The last Boeing 747 was delivered to a customer on January 31, 2023.
It marks the end of an era, the end of a 53-year long production run for Boeing. The last Boeing 747 was delivered to Atlas Air, on January 31. Atlas is a major scheduled cargo airline, and passenger charter airline, based in Purchase, New York, just outside New York City. The 747 is iconic in America’s pop culture. It’s instantly recognizable with the distinctive ‘hump’ on the top.
Polar Air Cargo
I have had the good fortune to both ride on the 747 as a passenger, a time or two, and in my professional work, years ago, I worked for a cargo airline, Polar Air Cargo, as an aircraft dispatcher and was ‘dispatch qualified’, as they call it, on the 747. This meant I was qualified to do the flight planning for cargo flights going around the world. And of course, it was all done via computer. We did not have time to do it by hand. Those days are long over.
The 747 is a logistical nightmare at times, given the complexities involved with international flight planning over long distances, sometimes up to 12 hours, when considering various international routes (north Atlantic, Trans-Pacific, Hawaii) available and the upper-level winds, fuel consumption, cruising Mach number, and would it be able to fly non-stop, or would a ‘tech’ stop (fuel stop) be required? Many calculations were involved.
As I recall, we had an 18-item checklist that we used when flight planning, so we did not miss anything. And for European flights, we had to check with what is called Euro-Control, of which there were two ‘centers’, one in Brussels, and the other in Paris as I recall. Euro-Control controlled the ‘airways or routes that were used in Europe, and they would approve or deny the flight plans that I submitted. If denied, we would then have to work up another flight plan and hopefully it would be approved. It could get quite complicated. It was a lot of work! It was very hectic as well. But it was good experience, as well as an eye opener into the world of international flying and what is involved.
Boeing 747’s are sure to be flying for several more decades. They made long distance travel available to the masses. The 747 has been given the nickname, ‘Queen of the skies’, which is well deserved.
IF you are in need of any proficiency or FAA Wings Training, please get in touch with me to arrange this.
As I write this, today is the 119th anniversary of the Wright Brother’s historic first flight. One hundred nineteen years ago, on December 17, 1903, on the wind-swept sand-dunes of Kill Devil Hill in North Carolina, Orville Wright successfully made the first flight in a heavier-than-air aircraft, the Wright Flyer! He was only airborne for the short distance of 120’. The brothers, Orville, and Wilbur, who by trade owned a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, built their aircraft out of wood. In 1903 there were no other airplanes in existence. So, they had to build one.
And, using their own crude (by modern standards) engineering methods, through experimentation, trial, and error, they were able to build a simple ‘airframe’ structure that worked. And they had to find a mechanic to build the two engines for their airplane, because there was no internal combustion engine available that suited their purposes, either. They found one, locally. They were pioneers, and were starting an industry, but they were not aware of that, in their day.
How far we’ve come in 119 years! It’s amazing. What’s next? We take air travel for granted now. And how the airplane and air transportation have shaped the world that we live in today. Air transportation has influenced war and peace. Air commerce is now a driving force both in our culture and our world today, and has spawned an entire industry that moves millions of people and tons of cargo, annually. Even in remote corners of the planet.
Among the milestones since the first flight in 1903; in October 1944, a young USAF officer and test pilot, Chuck Yeager, broke the ‘sound barrier’ in an experimental rocket-powered aircraft, the Bell X-1, which he had named Glamorous Glennis, after his wife. And then in July 1969, the US put a man on the moon. Today, long-haul airliners span oceans and continents, flying up to 14 hours non-stop.
And for the occasion, I flew my Cessna 150 on a one-hour local flight, from Long Beach, because I had not flown it in 3 weeks. I’ve been busy or the weather has not been good enough to fly.
And, with this being December, this will be my last blog post for this year. Starting next month, in the new year, I will start to focus more on avionics (aviation electronics), which has become a huge industry in itself over the past twenty years. Now even the smallest of aircraft have instrument panels that are entirely ‘glass’, as it is called. How far we’ve come.
I would be remiss if I did not mention UAV’s, (unmanned aerial vehicles), which are a component of the UAS, or unmanned aircraft system, aka drones! They have become very popular in recent years, and now fill an increasingly important role in our world today.
And the FAA even has a separate certificate for drone operators, called the Remote Pilot Certificate, or RPC. I took the online training for this last year, to get a better understanding of drones, and now I have a Remote Pilot Certificate. It’s not a pilot certificate. It’s separate.
Goals and Adventures
As for any goals for next year, there are more airplanes that I hope to be able to fly, and more adventures that I hope to be able to take, when I am able to. I have a long bucket list! And it looks like I will be getting re-hired to go back to my job, after 2 years, 8 months being out of work. Ironically, work might get in the way of some adventures!
Possible adventures include an attempt at a record-setting flight in my 150 (yes, really). A record-setting flight will have to meet both US and FAI (Swiss-based Fédération Aeronautic Internationale) requirements and will likely be a one-way flight from Long Beach, CA (KLGB), to Chandler, AZ (KCHD), with a fuel stop in Blythe, CA (KBLH). I’ll just have to see how things go…
If you the reader, are in need of any proficiency or FAA Wings Training, let me know.
Fly safely, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year,
Long Beach Airport Festival of Flight is opened to the public annually
On Saturday, October 29, 2022, a portion of the west side of Long Beach Airport was opened to the public from 10am – 4pm, for the annual Long Beach Airport Festival of Flight. There were some airplanes on display, including my Cessna 150, which was one of several smaller aircraft being displayed. There were also many exhibitors, though fewer than last year, including some airport businesses, food vendors and music. It is a family friendly event.
This is a once-a-year event to allow anyone who is interested to see airplanes up close and ask questions. It is promoted on Facebook and Social-Media, as well as the local newspaper. The event organizers reached out to local businesses and were able to arrange for a UPS Boeing 757 cargo jet to be on display, along with several helicopters, and a US Coast Guard C-27 twin-turboprop, which is used for search and rescue.
My Cessna 150 was a very popular attraction, once I opened the pilot’s door! Shortly after that, a line started to form, and for about 90 minutes, parents and their kids stood patiently in line waiting for a photo op with their children in the pilot’s seat, with a big grin on their faces! It almost resembled a line at Disneyland! Seriously. It was nice. I stood close by and watched carefully and answered a few questions that were asked about the airplane. The parents were very respectful of my airplane and the time, quickly taking pictures and keeping the line moving, thanking me as they moved on.
An event like this is really important now, as helps people get a better idea of what goes on at an airport, and the importance of aircraft and the many roles that they play in our world today. Many are simply not aware of this, aside from an occasional airline flight that they might take, or when they have something shipped vis FEDEX or UPS. Just the way it is now.
So perhaps this made a positive impression on some of the attendees, or on some youngsters, who might decide to find out more about airplanes and perhaps consider aviation as a possible career choice. This also serves as good PR for the airport and the community in general, to make those who come out to see this, more aware of the airport and get a better idea what goes on. It’s better to be proactive, and build community support in advance, than reactive, after something happens, to try and educate people.
And did you know that the Long Beach Airport provides 9% of the jobs in Long Beach and has an annual economic impact of $11 Billion? This has been reported in the Long Beach Business Journal.
100 octane unleaded fuel (G100UL) is now approved!
This is really BIG news for General Aviation aircraft owners. On September 1, 2022, the FAA signed the STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) that approves the use of 100-octane unleaded aviation fuel, or ‘avgas’ for all general aviation piston engine aircraft. There is much work yet to be done on this before it becomes widely available for use.
It has been a work in progress for many, many, years. During the early years of flying, several varieties of leaded av gas that were developed for piston engines of the era, especially for the larger engines that were later developed for use in WWII, requiring higher octane for combustion. But since the late 90’s, we have only had 100LL, or low lead. And lead is still required for high compression piston-engine airplanes to prevent ‘knocking’ and to enhance the quality rating of the fuel, which is necessary for the efficient combustion of fuel. This is all part of the chemical engineering.
This work has been spear-headed by GAMI, General Aviation Modifications, Inc, founded in 1994 and located in Ada, OK. The FAA’s approval of the use of GA100UL fuel in all piston engines has long been a goal, to find one fuel that is suitable for all piston engine aircraft in the general aviation fleet. The co-founder of GAMI, Engineer George Braly, has been hard at work on this for a long time.
The process will take time as we transition the entire general aviation fleet to using G100UL fuel. It also requires an infrastructure, which is not yet in place, to support this and distribute the fuel to the 1000’s of airports across the country.
The photo above that I took shows the process of getting ready to fuel my Cessna 150 at local airport via the self-serve fueling that is available. It’s a bit more involved that getting gas for your car at Costco or similar. You don’t ‘ground’ your car. We ‘ground’ the airplane to prevent the chance of a spark from static electricity starting a fire. 100LL is VERY volatile. Highly flammable. You don’t have to pull or drag a fuel hose 50’ or more to make sure you have enough hose to reach the filler cap for the tanks, which for most GA aircraft are in the wing. You don’t need a ladder to climb up on the wing. You get the idea.
If you are in need of any proficiency training to meet the FAA’s Wings requirements, please get in touch with me to schedule some training. I have experience flying many makes and models of aircraft.
Tragically, on August 18, 2022, a mid-air collision occurred over the runway where two aircraft were attempting to land, at the same time, at Watsonville Airport, KWVI, in Watsonville, CA. Watsonville, is in Santa Cruz County, south of San Jose.
A single engine Cessna 152 was overtaken by a twin Cessna 340 over the runway. Two passengers were onboard the Cessna 340, and one person was in the Cessna 152. Apparently the 340 did not see the 152, in spite of numerous radio calls. Tragically, there were no survivors.
The FAA has an Advisory Circular, or AC, for short, for procedures to be followed by aircraft operating out of ‘non-towered’ airports, where there is no air traffic control tower in operation. It is AC 90-66B, entitled, Non-Towered Airport Flight Operations. These procedures have been in place for decades, since WWII, and are published for all to see.
The FAA has also published information in the (AIM), or Aeronautical Information Manual, section 4-1-9, Non-Towered Airports. But it’s a matter of pilots following the procedures, and some get lax, as might have been the case here. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in this tragic accident.
There are lessons for all to be learned from this. Avoid ‘straight-in’ approaches when there are other aircraft in the traffic pattern. Also, fly the appropriate ‘pattern’ speed for the aircraft you are flying, so as to maintain appropriate spacing between aircraft. That clearly did not happen in this case.
If you are interested in doing any proficiency training in the aircraft you fly, for FAA Wings Credit, contact me. I would be happy to schedule time with you as my schedule permits.
Meeting A Young Record-Setter
Belgian Pilot Mack Rutherford, 17, recently completed his RTW, record-setting ‘Round-the-World’ flight in his European built Shark, a single-engine high-performance ultra-light aircraft, with a cruise speed of nearly 300KM/hr, which is about 186 mph!
Mack left Sofia, Bulgaria, on his world-record solo attempt months ago on March 23, and arrived back in Sofia, Bulgaria, again on August 24, 2022. What a journey!
In 141 days, he landed in 52 countries, on 5 continents. Just Incredible. And he’s only 17! Two years ago, his sister, Zara, did the same thing, flying an ultra-light aircraft around the world, setting records in the process. Both parents are also pilots. Cheers to Mack Rutherford! What’s next for this young man?
I had the pleasure of meeting him in August. Here are two pictures taken on the ramp at John Wayne Airport when he stopped at KSNA for fuel and lunch at Clay Lacy Aviation.