity Type:
Event Type:
3.14 mi
Elevation Gain:
11 ft
485 C

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chasing Waterfalls: Niagara Edition

I have a fair bit of catch-up blogging to do from my various activities this summer (including a trip to an airplane mecca) but I thought I would start by bringing back a popular installment here at Airplanes I Have Known - Chasing Waterfalls. (See installment one and two.)

A good friend and former colleague of mine was married in August in Olean, NY. By the way, I think it is important to know that Olean is only about 20 miles closer to Albany than it is to Toledo, OH.

Given that we were practically going to be in the Rust Belt, we decided to make a long weekend out of the journey. So we left Albany on Friday and headed towards Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region. Diane had planned a trip to four wineries, all of which were spectacular. We visited Hunts, Dr. Frank's, Blue Heron, and Bully Hill. All were spectacular. By the way, there is no fee to do a wine tasting at Dr. Frank's. Just sayin'.We stayed in Bath, NY that night, which is a very ironic name for a Western New York town. When we went out looking for a place to eat that night, we stumbled across the Bath Town Fair. And it had all the glitz and glamour of a Town Fair. There were of course the rides, fried things to eat in the shape of a stick or a ball, and mullets. Note to my cautious readers: Do not be tricked to ride "The Scrambler." Trust me, it will nauseate you.
We decided that it was probably not a good idea to eat carnival food, since we were going to be on the road for the next few days. We ended up finding an old hotel in the town which was still open and serving food. We walked in to a near empty establishment with an older lady sitting at a table, a lone traveler at the bar, and an older gentleman (who we later learned was the owner) behind the bar. My burger at this joint cost me a cool $3.75.

This meal was actually a very underrated part of the trip. The owner of the hotel (the Old Northern) had that folksy charm that I thought only existed in 1980's movies. A traveler who had been sent over by the Super 8 came in while we were eating and asked if there were any rooms available for him and his wife. The owner told him, "The bridal suite is available." The traveler paused and asked, "What is it going to cost me?" " It's $67 if you pay cash, $70 credit." Diane and I smirked at this point. First of all, this guy had just probably filled his most expensive room, and second of all, his most expensive room costs $67. He was, by the way, very proud of himself for having let that room out - he exclaimed as much to the lady sitting at the table by herself. When I went to pay for the check, he said, "Give me a $100 and we'll call it even." The meal, plus the very generous tip was a $32 American.

From there we made our way to Olean. On the way we stopped at Allegany State Park for a picnic so that Diane could show me around. We ended up having a nice picnic by the lake in the park, and it was so nice that we didn't leave the park for the wedding until 3pm. The problem, you see, is that the ceremony started at 3:30pm and Olean was about 18 miles away. But we made it by the skin of our teeth. It was a beautiful ceremony in what was an old library that has been converted to a restaurant. The food was great, the newlyweds were stunning, and I even danced without the assistance of alcohol.From there, it was onward and upward towards the greater Buffalo/Niagara area. We had planned to visit the falls and stay on the Canadian side the last night before heading home. So on Sunday afternoon we walked around the American side of the Falls. That night we had dinner at Margaritaville to celebrate my birthday (and where we coincidentally ran into - or rather, were run into - by the newlyweds!) and afterwards we walked around the Canadian side of the Falls before turning in for the night.
On Monday morning we had one last hurrah at the Falls - we went on the Maid of the Mist. I highly recommend this if you have the opportunity. I have an affinity for bodies of water, and you get such a close up feeling for the power of water at the Falls. I don't know how one cannot be impressed by the sound of the Falls. Truly remarkable.As a side note, I think Diane wanted to do this because apparently some characters from The Office named Jim and Pam also went on this ride. Whatever.

After that, it was time to head home to see the Maid of the Misty Cat as I call her.That concludes this installment of Chasing Waterfalls. Please tune in for the next installment sometime after our October/November visit to Iguazu Falls.