Thursday, 15 January 2015

DAY 36 - If It Ain't A Boeing, I'm Not Going

 Hi y'all, greetings from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, home of the Canucks and (as we discovered) the place where breakfast cereal boxes have pictures of Hockey players on the front.

Today was a transit day where we flew from Los Angeles, California to Seattle, Washington then drove north across the US-Canadian border to Vancouver, British Columbia. The only major stop along the way was a brief stop-over to the Future of Aviation Museum at the Boeing Factory in Everett.

First leg was Flight AS475

Second leg was Seattle to Everett to Vancouver
We arrived at LAX a little bit early to ensure we caught the flight. After some online Facebook chatting with Mel and Lorenzo, we received the call to board. The flight was with Alaska Airlines flight AS475, flying on a Boeing B737-900ER, which was a first for all of us. The flight took around two-and-a-half hours departing LAX at 1020h.

I just managed to capture this whilst refuelling our Hire Car near LAX

The iconic LAX Airport

An Alaska Q400 in the OSU Ducks scheme

A Delta Boeing B757-200 taxis out

Our aircraft an Alaska Airlines Boeing B737-900ER, oh and thanks for the heads-up Mel

Boarding the aircraft
The weather was clear and fine with our take-off taking us out over the Pacific, before banking to cross the coast line north of LA. The route took us inland passing to the north of the San Fernando Valley and further north passing Yosemite National Park and the snowy caps of the Sierra-Nevada Mountain Ranges. Then it became cloudy, after all, we were travelling to Seattle which is synonymous with rain. Obviously it was raining in Seattle when we landed and for most of our drive north.

Crossing the west coast before heading north

North of the San fernando Valley

Yosemite National Park in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains

The unintended consequences of a selfie...
Note the new, funky Split-Scimitar Winglets on our aircraft offer a 5.5% fuel reduction
Landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Weather = Average

On arrival at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, we quickly grabbed our luggage and then collected our Rental Car; this time it was a Ford SUV, not very large, but large enough for us. The drive for the first part was a little slow due to traffic as we passed on the I-5 through Seattle and up to Everett, the home of Boeing's B787 and B747 production lines.

Navigating from the Rental facility near Seattle-Tacoma Airport

We visited the Future of Aviation Museum which sits across Paine Field, directly opposite the Boeing Factory. We had already decided not to do the factory tour as; (a) we had done the tour twice before; and (b) it was too late anyway by the time we got there. As soon as we arrived, the lovely lady at the counter asked if we had planned to head on up to the observation deck as there was a B787 inbound that we could watch land. So that's what we did, and bloody hell it was cold up there (not St Louis minus 18 degrees C cold, but cold, windy and wet. The things I do for aircraft spotting. The inbound B787 turned out to be a brand new Ethiopian B787 undergoing a test flight.

An Ethiopian B787-800 undergoes a test flight

A Boeing B747-8 Freighter

This looks like a Boeing B747-8 Freighter in the background and a Lufthansa B777-300 in the foreground (?)

A yet-to-be-painted Boeing B787-800

A Virgin Atlantic Boeing B787-9

A bunch of ANA Boeing B787s awaiting delivery

We then checked out the museum which, in terms of actual exhibits, is pretty light-on. It's more about marketing for Boeing and some technology advancement displays that are quite good. The Future of Aviation Museum primarily exists as a place for people to congregate before heading on a factory tour of the Boeing facility. However, the gift shops (yes, there are two) are jam packed full of stuff for the aviation enthusiast, including diecast model aircraft. Incredibly, I didn't purchase any, rather I elected to purchase a McDonnell t-shirt featuring the Mercury Capsule (which they designed and built).

This gives you some idea of the size of the Boeing B747-8's tail height

A Boeing B737 Cockpit Trainer

GE90 115B Boeing 777 Engine

A piece of a B787 fuselage demonstrating its all-composite materials

A Boeing B777 Nose Landing Gear

Schuyler tries out the breezy, PAN AM Boeing B787

This is as close as we got to the Boring Dreamlifter

After visiting the Museum, we had a very late lunch (around 1600h-ish) at Kings Teriyaki, apparently the best Teriyaki in Mukiltao, Washington. Although I have yet to try any other Teriyaki shops in Mukiltao, I reckon their claim is correct.

After the late lunch, we headed up north on the I-5 for the roughly two hour drive to Vancouver. By the time we had hit the road, it was already dark, so there was little opportunity for us to see what we imagined would have been quite pretty scenery. We crossed the US-Canadian border about 25km (yes, it's metric because we are in Canada) before Vancouver and all we needed to produce was our Passports; no Visas or anything else was required, in fact they didn't check our vehicle, nor were we required to get out of the car at any point.

Nearing the US-Canada Border crossing

Just about there

We arrived at our Hotel around 1900h and were impressed by the indoor pool and the enormity of our room. Well that's all for today. Tomorrow we will be oot and aboot (my American friends will get that joke), exploring Vancouver and surrounds.

DAY 35 - It's Hard To Cap A Chino

G'day y'all, greetings from LA, California and Day 35's Blog...has it really been five weeks?

Today we headed out to Chino, around an hour's drive out west from LA, in San Bernardino County to visit two (yes two) aircraft museums, both of which are awesome. Both museums are located at Chino Airport which is a Reliever Airport due to its proximity to other larger airports.

The ultimate photo-bomb

The first museum we visited was the Yanks Air Museum which has awesome display hangars, a restoration hangar and even its own boneyard.

There are around 190 aircraft on display which vary in quality from the pristine to half-an-aircraft that looks like it has just ploughed into the ground (which is actually fine by me). They also range from a Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer replica to an F-15A Eagle. We visited this place around five years ago and the changes have been astounding. What was really impressive though, was the amount of restoration work being undertaken during our few hours there. Also some of the aircraft I recall as being quite derelict a few years back, were pristine. Interestingly, some people don't like to see aircraft restorations that make them look brand new, however, I'm not one of those people. From my perspective, looking at an older aircraft that is in a pristine condition takes you back to that era. The only downside was probably the lack of attention from the entry/gift shop workers. Trying to get into the museum or making a purchase almost seemed like a huge impost to the to girls who worked there.

A very funky looking Autogyro

We saw this aircraft in the Boneyard when we were here five years ago

This is a photo of the same aircraft as above, taken last time we were here.

A Fairchild Republic A-10 Testing Rig

The names on the side of this cockpit are the same as Goose and Maverick in Top Gun

Inside the Restoration Hangar

Working outside on a Grumman Goose

A General Dynamics F-16B Fighting Falcon

In the distance I spotted a trio of SAAB Drakens

Need a Jet Engine

The next museum we visited was the Planes of Fame Museum which is just around the corner, less than a mile away.

The Planes of Fame Museum houses approximately 150 aircraft, of which 30-ish are in a flyable condition. The museum is also said to house one of the largest collections of Japanese WWII fighters in the world.  This museum, like Yanks has display and restoration hangars and a boneyard of sorts, but which is not open to the public. The aircraft, also like Yanks are everything from the pristine to just-crashed state, though they don't have the more modern aircraft types that Yanks has. Compared to Yanks; however, the customer service was astounding and very, very attentive and also, The Planes of Fame Museum has thousands of scale model aircraft that are of amazing build standards.

Working outside on a Corsair

An N9MB Flying Wing

Restoring the XP-59 Airacomet, the USA's first jet-powered aircraft

An RF-84K FICON Aircraft which would hang like a trapeze under a B-36 Peacemaker

Some brilliant aircraft models

After driving back to the Hotel in the late afternoon, we drove out to the Santa Monica Pier. Although very similar to the Pier on Grand Theft Auto V, strangely the ambiance was completely different :) The Santa Monica Pier is a tourist Mecca and contains Pacific Park, complete with Roller Coaster, Ferris Wheel and Rocking Ship, plus a number of shops and restaurants. Our timing was a little out in that we were a little late to catch the sunset, but thankfully not too late to still capture the beautiful orange glow in the sky post-sunset. Dinner was at Bubba Gump, which never seems to disappoint.

Welcome to Santa Monica Pier

The blur of bustling people

Bubba Gump

We completed the day with a visit to a few record stores on Santa Monica Boulevade (yes, the same one that is mentioned in the Sheryl Crowe song 'All I wanna do'.  At one of the record stores, Schuyler hit gold with a box set of Coldplay single EPs.

When we got back to the Hotel, we started packing for the next leg of our holiday.