The Magic Avgeek Detector

 

AA92CBF6-7CB4-42C1-89C5-74C715FF0A71One thing I learned early on at my job is that you don’t have to be an aviation enthusiast to work at an airport. In fact, most of the people I work with, while very talented and quite passionate about what they do, aren’t at all interested in airplanes. And that’s OK. But I know there have to be avgeeks hiding out somewhere – the challenge has been finding them.

Even people who on the surface might seem to be interested in aviation, actually aren’t. The first time I saw a P-51 while at work I could barely contain my enthusiasm. I was practically jumping up and down as I watched it taxi out. In fact, I was so excited that I couln’t help exclaiming to a woman who was standing nearby, “ Look! It’s a Mustang!”  As she backed away from me with a confused expression I realized she wasn’t there for the airplanes. She clearly thought I was nuts.

3257F394-B710-4B15-B95C-2C62F9AD184EOver time I pretty much gave up on the idea of tracking down other airport avgeeks. But all that changed last summer in an unexpected way. Did I stumble across a magic device for detecting aviation lovers? Well… kind-of. And what, you ask, is the secret to unveiling hidden avgeeks? An A220 lanyard! Who’d have guessed!

You may recall that last summer at Oshkosh Airventure I got the opportunity to tour the A220, formerly known as the C-Series. The plane is the latest from Bombardier and was caught up in a bit of drama involving a legal challenge from Boeing and a partnership with Airbus (hence the name change). This, in turn, focused quite a bit of extra attention on the plane. As part of the tour I was given a lanyard, which I immediately started wearing at work. Soon thereafter the conversations started:

CEAAAEA9-52A5-4384-A257-3D01562B5E5CHave you seen the A220?

Why yes, I have. Up close and personal. And it is quite lovely. The cockpit is gorgeous – modern and clean. I could have spent hours asking, “Ooooh! What does THIS button do?” I think EAA may have warned Airbus about me because they quickly moved me along into the cabin, where I proceeded to sit in as many seats as possible.

Is the A220 going to be flying to this airport?

Sadly, no. At least not right now. This is not from lack of trying on my part. I wish airlines would start consulting me about these things!

32AB20D5-E4DD-4271-8952-20B4FD56CCF1Do You Work For Delta?

This question took me by surprise until I remembered that Delta ordered several of them and, in fact, is the first US carrier to put them into service. Of course I had to explain that I do not work for Delta, but I’ve been pestering as many of my friends at Delta as possible about sending the plane our way.

Cool lanyard! Where did you get it?

This question came from a Delta gate agent. I told him I got it at Oshkosh and unfortunately I didn’t get any extras. But I’d be happy to give him mine if he can convince his employer to start flying them to our little corner of the midwest!

8B53649A-3769-4521-A3D7-FC673C567528A220, eh? My airline ordered a bunch of them but won’t be flying them.

This statement came from a pilot at Republic Airlines, which puzzled me a bit. After some digging I discovered that Republic did, in fact, place an order with Bombardier. However the order was later removed.

Through the lanyard I’ve not only uncovered some avgeeks hidden amongst my coworkers, but I’ve gotten to chat with pilots, ground crew, gate agents and others who I might not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. I love it! Sadly, now that the A220 has entered service it will not remain a conversation piece much longer. The hunt will be on for a new lanyard to wear. B797 anyone?

05E1F988-71AF-4E58-B408-73A0DFDE6C64

8 thoughts on “The Magic Avgeek Detector

  1. Wow, having an avgeek detector would be sooo handy. I wonder if a lanyard that just had ‘avgeek detector’ on it would work as well? Your P-51 story reminds me of a lady who asked me for directions while I was helping at last year’s TAVAS Great War Flying Display. When I directed her to the Mustang, she just looked at me blankly. “The one with the blue nose,” I prompted. “Oh…” I don’t think she was there for the airplanes either. 🙂

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  2. Great post! With the sizable number of A220s that Delta ordered, I’m sure they’ll start showing up at you-know-where for you by 2020. If the plane proves reliable and hangs on to the economics that they advertise for it, there will probably be more airlines ordering them. More to look forward to: Skywest (UA Express, DL Connection) has 100 Mitsubishi MRJs on order starting in 2020 (if they can make the deadline) and 100 Embraer E-Jet E2s on order starting 2021. Both are a tad smaller than the A220. The flip side is that we’ll see the retirement of many CRJs and ERJs. Already it’s getting rare to see the original 50-seat CRJ 200s. And I know I’m getting old seeing that some 767s, 777s and even A380s are getting scrapped for their parts. – DaveK/MDW

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    • Thanks so much for reading, Dave! Yes, there should be some interesting new planes heading our way in the not too distant future. It’s always sad to see planes retire, but many seem to find second lives as charter aircraft so we may yet still have them around. (Seems unlikely for the CRJ 200s, although I guess you never know.)

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