theducks: (Default)
Today was the 2010 Boeing Aviation Geek Fest.

Let me begin by saying, going on the Boeing tour at the best of times is pretty geeky. This on the other hand, is a once a year tour they don't promote heavily, but the aviation geeks find out about one way or another.. It's slightly more expensive than the regular tour, but it's really for the hardcore fans.

We started off the day.. well, first, getting here from Canada. We left home and drove to Sumas. Took about 1.75 hours to get across the border.. first a 60 minute lineup to get to the border, then another 45 minutes in with the good people of Immigration to get our I-94 waiver forms (mostly waiting in lines - despite it not being the usual "tourist" border, they were still very nice), then zooming down the highway and getting to the Future of Flight and "checking in" for 1330 hours.

The AGF day started with a session from Boeing's professional aviation geek, Michael Lombardi, who is employed as an aviation historian. He went through the last 40 years of Boeing, and gave some fun insights and back stories, then a bit of a Q+A, then some chatting with each other over free candy (yay halloween), then the tour.

Let me step back.. the regular Boeing tour is pretty cool, you walk on high level platforms and look out over a sight which is similar to the construction of the USSS Enterprise in the most recent Star Trek movie. This tour, on the other hand, is at ground level, walking on the actual factory floor, and through, around and on planes in various stages of production. Sweeet. You have to wear eye protection, just in case, and watch your step through and around cables. It's an amazing facility up close.

Inside the factory we saw 777 LN903 for Turkish Airlines up close and personal, getting to kick the tires, almost literally, in addition to actually walking in and around the pieces that would make up LN908 for Air Egypt. As well as that, we saw the first 747-8i in final body join, a bunch of 787s (including the first 3 for Air India) and the 787 static test article.

Then, they dragged us out of the factory, with some difficulty and back onto the bus. Which did a tour of the KPAE flightline parking lot. I believe a record for the loudest cheer for doing a left-hand turn was set this day when this was announced. We went up and around all the planes waiting for final fit-out and delivery (this site has pictures of them from a-far). Saw 777s for V Australia and Air New Zealand, as well as all the 787s for ANA, and a bunch of 787-8f's for Cargolux, Korean Airlines and Cathay Pacific Cargo.

Then it was back to the Future of Flight center for Pizza and networking with other geeks before heading off to our hotel.

Everyone knows planes are big, even "small" planes like the 737, but the size of the 747 and 777s are pretty amazing. I gush on the regular factory tour, and it's probably more interesting for most people than the one we did, but the fact is that almost every international airliner in service today was made in either this factory, or Airbus's in Toulouse.

What Boeing makes here is pretty much the pinnacle of humankind's knowledge of technology and ability to build machines, and it's amazing privilege to get up close and personal on the factory floor. Future of Flight is an amazing center at the best of times, and I have to say, today was an amazing day. I feel so lucky to have been able to attend. Very few members of the public get to do factory floor tours, with this years and last years, there was some overlap, so it's probably under 75 people have done this one.

So thank you very much to Future of Flight, Boeing Commercial Aircraft and Airline Reporter for organising the day! Look forward to next year's!

See also: Photos from the Stratodeck
theducks: (Default)
Please forgive me in advance for the nerding..

Went to the Abbotsford International Airshow yesterday while [ profile] lizbyrd was at Anime Evolution (I bought a ticket to that too, but haven't been making as good use as her :)

The drive there was incredibly slow in parts, despite being on the Trans-Canada highway, and I think that (and the associated return trip) make the longest drive I've ever done by myself. But my trusty steed, the Prius and my iPod kept me company.

I slip'ed and slop'ed, but not slapped. I don't think I got any permanent damage, and the sunscreen seems to have done the trick. Just for reference, spending 4 hours in 40 degree heat on a black runway is.. something to only do in situations like this, where there is planespotting joy to be had..

So, first, the big list of what I went inside and oooed and aaahed at:

  • Canadian Forces CC-150 Polaris (Airbus A310) (15004)

  • Canadian Forces CC17 (702)

  • USAF C-17 Globemaster (06-6162)

  • USAF C-5 Galaxy (68-0216)

  • USAF KC10 Extender (DC-10) (86-0031)

  • USAF KC135R (Boeing 707) (62-3521)

Also on display was one of ELINT KC135Rs, some C130s, some A10 Thunderbolts, a SH-3 Skyking and a Eurocopter. In support of the airshow, there were another 2 CC17s, and a USAF C-17 parked in the area.

There were also displays setup from Canadian Forces, the Abbotsford Police and the RCMP Lower Mainland Hostage Rescue Team. Showing typical restraint, they had their guns on display for people to hold, with trigger and mag locks. So I got to hold a M-16, MP5, Remington Shotgun, Taser and a 9mm S&W 5946. I'm a boy. Also had a chat with a Mountie from their traffic safety division who had a daughter going to Curtin. Hah.

Another impressive part of the airshow was actually the stuff in the air. Who would have thought! Like these guys:

Abbotsford International Airshow

More photos on my flickr. I'm glad I bought the 100-400mm lens. It's good for stuff like this for sure :)
theducks: (Default)
Just a quick post to let everyone know that we made it to Switzerland safely. The almost 13 hour flight couldn't have been better. An almost brand new plane (777-300ER) flying at about 10% pax capacity. I had a short nap in the middle of the flight. Apparently there's not much demand for a mid-week flight from Singapore to Zurich. Who knew?

Watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, Get Smart, Speed Racer (turned off midway through, sucked a lot) and In The Line of Fire, as well as some Family Guy, Simpsons, Flight of the Conchords, The Mighty Boosh and My Name is Earl (Did I mention it was a 13 hour flight?)

Also, I always get a bit of a rush flying over Afghanistan.

Our hotel room is cosy, but nicer than the one in London in 2006 which was really really cosy..
theducks: (Default)
Went out for dinner last night with my only enduring friend from ECU. No, seriously. I can't remember the names of most of the people in my degree, let alone keep in touch with them. Most of them were mature students and doing the degree only a few units at a time, so I barely got to know them. This one is also a family friend of Elizabeths, because, you know, Perth.


Some of you may need reminding of how much of a nerd I am. Probably not, but tough cheddar.

So today, having seen many of Sydney's sights, I decided to do some plane spotting (nerd level at 80% and rising). Many people would just go to the viewing deck at the airport (nerd level at 85% and rising, he knows there's a viewing deck). But it's not the best via in the house. I went to "The Beach" (spot E on that diagram) (nerd level at 90% and rising.. he went web searching to find out the best place to spot at Sydney Airport). Getting there via public transport was kind of an adventure. But I'd pre-programmed my GPS with the co-ordinates, so once the bus got within 500m in Sydney suburbia, I got off and walked the rest of the way (95%! I canna hold it much longer captain!)

It was a good view, but you had to listen for the engines, since the places you could get a good shot from were different to where you could get a good view of the runway (thanks 2.5m fence!). The security people are obviously used to people spotting from the location I was at, since they just waved when they made their regular patrols. I met some other anoraks (ok, seriously, they weren't that bad), and upon realising that my batteries in the camera were flat, they offered me a lift to the shops down the road to buy more. I mean, sure, mum always said don't take lifts with strangers, but c'mon, this was 3 x 50-something women and one guy of similar vintage in a Holden Astra, and I'm pushing 30 these days.. So I got some more batteries, had some lunch at a conveniently located Nandos, and made it back to a slightly different location (on the south groin of spot E) in time for the 3:25 SQ222 to Singapore, as flown with an A380.

How did I know that was then? Because, mes amis, I brought my laptop and a 3G wireless modem, to check the Sydney Airport Website for flight details (Oh god! Nerdiness at 110% cap'an! The engine's gonna blow!).

The south groin of The Beach is a great spot, but the wind was.. very very cold. As previously mentioned, Three's 3G service counts uploads, so I am only uploading a photo proving my nerdiness, and a photo of the A380 for now. Oh, and wow are the A380s quiet. I mean, seriously, very very quiet. The residents of Sydney would be pleased.


Tomorrow night, meeting up with a friend from WWDC07 in Glebe for tasty vegetarian foods. She doesn't work for Apple any more (Yahoo!7 these days), but we're meeting at the NextByte store, for geek measure. During the day tomorrow? Dunno yet.

In Sydney

Aug. 30th, 2008 10:52 am
theducks: (Default)
With many thanks to Qantas VH-EBX (a 747-300). My god Qantas at Perth airport is a total SNAFU.. there are huge lines, lots of desks for baggage drop, but only one guy actually accepting the luggage. There are more people marshalling the rowdy lines than there are behind the desks. I can't help but think this isn't a great situation for anyone except Qantas... we did get seats together, despite seperate bookings, by checking in online.

So the Hotels we're staying at have internets, but for $25-$28/day. With us being here 8 days, we worked out that it would be cheaper to just buy a Three Mobile Broadband package outright, then cancel it after a month (no contract, woo!). So that's what I did. Maybe we can also use it to webcast the wedding or something silly like that..

In any case, that plan comes with a Huawei E220 modem, and 3Gb for $30 month, which is awesome. We'll check usage after this month and I suspect next time only activate it for $15/month for 1Gb of data. The service requires a phone number, which AFAICT, can only be used to send SMSes. I guided the newbie sales girl (who admittedly, was very helpful and nice) through her online system and ended up with 043344DUCK, which pleases me greatly. Maybe one day I could port that number across to my Virgin prepaid and get a different number for this service.. but we'll see.

Plans for today are to be touristy, once we get out of the hotel (flight arrived at 6:30AM, got to hotel at 7:30AM, went back to sleep until 10:30AM)

Edited to add: Saw my first A380 at Sydney.. they're kinda big, but not actually as big as you'd think..
theducks: (Default)
Last night I went over to bug [ profile] grahame, currently on his way to Vancouver, and we were discussing getting from Vancouver to Seattle. There's definitely any number of easy ways (for $20-$50), but it seems that there's also a hard way, but it only costs $4 - - UBC to Seattle, by community public transport.
theducks: (Default)
Any landing you can walk away from is a good one

And any landing where the aircraft can be used again is a great one

This, Qantas, was only a good one.

(Ok, in fairness, they'll probably have it in the air again in a few months, but they can't /immediately/ fly it out of Manila)
theducks: (Default)
To lose one 747 could be considered bad luck. To lose 2 x 747s in two months, looks like carelessness.

With apologies to Oscar Wilde..
theducks: (Default)
So we went to Queensland, by plane. From Perth to Sydney, we got VH-EBX, then waited in Sydney for a while, where we saw Reg Grundy's BBJ (Nxxxxx) and CS-TMT, amoung others, and then took VH-OGG from Sydney to Brisbane. We got a direct flight back to Perth on VH-VXP
theducks: (Default)
Am back in Perth.. woo!

Saw N747GE in Hong Kong. Woo!

Also, worked out that the aircraft we saw in Perth on the way out was the NKC-135E, a special ECM modified Stratotanker.
theducks: (Default)
I'm in San Francisco, y'all. Thanks to C-GBHN.

The 45 minute drive from the airport was fun, except for someone grabbing the wrong black air canada bag. This meant that at the end of the run, I was the last person on the bus, and there was a black air canada bag, but it weren't mine. The advantages of staying in a US$191/night hotel is that they have people to take care of this sort of stuff. I was re-united with my luggage 45 minutes later, mostly without incident. The driver of the shuttle bus said that he was supposed to be paid for bringing my luggage back to me. I agreed with him, and pointed to the two people in his van, who had mistakenly taken my luggage, and suggested he have a chat to them about it, and then walked off. I think I may need to get a shuttle from a different company for the ride back ;-)

Bag troubles aside, the ride went through a lot of very pretty neighbourhoods, and past Merced Lake park, which is amazingly beautiful, even from the road.

So, yeah, things are good.


Jun. 2nd, 2007 12:29 pm
theducks: (Default)
Also, geeks, I flew from Perth to Sydney on VH-QPI

For [ profile] frenchiephish's interest, I flew from Sydney to San Fran on VH-OJF

While taxing, I noted a private 767 with the rego N2767, which sounded familiar. For good reason, it belongs to Google :P

Haha.. the plane for Toronto has just pulled in. I'm flying on C-FWTF.
theducks: (Default)
Am in singapore. Tried to get co-ords for those trying to launch a targeted missle strike, but alas, my GPS needs new batteries.

Hotel is nice, am on the 18th floor. I have a nice view. All is well with the world.

Edited 2008-07-01 to add that it was on Boeing 777, reg 9V-SRK

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