Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Wright Brothers Would be Proud!

The new Airbus 380 stopped by the Minneapolis/St Paul Int'l Airport this week. It arrived on Monday evening. On Tuesday, it did a demonstration flight with several local media personnel and a lot of Northwest Airlines uppity ups. I'm sure Airbus had hopes that Northwest would order a few of these new airplanes. Today it left MSP at around 10 AM and headed out to Los Angeles, CA to continue it's tour.

I decided to drive out to the MSP airport today to watch it take-off. I showed up with my handheld scanner in hand and my camera around my neck. I stood out in the frigid cold with all the other aviation nerds waiting for this huge airplane to take-off. There were about 45 people standing up on a hill near the end of the runway, a lot of them brought their cameras, a few others brought scanners as well to listen to the pilots receive their take off clearance.

Although we couldn't see the body of the airplane where it was parked, at nearly 80 feet tall, we could see the tail protruding over other buildings. As the A380 taxied out to runway 30L, it finally came into full view and I have to say, it is very impressive. As you may know, it is a "double decker" airplane, much like those "double decker" tour buses you might see in Europe. Unlike the double deck tour buses though, the A380 has a roof over the second level. It weighs over 1.2 million pounds at it's maximum take-off weight and will carry about 525 people over 8,000 nautical miles.

After it taxied on to the runway we heard the tower controller on the scanner say "Airbus 380 Super, runway 30L, fly runway heading, cleared for take-off." We could see the dust start to fly behind the A380 as it started it's take-off roll. With a very light load, it lifted off about half-way down the 10,000 foot long runway. Because of it's size, it looked like it was going very slow when it was actually accelerating through over 200 MPH as it flew overhead. It turned to the west and left a cool vortex in the clouds as it was climbing out.

It's been just over 100 years since Orville and Wilbur Wright flew the first airplane and I have to say, we've come a long way since then. Although I may never get the chance to fly an Airbus 380, it sure was fun to see one of the biggest passenger planes in the world right here in my hometown.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

Well, if you watch TV today and turn to your favorite news station you'll probably see some 3rd chair reporter sent out to the airport to do the big "Thanksgiving Day Rush" story. He'll talk about how long the lines are at the airport. Haven't the lines been long since 9/11? He'll also talk about how it's going to snow somewhere and it's going to affect the departures and arrivals to certain airports. Well, it is November and it tends to snow in the winter time.

You may also hear stories of how bad traffic will be on the roads and how expensive gas is. As far as I can figure, most people aren't working on Thanksgiving or the day after and those same people are driving somewhere else to visit family so, it's probably going to equal out. I don't foresee any big traffic jams because there's a turkey in someones oven. As a matter of fact, Thanksgiving is probably the biggest carpooling day ever because everyone is driving around and they at least have their significant other or more likely, the whole family, in the car with them.

As far as gas goes, it's been expensive for a while, it might be an extra $0.05/gallon but what's that equal per tank, an extra $1....maybe an extra $3 if you're driving a motor home. Not a big deal.

So, if you have to travel today or tomorrow, take it from somebody who travels for a living. Don't freak out about things, show up at the airport, get on the plane, go fly somewhere. Get in your car, if traffic slows down, slow down with it. What's the hurry? When you're on your way to visit your family and you get to the gas station, be thankful that there's someone working there to take your money instead of being at home with their family.

If you're reading this blog on a computer, consider yourself blessed. Be thankful for everything you have, sure there may be some people that have more than you, but there's a lot of people that aren't nearly as blessed as you are....and they're not wasting their time reading my blog.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Banks and Grocery Stores

Yesterday a TCF bank located in a South St Paul Cub Foods grocery store was robbed. What's funny about the story is that the bank was robbed twice. Not twice in the last year, not twice in the last month, it was robbed twice.......yesterday!

According to the news article it was robbed by two different people. The police investigator and FBI had literally just left the store and minutes later, a different fellow walks in with a gun and demands money. The first guy said he had a gun, apparently the second man showed them a gun.

How do you think the first robber felt when he heard that the same bank he robbed was robbed later that same day? Maybe this went through his head, "I thought I got all the money, they had more money that they didn't give me?" Should he go back to the bank and complain? "Yeah, I was the one who robbed you earlier today, I hear you gave more money to another robber this afternoon? When I said, give me all your money, I meant all of your money! I didn't mean, leave some money for the next robber. Can I see your manager?"

As I said earlier, this bank was located within a grocery store. Why are there so many banks in grocery stores? Who decided that would be a good idea? I guess they want people to get all their errands done at once. What if it were the other way around though? A grocery store inside of a bank. If someone went to a bank manger and said, "I'd like to install a grocery store in your bank, would that be okay?" I'd imagine the bank manager would just laugh as he escorted the man out of the building. Yet, a bank inside of a grocery store....that's a good idea.

As of late, they haven't found either of the robbers. Maybe the robber went to the bank at the grocery store because they needed money for groceries and they figured it was a "two birds with one stone" type of thing. Wouldn't it be funny if while the FBI is at the bank investigating the robbery, the robber is in the dairy aisle picking up some milk for dinner.

I think I'm going to stick with grocery stores without banks for a while, of course, what if someone robs the grocery store?

Monday, November 05, 2007

What Time Is It?

Well, yesterday was the big test to see how well adults follow directions. I'm pretty sure "they" purposely have daylight saving times on the weekend so if you screw it up, you have all day Sunday to try and figure out why you just missed the first hour of the football game. I'm not really sure why "they" have daylight saving time. Do people know that changing the time doesn't change how long the sun shines on us during the day?

I'm sure it's published somewhere but the weekend that we all change our clocks always seems to be a rumor that's just floating around. You never see it on a calender or anything, you just hear it from random people, "Hey, don't forget to change your clock tonight." You might hear from your local weather person on the news or read it in the newspaper but you'd think something like this would be published on all the calendars. My desk calendar tells me important things like when the moon is going to be full, but not when the entire nation is going to change the current time.

Then there's the clocks that automatically change, I really hate those things. Because of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that Bush signed into law, we're now "falling back" an entire week later so some of the clocks in my house were an hour off when I woke up last week . I wish none of the clocks changed automatically because now I have to remember which clocks I have that change automatically and change them by an hour the week before daylight saving time to accommodate for them automatically changing when they're not supposed to, then I have to change them on my own anyway a week later. What happens if you change a clock that was going to change on it's own but you didn't know it? Now you wake up and your two hours off.

When I was a kid my dad and I were going to go deer hunting the Sunday of daylight saving time. For some reason "fall back" didn't sound right but "fall forward" sounded good to us so we set our clocks forward an hour before we went to bed. We awoke and got out to the forest we were going to hunt in at 5 AM. Well, we thought it was 5 AM but when we noticed that there wasn't any hint of the sun coming up we realized it was actually 3 AM, not 5 AM.

As a pilot, we use a standard time year round. It's called UTC which stands for Universal Coordinated time. It's also known as "Zulu" time. It never changes.....ever. If I told you to call me at 1000 Zulu time, regardless of where you were in the world, it would be 1000 Zulu where I am. There's no AM/PM crap, it's a 24 hour clock, it's actually very simple. I think the whole world should use that to simplify things. Of course, your kid might be going to school at 1300 instead of 0800 but it would still be in the morning when the sun is coming up.

Well, I'm running late for an appointment.....actually, what time is it?