Saturday, January 30, 2010


Attending a funeral tends, at some point, to become an introspective occasion. Remembering the past, mourning the future (or lack of one, perhaps); marking the passage of time. I got to do that today, and then came to work and got to see another passage, and was reminded of yet another.

The sight of this former United Airlines B737 sitting on the ramp reminded me that the final United B737 flight left LAX for San Francisco last October. United was the first airline to fly the B737; the final flight, Flight 737, was a special occasion as it traveled from one United hub to the next; LAX to SFO was the final leg. I was off that day, so these pictures of sister ships will have to do:

Northwest Airlines has been gradually fading away as the merger with Delta progresses. I've mentioned before how I've seen Northwest aircraft arrive, discharge their passengers, and then leave for the paint shop to change their colors. They return resplendent in new Delta livery, which I must admit I'm still trying to get used to seeing on Airbuses. Meanwhile, the cargo planes have left for the boneyard, never to return at all.

Today was the final day for flights using the Northwest callsign. Up until now, the Northwest flights have been more or less as usual, with the exception that flights utilizing aircraft that had already been repainted had "Delta Colors" in the remarks section of their flight plans, and their pilots checked in on frequency using that phrase. The last Northwest arrival at LAX was about 5:30 pm local time:

The final Northwest flight out departed a little over an hour later (after dark) for Las Vegas. Thus ends one of the original U.S. airlines: Northwest Airways was started in 1926 to fly the mail between Chicago and Minneapolis. Northwest flew the first commercial passenger flight from the USA to Japan in 1947, and was the largest non-Japanese airline at Tokyo's Narita Airport. In 1963, Northwest became the first US carrier to have an all-jet fleet. Another Northwest first was the commencement of non-stop air service from the US to China in 1996. After 79 years of operation, Northwest declared bankruptcy in 2005 - at almost exactly the same time as Delta. The merger was announced in 2008, making Delta the world's largest airline.

Addendum: After I wrote this entry, I discovered that we had apparently received some incorrect information about the 'last flights' when, shortly before the end of my shift, another Northwest flight showed up on final for runway 25 left. The last 'last flight' took off a few minutes later, just before 9 pm, destination Las Vegas. It's just as well, and I feel more appropriate, that I took the pictures you see here, as the 9 pm planes were already wearing their new Delta colors.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Night and Day

In response to the Airbus section of the Wake Turbulence series, my loyal reader suggested that the Thai livery would appear better at night, which is when I usually get to see it. So, see for yourself - and you decide:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wake Turbulence: Part 3.3 - Airbus Heavy Jets

This time, I'll continue the Wake Turbulence series with a look at heavy jets produced by Airbus. A relative newcomer to the commercial aircraft field, Toulouse-based Airbus has given Boeing some strong competition; the two companies currently share the large commercial aircraft market roughly equally. Even so, compared to the Boeing section, I haven't nearly the same variety of Airbus shots. Admittedly, however, we don't have anywhere near the number of heavy Airbus operators here (less than a dozen) as we do Boeing users. The weather here in LA has been decidedly unsuitable for photographing airplanes lately, so I've been digging through my archives to find more shots to show you - thus the delay in continuing the series.


The largest of the heavy Airbuses, the A340-600 is currently the longest airliner in production. Takeoff weight: 810,000 lb (368,000 kilograms). This airplane is so long that we have special restrictions at LAX about which taxiway intersections the airplane can use. In addition, when an A346 lands on runway 24 right, that runway becomes unusable for the next arrival or takeoff until the A346 has crossed runway 24 left; it's too big to hold between the runways at the usual exit (we have the same considerations for the B777-300, which is nearly as long).

The A340-500 was, for a time, the world's longest-range airliner (it has since been surpassed by the B777-200 LR). There are two carriers that bring A345's into LAX, and both operate very long routes: Singapore and Bangkok are each 17 or 18 hours away, depending upon the winds. I've heard that Thai has their fleet of -500's up for sale, so if you've been itching for a late-model long-range airliner, you may be able to get a good deal. Take-off weight: 820,000 lb (372,000 kilograms).

The -300 was the first of the A340 family and is the most prevalent model of A340;
more -300's have been built than all the other versions combined. Maximum take-off weight: 610,000 lb (276,500 kilograms).

The -200 is the smallest member of the A340 family, and not common: only a bit over two dozen were produced. None of LAX's scheduled carriers bring in 342's; I think this one does VIP service. Maximum take-off weight 610,000 lb (275,000 kilograms).

A330: The largest of the twin-engine Airbuses is not a regular sight at LAX. Aer Lingus has pulled out, while Air Berlin considers Los Angeles a seasonal (summer) destination. Qantas has brought one in on occasion, usually on the Auckland route. When they started becoming part of Delta, Northwest began bringing them through LAX enroute to the paint shop in Victorville. That has pretty much wrapped up, so we don't see them much anymore. All models share a maximum takeoff weight of 510,000 lb (233,000 kilograms).

The A330-200 is the shorter-body but longer-range model, most often seen at LAX

The longer A330-300 has only come here in Northwest and Delta colors


The A300, the original Airbus model and the world's first twin-engine wide body, at LAX is only seen in freighter service. Takeoff weight: 378,500 lbs (171,700 kg). Approximately the same size and appearance as a B767; the easy spotting details are the shape of the tailcone (on the B767, the upper and lower surfaces taper, while on the A300 the top is straight and the bottom slants up) and the placement of the nosegear (behind the cockpit on the Airbus, beneath it on the Boeing).

The A310 is a shortened version of the A300. FedEx is the only operator of A310's at LAX. Maximum takeoff weight 361,600 lb (164,000 kg).

Link to previous part: McDonnell Douglas Heavy Jets

Link to next part: Other Heavy Jets

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rain, rain, go away! (revised)

When I first published this entry, it included a picture that apparently only I could see. Hopefully that has been resolved . . .

The weather here in usually sunny southern California has been anything but of late. I've lost count of how many days we've had rain, but I'm starting to see animals walking in pairs . . .

The sad part is that we really do need the rain, but all at once doesn't help all that much - most of it runs off and ends up in the ocean. Worse yet is all the trash that the run-off takes with it; the beaches will be covered with the stuff, and swimmers and surfers are advised to stay out of the water. What the fish do, I don't know.

In the meantime, on to happier topics. For Christmas, I gave mom some new chicks to replenish her depleted flock. Here are a few of them, now about a month old:

It's a Chick-mas tree!

For my birthday, my sister gave me some green hot chocolate mix. It doesn't look like anything much at first:

But it really is green!

Notice how it matches the green of the kitchen counter.
Here's a more sinister view:

Looks like something out of Snape's dungeon . . .

This stuff is to hot chocolate what white chocolate is to regular chocolate; while creamy-sweet, it doesn't taste much like chocolate (to me, anyway). Update: I checked the ingredients, and chocolate is none of them. Definitely a fun idea; it'll be great for Halloween parties.

Speaking of green, Horizon seems to have more than one Dash-8 in the green scheme, seen here back when the sun was out:

And here's a bit more green:

Japan Airlines filed for bankruptcy a few days ago (yahoo news article). When this airplane showed up over the weekend, the joke in the tower was that they must have run out of red ink (and paint), and had to make do with green.

The next installment in the Wake Turbulence series will feature Airbus heavy jets once I round up the appropriate photos; since I've been working on my IA refresher training this week, it'll probably be another couple of days. Stay dry and stay tuned . . .

And how 'bout them Saints?! Goin' to the Superbowl! Go Saints!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wake Turbulence: Part 3.2 - McDonnell Douglas Heavy Jets

In the on-going series on wake turbulence, today we'll take a look at the heavy jets produced by McDonnell Douglas. Most, if not all, of these aircraft were built here in southern California at Douglas' Long Beach facility. McDonnell Douglas became part of Boeing in 1997, but few people consider these aircraft to be Boeings. (See the previous part for Boeing heavy jets)

: The MD-11, the most commonly seen heavy from McDonnell Douglas at LAX, is a favorite of cargo carriers, and can weigh as much as 630,500 lbs (286,000 kg).

All of these MD-11's are freighters. Fedex, with over a quarter of the 200 produced aircraft, has the world's largest fleet of MD-11's. I don't remember who was operating the one in the last photo, but it clearly used to be an Alitalia aircraft.

There are some MD-11's still in passenger service. World Airways uses them for both passenger and freight charters, including for the military. The Lufthansa Cargo aircraft in the second shot is also operated by World.

DC-10: DC-10's are mostly seen in cargo service these days. The forerunner of the MD-11 can have a maximum take-off weight 572,000 lbs (259,460 kg). The DC-10 is about 22 feet (7 m) shorter than the MD-11, and lacks the MD-11's winglets. The shape of the tailcone is also different; the DC-10's is rounded, while the MD-11's is squared-off.

Like the MD-11 fleet, Fedex is by far the largest operator of DC-10's. Omni Air operates passenger DC-10's in charter service.

DC-8: Like its Boeing 707 competitor, the DC-8 is also a heavy. Unlike the Boeing, however, DC-8's are still relatively common in cargo use, particularly the stretched -61 and -63 models. Many of those have been re-engined and are now considered -71's and -73's. Maximum take-off weight 355,000 lb (161,000 kg).

Link to next part: Airbus Heavy Jets