November, 2012

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Book Review: Joint Force Harrier

It’s been a while since my last review but they won’t end that easily.

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This book is Joint Force Harrier by Commander Ade Orchard RN.   As the title suggests this book is about the Harrier. Unlike my last book on the Harrier this one is from the British perspective, specifically the Royal Navy.

A bit of background though. The Harrier originally designed by Hawker Siddely had two main variants the “Sea Harrier” for the Royal Navy and the GR variants for the Royal Air Force. Eventually the Sea Harrier was decommissioned and both services now use one of the GR Variants (this book refers specifically to the GR7).

The book is about (and written by) the CO of 800 NAS (Naval Air Squadron) the first dedicated Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm squadron to fly the GR7 in combat and their 4 month deployment to Afghanistan. During those 4 months they dropped more bombs and weapons than the RAF in the deployment prior to them.

It’s good to get a different perspective on the war compared to my last Harrier book. The differences between the US and British Harrier forces seems so far apart let alone between the RN and RAF. The book has some good details about the Harrier itself about how the pilots would deal with certain situations, how to start up and things like that, something the last book didn’t really cover.

It also has the sort of things you would expect, the fact that most of the pilots act like children (but not as bad as the American’s it seems). But it does seem good to have it from a British perspective who obviously operation differently.

Highly recommend this book for someone looking for a different take on the Air War in Afghanistan, especially if you want to read about Close Air Support for the troops.

Trip Report: Delivering the #Qatar787 Dreamliner – Seattle to Doha

Introduction
Delivery Dinner
Seattle to Doha
Exploring Doha Day 1
Exploring Doha Day 2 & 3
Doha to Seattle
Conclusion

Tuesday 13th November 2013

Thanks to the later departure this morning it meant I could have a bit of extra sleep. The gym at the Fairmont was pretty packed this morning but I still managed to get a machine. It meant that after the workout I still had plenty of time to relax and explore the hotel a little if I wanted (I didn’t). What I was able to do was get some email work and last minute things done before flying out this afternoon so that was helpful.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

I checked out of the hotel and headed the 2 blocks down to the Sheraton, dragging a heavy suitcase and camera bag (most of the weight was in the camera bag though). The short walk was good and as soon as I got to the Sheraton I had priorities. COFFEE! Within minutes of getting in the door, I was able to get the coffee in my hand and get those first few sips going. It was fantastic, exactly what I needed to get me perked up on this cold Seattle morning.

From Qatar Trip

We waited as the group slowly began to arrive and at one point a mutiny may have occurred on the bus, however it was calmly put down. We left the hotel and headed back to Boeing Field. Our departure today was going to be my first time Airside at BFI so that was going to be just as much fun. On the way in there was several 787s on the ramp (the test aircraft ZA002 and ZA005) another test aircraft (I think it was a 777 or the test 767) as well was sitting there but I couldn’t see what it really was. This would be an eventful day it seemed.

We arrived back at the 3-390 Hangar and the aircraft had been towed out of the hangar ready for the flight that day so now it felt quite desolate with just a handful of people and a whole HEAP of food for our breakfast. A Good spread had been put on as well and I managed to have the weirdest porridge I have ever eaten. It was tasty, but quite a weird texture, and after speaking with one of the staff it seemed that with the obvious differences between the words “Porridge” & “Oatmeal” even this didn’t quite fit.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

A trip to the Boeing Store was conducted, & although I didn’t buy anything it was good for a laugh. Got to see some awful merchandise but some of the people on the trip just lapped it up, with someone spending well over $450 at the store. As we returned from the Boeing store, it was time to head over to security for our pre departure inspection and then bussed down the ramp to the aircraft. The security was fantastic. No TSA, just Boeing Security. And although my liquids and laptop could stay in my bag, I had to remove my shoes, belt & jacket. Love the dignity dance.

From Qatar Trip

Once I had redressed the billion layers and gotten my shoes and belt back on without my pants hitting my ankles it was out onto the ramp, snapping as many pictures as I can of all the 737s around us. Apparently one of the GOL 738s was going to be delivered today; there were a number of others with 2 Ryanairs taking pride of place right in front of me. We turned left in the Van heading back up the ramp to the Qatar 787 sitting there, waiting, beckoning me forward. As we approached the excitement was everywhere. You could see others were just as excited.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

Qatar Airways QR3787
Boeing Field to Doha
1300-1400
Boeing 787-8 (A7-BCB)
Business Class – Seat 4K

Boarding: 1230
Push Back: 1306
Take Off Roll: 1326 (Runway 13R
Top of Descent: 1324
Touch Down: 1356 (Runway 33)
Shut Down: 1401 (Bay A6)

At the base of the steps, many people were taking photos (which is pretty much what I did for most of the flight actually) with the aircraft, with their boarding pass, with the aircraft & the boarding pass. Anything and everything, it was getting photographed. We got ushered onto the aircraft (pretty much given the hurry up signal), as we walked up the steps, we were handled a little jewelry box, containing a key with the inscription “Qatar’s First 787”. I doubt it opened or did anything, but that was a symbolic item. I had just been handed the keys to the plane! I walked up the steps, got my name ticked off the security list to say I was onboard, and headed through the grand entryway to the far right side… to my seat… in Business!

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

I was totally excited to be on the plane anyway, to have a seat in Business was even more epic. I snapped photo after photo, barely even sitting down at all. The Cabin Crew probably hated it as everyone was doing the same, and they had trouble getting around to do their service. Speaking of which their service was great. The Qatar crew were all so friendly and accommodating. Showing us things in the seats if we needed to (they showed me a couple of hidden places even I didn’t know about from exploring the seats the night before).

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

Once I finally sat down at my seat (still snapping photos) I was offered a pre departure beverage. I went with some water (as expected) but the Champagne was already flowing (Billecart for those wondering). As we were about to close the door, we got a ramp buddy. The United 787 touched down and taxied through to the parking spot next to us. Nice for another 787 to come say goodbye.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

Pretty soon we were buttoned up, safety briefing underway and pushing back to head to the north end of the field to the starting of Runway 13R. We were taking off to the South so this meant a nice big curve back to the north as this would be a Polar Route (not that far north unfortunately but close enough really.) As we were taking off I noticed the 757/F22 Test Bed was actually moving, I managed to get a really awful picture of it, because I was shocked it was moving. I had always thought it just sat there.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

Once we got the double dings to say seatbelts were released (it didn’t take long), It was up and about taking more photos (my instructions had been, behave yourself, have fun, and take so many photos you think you have taken to many, then take some more) finding all new things in the seat (didn’t realize there was a hidden spot for my shoes until I had been shown. We were then told once we cleared American Airspace into Canada, they could switch on the Wi-Fi. Why we had to wait that long I don’t know but who cares. Internet on the delivery flight, where do I sign up!

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

I collected my free 50MB voucher (not realizing I could have as many as I wanted so I was going to keep it slowly and not use to much) and took a heap more photos, chatting to some of the others around me, heading up the back into Economy for a scout out of who was sitting back there (everyone in Economy got a row of 3 seats to themselves and also full Business Class service). Economy really didn’t look all that bad and the seats were pretty damn comfortable. Plus add on a row of 3 to yourself and I would be super happy. I didn’t spend too much time down the back or I know I would miss dinner, so I headed back to the front. I got a tweet from a mate saying that since I missed out on the first tweet overall (2nd by 37 seconds) that I should get the first laviator shot. So I did. Cause I mean why the hell not.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

By the time I got back, dinner service was starting, so it was time to settle into my seat, put the laptop away for a little (tweeting with the phone was easier anyway) and then also watch a movie. The IFE system on the Qatar 787 was pretty awesome. Touch screen based but unlike most other systems, this one was Android Based so the remote was touch screen as well. You could easily manipulate the two devices separately so you could have the airshow running on the remote while watching a movie on the main screen. So that’s what I did. Chose the latest Batman movie, started it up and settled in for a 5 course dinner that by the time it was finished, took 2 hours to serve (but had that been a normal movie, would of finished then perfectly but the new batman goes FOREVER).

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

A relaxing dinner of fine dining by Celebrity Chefs, good wine (if I drank), amazing service, a good movie. Man I could go for a nap right about now. I settled in to finish the last of the movie off, and then once that finally finished it was now almost 4 hours into the flight. It had flown by and didn’t at all feel that way. Most of the front cabin was asleep, so the windows were all blacked out (something that would come to bite us later) and there was only 1 or 2 of us awake. I figured it was the perfect time to get the laptop out and do some work.

From Qatar Trip

For the next 4 or 5 hours it was pretty much the following on the flight so I won’t bore you too much. Working on Vegas Trip Report, Working on Vegas Photos, Working on Airline reporter articles, working on photos from Delivery dinner, Blogging, tweeting, watching some TV shows and more tweeting. O intersperse that with eating more (not that I needed it) just because you the readers would demand it of me. So I had a bit of a midflight snack. Some Coffee & Biscuits (if I must), for the midflight snack (which you can have at any time, anything you want from the menu) I had the Chicken Wrap which was quite tasty and the Lemon Curd Tart which was just awesome!! Qatar really knows how to pull off their desserts.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

The flight just flew by and before I knew it we were well over Europe. When the sun came up I headed down the back to say hi for a bit, chatting to the Social Media guys and seeing the crazy “Social Media Command Center” located way down the back in Economy (row 31 I think). Seeing the set up put me to shame, I should have done something like that! Then I got told after that if I wanted more data vouchers to just “help myself”. Dammit I could have been tweeting photos like crazy! Ah wells! Too late now (in the end Rupa from Aviation Week Magazine ended up using 450mb of data. In the vicinity of about $500 worth of data).

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

As we approached Turkey and changing our continent over to “Asia” well, that heralded everyone waking up, grabbing some breakfast and getting themselves ready for what was to be a crazy arrival. With press conferences scheduled for our time on the Ground, it was sure to be more crazy times. As we crossed over Iraq I was quite excited to be there for some reason. I don’t know why but I just want to get an Iraq or Afghanistan stamp in my passport.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

As we started our descent over the Persian Gulf, the Wi-Fi was cut off (without warning) and we all got ourselves settled. Everyone was back dressed again after changing out of their PJs (not that I wore mine) and was all dressed ready to impress again.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

No need for a jacket with a temp of 30C in the humid Qatar desert. I was looking forward to some warmth. After 40 and 50F days (8-15C) for the last month or so in Seattle, I was dying for some warmth. Something to get me going back into the real heat like home in Aus.

From Qatar Trip

As we turned final over Doha I got my first glimpses of Qatar and to say I was shocked was just an understatement. It was Sand as far as the eye could see. Yellow all around with some Blue/Green of the Persian Gulf/Arabian Sea. Wow… just wow! As we came into Doha Airport I snapped away like crazy as I knew I probably wouldn’t get the chance again to see so many of these Qatar Airways aircraft or some of the middle east carriers.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

They didn’t disappoint either but as soon as we turned onto the Taxiway I was distracted by the scenes awaiting us. Row after row of people. All awaiting the 787. It was surreal. So many people around! As we pulled into Bay A6 right in front of the Ministerial Lounge (where the press conference was to be held), the mass of people around was crazy. They were everywhere. Seat Belt sign is off and my flight on no sleep, well that didn’t matter. The adrenalin surged and I was good to go. First person off the plane had to be Akbar Al Baker the CEO of course and after that it was a crazy mad dash as we all wanted out into the real world (I wanted to take more photos really). The warmth greeted me and soon enough I was out of the aircraft and walking past the crowds and the throngs of media towards the lounge.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

The ministerial lounge is where the Amir of Qatar hosts all the dignitaries and is pretty much his amazing part of the airport. It was like this true Arabian building, but inside so nice and air-conditioned. I had hoped to get into a good spot for the press conference, that didn’t happen. There was so many local media around (2-3 bus loads) that they just packed it on in. Pushing and fighting their way into any and every space they could find. I got pushed back out of the main area after managing to get 1 or 2 photos, but thankfully I could still hear what was going on. I let the real media do all the questioning and kept my trap shut. Which was the way it should be really?

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

Once the press conference was over and done with, anyone from the Delivery flight (who had been handed a yellow tag) was collected and bussed over to the Arrivals area for immigration which was pretty much just “Look at the Camera”, Stamp, Scribble, Welcome to Qatar. No real effort at all. Crazy++ Just like that it was all over. An epic day had happened and it was all over. I was really in Qatar now though, and it showed the second we walked out of the terminal into the Bedlam that was Doha Arrivals. There were people everywhere. I had never experienced anything like it.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

We got into our shuttle and we were off to the hotel, the Oryx Rotana. This would be my home for the next 4 nights while I explored Qatar. We had plenty of time to do things this afternoon before dinner. But the first thing for me was to get my first experience of the real Qatar as I had to get some passport photos taken for my Airport pass which I would need over the weekend. This was an interesting experience in of itself and really showed just how naïve I was towards something’s outside of the USA/Australia.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

I explored the hotel a bit before getting dressed and ready for dinner as we were being hosted at the Grand Hyatt Doha which was a good 30 minutes away but it allowed us to see some of Doha at night which the lights were extremely beautiful. Dinner at the Grand Hyatt was amazing we got to tour through the Royal Suite which was phenomenal. The meal was a traditional Arabic meal with a modern flair. It was served family style and it tasted fantastic. So many goodies to try and so much to taste. My normal way of living was now on hold till I got back. I was going to try anything!

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
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From Qatar Trip

By the time we got back to the hotel I was pretty beat. Wanting to just sleep it off! Almost 36-40 hours solid awake and it was 11pm at night by the time I got some rest. My first day in Qatar was approaching tomorrow.

Back on Track

So the aftermath of my Qatar & Vegas trips has now become apparent, I put on a bit of weight. This was to be expected I mean I indulged pretty heavily. There was some really awesome meals that I just had to have and I wanted to experience as much of the new foods and experiences that I could while I was away.

But now that I have been back a week and add on a little bit of a kick from Thanksgiving (not much but I did have some pumpkin pie albeit Vegan) the full effect has kicked in. I ended up stacking on about 8 pounds over 2 weeks. That is a bit to much! 1 – 3 pounds I would be ok with and I could deal with that with an extra run or just watching what I eat a bit more during the week. Nope I stacked on 8 pounds. BAD MAL!

So I go back to the tried and true method of lots of exercise and cutting back to my diet regime. I did this for so long that it is second nature to me now. But pretty much I drop a snack (i usually have 3 snacks) and then I also cut back on the amounts at main meal times. Cutting back on what I would normally eat from maintenance levels to reduction levels is a bit rough at times but I make do, I also make sure I run each and every day and get a bootcamp where I can (I want to go tonight but it depends on the bus outcomes as they are ALWAYS late).

Pretty much now that I have been able to effectively manage my weight for a while now, I know I can handle this and I just suck it up and deal with it. But it makes it tough when I was intending on tapering off after this trip and making sure that I was taking it a bit easy between now and the end of the year to recuperate a bit, but that will have to wait. I am sure that I will need to do this again after Christmas as well but first things first, getting my weight back under control.

Today is day 2 of Weight Control (I won’t call it a diet cause it isn’t) really a diet. But we shall see how it all pans out in the long run. If I can get it back under control for most of this week, awesome, but I don’t expect to lose that much in one week, at least half maybe!

Looking back at Vegas

All I have been talking about lately is Qatar and my trip to Vegas kinda fell by the down side. Sure I posted a trip report but it was pretty basic and I didn’t put all that much effort into it really. Mind you i was half way to Qatar while I was writing it and getting the photos ready. Hell i am pretty sure I posted the trip report from the air. But that report just doesn’t really talk about how much fun I had in Vegas.

I’ve been to Sin City 3 times now. The first two times were with Contiki and only for 2 nights. The first time I went was my first real time overseas on my own, I had been sick for my birthday the month prior and I just decided to go all out. I absolutely wiped myself out that first night in Vegas and got that true vegas experience. I was so out of it that first time that the 2nd day I was in the city it was a total write off. What a waste!

The 2nd time in Vegas was about 3 years now. At the end of my last Contiki. By that stage I had made a fantastic group of friends and was looking forward to an amazing time in Vegas. My Favourite DJ was playing that first night we were there and I was pumped to live it up big time with my friends. Then I got sick. I still made the most of my time in Vegas but I didn’t get plastered, I didn’t go to far out of it, I even ended up missing out on seeing the DJ because I felt so crappy. :( What a waste.

The first time I was in Vegas a couple of people talked me into going and visiting Blue Man Group. I saw the show, and loved it. I ended up Downloading (legitimately of course ;)) their album. Then the 2nd time I was in Vegas I had to take my friends to Blue Man Group and they loved it. We had poncho seats (which i managed to score at the last minute for no extra cost) and we were so close to the action, but didn’t get any paint on us sadly. I had the best time and even though I was pretty sick I still had enough left in me to enjoy the show with my friends and then get this photo as well:

From North America 2009 Pt 3

Blue man group had changed their show this year and it had only just reopened at the Monte Carlo theatre. I just had to go, I had to check out the new show. So I did, it was fantastic and even though I couldnt easily get the same photo again (as I had no one with me to take the photo and the staff there won’t touch your camera for some reason) I still managed to get something that I feel is the same (even though I look way way way different now)

From Vegas Avgeek Style

That’s me with a Blue Man!

The other big thing I remember from my 2nd trip to Vegas was my visit to the Gun Store with my friends. Ash, Stuart, Ashina, Michelle and I all went out to the “Las Vegas Gun Store” which at the time was pretty much the only place that allowed you to fire whatever fully automatic weapon you wanted. I went all out, i grabbed a package that was $350, it was everything you could think of and then to top it all off, you got to fire a belt fed machine gun. I remember an old saying i saw on the internet “Happiness is an Automatic Weapon with Belt Feed.” It’s not far off it. The feeling to just let that ammo fly is just indescribable.  What a thrill!  I had this photo taken off me

From North America 2009 Pt 2

So this time I went back.  But not to the Gun Store, I did things a little bit differently.  I went to a new place that had opened up, one that was a little bit more glitz and looked much nicer.  You had to make appointments rather than just walking in off the street (you could do that but they told me the likelihood of not waiting was slim.  So I booked with them, the girls that worked the counters and helped you out were pretty hot to (not that I chose it just for that reason ;)).  It was a bit more expensive, but what made it even more awesome was that they had an M203 Grenade Launcher and for $40 you could shoot off 2 rounds.  SOLD!  Even better than the M249 that I shot last time, they have a Vietnam Era M60.  This thing is old school Belt fed.  With big time rifle bullets 7.62mm.  Much bigger than the M249 which shoots standard NATO 5.56mm.  So I took that, all up it set me back about $220 for what I shot.  It ROCKED!  The M60 kicked like crazy, and I of course, got the recreated photo:

From Vegas Avgeek Style

I may look stupid holding that handle but this is right after I fired it so if I held it any other way I would have no skin on my hands and 3rd degree burns.  Pass on that!

So much good happened on my trip to Vegas.  Doesn’t mean it all went according to plan.  I had a great time don’t get me wrong but I would definately change a few things for next time and a few things I will do again.

Good Things to keep
1.  Stay off strip –  Staying at the Trump was good.  I really enjoyed staying back from the Strip, but what I think I really need to do is stay out of the main strip area around MGM, Paris, Bellagio etc.  It is way to crowded.  I would rather stay that half a block back or maybe even further down the strip around where Wynn & Encore are.  Sure they may be out but its quieter down that end and theres not so much hassle.   It meant I could run the strip and not worry about crowds in the morning or the crazy footpath system.
2.  Hire a car – I didn’t spend my days lazing by the pool or all day at the Casino tables (hell the only time I gambled on this trip was the $1 I fed into the slot machine at the airport) so I spent the majority of my time out of the hotel, out and about.  The Car made it super easy to get around.  Navigating was a bit of a pain in the ass as Vegas is a bit one way streetish, but I found my way easy enough thanks to my phone.  All the casinos have free parking and that just made it smarter in the end.  I may look out for a better deal or just priceline something next time but a car is definately the way to go imo.

Things I would do different
1. If I was to go to Aviation Nation again (entirely possible) I would probably not plan anything else but that.  Because I booked in the gun range time, I had to leave the show by a certain time.  What I didn’t expect was the crappy weather the first day compared to the second.  If I had of left it open I could of bailed on my plans of snapping all the shows the first day and the statics the 2nd when I had the reduced time.  I think what I would of done had I not booked it would of been to reverse my days and snap the statics the first day and then I would of avoided the crazy ass weather.  Mind you hindsight is awesome, so I can say this now but yeah, next time I gotta be more flexible.
2. Don’t Bother with the M203.  Sure it was awesome to fire a grenade launcher, not that I will get another chance but the let down was that it was not a proper round.  Not even a bean bag round.  All they let me shoot was essentially a shotgun round in an adaptor made out of a 40mm round.  So It made it look like I was firing a grenade but it was just a buckshot round.  So not what I thought I was going to be getting.

It was a pretty great trip and thoroughly enjoyed going.  But Vegas is way more fun with other people, that I know for sure.  So I will wait again till I end up going with someone else but unlike the saying.  Whatever happens in Vegas, you are guaranteed to hear about it!

Trip Report: Delivering the #Qatar787 Dreamliner – Delivery Dinner

Introduction
Delivery Dinner
Seattle to Doha
Exploring Doha Day 1
Exploring Doha Day 2 & 3
Doha to Seattle
Conclusion

Monday 12th November 2012

I had spent the morning getting myself back from Vegas, and then frantically getting myself ready for another trip almost immediately. Get home, unpack, clean clothes, repack, prep laptop, read emails etc. Pure craziness behind me and I was on the road again. Today’s pre events plans involved getting the truck down to SeaTac, park it (barely 4 hours after just having left a parking facility mind you) and then get the link back towards downtown and check into my hotel for the evening.

The flight on Tuesday was due to depart around 9am and would require meeting the group downtown at 6am for our transfer to the field. If I had done all of this on the day I would have been leaving home around 3am to get it all done with the truck etc. and I really wanted some sleep. So I would rather deal with craziness during daylight hours and when I am fully awake. So I took that option. The group hotel downtown though was the Sheraton and it was running about $30 higher compared to the Fairmont (got to love industry rates), but I can deal with a little bit of a walk (about 2 blocks) with a suitcase, even if it is up hill from the Link Station. $30 is $30!

So after getting myself downtown I barely had enough time to drop my stuff at the Fairmont and walk down to the Sheraton in time for the coach departure for that evening’s start of events. On the agenda was a reception to begin with, a press conference, access to the aircraft then a transfer to that evening’s dinner at a “secret location”. I met up with the group at the Sheraton and got myself introduced to the other few media who would be travelling as well. It was a selection of some heavyweight reporters including Flight Global, Business Traveler UK, Aviation Week Magazine, USA Today, CNBC Dubai, MBC Dubai and a few other bloggers. I could hardly feel like I was meant to be a part of this group or even referred to as media in comparison.

We hopped on our coach heading for Boeing field and the 3-390 hangar. The same one that the unveiling of the 747-8i was done from. This was pretty cool for someone like me. I got access to the leading aviation media, the heavyweights at Qatar Airways all while getting to go behind security at Boeing Field. I would give good money for something like this. The excitement had to be contained as much as possible. As we pulled into the hangar it was set up like an Arabian oasis in the middle of the desert. Palm Trees dotted the middle of the room and the bar set up around it. Plenty of tables around and a stage and a few rows of seats for the media during the press conference. I was told the seating was reserved for media and that I should take a seat when instructed so that we had a good spot for when the press conference started.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

Mingling, networking and getting to know some of the other media was conducted and I did relax a little which was good, but the press conference started and my brain went back into “don’t fark up mode”. I wasn’t sure what to say or even if I should open my mouth at all, so I kept it shut, no questions from me, I will let the real media do the talking. The press conference started and the CEO of Qatar Airways was joined by a VP from Boeing and also the Ambassador to Qatar based in the USA. A few tough questions were fired at the CEO as you would expect and he handled it pretty well I think. He seemed to be able to handle it all with a quick remark or comeback. Definitely impressive. An exchange of gifts between everyone and the handover was complete. No signing of financial paperwork etc. as this had already been done about a week prior before the flight was sent to Victorville, California.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

The press conference was ended with the screening of a short movie on the Qatar 787 (link to YouTube) on the giant wall screen and when that was finished, the curtain was raised and there she sat. My first shock of the day was that the aircraft we would be flying on would be BCB not BCA. I had figured that the first 787 bound for Qatar would have used the first registration of the grouping. Not so apparently!

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

A ribbon was cut, more photos taken and then we were all set loose on the aircraft. It was time to make myself useful. Out came the camera at full speed this time. Plenty of photos were taken both inside and outside as I explored the 787 and let’s just say I was totally impressed. The new Business Class cabin looked amazingly comfortable, the Economy seats looked fantastic.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

As I explored the aircraft I noticed that the Crew Rest areas were missing. This puzzled me as I thought that they would have deployed this aircraft on the long-haul routes that others are doing. However this was to be a pure midhaul aircraft. Similar to what the 767 does for most operators. 6-8 hours one crew shift essentially. Mind you I didn’t find out till I had been chatting with the Chief Technical Officer of Qatar Airways (which was pretty cool).

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

After a whole heap of photos were taken and I had my fill of dodging all the guests inside the aircraft, I headed back out and got a few photos of the aircraft. The time was eventually over and we all re-boarded the coach, waving goodbye to BCB for now. We headed to our dinner celebration, which it turned out was to be at Seattle Center at Chilhuly Garden. I had been meaning to check this place out but hadn’t gotten around to it. Now not only would I get a chance to see the amazing glass work, I was there as part of this event and got to relax a little (not fully mind you, cause I was still worried about stuffing up).

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

The glasswork was stunning, however the typical Seattle weather (aka rain) prevented to many outside photos (that and I didn’t have a tripod with me) but I managed to get a few of the glasswork with the Space Needle. Inside the pieces were immaculate and the dinner was set up with the airline colors on the tables. Drinks were consumed, more mingling and networking, dinner was consumed and I enjoyed the food which was pretty good and not at all to over the top yet still refined enough for a big dinner. The alcohol was flowing freely and with what was on offer was sure to mean some good stuff tomorrow.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

After a round of speeches, presentation of gifts for those who had worked tirelessly on the event and honoring the hard work of so many people, it was sad to see the night coming to a close, although I would definitely need some sleep. But just as I was heading out to the coach back to the hotel, some good news (kind of). Delay of departure from the hotel in the morning! Though no delay of the aircraft departure itself. So that was good. But it meant I could at least get a decent night’s sleep before the festivities would begin the next morning. A van dropped me back at the hotel and I settled in for a good night’s rest.

From Qatar Trip
From Qatar Trip

Trip Report: Delivering the #Qatar787 Dreamliner – Introduction

Introduction
Delivery Dinner
Seattle to Doha
Exploring Doha Day 1
Exploring Doha Day 2 & 3
Doha to Seattle
Conclusion

From Seattle Spotting 2012

I had read reports and articles in the past of those people lucky enough to get to experience a first flight of an aircraft. A ferry flight from the factory to some far off destination, heralding the start of a new era for an airline or perhaps just an aircraft being sent on its way after emerging with that “new plane” smell.

Well little did I know that I would some day get that chance. I had been doing a bit of work for AirlineReporter.com, writing a few stories for the site every now and then. Getting to see and do all different things. I had reviewed Bolt Bus, witnessed the Super Guppy Arrival, even acted as the “Staff Photographer” for the United 787 launch (or as I was referencing it, I was David’s bitch for the morning). All of this was a dream come true in some way, shape or form. I mean how else would I get access to all of these fantastic things and see or do the most amazing experiences.

The one thing I was truly jealous of though was when David (who runs airlinereporter) got to go on the Delivery flight for the LAN 787. Getting to experience the festivities and the fun that a first flight offers. That was a dream come true. Well my turn was next! David was offered the Qatar Airways delivery flight, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it. It was fairly short notice (about a week) and though he wasn’t able to make it, he offered the journey to me. I had to take leave that I had planned on using to go elsewhere but I mean what avgeek would turn down this situation? This was like a dream come true. I dropped everything. It was bad timing though for me as it was due to depart the day after I got back from Vegas so it was going to be tight, but to hell with it. I had to keep it a secret from most people, I told one or two people of course so people knew where/what I was doing. But for the most part, no one knew a thing.

Originally I was due to return the day after we got back, after not really seeing anything at all in Qatar. But work allowed me to add in some extra time after agreeing to do some stuff work wise on the trip, and also Qatar Airways were happy to set me up for a few extra days and let me tour around Qatar. The flights were all booked and the last of the details didn’t come through till a day or two prior to departure (but I guess that’s what happens when your waiting on an Aircraft to be signed off for delivery).

Plans were made, things organized and the excitement just was to much for me at times. I was absolutely over the moon to be able to get to do this, but I also didn’t want to stuff things up on my first ever time as a true correspondant for the site. I wanted to make sure I not only did things right by David and Airline Reporter, but to make sure I didn’t take things for granted with Qatar Airways. I wanted to make sure that their faith in inviting someone from the site would be worth it.

Even though I was going to miss out on a number of events on the Monday that I really wanted to experience (factory floor tour, Dreamliner gallery etc) with my return from Vegas it had to be done unfortunately. So my plans would look as follows:

Monday 12th November: Delivery Ceremony & Celebration Dinner
Tuesday 13th November: Aircraft Departs Seattle 9am
Wednesday 14th November: Aircraft Arrives Doha 2pm – Celebrations and Press Conference on Arrival
Thursday 15th November: Tour of New Doha International Airport, City Tour & Inland Sea Safari
Friday 16th November: Hotel Site Inspections for work, Afternoon at Katara
Saturday 17th November: Free time in the Morning, Aternoon at Katara
Sunday 18th November: Doha Premium Terminal, Depart Doha QR77 to Houston connecting to Seattle

I was booked in Business on the return (even though I was happy to sit in Economy if I had to) so that I could experience the Premium Terminal before departing. I was going to ensure that I made the most of that experience as I had read a few reviews of the facility and they were all very tempting.

What made the experience even more special was the fact that I figured we would be departing from Paine Field, so getting to depart direct from the Factory was going to be a privilege. But the departure ended up being scheduled from Boeing Field instead, so still a pretty great privilege. The crazy thing though. We were going DIRECT to Doha on departure. This is a 7500 mile flight. A True test for the 787. But as it turned out there would only be 90 pax onboard so it could easily make it with the limited weight.

The return via Houston would mean a midnight arrival back into Seattle and a hellish Monday morning after only a few hours sleep but these are the sacrifices you make to have an opportunity like this. The flights when put into a map just added in the most craziest of distances:

Qatar Trip Map

7500 miles from Seattle to Doha, 8000 miles from Doha to Houston! This was craziness. A number of firsts on this trip to. First time flying Qatar Airways, Longest flight so far (Doha to Houston), Three new Airports: Boeing Field (BFI), Houston (IAH), Doha (DOH). Two new aircraft types (787 & 777-200LR) would round out the mix. I did manage to get a trifecta on the delivery flight being New Airport, New Airline & New Aircraft to my collection. An Avgeek trifecta on this epic Journey. Good god!

It was due to be a momentous trip that would I am sure mean lack of sleep, craziness, mingling, networking and just a total lack of diet control (I can deal with it after) and all in the lead up to Thanksgiving. At least I would have a day off mid week to catch up!

Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

Yeah thats very american of me but its a day that you need to be “American”. Today is a day for being thankful and grateful for everything we have, spending time with family (if possible) and just enjoying yourself with the traditional things for this time of year, Pumpkin, Turkey, Football & Parades. But is that really the true meaning of it all? Probably not, but to be honest that is how it seems.

A sure fire thing though, today is a big day for everyone over here. Most things are shut in preparation for Black Friday tomorrow (biggest shopping day of the year, so I am soooo avoiding it), everyone is wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving (who says americans are not friendly) and its celebration time everywhere. With a lot of people spending their time with their family, it kind of sucks that mine is on the other side of the world, but it’s a little bit easier when it isnt really a holiday I have celebrated before. I think Christmas will be tougher.

The hardest thing about today though for me is, What to eat. I have some roast Turkey leftover from last night, maybe some lovely pumpkin soup (will keep the pie for Saturday night I think to cap off a truly busy week). I will take it easy after the last couple of weeks of indulging while on my trip (I don’t feel right calling it a holiday), so will keep it all on the down low.

Pretty much I want to take this time right now to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, happy holidays. But I also want to say that I am thankful for the opportunities I have had (especially as of late) and that I am thankful for the friends I have over here in the USA, along with the friends and family I have spread over the world. I truly miss all of my friends back home, and miss my family, but those are the choices I made and I have no regrets for making those decisions.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Shattered

Yesterday (if you want to call it yesterday as it was partially Saturday Pacific Time) I spent approximately 36 hours awake and flew almost 11000 miles home to Seattle.

I got home at 115am this morning was asleep by 130 and up after 4 hours sleep. The only 4 hours in 2 days really. I am barely awake right now.

Words can not describe just how awesome my trip to Qatar was. Meeting the people I did, seeing and doing things I never thought I would get a chance to do. Crazy times!

Right now if you were to look at my place it would look like a bomb went off. I haven’t really unpacked or anything. Just taken out the stuff I needed like toothbrush, running gear, laptop. After doing some food shopping tonight I should get that finished, the laundry can wait till tomorrow.

Hoping to get some of my photos from Qatar up before the end of the week, some will take some time due to getting a giant dust mark on my camera sensor.

I am trying hard to keep my eyes open but the torrential rain isn’t helping. I left heat and blue sky and knew I’d be coming back to Grey and rain just not this level of rain. Right now I’m drenched head to foot.  O well no point in getting dry yet!

Trip Report: Vegas… #Avgeek Style

Introduction

About a year ago, I made the decision to head to one of the biggest airshows in the USA, Aviation Nation. I figured that no matter what happened with my life I was going to head on over here for it. To make things even better, the show is at the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, yeah that’s right Vegas Baby.

Fast Forward till about a few months ago and I am living in the USA. Still planning to go to the show, but how do I get there. I was pretty much stuck to flying Alaska Air due to the times and the fact that they pretty much dominate Seattle. So I mean ok the airline decision is made but tickets were not cheap $400-500 return in Coach…. OUCH! And I really wanted to go. Really desperately.

Then Icelandair came to the picture, they decided to run a promotion on buying their points. If I bought enough points for a First Class Award ticket with their partner Alaska Airlines I could end up getting the flight for $350 all in. So I could fly first Class, on Alaska Airlines for less than coach… where do I sign up! It was pretty painless, other than the 24 hours it took for the points to post, that was it, Easy as hell. Mind you 4 days after I booked my flights, Icelandair closed the promotion early and stopped allowing redemptions with Alaska. Apparently it got abused a lot ;)

Next up was where to stay. I scoured the web trying to get decent rates at some of the Strip Hotels. But they were all the same cost, all around the same price. I mean seriously, how do you choose when they all look so awesome and are all so similar. So I took the easy way out. I hotwired it. Hotwire is pretty much a mystery bidding website. So you just hope and pray you get a decent hotel. But there are a few websites around that help you with the bidding process. So with their help, and a prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I made my booking and out came my hotel. Trump Hotel Las Vegas. Awesome! About half a block off the strip but still close enough.

With a car booked with National again (wasn’t going to select a Camaro again, wanted something different after Dayton) I was all set. Now it was just wait, hope and pray the weather is good.

Friday 9th November 2012

After a full day at work it was time to jump in the truck and head on down to SeaTac. Now I finished at 530pm, right in the middle of Peak Traffic, so I knew it wasn’t exactly going to be a quick trip to the Airport. Meh whatever I have time since my flights not till 930pm. So I slowly made my way south to the airport and dropped the truck off. Pretty soon I was safely in the airport, checked in (which took seconds and heading towards security). Since I had time and the main checkpoint was just full on Busy. So I took the option to walk, and walk a lot.. all the way to the A/B/South Gate security. Which is the far end of the terminal. Eh! Whatever. There was no wait (ok maybe 1 or 2 people) but as usual my 100% hit rate on the backscatter machines stayed intact.

Once through security I walked all the way back to the main area and headed into the Board room (aka the lounge). I didn’t know I had access till earlier in the day when I was on twitter and Alaska Airlines let me know that I had access to the lounge! Awesome, free snacks, drinks and a quiet place to live out the world. What more could I want. It was just as expected, and it was a good way to just chill out in peace. Having an amazing lounge is one thing, getting access to a lounge when you don’t really want all that much. Its fine!

With a solid 30 minutes before departure I headed over to the N gates where my flight would be departing from. Alaska has a habit of board really early and getting everyone on as quickly as possible. I have read stories of flights ready to go 20 minutes before scheduled departure. Low and Behold boarding was early.

Alaska Airlines AS614
Seattle to Las Vegas
2135-2354
Boeing 737-900 (N319AS)
First Class – Seat 2A

Boarding: 2050 (Gate N3)
Push Back: 2133
Take Off Roll: 2143 (Runway 34C)
Top of Descent: 2306
Touch Down: 2341 (Runway 25L)
Shut Down: 2350 (Gate E15)

I wasn’t the first onboard as there was a number of preboards first but I was in the first wave and was safely in my seat settling in, even if it was earlier than we were meant to. But they needed that time as it seemed there was just plenty of people all fighting over bin space, and lots of announcements being made suggesting people clear the aisles quickly etc. The announcements seemed to get longer and longer, but I know that essentially they were just there to make sure everyone understood.

We were doors shut and pushing back before the scheduled departure time. We had to taxi all the way from the N gates down to the southern end of the field but we didn’t wait long at the threshold at this hour and were soon skyward, heading for Vegas. This was not going to be an eventful flight really. It was late, so most people were trying to sleep (for some reason?), and I didn’t expect all that much of a party atmosphere being it was Alaska (if it was Virgin America yeah) but there was a couple in the first row who were getting into the spirit of things (newlyweds maybe?).

Either way my flight was filled with Coffee, snack mix (cant they just load nuts) and a sad excuse for a “Chicken Salad” which was pretty much some lettuce and a piece of cold chicken. Come on seriously? Whatever! Don’t be greedy Malcolm!

The flight was pretty uneventful, I finished my book, had about 10 coffees (hey I had been up since 5 and didn’t expect to get any sleep till 1) and pretty soon we were descending to Vegas. The thing that surprised me most about the descent was outside. Vegas just appeared out of nowhere almost. In the middle of this inky black void there was just lights, and thousands of lights. So many lights. The strip was all lit up, sadly my camera doesn’t handle these shots well, especially out of a moving aircraft, at night, in the bouncy air around the desert. But I can see why people do the helicopter flights now. It was beautiful!

Once on the ground we headed off into the new Terminal 3 at McCarran Airport and it was shiny and new and felt all to devoid of a soul (so in otherwords… 100% vegas). The crappy thing was that Vegas like Seattle uses an off site Rental Car terminal. All the car rentals no matter who you hire with, you have to use that facility. So a good 20 minutes after grabbing my bag I was off the shuttle (due to having to wait 10 minutes, then a slow 10 minute drive to the terminal) at the facility. Thanks to my newly scammed Executive status with National I was choosing my car. Not much to choose from (turned down the offer of the Mustang) and went with a GMC Terrain (aka the Soccer mom mobile) pretty much cause I knew it would be well kitted out, full of all the goodies being a GMC.

Within 10 more minutes I was checking into my room at the Trump and after using the $20 trick (tip the person at check in $20 and free upgrade for you) I was heading up to my Strip View studio on the 53rd floor. The room was HUGE! Just massive. Way bigger than I needed. But I just got myself sorted and hit the sack because I was super tired.

Saturday 10th November 2012

Woke up nice and early after like no sleep and hit the gym, there was already heaps of people in the Gym but it was pretty well set up so there was no problem with getting a machine. The night before had been fairly cold and although I had brought my running gear, was going to take it easy… ish. After my workout, it was clean up time, and work out plans for the morning. I pretty much googled a bakery, found the location and drove their for breakfast, even if it was a bit out of the way from where I was going, but hell I am on holidays and it just makes the adventures all the more fun. Plus who doesn’t love breakfast in a random car park while eating off the bonnet of your car.

I hit the road towards Nellis which was easy since it was essentially straight along I15, keep going till I hit the speedway and that’s where I was to park. They were smart in setting up the parking at the Speedway, unlike the JBLM air show where there was very little of any buses and they were not that frequent. Here at the speedway, they were constantly there, row after row of coaches, not school buses, full on coaches. I guess when you’re in Vegas even the airshows are done in style.

The airshow was great, although the wind was pretty strong, the sun was out (for a while) and the photography was just epic). So many good shots, so much to see, so little time. But the wind picked up really really crazy. So strong that I was absolutely shivering. So after the Raptor demo, I bailed and I bailed quick. I did manage a couple of shots of the Heritage flight but I wasn’t pushing it.

By the time I got back to the car and back towards town it was after 3 so a quick grocery store stop for lunch, and then it was off to McCarran for a little bit of spotting. One big problem. The 3 metre high fence  There was no way I was going to be able to shoot over the fence. I did try to get up on top of the car, but when I heard the roof pop in, well that stopped that, cause I don’t feel like explaining that to the rental company (it popped right back thank god). The spotting was a lot of Southwest but it was such a good spot, if I had the truck I would have been super happy shooting for hours. Even better, no need for liveatc as they pipe the ATC through FM (101.1FM for anyone visiting). I gave up as the sun started setting and figured I might as well head back via the strip a little. That meant one thing. The Vegas sign. There was a bit of a crowd but what I didn’t expect was to be crashing a wedding, at sunset, in the middle of the Strip, underneath the Las Vegas sign. AWESOME!

Back to the hotel, and change, shower, warm up and it was off to dinner. I pretty much found the first place on Opentable at one of the big name restaurants and figured, what the hell. Bad Idea. The food was good at Nob Hill Tavern, but it was such a small serving and at such a high price, well, I bailed, but not before a yummy Pumpkin Soup with Brussel Sprouts. I will pay that! So I indulged a little (I am on holidays right?), I had seen somewhere on the web mentioned this totally out of the way ice cream place. So I headed up there and they had pumpkin ice cream… WIN! Great way to end the night, sitting in bed, watching tv and eating pumpkin ice cream.

Sunday 11th November 2012

More of the same routine this morning, Workout, shower, off to breakfast. A few slight differences though, a 6k run through the Vegas streets with at least 3k along the strip (which was pretty cool). The breakfast was pretty cool though. One of the things I had seen on Man Vs Food was this amazingly crazy place that had just some crazy breakfasts. The usual breakfasts but taken to a whole new level. I was looking forward to this for ages.

It was out of the strip area, way out in the suburbs. Way way out! But it was worth it. Hash House A Go Go is this amazingly crazy, down home breakfast place. The servings are not small but pretty good value. They had pancakes on the menu and when I asked if it was just 1 on the serve the answer was “yes, just 1 but they are 14inches across, they would be bigger but we couldn’t find a bigger pan.” I wasn’t sure if shes was joking or not, but hey I’m down with that. I ended up choosing the “Meatloaf Hash” which came with 2 eggs, a “Biscuit” and some fruit. Heaps of food, and it filled me up so well I didn’t eat again till dinner.

The airshow plan for today was only a part day at the show, but it was going to be time to explore the statics on display. It seemed like a better idea originally. Spend the day when I have limited time due to afternoon comittments, exploring the statics. Well that was a good idea at the time, but the weather was so much better. O well. I missed out  but the statics were still awesome, and I got to explore the Thunderbirds Msusem (which is a story all of its own). With my shopping done as well (supporting the troops and their families) I headed back into town, checking out random places, and just goofing off (Zombie Apocalypse Store anyone?).

At 3pm I had an a appointment though. At MGV (Machine Guns Vegas) to fire some guns, some Automatic weapons. This was gonna be fun. Firing guns, shooting just like I did the last time I was in vegas. One of my favourite sayings has always been “Happiness is a Automatic Weapon with Belt Feed” I was going to keep that memory alive, this time with an M60. An old school, big caliber (7.62mm) automatic machine gun. Happiness!

The shooting was fun, I haven’t had that feeling in so long. But it all came flooding back. The feeling of shooting a belt fed weapon is just crazy, like nothing else. Pretty soon my shooting came to an end and I was heading back to the hotel, to clean up and get ready for tonights entertainment. Blue Man Group!

I was going to get to see the new Blue Man Group show. The show had only started a couple of weeks prior so I was excited to see the new show. I grabbed a quick light dinner (wasn’t all that hungry after breakfast still) and I headed over to Monte Carlo for the show. Before the show though they have a parade through the casino to entice people to the theater. Interesting!

The show was pretty epic, again I had poncho seats and didn’t even come close to any paint (though a flying piece of jello is a whole different story). Some familiar pieces but all in all a new show. By the end of the show I was tired and ready for an early night as it was going to be a very early morning.

Monday 9th November 2012

It was the usual morning adventure for me. Up at O Dark Hundred for a work out, check out and off to the airport. Just getting into the gym was a challenge on its own with security deciding that they didn’t like me accessing the gym before it was open, even though several staff had said it was ok (though the lady working that morning was adamant that was a no and a 10 minute fight on the phone I got my way.

The morning ws a repeat of my arrival, just in reverse. Leave hotel, drop car, get on shuttle to terminal. Then it was just check in (which took ages) and security. Boring boring boring. Because Vegas had no place for me to go other than the gate and nothing open other than Burger King, the gate it was for me. I just camped out at the gate and chilled out. By the time boarding was called I was failing badly. I needed coffee… STAT!

Alaska Airlines AS603
Las Vegas to Seattle
0700-0935
Boeing 737-900 (N320AS)
First Class – Seat 3F

Boarding: 0615 (Gate E15)
Push Back: 0654
Take Off Roll: 0707 (Runway 25R)
Top of Descent: 0853
Touch Down: 0919 (Runway 16R)
Shut Down: 0927 (Gate C16)

After being a gate lice for a few minutes boarding was called and it was off to the front of the aircraft as I boarded to my lovely seat. The sun was rising out the window, giving fantastic views, but the thing that made me happy was the flight attendant was happily serving coffee. Thick, Dark, Black, Strong, Hot Coffee. I was happy+++ While everyone boarded my caffeine levels were being fulfilled and I was trying hard to not get to relaxed. Today was going to be a full on day. I would need it to keep myself going, but I guess a little bit of relaxation up to now, would be a good idea.

We pushed back and following a few southwest aircraft and allegiant we headed to the active runway. With a turn onto 25R, power in the throttles and we were gaining speed, heading home to Seattle. In the air, climbing out, seat belt sign off, photos taken. First thing is first… COFFEEEEEEEEEE. The service began with coffee, plenty of coffee and then a nice warm breakfast quiche. It wasn’t big but it was enough for around what I normally eat.

that was pretty much the highlight of the flight. I read a magazine, drank plenty of coffee and then just chilled out and relaxed, enjoying the peace at 37000ft. Pretty soon we were on descent to SeaTac where as expected, it was cloudy, grey and cold. What else is new. The cloud deck seemed to extend all the way down to the runway as we popped out of the clouds pretty much 30 seconds from touchdown on 16R (first time using that runway). Good times!

We pulled into the C gates after letting the ANA 787 go ahead of us, and I was off the aircraft, scurrying through to baggage claim where my bag was 2nd out, within 5 minutes I was on a shuttle back to the car park and in the truck heading home to more crazy adventures

Vegas Avgeek Style

The Big Reveal

Well I have had to keep my mouth shut for a number of days now, but the cat is out of the bag. Today I fly away again. If you have been following my twitter and facebook you would of seen a surge of tweets lately. I just got back from Vegas (where I had an amazing time trust me, and a full trip report is pending) but yesterday evening I got to spend the time with Qatar Airways as they signed for their first 787.

Today the festivities continue with more things to happen. But pretty much by the time this tweet goes live (I am writing this about 730am but it won’t be going live right now) I will be onboard Qatar Airways first 787. I am headed to Qatar for the next week and get back next Sunday night (at midnight ouch :/ ) but I am totally, absolutely excited. From an Avgeek perspective this is Nirvana. I get to be a part of the festivities for the delivery of an aircraft but also the delivery flight! And a Rare one at that as it flys direct from Seattle to Doha in Qatar.

Unfortunately I don’t yet have the link for you to follow along but if you keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook (twitter is @bigmalx or follow the hash tag #Qatar787 you should eventually be able to) and you should be able to get a flightradar link eventually to track the flight. My next blog post for me will probably be from the other side of the world, in the warmth of Qatar.

Current Location: Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle