Thursday, January 30, 2014

A great airline leaves the UP

Many of my blog readers that know me, know my least favorite hub on this planet is O'hare.  Good ole (K)ORD. This year I planned to redouble my effort to avoid this black hole of an airport by flying out of IWD or MQT.  Sorry CMX, nothing personal - you just take me to ORD! I'll leave my blog readers to their own opinions of ORD...

One thing I always use to try to mitigate the painful effects of an ORD experience is: THE MISERY MAP - a good bookmark for any traveler to have handy on your smartphone, tablet or whatever.  AND remember if your at ORD you have to pay to get online! ORD seems to inflict the most Misery on the flying public on an almost daily cadence... you decide for yourself!  Other stuff like wifi is free at Hartsfield, Minneapolis, Detroit and Dulles even at Cedar Rapids and CMX with no shortage of outlets either.

So after setting up the last biz trip* through IWD and having great service and on time flights, free parking and free terminal wifi, free coffee AND cookies AND connecting to MSP - my fav... Great Lakes Airlines is leaving IWD

* If you ever find yourself in central Iowa I recommend the Blackhawk.  A 1930's themed hotel in the heart of Cedar Falls.  The rooms are spacious and appointed with Deco art and period pieces - just a really cool vibe to the place. 

So here's the last GLA landing at IWD, hope you enjoy.  Temp 5F, arrival time 4:30 EST 30 Jan 2014. They fly a Beechcraft 1900D - a goofy bird with an assortment of fins that make you think the design team had a few re-dos on this one -a way goofy aircraft.  But this thing goes to MSP not ORD, which makes it a "yooper dreamliner" if you ask me LOL! If you look carefully you can see Big Powderhorn Ski Resort on the approach.

Thanks GLA, I'm really gonna miss ya! After we landed I offered to help unbolt 9 seats to make it conform to the new FAA regs for pilot hours by seat capacity.  Seems a lot of the smaller regional carriers got hit with a pilot shortage (seat time jumped to be qualified on 1 Feb).  The IWD flight crews that we had were great.  AND no, unbolting seats wasn't an option LOL! 

Here's the track with a Google Earth overly.  I'm just learning how to do that with my etrex. Notice the Beech only needed about a quarter of the runway to land.  In the video you can get a feel for the taxi length.  Amazing STOL characteristics.  The flight path was almost a perfect E by NE bearing from MSP.  Didn't see any deer, moose coyotes or wolf from the air.  The snow is deep and it's cold so not much free ranging going on right now.

Mid summer at IWD

This flight from MSP swung out to Wakefiled to make a Westerly approach.

Here's a Swiss Beechcraft 1900D, check out the strange fin evolution... a thing of beauty especially if it flys where you want to go!  I can't believe how little runway this aircraft needs to get aloft or set down.  Those are twin Pratt and Whitney PT6A-67D engines, each rated at 1,279 HP...  the airframe started off in the late 40's as a recip 9 passenger "Twin Bonanza"  So the extra stabs and stuff was probably the easy way to get the uprated pushers integrated to the old King Air airframe lines.  It kinda grows on ya...  actually I kinda like this thing.  It's so darned functional, the goofy extra stabs are "endearing."  If you ever get a chance to take a hop on one of these I recommend it, but bring a couple of those foam earplugs. 

Winglets, lots of stabilizers and no overhead bins... but a STOL champ!

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