Airside Americana – remember these airlines?

Source: airlinetimetable.blogspot.com

Source: airlinetimetable.blogspot.com

In these days of airline mergers, consolidations, and corporate takeovers, it can be hard to remember the days of multitudes of airline serving various parts of the nation. As I was growing up, very few airlines could be correctly deemed to be nationwide carriers – TWA, United, and American come to mind. Today, it seems like most of the remaining airlines want to be the biggest kid on the block. The problem is, with gargantuan size comes increased complexity, slowed innovation (other than new fees), less competition, and usually less personalized customer service. That is why I prefer, whenever possible, to fly on the regional or smaller carriers like Frontier, Southwest (including the remnants of AirTran), Alaska, and Jet Blue. Just last weekend, Kathy and I flew JetBlue to and from Boston and absolutely loved it!

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Here’s my list of many former airlines that once flew the friendly skies of the USA – those shown in italics are a past airline that I have flown on. Please feel free to pass along others that I may have missed or forgotten.

  • AirTran (being absorbed by Southwest this year – would prefer it remain independent)
  • Air Wisconsin
  • Allegheny
  • Aloha
  • America West
  • ATA
  • Braniff International
  • Capitol (Thank you, Jean)
  • Comair
  • Continental
  • Eastern
  • Florida
  • Hughes Air West
  • Lake Central (never flew on them but toured one of their aircraft for a childhood birthday)
  • Mesa
  • National
  • New York Airways
  • North Central
  • Northeast
  • Northwest/Northwest Orient
  • Ozark
  • Pacific Southwest Airlines (Thank you, Ron)
  • Pan Am
  • People Express
  • Piedmont (a terrific regional airline)
  • Republic
  • Rocky Mountain Airways (Thank you, Kim)
  • Southern
  • Tejas
  • Texas International
  • TWA
  • US Airways
  • Value Jet
  • Western
Source: en.wikipedia.org

Source: en.wikipedia.org

From John Lennon to Mozart – airports named for famous musicians

Source; anorak.co.uk

Statue of John Lennon at Liverpool John Lennon airport – Source; anorak.co.uk

This blogpost is not about a new game akin to musical chairs, though given the number of commercial airports around some cities, musical airports might be a game some travelers must play on occasion.  Instead, it is about those commercial airports that have been named or renamed for well-known musicians and composers. There are more musical airport eponyms than you may think. Below is the list of ten that I have come up with, along with an eleventh identified by Xavier after publication. If you happen to know of any other commercial airports named for musicians/composers and other music-related persons, I would be pleased if you could pass them along. Enjoy!

Source: stuckattheairport.com

Source: stuckattheairport.com

  • Budapest, Hungary – Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport (renamed in 2011)
  • Donetsk, Ukraine – Donetsk Sergei Prokofiev International Airport
  • Liverpool, United Kingdom – Liverpool John Lennon International Airport (renamed in 2002)
  • Mar Del Plata, Argentina – Astor Piazzolla International Airport (renamed in 2008)
  • New Orleans, Louisiana Louis Armstrong International Airport (renamed in 2001)
  • Ostrava, Czech RepublicLeos Janacek Airport
  • Parma ItalyGiuseppe Verdi Airport
  • Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (thank you Xavier for the addition)
  • Poznan, PolandHenryk Weiniawski Airport
  • Salzburg, Austria Wolfgang A. Mozart International Airport
  • Warsaw, Poland – Warsaw Frederic Chopin International Airport (renamed in 2001)

One interesting tidbit – John Lennon actually worked at the Liverpool Airport for a short time when he was a young man. There is a statue of this famous founder of The Beatles overlooking the check-in hall, along with a quote (“above us only sky”) from his epic song Imagine, and an artistic “Yellow Submarine” at the airport’s entrance.

Source: stuckattheairport.com

Source: stuckattheairport.com

DIA – Denver’s incredible airport

Source: flydenver.com

Source: flydenver.com

0107140904c

Jeppesen Terminal with railway station under construction on the left.

I have had the pleasure of flying through Denver International Airport (DIA) three times now. Each visit  to Denver I am more and more impressed by this enormous 35,000 acre facility. Not only is the airport  designed to be functional, for future growth, and sized to avoid noise impact issues with its neighbors, but it is an architectural and artistic gem that includes many environmentally friendly features like solar power generation and both internal and external passenger rail.

Source: en.wikipedia.org

Source: en.wikipedia.org

Source: denverpost.com

Blue Mustang – Source: denverpost.com

Even if you are not a Denver Bronco’s fan, anyone has to be impressed by the magnificent sky-high blue mustang statue by the late sculptor Luiz Jimenez located south of the main highway entrance to Jeppesen Terminal. In addition, the terminal building’s awesome snow-capped Rocky Mountain replica rooftop is truly inspiring, though I must admit it also looks like Native American teepees on the prairie to me.

Source: flydenver.com

Source: flydenver.com

Functionally, the airport has three satellite concourses (A, B, and C) where passengers board flights and/or disembark. These are connected to the main terminal by an efficient (and very busy) automated, dual-track automated transit system.  Very soon, the Jeppesen Terminal will be directly connected to downtown Denver by the high-speed East Rail commuter line.

Source: bombardier.com

Source: bombardier.com

Source: rtd-fastracks.com

Source: rtd-fastracks.com

A magnificent new railway station is currently under construction abutting the Jeppesen Terminal that will provide this speedy link to Union Station in downtown Denver.

New DIA railway station - Source: inhabit.com

New DIA railway station with Jeppesen Terminal in the background – Source: inhabit.com

If walking is your preference, Concourse A is also connected to the Jeppesen Terminal by a seriously cool skybridge. The skybridge s my personally preferred route to Concourse A because you have such great views of the airport tarmac, taxiing aircraft, and the inspiring Rockies to the west. Kids will love the views.

0107140928a

View of Concourse A

0107140927

View of Concourse A and tarmac from Skybridge.

Kudos to everyone in Denver for providing the traveling public with this amazing airport. Kudos as well to all of those who work in and around the airport, as I have found them to be friendly and helpful. Denver International has easily become my favorite major airport, as despite is tremendous size and scale, you feel it was designed to be enjoyable on a human scale as well. Here are some more photos of this incredible airport.

IMG_1597

Jeppesen Terminal in October, 2013 with railway station construction where the cranes are.

Inside Jeppesen Terminal at Denver International Airport

Inside Jeppesen Terminal at Denver International Airport

DIA control tower and one of the concourse control towers

DIA control tower and one of the concourse control towers

Bring rail transit to Detroit Metro Airport – NOW!

Source: aviationexplorer.com

Source: aviationexplorer.com

With one of the most modern midfield terminals (McNamara Terminal) in the nation, Detroit Metropolitan Airport has much to be proud of. This magnificent structure impresses nearly everyone who uses it. Among its seriously cool features is the elevated internal ExpressTram service that run most of the length (3,700 feet) of this massive, mile–long facility.  In fact, McNamara Terminal is the second longest airport terminal in the world.

ExpressTram - Source: flickr.com

Detroit Metro ExpressTram – Source: flickr.com

While rail is obviously utilized within Detroit Metro, the overall facility is anything but rail transit friendly at the present time. Passengers arriving and departing are limited to using their own vehicles, shuttles, cabs, and buses. Granted this is the Motor City, but trains have motors too! Fortunately, there is a silver lining, as a Norfolk Southern Railroad line abuts the northern boundary of the airport aside I-94. This rail line corridor is perfectly suited for bringing rail transit from downtown Detroit right into the heart of the airport and serve both the North and McNamara Terminals.

Source: destination360.com

Source: destination360.com

About three miles north of the airport terminals is another Norfolk Southern line that connects Chicago with Detroit and is also used for AMTRAK’s Wolverine service. A new off-site airport station along this line would include a bus rapid transit or light rail connection from the station to the airport along Merriman Road, according to the 2007 alternatives analysis.

A few years back I was at Detroit Metro Airport as two of my sons were departing on a scout trip. While there, an upset and somewhat disheveled women walked into the terminal from outside. As she passed us, she stated out loud, “what kind of city doesn’t have train service to its airport?” Very good question. Hopefully, in the VERY near future all of us in Southeast Michigan will be able to enjoy such a world-class rail transit system in one of the formats identified above.

Rails-to-contrails are taking off!

Denver International Airport - Source slrobertson.com

Denver International Airport – Source slrobertson.com

One of the most impressive things that I noticed during a recent trip about Denver’s magnificent international airport is that the city is not relying solely on the almighty automobile, shuttles, or buses for passenger access and ground transportation. Currently under construction and opening by 2015 will be the East Rail Line linking Denver International Airport to Union Station in downtown Denver. While systems such as Denver’s rail-to-contrail connection have tended to be an exception rather than the rule in North America for many years, intermodal aviation access opportunities by rail have taken off over the past two decades.

If there ever was a perfect match of transportation options, rail and air are it. Here are just a few of the micro and macro reasons why:

  • Passengers don’t need to pay large sums for parking their cars.
  • Visitors can access key points without having to rent a car.
  • On-site traffic congestion is reduced.
  • The need for constructing large parking garages can be minimized.
  • Increased safety as the need to wander parking lots and garages at night is reduced.
  • More environmentally friendly and sustainable transportation system.
  • less reliance on cars and fossil fuels.
  • Reduced carbon footprint.
  • Easier connections to other intra and intercity rail options.
Sea-Tac Light Rail Station - Source: mowatco.com

Sea-Tac Light Rail Station – Source: mowatco.com

Below is the list of those airports in North America that have direct (on-site or adjacent) rail links to the city. Any known corrections or additions are most welcome. Congratulations to these cities for being the leaders in providing intermodal transportation options at their airports (some links are also provided).

Other major airport destinations will need to step it up to compete. Among the cities that should be taking steps toward providing some form of rails-to-contrails airport connection, include:

  • Anchorage
  • Austin
  • Buffalo
  • Calgary
  • Cancun
  • Charlotte
  • Cincinnati
  • Columbus
  • Detroit
  • Edmonton
  • El Paso
  • Greensboro/Winston-Salem
  • Guadalajara
  • Hartford (Bradley)
  • Houston (Hobby)
  • Houston (Intercontinental)
  • Indianapolis
  • Jacksonville
  • Kansas City
  • Kingston, Jamaica
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles (Ontario)
  • Louisville
  • Memphis
  • Monterrey
  • Nashville
  • New Orleans
  • New York (LaGuardia)
  • Oklahoma City
  • Omaha
  • Orange County (John Wayne)
  • Ottawa
  • Panama City, Panama
  • Pittsburgh
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • Sacramento
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • San Juan
  • Santo Domingo
  • Tampa
  • Toronto
  • Tucson
  • Washington (Dulles)
  • Winnipeg

It seems like rail-to-contrail connections would be particularly useful and passenger-friendly at resort, convention, and vacation locales like Orlando, Honolulu, Tampa, San Juan, or Las Vegas. Meanwhile, it is nice to see more and more North American cities join the ranks of those having intermodal international airports.

Ideas for Stapleton’s iconic control tower

Photo by Brendan Brown

Photo by Brendan Brown

On our way back from Boulder to Denver International Airport on Sunday morning, Brendan and I stopped by the Stapleton development in Denver to see the old Stapleton International Airport control tower. This handsome and historic structure is pretty much all that is left of this major airport once located on the east side of the city and which closed some 18 years ago. The tower is gradually being surrounded by new housing, parks, and commercial development. It’s lonely fenced-in position amid scrub-grasses, weeds, and prairie wildflowers leaves one to wonder what should be done with such an iconic feature that remains clearly visible from the nearby expressways. Here are a few suggestions I have for adaptive reuse of this iconic facility:

  • National Air Traffic Control Museum – in today’s security conscious environment, visiting/touring  an operating control tower is an unlikely scenario in the United States. What’s better than a former tower to fill that void? Denver’s rich aviation history is the perfect backdrop for such a facility and it would generate tourism for areas hotels, restaurants, and other attractions.
  • National Air Travel Museum – a variation of the idea listed above, though whether there is enough land for representative passenger aircraft may now be an issue. Somewhere there needs to be a repository of information air travel history, including all the airlines that have flown our skies.
  • Stapleton Community Visitor’s Center and Museum – showcase the history of the airport and the redevelopment of Stapleton by utilizing the former control tower.
  • Stapleton Skylight Show – offering a nightly or weekly skylighting program using the control tower as the center piece of the event. Between shows, use the control tower as an observation overlook.
  • National Air Travel Hall of Fame – a hall of fame dedicated to passenger aviation.
  • National Aviation Memorial – a solemn memorial dedicated to those who have lost their lives while flying.

Denver deserves much praise for its efforts to redevelop and revitalize the former airport site. Converting the old Stapleton control tower into an active and vibrant reminder of that once-great international airport can serve as the crown jewel in the city’s revitalization efforts on this preeminent site.

Your community is a resort town when…

 

  • Lodging chains that have long-since disappeared everywhere else still have an operating location here.
  • People will “resort” to almost anything.
  • Golf cart racing is a favorite sport.

    Source: espn.go.com

    Source: espn.go.com

  • Sandals outsell shoes.
  • The seasons are “peak” and “off-peak.”
  • The locals start eating dinner at 4:00 pm.
  • Sunday drivers are on the roads every day of the week.
  • One can giggle from reading the quirky hotel names.

    Source: bbb-news.com

    Source: bbb-news.com

  • You can see every license plate in the USA and Canada in one afternoon.
  • Putt-putt, bingo, and shuffleboard are still very popular.
  • Room rates per night vary like gasoline prices.
  • You have airline flights to more places than any other town of your population size.
  • Tourist traps are considered an economic development tool.
  • Ten times more tickets are issued to out-of-state drivers than the locals.
  • Insurance companies offer discounts to multi-yacht owners.
  • Most garages have a separate overhead door and space for golf carts.
  • The yacht club and the golf clubhouse are the two most popular social venues.
  • The locals clear out of town during spring break.
  • Blue hair is NOT intended as a fashion statement.
  • There is absolutely no other logical reason for a town to be located there.
  • “The Last Resort” by the Eagles describes the town perfectly.

It’s the only way to fly!

Source: beerstreetjournal.com

Source: beerstreetjournal.com

Kudos to Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who announced this past Thursday that Bell’s Brewery will be opening a new brewpub in the Great Hall pre-security shopping/dining portion of the airport terminal. With fantastic beers like Oberon, Lager of the Lakes, Two Hearted Ale, Third Coast, Amber Ale, Christmas Ale, and Kalamazoo Stout, this is a terrific idea to promote and market West Michigan’s amazing beer culture to travelers from around the globe.

Source: wkzo.com

Source: wkzo.com

I am only amazed that the Grand Rapids-centered breweries didn’t think of this idea first. While close by, Bell’s is based in Kalamazoo about 50 miles to the south. It will be interesting to see if Bell’s does the same thing at Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport at some point in the future.

Source: blogs.riverfronttimes.com

Source: blogs.riverfronttimes.com

Finally, superbly crafted beer choices while traveling, rather than being stuck with the hum-drum national brews that are blander than bland and leave a lot to be desired. Hat’s off to both Bell’s and Gerald Ford International Airport for a great idea whose time has come. It will the only way to fly!

Airmail dAIRdevils – one ‘first-class’ read

Source: amazon.com

Source: amazon.com

Most of us have become accustomed to the benefits of overnight air delivery of mail, packages, and freight in the past three or four decades. The onset of corporate giants like Fedex and UPS have made these services largely routine. However, when I was a kid, it was still a special treat to receive a letter with an air mail stamp affixed to it. Furthermore, it was only 95 years ago when the United States Post Office first initiated its groundbreaking service of providing air mail delivery between Washington and New York City. This momentous event took place on May 15, 1918 – a mere 15 years after the Wright Brothers inaugural flight at Kitty Hawk. The book, Mavericks of the Sky, by Barry Rosenberg and Catharine Macaulay details this amazing story in superb and “first-class” fashion.

Source: mavericksofthesky.com/the-air-mail-pilots/

Source: mavericksofthesky.com/the-air-mail-pilots/

Mavericks of the Sky is one of those books that is soooo enjoyable that you hate to put down and wish you never had to finish reading it. From takeoff right through the entire flight until landing, the book grabs your attention and never, ever let’s go. In many parts it is a white-knuckle trip as you are worried about what may happen to these aviation heroes and heroine when you turn to the next page. Each and every one of them are remarkable pioneers and brave daredevils who deserve lasting kudos for their tremendous efforts. Sadly, a number of them made the ultimate sacrifice in their efforts by paying with their lives. It’s no wonder the group was also known as “The Suicide Club.”

Source: mavericksofthesky.com/mavericks-of-the-sky-as-a-feature-film/

Source: mavericksofthesky.com/mavericks-of-the-sky-as-a-feature-film/

What intrigued me most about this book is that it documents in very rich and well-crafted detail a part of aviation history that I (and probably many others) had never heard of or read before. That, in itself, lends a rare aura of exclusivity to Mavericks of the Sky that makes it even a more special read  – almost like discovering a completely new thread of human history.

My congratulations to the authors on their excellent work. Personally, I feel this book should have won many awards for great historical writing, as it introduces us to those brave flyers and visionaries who challenged treacherous and hazardous conditions, both on the ground and in the air, to inaugurate an entirely new form of mail service.  Hats off especially to the “dAIRdevils” who risked life and limb on a daily basis as Mavericks of the Sky.

“Plane” crazy flight plans

Source: neb.frikafrax.com

Source: neb.frikafrax.com

This weblink will take you to the list of the 149 air traffic control towers being closed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) because of the sequester – also known as the “good-for-nothing  Congress in-Act-ion of 2013.” As can be seen, there are many small and medium-sized communities across the nation impacted by this aversion to making tough decisions.

Without air traffic control, these communities cannot hope to retain or obtain scheduled passenger air service. Furthermore, private aviation will be hindered. Perhaps saddest (or stupidest) of all is there are some newly completed control towers that are going to just sit empty and unused – that’s a “plane” crazy flight plan in a first-world nation!
One can only hope that enough members of Congress will have airports in their districts impacted so they wake up. Otherwise, I fear the planet’s best air traffic control system just took deep nose dive from legislative ineptitude, party loyalty, political ideology.  Sad, sad, so very sad.