Lost a camera while traveling? Don’t lose hope.

Here’s a heartwarming story I had the pleasure of tracking down for’s Overhead Bin.

Tom Hansen, left, with his wife, Yvonne, and friends Jan & Ron Stan at a site in Athens, Greece, where he picked up the lost camera memory card.

During a European cruise this fall, Tom Hansen and his wife, Yvonne, spent a port day visiting historic sites in Athens, Greece. While having their picture taken on a hillside with a view of the Acropolis, Hansen spotted a camera memory card on the ground.

“No one else was around, and there was discussion about throwing it away,” Hansen told “But I put it in my pocket and carried it around for the rest of the trip.”

When Hansen returned home to Bellevue, Wash., at the end of October, he loaded the memory card onto his computer and began looking through the 550 mystery pictures.

The most recent shots showed an unknown couple in Athens and on various Greek islands. Earlier pictures showed the couple in various cities, at family gatherings and playing with a baby that looked to be a new grandchild. By studying the pictures, Hansen concluded that they documented about a year-and-a-half of milestones in someone’s life.

“I decided I wanted to find these people and get the memory card back in their hands,” he said.

He studied the photos for clues.

One shot showed the names of two female tennis players on a scoreboard with what looked to Hansen like English countryside in the background. Hansen pulled up the Wimbledon website and discovered that the women had indeed played there, so he figured the mystery couple had been to Wimbledon.

Tom Hansen followed clues from this photo to find the owners of a lost memory card

Maybe they lived in England.

Hansen placed an online ad on craigslist in London. He also posted notices containing several photos from the memory card on websites devoted to reuniting people with lost cameras.

No luck.

Undeterred, Hansen kept looking.

One of the mystery photos showed a man in a classroom being awarded a plaque and a gift bag. On the wall were these partial words: ‘tute,’ ‘pool’ and ‘us.’ Hansen tried matching the letters to school-related words and came up with “institute” and “Liverpool,” then pondered banners in the room bearing Chinese characters.

“They looked like sayings, and I thought, ‘Confucius was good for sayings,’ so I looked up the Confucius Institute. Turns out there are more than 100 of these institutes around the world, and one is at the University of Liverpool.”

So Hansen called the institute and got Sandra Sheridan on the phone.

“I arranged for him to e-mail me some of the photos, which I forwarded to various staff members in my department,” said Sheridan. “Fortunately someone recognized Richard Knight.”

Knight was not an employee of school, but he was a consultant whose retirement party had been held there a year earlier.

A colleague from the university contacted Knight to let him know that someone named Tom Hansen in America had found the memory card and was trying to return it.

Annette and Richard Knight at Wimbledon.. another clue

“We were thrilled because it really showed what great people we have in the world,” Knight told “To take the trouble to track us down by looking at the pictures was terrific, and, of course, superb detective work. And Tom has not only returned the memory card, he made two backup disks. He’s a star.”

As it turns out, Knight and his wife, Annette, who live in Formby, England, had actually been on the same cruise ship as the Hansens. Both couples had visited the same hillside to get a view of the Acropolis.

“We were having trouble with our digital camera,” Knight said. “And when my wife tried to re-position the battery, she inadvertently detached the memory card from the camera. You can imagine our disappointment when the card appeared to be lost forever.”

Matt Preprost, founder of, said that while the number of photos from found cameras and memory cards varies from week to week, since 2008 his website has been visited close to 7 million times. The site has reunited dozens of lost cameras with their owners.

Knight and Hansen haven’t talked on the phone yet, but Hansen feels he’s gotten to know the Knights – and what they’ve been up to for the past year-and-a-half – by studying their photos.

In an e-mail, Knight has offered a cash reward to Hansen for his troubles.

“I refused payment,” said Hansen. “But if what I did inspires someone else to do something nice, that’s my reward.”

Smithsonian exhibit shows jets as art

AirCraft: The Jet as Art,” an exhibition featuring 33 super-sized, high-resolution images of aircraft, opens Nov. 25 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

The images, many as large as 6 feet by 6 feet, are courtesy of photographer, graphic designer, architect and licensed pilot Jeffrey Milstein, who captured many of the images by standing at the end of a runway at Los Angeles International Airport and photographing planes from underneath as they came in to land.


“It’s like shooting a moving duck,” said Milstein. “The planes are moving so fast, and I have only a hundredth of a second to get my shot. I have to keep the camera moving with the plane and then fire the shot exactly at the top dead center. It took a lot of practice.”

At times, it also took some negotiation.

“One of the problems if you’re hanging around an airport with a camera a lot of times is that the authorities get a bit antsy,” said Milstein. “Especially since 9/11. When I first started going out to the airport, the police would sometimes converge on me with up to six cars at once. Now they know me because I’ve been out there so much.”


Milstein’s practice and perseverance have paid off.  Using a high-end professional camera that Milstein said costs “as much as an SUV,” the photographer was able to get images that reveal the mechanics, rivets and other details of an airplane’s underbelly. “With Photoshop, I remove the sky background so that the airplanes become just floating objects. As far as the colors, I don’t fake anything, but I might clarify to increase the contrast or bring out the detail,” said Milstein.

“There are a lot of amateurs out there photographing planes,” said exhibition curator Carolyn Russo, a museum specialist and photographer. “But what Milstein ends up with are really crisp, clean, beautiful color images that transform the planes into art and are unlike any other photographs of aircraft. We’ve compared them to an array of pinned butterflies.”

Alaska Airlines Salmon Thirty Salmon Boeing 737-400

Among the images on display, Milstein has a few favorites, including a red Southwest Airlines Boeing 737, an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 that’s “just silver, and just really beautiful,” the helicopters and some of the planes he’s photographed from the side that sport pictures, such as Alaska Airline’s Boeing 737-400 Salmon-Thirty-Salmon plane.

Alaska Airlines Disney Boeing 737-400

“AirCraft: The Jet as Art” will remain on display until Nov. 25, 2012, at the National Air and Space Museum.

(A slightly different version of this story appeared on’s Overhead Bin)

Photographs courtesy Jeffrey Milstein/Smithsonian Museum

At home, you can still read the in-flight magazine

Do you read the airline magazine tucked into the seatback pocket?

A lot of these publications are getting awfully thin and awfully boring.  A few have disappeared altogether.

And some have popped up on-line.

Take a look at the latest issue of KLM’s iFly magazine.

The theme is “Light” and there are loads of great images, stories, videos, music, and audio clips and interviews.

There’s an interview with an astronaut, tips on visiting Berlin, a variety of other great multi-media features and an incredible slide-show of photographs by Censi Goepel and Jens Warnecke, who create images with amazing light effects.


The story includes videos showing how the duo make some of the images.

Where to watch time fly

Before you go to bed Saturday night, be sure to set your clocks ahead one hour so you can ‘spring forward’ into daylight saving time with everyone else. And, as you reset the time on the microwave, the TV and your bedside alarm, imagine yourself watching time fly in one of the clock-worthy cities I featured for in How time flies! Where to see the world’s clocks.

Grand Central clock

For decades, the clock over the information booth at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal has served as both easy-to-spot timepiece and iconic meeting point. Like all clocks at Grand Central, the 1913 four-sided, ball clock is set by the atomic clock in the Naval Observatory in Bethesda, Md., and is accurate to within 1 second every 20 billion years. But the information booth clock is not just accurate; it’s extremely valuable. “The ball clock has been valued at between $10 and $20 million dollars,” said Metro-North Railroad spokesperson Dan Brucker, “That’s because every face of that four-faced clock is made out of a precious jewel: opal.”

Clock at Waldorf Astoria in New York

The intricately carved bronze clock at the Waldorf=Astoria hotel in New York City was originally a gift from Queen Victoria to the United States for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Standing nine feet tall and weighing in at two tons, the clock has an octagonal base made from marble and mahogany and is decorated with animal sculptures, plaques displaying sporting scenes and portraits of Ben Franklin, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Queen Victoria and other historical figures. Chimes play every 15 minutes. And according to hotel tour guide and historian Karen Stockbridge, a copy of the French-made Statue of Liberty was added to the top of the clock by the hotel in 1897. “The English were upset that we put a French statue on an English clock and tried to ask for it back,” said Stockbridge.

Spillville_Bily Clock_Dvorak

Beginning in 1913 and over the course of 45 years, brothers Joseph and Frank Bily spent their spare time carving intricate clocks, some close to 10 feet tall, with themes ranging from art and religion to history and culture.

43 curious clocks are now on display at the Bily Clocks Museum in Spillville, Iowa, where the collection includes a giant American Pioneer History Clock, an Apostle Clock, a clock honoring Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight and a violin-shaped clock made to honor Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, who spent the summer of 1893 in Spillville. “All the clocks do run and they do play music,” said museum director Georgiann Eckheart, “but we don’t keep them all set to the correct time. Otherwise it would be too noisy here during our tours.”

For more places to watch the clock, see How time flies!

But first, take a few minutes to watch the video below celebrating the 600th anniversary of Prague’s astronomical clock.

Prague Astronomical Clock

Wild photo: American Airlines plane lifted over highway

Take a good look at this photo of the MD-80 jet that American Airlines recently donated to the George T. Baker Aviation School in Miami.  The school is just across the highway from Miami International Airport, but they couldn’t just fly the plane over. So the airline partnered with the Odebrecht construction and engineering company to move the 39-ton plane from the airport to the aviation school. They used a 500-ton crane equipped with a 400-foot telescoping boom.

The photo was sent to me by Miami International Airport and was taken by Joe Pries whose website is filled with really great aviation photos.