Aviation history

Lost airport amenity: Lindbergh’s monocoupe leaving St. Louis airport

For years, the 1934 Model D-127 Monocoupe once owned by aviator Charles Lindbergh has been on display at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), over the Concourse C security checkpoint in Terminal 1.

But the airplane, which has been on loan to the airport from the Missouri Historical Society since 1979, is coming down for good on Tuesday June 12 and put away for what is described as a “much neeed rest.”

“The 1934 Lindbergh Monocoupe is an exceedingly rare aircraft in that it still retains its original fabric covering,” said Katherine Van Allen, managing director of museum services for the Missouri Historical Society, in a statement, “In order to ensure that this unique piece of history is preserved for future generations, the Missouri Historical Society is removing the plane to a humidity and climate-controlled storage facility in accordance with present-day best practices in collections care.”

 

According to the Missouri History Museum, which received the plane in 1940, Lindbergh flew this airplane regularly, but didn’t really love it.

And even though he’d had it personalized extensively, he wrote that “It is one of the most difficult planes to handle I have ever flown. The take-off is slow…and the landing tricky…[it] is almost everything an airplane ought not to be.”

Still, it is an aviation treasure. And one that could have been lost to history back in April 2011 when a tornado hit the airport, doing millions of dollars of damage. By luck, Lindergh’s monocoupe had been moved to a storage facility just a few weeks before, in preparation for scheduled terminal renovations.

Here’s a video of the plane being rehung in the airport in 2013:

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When you visit STL,  you’ll still see an airplane suspended from the ceiling over a Terminal 2 checkpoint. That plane is also owned by the Missouri Historical Society, but it’s a 1933 Red Monocoupe 110 Special with no link to Lindbergh.

 

Fresh arts/entertainment at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport

 A fresh program of live local art and entertainment offerings – “ArtsWave Presents” – begins today, March 16, at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and continues on Friday afternoons through May.

Here’s what’s on tap for the next few weeks.  

·         2-3 PM: Friday, March 16: Northern Kentucky University Philharmonic

·         2-3 PMFriday, March 30: James McCray Choral Ensemble

·        More to come  Fridays: April 6April 20May 4May 25

CVG, which is currently undergoing a $6 million terminal modernization project, is also displaying a nice collection of items from the Cincinnati Museum Center, including the spacesuit of Neil Armstrong.

And, of course, this is the airport that has miniature therapy horses come visit with travelers.

Denver’s old Stapleton Airport tower gets new use

 

Before Denver International Airport opened in 1995, the city was served by the closer in Stapleton International Airport.

A mixed-used neighborhood has been growing in the space formerly occupied by the decommissioned airport, and next week a new business will open in the building at the base of the abanonded air traffic control tower building.

Denver-based “eatertainment” company Punch Bowl Social is getting ready to open Punch Bowl Social Stapleton, with six bowling lanes, foosball, darts, ping-pong, private karaoke rooms, a photo booth, shuffle board, giant scrabble, a diner and a bar.

 

 

The outside space will offer more fun and games, including two bocce courts, an astroturf lined ‘pool’, a gazebo and a beer garden.

It’s hard to tell from these renderings how much the space really includes the promised nods to the ‘golden age of flight,’ but we’ll stop by for a visit after the grand opening on November 18 to check it out.

 

Snaps from Boeing’s farewell flight for the Boeing 747

Courtesy United

United Airlines officially said farewell to its Boeing 747 airplanes on Tuesday with a special charter flight from San Francisco to Honolulu.

I got to ride along and will be putting together a formal report for the Runway Girl Network, but in the meantime, here are some snaps from the gate-side party, the flight and the arrival in Honolulu.

Those out-of-time outfits you’ll see? Everyone was encouraged to dress in outfits from the 1970s, to evoke the time when the iconic humped plane was introduced.

Tom Stuker, who has flown 18 million miles on United wih United CEO Oscar Munoz, who scanned passenger tickets for the flight.

 

Mai Tai cocktails for everyone on the flight.

 

And for dessert – “Volcano” ice-cream sundaes, with dry-ice.

 

On arrival in Honolulu, the plane received a 120-foot-long lei –
made out of trash bags by United employees.

And another cake!

That 18 hour United flight between LAX and Singapore

With the launch of new non-stop service between Los Angeles and Singapore, United Airlines set a new distance record among U.S. airlines flying to or from the United States.

Thanks – or rather, due – to headwinds facing westbound aircraft, the published length of the 8,700-mile trip from Los Angeles International Airport to Singapore’s Changi Airport clocks in at whopping 17 hours and 55 minutes, with the return/eastbound trip scheduled to take ‘just’ 15 hours and 15 minutes.

While still long, for many travelers this flight significantly shortens the journey to the Lion City. Until now, passengers had to make a stop somewhere along the way.

“This flight shaves hours off that journey,” said Patrick Quayle, Vice-President of International Network for United Airlines.

The new LAX to SIN flight (UA37) is scheduled to leave Los Angeles daily at 8:55 p.m. and arrive in Singapore at 6:50 a.m. two days later, local Singapore time. The return flight (UA 38) leaves Singapore’s award-winning Changi Airport daily at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 10:15 a.m. the same day, local time.

United also serves Singapore with a daily non-stop flight from San Francisco, which at 8,466 miles is now the second longest scheduled flight operated by a carrier from the United States.

In addition to being the longest flight from the United States to anywhere in the world, the new United Airlinesnow holds the record for both the longest (LA – SIN; 8,700 miles) and second-longest flights (SFO – SIN; 8,466 miles) on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. That record is destined to fall in March, 2018 when Sydney, Australia-based Qantas begins flying a 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft between Perth and London, a distance of about 9009 miles.

While these will be the longest flights on Boeing 787-9 aircraft, they won’t be the world’s longest flight. That record is currently held by Qatar Airways, which flies between Doha and Auckland, a distance of 9,032 miles.

Courtesy UNITED

Shortening the flight time between Los Angeles and Singapore is not only appealing for leisure travelers heading to Asia, it gives Southern California an economic edge.

“Over 71 Singaporean companies have operations in the six counties of Southern California,” said Stephen Cheung, President of the World Trade Center, Los Angeles, “They create over 3,300 jobs for the local region and together contribute over 200 million in annual wages. So this new direct flight increases the opportunity for Singaporeans to invest in Los Angeles.”

If you’re going to be on a plane for 18 hours – or any long stretch of time – comfortable seating, upgraded amenities and the aircraft can make a difference in how you feel on arrival.

United’s 8,700-mile non-stop flight is serviced by a Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner with 252 seats: 48 in Polaris business class, laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration; 88 premium economy seats and 116 economy seats, in a 3-3-3 layout.

While the 787-9 United used on this route doesn’t have its newest Polaris business class seats (and won’t be retrofitted with them for several years), the business class section does have lie-flat seats and benefits from the airline’s Polaris service, which includes Saks Fifth Avenue-branded bedding and fleece-lined slippers.

The aircraft itself offers benefits to long-haul fliers. The composite carbon fiber material (as opposed to aluminum) used to make the aircraft means the cabin pressure and humidity can be higher than on other airplanes. That makes passengers feel as if they are flying at a lower altitude than on a standard flight and can helps cut down on the fatigue, dryness, and jet lag travelers usually experience.

United Airlines is about to retire its entire fleet of 747 aircraft, known as the “Queen of the Skies,” and through January 2018 is giving passengers flying in Polaris premium cabins a collectible 747-themed amenity kit.

In addition to amenity-kit basics such as a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, tiny tissue pack, ear plugs, lip balm and hand lotion, this kit contains some commemorative items, including 747-themed socks, a 747-themed padded eye-mask and a pack of five 747-themed trading cards. There are 15 commemorative 747 cards in the full set, giving passengers on the 18 hour LAX to Singapore flight, and others, an excuse to strike up a conservation and swap cards along with road warrior stories.

     

Eating and snacking are important on a long haul flight. United’s Polaris passengers on the Los Angeles to Singapore flights can plan on having a four course dinner, with ice-cream sundaes and Asian sweets for dessert, breakfast before arrival and a choice of serve-yourself snacks, including Ramen noodles, sandwiches, fruit and candy during the flight.

Singapore Airlines, which – like United – flies direct between San Francisco and Singapore, plans to re-introduce direct flights between Los Angeles and Singapore soon. For now, though, United Airlines is the only carrier offering direct flights between LAX and SIN.

Last week, after dipping to as low as $177 for a short time, roundtrip economy fares for United’s non-stop flights between Los and Singapore were as low as $600 (including taxes) for some early December flights.

(My story about United Airlines’ new 18-hour flight between Los Angeles and Singapore first appeared in a slightly different version on CNBC).