Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I have been around the world and I have seen your love.

Ok, this may be a bit esoteric or just plane out there (pun intended as you will discover). So, Brown announced this week they are retiring their older 747's by the end of next year. And to just give you an idea, these are what is known as the "classics" or in the office as the "whales". Anyways, Boeing is currently building UPS brand new (with that new airplane smell) 747-400. The older ones are the -100 and -200 variety.

Before i get into this too deep, look at the bottom for links to places I'm checking out for staying in Savannah... still accepting interest.

SO, lets pick one of these airplanes and just ponder the history shall we. This has the potential to get a bit thick with airplane talk, so bare with me. Lets look at one particular plane, N682UP. This airplane was delivered to the original customer on April 27, 1971. That makes it older than all my friends (even Jonathon). Originally operated by the airline that set the pstandard for all airlines, Pan American World Airways, as N654PA, and named Clipper White Wing. The airplane was the 110th Boeing 747 produced (the latest one UPS received a few months back, N570UP, is number 1388 off the assembly line).

While in the service of Pan Am, I just get this (possibly over romantized) images of this airplane plowing the skies around the world. No airline today has the worldspanning route system that Pan Am once operated. This airplane carried people across the oceans for places like Hong Kong, Sydney, London, Bangkok, Rio, and other places that only saw American flags that were painted on the tail of this plane. And this in the day when flying was a treat. It was an event you were expected to dress for. They had piano's on the planes in a lounge. Gourmet foot.. in coach!

Well, tat lasted apparently till about 1977, with the Clipper White Wing was renamed Clipper Pacific Trader and converted to a freighter. No, god only knows what she carried (and still carries) in her holds. And again, Pan Am still operated a far reaching network. Eventually, she was renamed Clipper White Wing (Pan Am named every plane a Clipper).

So, by 1983 Pan AM ended its cargo flying and she was sent to fly the skies for another aviation pioneer, The Flying Tiger Line. Tigers can trace their lineage back to pre WW2 days when Gen. Claire Chenault and his volunteer pilots fought the Japanese on behalf of the Chinese. Now after the a war ended, a few of the aviators cam back to California and bought some surpluss airplanes and started flying cargo. Eventually they became "Legends in Air Cargo" and with the motto "Anything, Anywhere, Anytime".

So, now this lady, registered N817FT, is flying even more exotic stuff to even more exotic places... Tehran, Bombay, Singapore, etc. And again, around the world she flew in the polished aluminum shine that Tigers left their planes in (removing paint saves weight and allows more cargo to be carried). And in those colors she operated until 1989, when Tigers ceased to exist and taken over by another well known airfreight company... Federal Express. She was re-registered again an was known as N626FE. Now, she left the purple fleet before I got to load her full of even more random crap. The only 747's i loaded at fedex were full of Seimens fiber optic cables and then much alter 270,000lbs or so of cigarettes.

In 1991, she was sent to wear brown and re registered N654UP. ANd for the past 16 years she's been to the orient and back. Toured Europe a little, and finally spends most her time flying the friendly skies of the US. Occasionally she gets out of the country and visit the old stomping grounds.

And that brings us to the current days, where she will fly till around March 15th (beware of the ides of march). After almost 40 years of moving people and their stuff, most likely flying troops home from Vietnam (and unfortunately flying many there that didn't return), flying supplies to both Persian Gulf Wars. Whisking family's away to exotic vacations, or even solo travellers to backpack around Europe. And most recently, delivering all those things you ordered from Amazon or Old Navy.. and just in time for Christmas.

See, i told you this one would be odd. Its almost sad that in a year from now, most of this airplane will probably be relegated to holding your beer or cokes as aluminum cans. I may try and take a jumpseat ride on one of these last 9 airplanes (all with similar histories) before they're sent to the scrapper... or if lucky they'll be picked up by another cargo carrier.

Anyways, for some pictures.. go to this page

Otherwise nothing new to dwell on, this week is going so slow. Its because I'm very much looking forward to the weekend, and seeing Susan. I'm also checking around Savannah for places to stay. I kinda like this one and this other one.

Just some ideas... and looks like it could be cool. OK, thats enough ramblings for tonight. And you might have noticed, I don;t have much going on tonight.

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