Aviation history

How a 747 design change proposal spurred the ’60-foot rule’

United Airlines’ final charter flight to say goodbye to the airline’s fleet of 747 airccraft, was quite a party and you can see my story and photos on the event on the Runway Girl Network.

But during all the hoopla, a representative of the flight attendant’s union mentioned to me that debate over a change in the 747 design back in the mid-1980s spurred an important safety rule – the FAA’s 60-foot rule – that applies to just about all airplanes today.

The short version of the story is that in 1984 Boeing proposed taking out a set of exit doors on the 747 jumbo jet to make more room for seats. Flight attendants and pilots – and their unions – raised concerns over the ability to get everyone off the plane in an emergency without those doors and pushed back.

The Federal Aviation Administration ruled on the side of safety.

Read my full story on how this came about in my Runway Girl Network story here.

Photo courtesy Boeing Company

Old plane gets new home at San Antonio Int’l Airport

Courtesy San Antonio Int’l Airport

This ‘”Jenny”-  a 1918 Curtiss JN-4D biplane – has just been installed in Terminal B at San Antonio International Airport (SAT).

The historic aircraft, one of only 2,800 made, comes from San Antonio’s Witte Museum.

The “Jenny” was used as a military trainer for pilots in the U.S. Air Service during World War I and as a mail-carrying airplane during the 1920s. The namesake of San Antonio’s Stinson Municipal Airport’s, Katherine Stinson, flew this type of plane for fundraising tours on behalf of the American Red Cross during World War I.

The plane can be seen from anywhere in the terminal – including through the airport’s Suitcase Wheel, created by the Art Guys.


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Souvenir Sunday: 747-themed amenity kits on United

United Airlines is going to retire its Boeing 747 fleet on November 7 and to mark the occasion the airline is giving out 747-themed Polaris amenity kits starting Monday, October 23, through January 2018.

Silver kits go to first class customers, while blue kits will be handed out to business class fliers. In addition to the usual amenity kit items, each kit contains a pack of five 747 trading cards, so you can swap with your friends.

Passengers on United’s premium transcontinetnal routes (EWR-SFO, EWR-LAX, BOS-SFO) will receive (smaller, but just as charming) commemorative kits as well.

 

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Fun, fast facts about London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport, The Beatles depart from Heathrow on their American tour. August 13, 1965.  Courtesy Heathrow Airport

Next time you’ve got some time to spend at London’s Heathrow Airport, take a moment to read some of the commemorative signs the airport posted to mark its 70th birthday in May, 2016.

There are 70 of factoid-filled signs throughout the terminals, marking everything from where the The Beatles were met by screaming fans (repeatedly) in the 1960s to where film scenes were shot and where the Concorde last landed at Heathow in 2003.

You’ll find a list of the contents and locations of all the signs in Terminal 2, Terminal 3, Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 on the Heathrow website.

The copy on the signs ranges from cute and corny to cheeky.

In Terminal 2 departures, one sign marks the spot where actor and pilot John Travolta landed his Boeing-707 in 2002. “He had recently completed his flight training. Fact, not pulp fiction,” the sign notes.

In Terminal 4 departures is  the spot from where Muhammad Ali flew, “like a butterfly,”  in 1974 to fight George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle.

And in Terminal 3, a sign notes the spots where the opening sequence in the film “Love Actually” was filmed.  “Think of here whenever you feel gloomy,” Heathrow advises..

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Fresh art at St. Louis Lambert Int’l Airport

 

A new exhibit at St. Louis Lambert International Airport focuses on the history of transportation.

Traveling through Time: Photographs from the collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri St. Louis brings to the airport iconic black and white photos of the S.S. Admiral at the St. Louis waterfront, hot air balloon travel, some of St. Louis’ first female airline pilots, St. Louis’ Union Station, a boatman navigating the Mississippi River, and an early view of the Eads Bridge.

The six iconic images draw from the Mercantile’s special collections and are enlarged to nearly 7 ft. tall for easy viewing in light display boxes on the passageways between the lower level of Terminal 1 and Baggage Claim.

The Traveling through Time exhibition will be on display through September 2018.

(Photos courtesy of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University 0f  Missouri – St. Louis. )

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