November 29, 2007

San Diego Zoo

I'm in Santa Maria tonight on our way to Livermore, CA tomorrow but yesterday a few of us visited the San Diego Zoo on our day off. One of the crew guys has some connections there that allowed us to get up close with some of the animals. Its not often that you get kissed by a sea lion, licked by a cheetah and pet a wolf, especially all in one day. It was really neat and definitely a rare opportunity. The most interesting fun fact I learned was that both the cheetah and wolf have a companion dog that they live with which allows them to be more calm around people. Basically they see the dog is friendly with the people and they imitate them.

I've included below a link to all of the pictures I took plus our line pilot Mandy's pictures. There was a ton to see there which lived up to my expectations. It blows away any zoo I've ever been to thats for sure! It was a fun day for all that we will be sure to remember for a long time.

San Diego Zoo

November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from San Diego! We had the day off today and had a crew cookout for Thanksgiving with all of the trimmings. I must say it was nice to be able to be outside in the nice weather rather then in the cold for the holiday. There was plenty of food so I still ended up stuffing myself which is really what Thanksgiving is all about.
Back to work tomorrow though doing aerial display over the busy malls and interstates in the area on Black Friday. Hopefully I'll manage to get in a couple more hours of training while we do it. Over the past week we've been focusing on the traffic pattern and approaches to landings. Its a lot different then landing an airplane especially since there are quite a few variables involved including your static weight (how light or heavy you are), the wind, the area available to maneuver and the position of the crew to name a few. We don't usually land on runways so you have to choose a suitable landing area in the field adjacent to where the mast is set up. Luckily there is a lot of room available at Brown Field where we are at. Needless to say the more experience I get doing approaches and landings, the more confidence I will develop, making me a better airship pilot. Every flight gets me a little closer to achieving my goal.

November 15, 2007

Days off in Long Beach

Well I spent the past couple days off hanging out down by the beach. I took the bus down there and walked around Belmont Shores on Monday along the walking path and around the pier. Then on Tuesday I walked the other way down towards downtown Long Beach. In fact, I walked all the way to the feature tourist attraction in Long Beach, the Queen Mary. It was an interesting walking tour around the ship that also included a tour of the Russian Submarine Scorpio and an exhibit dedicated to memorabilia from many of the most popular spy shows and movies ever. They had everything from Dr No's prop tarantula to Maxwell Smart's shoe phone to the Man from UNCLE's pen communicator. It was a great exhibit but unfortunately they did not allow pictures or video to be taken. Fortunately I have pictures of everything else if you click on the album below. Also it looked like they were filming something on location on the boat, but I never ended up finding out what it was. Just business as usual for them out here in the LA area.
Speaking of Hollywood, the only part of the tour I didn't like was the Ghosts and Legends of the Queen Mary tour. It could have been creepy and interesting on its own visiting areas of the ship where tragedy stuck it during its many years of service. Unfortunately, they "Hollywooded it up" with special effects and lighting along with a tour guide who couldn't act. It was more funny then anything else. The only highlight is that you get to see some extra areas of the ship like the pool and boiler room that are normally off limits.

November 10, 2007

Hanging out in Long Beach

We've been in Long Beach the past couple of days. So far we've had a few guest visits and provided aerial coverage for the UCLA/Arizona Football game today. Long Beach Airport is an extremely busy airport with a lot of helicopters and flight training going on in addition to the commercial and corporate jets. Boeing also has two facilities at the airport. They use to manufacture 717's there and still manufacture C-17's for the US Air Force. One of these C-17's did a flyby before leaving the airport yesterday on a test flight. I was fortunate enough to get this great picture of it on take off and a video of the low pass.

November 6, 2007

"Welcome to the Rock!"

I spent my day off yesterday on the streets of San Francisco. I took the 45 minute train ride into downtown from the station thats only about a 15 minute walk from our hotel. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is by far the best public transportation available on the west coast. Not quite knowing where I was going, I managed to walk around the busy financial district while I got my bearings on where I was. I then proceeded to walk down along the piers toward Fisherman's Wharf. After walking around Pier 39 and visiting the sea lions, I made my way to wait for the boat to Alcatraz.

I spent a couple hours over there enjoying the sites. The highlight of the visit was the prison of course. The tour is supported by audio. They give you headphones to listen to former guards and prisoners discuss their experiences on Alcatraz as they guide you around the facility. The most interesting story was that of the escape of three prisoners who dug their way out through the air vents and escaped up to the roof. The made dummy heads to put in their bunks which were discovered the next morning during roll call. They were assumed to have drowned swimming across the bay during their escape but their bodies were never found.

After spending my time on "The Rock," I took the boat back and walked down to Pier 45. I took a look around and took a few pictures before stopping at Sabella & LaTorre for dinner. I then jumped on a very crowded streetcar back to the BART station and jumped on the train back to the hotel. Overall, a nice way to spend a day off taking in the many sites of San Francisco.

November 4, 2007

Hello, San Francisco

Well I was back in the air yesterday and today up over the Bay Area. We did a full tour flying exposure over Oakland, the Bay Bridge, Downtown San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf, by Alcatraz and around the Golden Gate Bridge. It was truly an amazing way to see the city. Training with such a great view doesn't make it seem like work at all! I took a bunch of pictures from the air. Click on the slide show below to see the entire album of pictures.