Back in April 2011, I went to Atlanta to do stories on Delta Air Lines and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine. When I worked at Delta, one of my favorite places to hang out was the Delta Flight Museum. Below is a shot of me sitting in front of the engine of the Spirit of Delta, a Boeing 767. Enjoy!
The Cobra EDS machine tested at BWI Airport. Photo by Benet J. Wilson
During my time as airports/security editor for Aviation Week, I spent a lot of time writing and blogging about checkpoint technology designed to get passengers through the process as quickly as possible. I was particularly focused on how the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was testing x-ray machines that would allow people to keep their laptops in their bags and studying technology that would allow travelers to carry more than 3.4 oz bottles of liquids past security.
Back in October 2007, I did this post on AvWeek’s Towers and Tarmacs blog about how New Mexico’s Los Alamos Laboratory was looking at how Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) could be used at airport security checkpoints to scan bags and liquids. Back then, TSA officials were hoping they could start testing that technology in 2008. We’re still waiting.
I write all this because of a post on Forbes’ business travel blog — Want To Carry Drinks Through Airport Security? This Machine Could Let You. It discusses how Japanese airports are using Bottled Liquid Checkers (BLC) to scan for potential hazards — and have been for years. A TSA spokesman told the writer what they told me five years ago — that they continue to work on technology to allow them to move past the liquids ban.
I’ve traveled outside the country regularly since tighter security was put in place after 9/11. And I’ve seen all kinds of security that allows passengers to keep their shoes and coats on and laptops in their bags. And I know TSA has been working on policies, procedures and technology to stick with their security mandate but also make the process easier for travelers. So here’s my question — 11 years after transforming security, why does it feel like we’re still in the same place?
– See more at: http://www.aviationqueen.com/shoes-and-laptop-and-drinks-oh-my-why-are-we-still-behind-on-airport-security-technology/#sthash.v2jzkYh7.dpuf
On Nov. 8, 2008, new runways opened at three airports: Chicago O’Hare, Seattle-Tacoma and Washington Dulles. As the airports editor for Aviation Week and Aviation Daily, I got to cover the opening of the fourth runway at Dulles. As part of that event, I got rare access to hang out on the runway, which allowed me to get the shot below. Enjoy!
Back in August 2007, I flew out to Las Vegas to do a series of stories for Aviation Daily and Aviation Week on McCarran International Airport. I love taking airport tours, because you get to be a ramp rat, seeing stuff the traveling public never gets to see. As part of that tour, I got to go to the top of the airport’s operational tower, where I snapped this shot. I also have it posted on my Facebook profile. Enjoy!
Editor’s note: kids, I’m attending a journalism convention in Orlando this week, so you get Best Ofs. I’ll be back on Monday, Aug. 5, I promise! This one ran back in July 2011, after I attended my first AirVenture show. Enjoy!
Kids, let’s be real – we all know that Aviation Week actually pays me to cover my hobby, my lifelong passion. This past week, I was smack in the center of the aviation geek universe, covering the annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Air Show in Oshkosh, Wis. For the uninitiated, more than 500,000 people and more than 10,000 aircraft converge on the headquarters of EAA, based at Wittman Regional Airport and go into an aviation bacchanal. Folks fly and drive in from across the globe to meet, learn and have fun with like-minded people. You can check out AvWeek’s Oshkosh coverage here.
Thanks to my friend and Airplane Geeks host Rob Mark (@Jetwhine), I stayed in the Fairfield Inn Oshkosh, a stone’s throw away from the show. But the VAST majority of folks actually camp, on the airport grounds and surrounding areas. You see everything from a tarp slung over an aircraft wing to tents, to RVs to tricked-out, rock-star-looking tour buses.
But I digress. I’m giving myself the nearly impossible task of ranking my top 10 events from Oshkosh, God help my soul. Airplane Geek David Vanderhoof (@dmvanderhoof) said I’d have to expand to 20, but I love a good challenge. So here goes.
10. The Wittman Regional Airport Tower. For one week, this average-looking air traffic control tower becomes the busiest in the world – busier that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, busier than London Heathrow and busier than Singapore’s Changi — handling the in-and-out flights and daily air show demonstrations.
9. Fifi, the only B-29 bomber still flying AND The Beechcraft Starship. The Commemorative Air Force has lovingly restored this titan of World War II, and Oshkosh attendees, for a donation, could take a tour of this piece of history. The Starship, a 6- to 8-seat business aviation turboprop, was designed to be the successor to the popular King Air. According toWikipedia, FAA has nine active registrations on the Starship.
8. MyTransponder.com. The aviation podcasting/video/blogging universe is lovingly overseen by Rod Rakic and Mike Miley. And they were out in full force at Oshkosh, in a tricked-out RV that doubled as a mobile studio, coffee/food dispensary and hangout for those documenting the events at Oshkosh. I was honored to hang out with a great group of folks the night before I departed.
7. Embraer Executive Jets. Wednesday it rained cats and dogs at the show, and it was a touch chilly. We were all scheduled to attend a breakfast press conference being held at their tent. Not only did they have hot coffee and hot chocolate, we got rain ponchos that protected us for the rest of the day.
Ford’s Fly-In Theater
6. Fly-In Theater. Across the street from Camp Scholler (probably the most popular campground), was this outdoor movie theater, sponsored by Ford. You bring a blanket or chair and sit out among the stars to see a different movie every night. And did I mention the popcorn is free? Monday night’s feature was “Top Gun,” a film, amazingly enough, I had never seen. And the bonus was we had an actual Top Gun instructor introduce the film. My fellow Airplane Geek Dan Webb (@danwebbage) is now the only person on earth not to see this movie.
5. JetBlue Airways. The New York-based carrier flew in its “I Heart NY” Airbus A320 into the show on Wednesday and did free tours all day, complete with a bag of Blue Chips. I was thrilled to see some friends that work there who came on the flight, including COO Rob Maruster, who I worked with at Delta Air Lines. And a BIG bonus for me? I got a Twitter shout-out from CEO David Barger for all my #OSH11 JetBlue Tweets and photos!
4. What Just Flew By?I felt like I was actually living Airplane Geeks Historian David Vanderhoof’s blog. There were planes on the ground and planes in the air, making it really hard to decide where to focus!
3. The photos/videos of Jo Hunter (@futureshox). A group of us went to have dinner at Red Robin Oshkosh (if you go, get Robin to be your waitress), and I met Jo, who happens to be one of my Twitter followers. She showed me herubercool time-lapse video of Oshkosh preparations. And check out all her aviation films, on YouTube, here.
Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher
2. The Australians. Regular listeners of the Airplane Geeks podcast know that Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron (who literally sees the world through rose-colored glasses) offer up an informative, but funny take on all things Australian aviation with their Plane Crazy Down Underpodcast. They also do the Australia desk for the Airplane Geeks podcast. I’m a BIG fan and we’ve corresponded by Twitter and Skype, but we had never met – until Oshkosh. If you think they’re funny on the air, they’re even better live. And check out the July 25 edition of Airplane Geeks, which has them all together.
1. And speaking of Steve and Grant, the number one entry is the people attending Oshkosh. I met literally hundreds of folks, many who shouted “Aunt Benet” when we met. I met so many of my Twitter fans that I’ve admired for years, and it was very humbling to me when people came up and said they were fans of my work. I want to list every one of them, but I’m afraid I’d miss someone and offend them. But I WILL give a big shout out to the 2 guys who pushed my Chevy Aveo out of the mud at Camp Scholler around midnight Wednesday.