In an age when companies can create robots that can open doors and jump with perfect balance, where we can target individuals on their phones within a couple of yards, and where we can send rockets into space and then have them nail re-entry and stick the landing, we incomprehensibly are not able to create a reasonable tracking system to pinpoint the location of a freaking airplane? And in order to find out what happened when an accident or crash happens, we have to search the wreckage site for the infamous “black box” (which is not even black) that records the conversations and dialogue on the plane. What a collective embarrassment. This is an industry that is critical to global commerce and global life, and it still relies on technology, processes, and infrastructure from the 1950s. How is it possible that I can get on my iPhone and stream practically any movie I want in a matter of seconds yet the airlines are not able to use the same methodology to stream the cockpit audio to a central server farm that can be accessed and recovered irrespective of what happens to the plane itself?
I feel so bad for the families of those that were lost in the Malaysia Airlines crash. Or, maybe they did not crash. Maybe the pilot nailed an ocean landing like Sully did on the Hudson and they are living it up on a deserted island in the South Pacific, where they don’t have to concern themselves with anything other then when it is high tide.
For 77 years, researchers and historians have been fascinated by the disappearance of Amelia Earhart’s plane, which disappeared (crashed) during her attempt to fly around the world back in 1937. It was reported today on History.com that researchers may have found the remains of her plane based on some ‘sonar anomalies’ that they observed when researching the area that has been narrowed down as the site via evidence collected over the years. The image above shows the area they have been researching along with the different items that have been detailed over the years. The Discover News site has a slideshow with more details.
So I took my second flight on Independence Air within the month, and similar to the first one, this one was also an adventure. For some reason, whenever I have flown out of Dulles Airport to NJ, the weather has been very unstable and there is no doubt that contributed to my adventure.
So to start, we boarded and left the terminal for the runway after some weather delays. We are on line for takeoff and then the Captain comes on the PA to say we need to return to the terminal because there has been an additional delay and that we need to pick up more passengers. We return to the terminal and are greeted at the front of the airline by Police security. It turns out that there were two convicted felons on the plane that passed security without being stopped. Yeah, that makes me feel safe. So, by this time, the weather has deteriorated further and we are now delayed at the terminal. Many passengers were complaining and the jovial spirit of the last adventure was no where to be found (probably because the weather was far worse then).
In addition to the felony situation, there were two parents and their ~18 month old son sitting in front of me. And of course, the son was screaming at the top of his lungs for the majority of the flight. Sitting next to me was a very nice Indian man who had apparently not showered in quite a long time, because his B.O. permiated the immeidate space. He also had a bag that he chose not to check, and was also too big to put in the overhead compartments. He jockeyed and positioned himself in every way with his bag at his feet, and the bag overflowed into my foot space, which on a plane I value immensely since I am 6’3″. He eventually shifted to another seat prior to takeoff which I was thankful for but he did not go far so the aroma still permiated.
And just to cap it off, there was an Italian guy flying up to Newark who had to catch a connecting flight to Rome, IT and of course, it was the only flight to Rome that evening.
This past weekend, I flew up to New Jersey instead of driving. The reason I flew was because a new discount, low fare airline hit the market this month called Independence Air. Their hub marketplace just happens to be Dulles/Washington International Airport and as part of a marketing/promotional deal, they offered AOL employees a free flight anywhere they fly during the month of June. And being that they fly to Newark, NJ, I figured I may as well give it a shot. It was free (except $18 in taxes).
Oh boy, what a trip this was. I flew up this past Thursday (6/17) and for those of you in the Northeast, you may recall that there was some nasty weather that evening, which in turn essentially delayed all airline flights on the East Coast. So to start, the 6:30PM flight was delayed until 8:30PM, which was a bummer but tolerable. So we all boarded the flight ahead of the 8:30PM departure time, we had the doors on the airplane closed, and then the flight crew got the call…the FAA grounded flights to Newark and Boston because of the weather. So here was a plane full of passengers stuck on the runway. And with this news, the flight attendent did the only reasonable thing he could do…he started to serve free beer (and wine). I have to give the guy credit, because in a very difficult situation, he kept everyone loose and in a great mood, cracking jokes on the PA system and just doing all he could to keep everyone happy. Somehow, he even had some of the passengers serving drinks. A classic scene was when one of the women helping him went from the last row of the plane to the front, and announced to the flight attendant in a firm and determined tone, “OK, give me two reds, a white (wine), a Heineken, and a cup of ice.” Just classic.
We eventually took off a little after 10:30PM and arrived in Newark around 11:30PM, making a 45 minute flight a painful 7 hour trip. Hardly a way to kick off a new airline, however the situation was out of their control and it should be noted that the flight back was smooth as silk.