Harriet Baskas

Snaps from the Neon Museum in Las Vegas

Sharing some snaps today from a recent visit to the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, which collects, preserves and exhibits iconic signs that were part of the city’s history.

If you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas or must go there for a meeting or convention, this is a great stop.

Of course, it’s best to go at night when you can get a tour, see many of the signs lit up and enjoy Brilliant!,  artist Craig Winslow’s neon installation that takes you back into the history of Sin City through sight and sound.

 

Las Vegas Neon Museum

 

That ‘unauthorized’ Horizon Air flight: now what?

That “unauthorized” Horizon Air flight at Seattle Tacoma International Airport: now what?

Courtesy Alaska AIrlines

You’ve no doubt heard about the Horizon Air grounds crew employee who took a turboprop airplane – a Q400 – for an unauthorized flight out of Seattle Tacoma International Airport on Friday night. The man, identified later as Richard Russell, flew the plane around the region for about an hour before crashing into a small island.

With military jets trailing, and local media and eyewitnesses reporting what was in process, Russell did some acrobatic stunts with the plane and talked with an incredibly calm-sounding air traffic controller at SEA  airport:

Horizon Air is a subsidiary of Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and on Saturday officials from the airlines along with officials from agencies involved in the investigation held a press conference to discuss what they knew at that point -and what would happen next:

Human remains – presumably Russell’s – and the aircraft’s black box have been  located in the wreckage of the plane and now the discussions will focus on how this happened – and how to keep it from happening again.

On his site, security aviation expert Jeff Price writes that this incident – which he says will be filed as an ‘insider threat’ –  “Is not a failure of the airport security system. Airports are responsible for access to the ramp; airlines are responsible for access to the airplane.” He goes on to explore some of the solutions that will explored.

James Fallows has a good recap in The Atlantic – linking to many of the initial reporting that helped us figure out what was happening as the event unfolded.

On his “Ask the Pilot” blog, Patrick Smith, discusses the incident, saying that while an insider threat does exist, “This particular kind of threat, however — the idea of random employees getting hold of planes — shouldn’t be overplayed.” Some other “Now what?” thoughts can be found here. 

But the incident does raise serious question about airport and airline security and, as this story in the Seattle Times notes, “The answers to these questions could eventually alter security procedures not only at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport but at other airports around the country.”

What do you think might – and should – change at airports as a result of this incident?

Donate to CA wildfires relief, get bonus United Airlines miles

Get bonus United Airlines miles for donating cash to fight California wildfires

United Airlines has launched a fundraising campaign to support the people and organizations responding to the wildfires in California.

If you contribute at least $50 you’ll not only help raise funds for the campaign; you’ll get some bonus airline miles.

Here’s the deal:

United is offering MileagePlus members bonus award miles for making cash contributions of $50 or more to the three disaster relief charities listed below. The airline has set aside 5 million miles for the offer and will match contributions made to the campaign up to a total of $50,000.

Donate $50 to $99 and earn 250 bonus miles
Donate $100 to $249 and earn 500 bonus miles
Donate $250 or more and earn $1000 bonus miles

The charities that will benefit from your donation to this campaign are:

American Red Cross

Americares

Airlink

North Coast Opportunities (for the Mendocino Complex Fire)

Shasta Regional Community Foundation (for the Carr Fire).

All these organizations are doing incredible work. Here’s some information from Airlink about just soe of what they’ve been doing to help with the effort:

“The Northern California wildfires are now the largest in the state’s history and United Airlines is launching a fundraising campaign to help Californians affected by the historic blaze.

Airlink is currently responding to the fires in partnership with Operation BBQ Relief. We’ve supported flights for volunteers serving 20,000+ warm meals to displaced residents and first responders.

As the fires burn through the region, Airlink continues to work with its nonprofit partners, ready to send responders or relief cargo when and where they are needed.”

The deadline for making your contribution and getting these bonus miles is August 30, 2018

Here’s the link to donate to the United Airlines fundraising campaign in support of California Wildfires relief efforts.

I’m donating. Are you?

Space tourism: do real astronauts want tourists in space?

Are real astronauts in favor of space tourism?

 Spaceship toy - space tourism

Space tourism is a modern-day reality and a bucket list item for many travelers who have already ticked off many of the awe-inspiring spots on earth.

But do professional astronauts want tourists up there with them?

Earlier this summer I had a chance to ask a dozen or more former and current astronauts that question  — and to gather their travel tips – during the shakedown cruise of the Viking Orion.

The ship is named after the prominent Orion constellation and has at its ceremonial godmother, American chemist, emergency room physician and retired NASA astronaut Dr. Anna Fisher. As the guest of honor on the cruise Fisher was able to invite dozens of her friends along for the ship’s maiden voyage.

Astronauts discuss space tourism and other topics

Non-astronauts can now contemplate how they want to visit space, thanks to private companies such as  Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, SpaceX and others, which are developing a variety of space tourism programs and out-of-this-world experiences.

To a one, every astronaut I spoke with is enthusiastic about untrained citizens heading to space.  I gathered their opinions about space tourism for a story just posted on Travel +Leisure. 

Here are some of the responses:

“I seriously believe that if more people had the opportunity to go into space and see the earth from that vantage point they would definitely stop thinking of themselves as being from this country or that country and slowly start feeling like they’re just from this planet,” said Anna Fisher, the first mother in space and one of the “original six” women accepted into NASA’s Astronaut Training Program.

While he wouldn’t have wanted extraneous people on board when he was flying multibillion-dollar missions, “That’s different than having a spacecraft designed from the get-go for tourists, which I applaud,” said former NASA astronaut Frederick (Rick) Hauck, a veteran of several Space Shuttle missions.

Jean-Francois Clervoy, a European Space Agency astronaut and veteran of three NASA Space Shuttle missions, is all for space tourism even if, for the foreseeable future, it’s an experience only available to rich people.

“The travelers who have the money, the time, and the courage to try space tourism are and will be great ambassadors” for the experience, said Clervoy, “They know people will want to hear about their adventure and that is what explorers and pioneers going first are supposed to do. Bring back the experience.”

Former NASA astronaut Sherwood (Woody) Spring, who logged 165 hours in space, 12 of them doing spacewalks, said while the views from space are great, space tourists need to keep the downsides of space travel in mind.

“When you get into orbit, 99 percent of astronauts go through what we call ‘space adaption syndrome’;” said Spring, “Some people throw up, some don’t, but you’re probably not going to feel well the first two days.

Spring said IMAX space movies offer the same great views without the high ticket price, but if getting out of this world is what you’re after “Go for it,” said Spring, “You don’t need my permission.”

Would you like to take a trip into space?

 

Fresh art at Australia’s Sydney Airport

Fresh art at Australia’s Sydney Airport

United Neytions by Archie Moore

United Neytions by Archie Moore at Sydney Airport

A hard-to-miss work of art made up of 28 large flags now hangs from the ceiling in the international terminal at Australia’s Sydney Airport.

United Neytions is by noted contemporary artist Archie Moore and highlights the diversity of Aboriginal histories and cultures in Australia.

Archie Moore's United Neytions

Archie Moore’s  United Neytions. Photo Anna Kucera at Sydney Airport

Moore said the artwork celebrates issues of place and identity and that installing it at the airport allows the flags to adopt a scale and status more often given to international flags.

Having the flags at the airport draws attention not only to the “histories, voices and presence of local indigenous people on whose traditional lands the airport lies,” said Moore but also to “the passages of cultures, pasts, territories, ages and cultural knowledges that airports foster.”

Sydney Airport has a partnership with Australia’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which chose to bring this work to the international terminal.

Here’s a short video from an earlier installation of the work in which artist Archie Moore describes the piece in more detail, including what each flag represents and why he chose the spelling of “Neytion” for the title.

Heading to or through Sydney Airport? Let us know what the piece looks like in its new home.