It is late January and I finally have a few moments to catch my breath from the chaos of the holidays and the busy season at work. I am definitely looking forward to a new year filled with plenty of avgeekery! However, there are a few loose threads from 2019 that I want to tie up before I jump into 2020.
2019 Airport Challenge
Regular readers will recall that at the beginning of last year I issued a challenge to myself (and anyone else who was interested) to spend time at 5 general aviation airports not previously visited. So how did I do? I’m pleased to report that I met the goal! The airports I visited are:
Grimes Field I74
Chester County MQS
South Valley Regional U42
Zanesville Municipal ZZV
Brandywine Regional OQN
I only stayed long enough at Chester County and South Valley for a quick look around and a few moments of plane spotting through the fence. I spent quite a bit of time at both Grimes Field and Zanesville and have written separate posts about my visits. The Brandywine Regional airport had been on my list to visit for quite some time, in part because many of the general aviation airplanes that fly over my childhood home are based there, but mostly because it has a really cool aviation museum.
American Helicopter Museum
The American Helicopter Museum opened in 1996 after I had already moved out of the area. The mission of the museum is to educate the public on the development and history of rotary wing aircraft, and to celebrate all things helicopter. I confess that while I find helicopters to be quite interesting, I don’t know much about them so I really enjoyed expanding my knowledge while examining the museum’s impressive collection.
It is impossible to pick a favorite exhibit, however I liked the Bell AH-1F Cobra and the V-22 Osprey quite a lot. The only thing better than seeing all the rotorcraft was getting to spend time with my friend David Vanderhoof, co-host of the Airplane Geeks and UAV Digest podcasts. If you find yourself in the Philadelphia area I highly recommend making the trip to West Chester to visit the museum. And if David is there, tell him I sent you!
First Commercial Flight in Ten Years
Does anyone know what the record is for most time spent in an airport without actually flying anywhere? I don’t even know if such a record truly exists, but if it does then I imagine I’m a contender. Between my job and my airport vacations I figure I’ve spent around 9500 hours at airports over the last few years without getting on a commercial airplane. All that changed last October when I took my first commercial flight in over ten years.
At the risk of stating the obvious – a lot has changed in the last decade! For one thing, there are so many more little fees now. Ten years ago you picked your seat when you booked your ticket and there was no extra charge for it. There was no cost to check a bag either. If airlines had apps ten years ago then they were fairly new and not widely used. Now you can do almost everything via the app. And yes, I paid a little extra to pick my seat ahead of time because no way in heck I was going to miss the chance to sit by a window! It was TOTALLY worth it.
What about the flight itself? Well this was my first flight with seat back info-tainment screens. (The last time I flew they still had air phones on the back of the seats!) While most people watched movies, I spent the time tracking the flight. What a fun feature for an avgeek like me! There has been a lot made of the smaller seat pitch, tiny bathrooms and rude passengers. I wasn’t bothered by any of those things and I quite enjoyed the trip.
So what’s ahead for me in 2020? More commercials flights and more aviation museums! I’m considering a return visit to the Udvar Hazy center in the spring and maybe a trip out to LAX to attend Dorkfest over the summer. Plus I’ve booked my room for Oshkosh in July. And, as always, I’ll be keeping an eye out for those fun airport moments that make every day an adventure. Stay tuned!