Tag Archives: Aviation Week

Random Aviation Photo

Back in April 2008, I spent a week in Seoul, South Korea, to do a series of stories on the flag carrier for Aviation Week and Aviation Daily. One of the places my hosts took me was the flight attendant training facility.  They gave me an overview on the vigorous training done by flight attendants to ensure the safety of passengers.  Below is a photo I took of a Boeing 747 fuselage mock-up that’s used by flight attendants in training to practice evacuations in different situations. Considering what happened during Saturday’s Asiana crash, I thought this was timely.

P.S. Don’t forget to wish me a happy birthday! 🙂



5 Aviation Journalists You Need On Speed Dial For Plane Crashes


An Asiana Airlines Boeing 767 parked at Incheon International Airport.  Photo by Benet J. Wilson.

After yesterday’s crash of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777, I felt the need to do a rare Sunday post.  As an aviation journalist and communicator for 20 years, I’ve seen more than my fair share of general media coverage when it comes to airline accidents.  The crash at San Francisco International Airport showed the sad state of affairs when it comes to covering an accident.

Gone are the days when most major newspapers, television stations and cable news networks had reporters on staff with aviation expertise.  And it showed yesterday. Most of the accurate news came not from my usual news sources — CNN and NPR — but my 10,000 Twitter followers and my network of aviation geeks on private listserves and Facebook.  And the information that was out there was either wrong, or highly inaccurate.

For example, an NPR reporter said yesterday that the aircraft involved was a “Boeing 777, seats around 150 people.”  What?? Does this mean NO ONE at NPR had the 30 seconds it would have taken to go to the 777 section of the Boeing or Asiana websites or even SeatGuru.com to see the actual number on the Asiana aircraft? (it’s 246 to 300 seats).

So now here is my public service — a list of five top aviation journalists who can speak intelligently on the Asiana crash and a whole host of other aviation issues.  And bonus — I know that they are all camera-ready. So take advantage of these folks and their years of knowledge.

1.  Rob Mark, Jetwhine.com and Aviation International News:  besides being a licensed commercial pilot and the writer of the safety section of AIN, Mark has flown every current commercial aircraft from the Airbus A380 on down. He speaks regularly on aviation issues for FOX News and can do the same for you.
2 and 3. Graham Warwick and Guy Norris, Aviation Week and Space Technology: my former colleagues have been in the business for decades. Warwick, AvWeek’s managing editor for technology, has a strong background in aircraft engineering and design. Senior Editor Norris is a long-time, respected aerospace journalist who has written books on aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing.
4. Stephen Trimble, FlightGlobal: Trimble, FlightGlobal’s Americas Editor,  is one of the pre-eminent aerospace annd aviation editors in the field. Want proof? Check out what he’s done in the 24 hours since the crash.
5.  Jon Ostrower, Wall Street Journal: Before Ostrower, a Chicago-based aerospace reporter, came to the Journal, he was the air transport editor for FlightGlobal. Before that, he wrote the independent Flightblogger blog, considered the source of information on all things Boeing aircraft. He’s forgotten more than most of us know about the Seattle aircraft manufacturer.

Best Of Aviation Queen: Why Airport Art Is NOT Lame

Kids: Aunt Benet is a bit tired and way behind on other work today, so you get this best-of, which first appeared on the blog on Dec. 18, 2012. Enjoy!

“Quilted Passages” By Lillian Blades, at Hartsfield-Jackson.

I’ve always been a fan of art.  My love affair began in 6th grade, when my art teacher, Miss Sappington, introduced me to Henri Matisse, Paul Klee and Edward Degas.   I bought — and framed — my first piece of art when I was 16.  And I’ve always been a big fan of airports that display art.

So I was taken aback when I saw this article in Salon – Why Is Airport Art So Lame?  The author contends that airports have to appeal to such a large group of people who choosing art can be tricky.  Below are four airports I think are doing a great job with their art programs.

  1. San Francisco International Airport. my original hometown airport has always been the gold  standard to me when it comes to art.  This museum is so good it received accreditation from the American Association of Museums. Among the exhibits I enjoyed in 2012 were: blue jeans maker Levi Strauss advertising as art; pilot equipment of the open cockpit era;  early Lockheed aircraft; sewing in the machine age; and 75 years of the Golden Gate bridge.
  2. Miami International Airport.  If SFO is my gold standard, MIA is a close second. Back in August 2007, Aviation Week sent me down to do a preview of the South Terminal, which was in the final push to open (read my blog post here).  I spent a morning with Yolanda Sanchez, the facility’s director of Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs, who showed me a great collection (my Flickr collection is here).
  3. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  I lived in the city for two years when I worked at Delta Air Lines. I just loved going to Concourse E, the international terminal, just to see the art.  There were art displays that represented the city’s place in the Civil Rights movement, including items from the MLK Museum. But as  a quilter myself, I loved  seeing the airport’s wonderful collection of  art quilts.
  4. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.  I was passing through Sky Harbor back in the day and had some time to kill.  I found myself in the Terminal 4 gallery which had a wonderful display on the art of baseball.  Artists used their media to represent what baseball meant to them.   I would love to go to Terminal 2 to see the display of fiber art.

So — what are your favorite airports for art?

Who Else Wants A Real Trusted Traveler Program?


The old Clear registered traveler line at Washington Dulles International Airport. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

When it comes to airports and handling security, I sometimes feel like Bill Murray’s character in the movie “Groundhog Day.”  It just seems to me that we keep seeing the same variations on programs that will allow trusted travelers to get through airport security with less of a hassle.

On Thursday, Politico published a story, “TSA background-check contract stirs interest.”  In the story, the reporters note that although the Transportation Security Administration hasn’t made a formal announcement, it has put out feelers for companies interested in doing background checks for travelers who apply for the Pre Check program.  Currently, only those who are frequent travelers of participating airlines or members of existing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs including Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI  are eligible for Pre Check.  But Pre Check is currently a random process.

According to the Politico story, TSA wants to expand Pre Check and allow what they call low-risk travelers to go through checkpoints and allow screeners to focus on higher potential threats.  To that end, the agency is reading through white papers submitted by private companies who want the business.

I find two of the names touted in the story quite interesting.  First is Clear, the original registered traveler company.  It was unveiled as a pilot program in July 2005 at Orlando International Airport.  Back then, passengers paid $99 a year for a biometric card that gave them a separate security checkpoint line that would get them through lines more quickly.  The program was championed by Congress, but TSA was very slow to embrace the program despite taking it out of the pilot phase in January 2007.

One of the big benefits of Clear was using scanning machines that allowed passengers to keep on their shoes and jackets and keep laptops in their bags.  But TSA halted use of the machines, saying they needed more testing.  The price of the card nearly doubled but TSA continued to stymie the program, stopping background checks on Clear users in 2009.  Then it started requiring RT members show government-approved identification, rendering their biometric cards pretty much useless.

The second company mentioned in the article was The Chertoff Group, owned by former Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.  In a chat with aviation bloggers (including me) back in August 2009, Chertoff said in my Aviation Week post that DHS wants to be careful that RT does not become one that says if one pays more money, they go to the head of the line, Chertoff observed. “That is between private vendors and airports. The government shouldn’t give an advantage to the economically well off in air travel,” he stated. “We should be limiting ourselves to focusing on security values.”

In July 2007, then-TSA Administrator Kip Hawley spoke before the House Homeland Subcommittee on Transportation Security and said:  “Just as relying on frequent flyer miles isn’t enough, in the age of the clean-skin suicide bomber, just the absence of a negative is no longer enough. Once we define trusted, that provides a blueprint for vulnerability. And the security risk introduced at R.T. becomes a risk for every passenger, because what we make easy for one becomes easy for many.We need many layers of security to mitigate the risk of defeating anyone. We want to increase the level of security, not decrease it. And after prioritizing our security initiatives based on risk, TSA decided that taxpayer resources are best applied to more critical needs than Registered Traveler.”

And so now it appears the pendulum is swinging yet again, with TSA looking at the subject of a true trusted traveler program.  So it will be interesting to see what TSA’s next move will be once it finishes reviewing the white papers on an expansion of Pre Check.  So watch this space!!


Sacramento International Airport’s Terminal B – WOW!!


The main hall in Terminal B.  All photos courtesy of Benet J. Wilson

Back in May 2008, I did a blog post for Aviation Week about a battle that was brewing between Sacramento International Airport and its tenant airlines.  The city was proposing to build a new terminal that saw its best days in the 1960s (yes, it was that dated).  I was especially interested because I have family in Sacramento and am a regular user of its facilities.

It was the classic argument.  On one side, the city felt the terminal was needed for projected future growth and modernization. On the other, the airlines said the terminal wasn’t needed and it would only boost operating costs at the airport.  Long story short, the airport won.  I recently had to fly to Sacramento for personal business and got to see the new termina for the first time, and all I can say is “wow!”

So below are some of the photos I snapped in the airport. Enjoy!



Ticket counters in the main terminal.




A wall art installation.




The airport’s California museum.


Art installation upon entering the air side of Terminal B.


The Esquire Grill.


I love the seats here.  They all have plugs!!

IMG_1428A champagne flight at Vino Volo, one of my favorite airport concessions!