Out With The Old, In With The New

Now that we are only a few hours away from 2008 being reality, I plan on spending time reflecting on 2007 and setting goals for 2008.  While 2007 was an interesting year full of lows (my mom’s trip to the hospital) and highs (paying off my car, my vacation),  I would expect 2008 to be even better as I continue to work toward happiness, develop this blog, and find my niche in life.   I would encourage everyone to spend a few minutes reflecting on the previous year, admiring your efforts and knowing where you are.  Whether it is a simple list of events or a complete scrapbook with photos, you will cherish it forever.

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Remembering Eastern Flight 401

On December 29, 1972, Eastern Flight 401 crashed into the Florida everglades with 163 passengers and 13 crew on board. There were only 75 “miracle” survivors. The Lockheed L1011 was left unmanned and flew itself into the ground. The flight deck crew were busy trying to diagnose a landing gear light that had not illuminated and believed the autopilot was flying the plane. By the time the crew realized what was happening it was too late. The captain pulled back on the yoke and banked the aircraft to the left, causing the wing to contact the ground and the plane to crash.

For more information and stories about those who survived and those who did not, please visit the Miami Herald’s Flight 401 documentary website.

Some quick facts:
– This accident represents the first loss of a Lockheed L1011
– This is the third worst accident  involving an L1011
– Currently, this accident is the 16th worst airline accident in US history.

For more information about the investigation, the NTSB’s accident investigation report, and the cockpit voice recorder transcript, please visit the Aviation Safety Network.

Flying on US Airways… Nothing Special.

Well, I made it to Texas for the holidays.  I arrived Friday night, but couldn’t get internet access until today.  The flight was uneventful and worked out really well, getting from Santa Barbara, CA to San Antonio, TX with only one stop in Phoenix, AZ.  I had never flown US Airways, but since their recent acquisition of America West, this was the perfect opportunity.

I drove down to SBA and left my car in their long-term lot.  I ended up hiking in from the far end of the lot to the terminal building.  I think the better option is to park in the off airport long-term lot and take the shuttle, which drops you off in front of the terminal building (greatly reducing the walking time).

Once at the terminal, there was no check-in line.  Since I had already checked in via the web, I handed over my two bags and sat outside in the cold.  SBA is one of those airports that hasn’t realized that its not 1920 anymore.  Unfortunately, the times, security, and the passenger traffic has exceeded what the terminal was designed for.  The crappiest thing about it is that once you go through security, there are no bathrooms!   So, you end up crammed in a tiny, smelly, stale room waiting to board the airplane.  Come on! I think I would rather deal with LAX than go through SBA again!

The flight from SBA to PHX was uneventful and short.  We flew in a new CRJ900 that still had the red America West Express logo on the seats.  Apparently, someone forgot to tell the interior guys that they had been bought out by US Airways.  😉

Approaching PHX, I got confused on where we were.  It looks like we flew south and then did a 180 for runway 25R.   I have never done that before, as I usually get to see downtown and the two stadiums as we approach the 08 runways.  However, the landing was hard and I got to see a beautiful Delta 757 on the tarmac.

I had a short layover in Phoenix, just long enough to get some food and hike over to the gate.  I stopped at Burger King in terminal B for a Whopper. I wouldn’t recomend it to anyone.  The airport Burger King is not the same as the stand alone version and uses microwaves in their preparation.  Honestly, it was food so I was content.

Just as it looked like we were going to board our flight to San Antonio, they announced that they had a “maintenance issue” with the aircraft and that boarding would be delayed. However, just as I sat down to watch the mindless stream of images on CNN, they announced the boarding for my flight!  Once on board, it was clear that they probably had a number of “maintenance issues” to deal with.  This was probably the first ever CRJ200 that was ever built, or at least it looked like it.  The seats were old and the leather cracked, the seat numbers were rubbed off, the overhead bins were badly scraped and dented and there was a smell that only Mike Rowe would relate to.

Despite all of the “issues” the plane landed at San Antonio.  The pilot only used a very small portion of the runway by jamming on the brakes and planting our heads into the seatbacks.   However, the strangest thing about the entire flight was not the ghetto plane, but the robotic flight attendant that could only utter phrases from the handbook, and lacked any and personality.

Overall, I would give US Airways a passing grade, thats it.  The flight were overbooked (something that really pisses me off), but the planes arrived and departed on time.  The service was nothing special and was a far cry from how I remember the America West service.  US Airways turned America West into an American or Continental copy cat. I will never forgive them for that.

HJG’s DC-8’s for FSX, among other things!

Over at Historic Jetliners Group (HJG), another website update is under their belt. The last time they updated their site, we were treated to their wonderful BAe-146 model. With the 12-19 update, we not only see additional repaints for the BAe-146, but also an updated DC-8 model that makes it FSX compatible. I haven’t had a chance to check it out (I’m leaving town for the holidays shortly!), but it certainly looks good.

Other updates include a new core Boeing panel, a revised 707-138B model and various other repaints. Check out their site >here<.