From the AV Room: Time Lapse Airport Ops

8 Hrs at LAX. Image by Mike Kelley

8 Hrs at LAX. Image composed by Mike Kelley.

By now, it should be no secret that Fly Brother is an aviation geek, particularly when it comes to airports and airlines. Even as a kid, I collected Wooster snap-fit model airplanes, memorized airport codes, read the OAG, designed my own mega-airport in the mold of Hartsfield-Jackson (only with more runways, more concourses, and serviced by every major airline on the planet), and created my own version of Monopoly in which players snapped up hub airports in lieu of streets.

Now that I actually work out on the ramp, stacking bags and voguing with glowsticks and whatnot, I can’t help but watch these videos and pay attention to the littlest details, like the baggage carts whirling around the planes and the tiny but powerful tractors that push the planes back from the gates. Here are a few of my favorite time lapse airport operations videos (and a stunning computer-generated map of air traffic flow over northwestern Europe). The music on the Paris vid is particularly fly. Enjoy!





Europe 24 from NATS on Vimeo.

 

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Miami is an Aviation Geek’s Dream

Lufthansa A380 at MIA. Photo courtesy of Aero Icarus via Flickr.

Lufthansa A380 from Frankfurt landing at MIA

Despite its setting amid a flat, wildly sprawling car-topia, Miami International Airport is an aviation geek’s dream. Airliners from places as far away as Moscow and Buenos Aires or as close as Key West and Nassau, cargo planes all the way from China, the Airbus A380 – the world’s largest passenger aircraft – riding heavy over Biscayne Bay on its way across the Atlantic; if you look in the sky long enough, you’ll see it all. And unlike most big-city airports relegated to the boondocks, MIA is right in the heart of town.

TAM departing for Brazil

TAM departing for Brazil

Vantage points are everywhere: you can catch the afternoon arrivals from Europe at the LA Fitness on Northwest 12th Street, the planes so low you can almost touch them – Iberia, Alitalia, Virgin, Swiss, and British all in a row. Commuters on the Dolphin Expressway course alongside the south runway, sometimes racing TAM to Brazil, LAN to Chile, or Copa to Panama. Delta and United and Avianca and TACA and FedEx and UPS skirt the towers of downtown Miami throughout the day. But all-day, everyday, it’s American – old American, new American, big American, small American – it could be to Tallahassee or Tegucigalpa, somebody’s going somewhere on American.

AA dominates MIA

AA dominates MIA. They’ve been slow at repainting with the new logo.

Nearby Fort Lauderdale might have the most dramatic landings in the region, jets just barely missing the tops of the semis speeding up and down I-95. But Miami’s got the most diverse range of aircraft, airlines, landing patterns, and striking silhouettes of any city I’ve ever lived in.

Swiss airliner at MIA

Swiss prepping for the return to Zurich

So if you’re driving past the airport and see someone creeping along on the expressway at 5 miles an hour trying to snap a shot of a departing AirBerlin jet on their phone, it’s probably me. I really have to stop that; it’s just not safe.

Terminal J at MIA from Dolphin Expressway

Terminal J at MIA from Dolphin Expressway

Oh…and is anybody else but me excited that Qatar Airways will be flying here come next June?! Nobody? Bueller?

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Happy 50th Birthday, Dulles Airport

On November 19, 1962, an Eastern Airlines flight from Newark arrived and pulled up to your iconic Space Age terminal, replete with those infernal yet endearing “mobile lounges,” and a new era in Washington’s aviation history began.

Originally built to relieve tiny, overcrowded National Airport and named for President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State (that’d be John Foster Dulles), you were seen as a boondoggle, a waste of money, a “white elephant” because you were out in East Upper Buttcrack, Virginia, and no one in their right mind wanted to traipse that far away from civilization to catch a flight. But development grew towards you and time and politics have allowed you to flourish and become the international gateway to our capital city.

You were the first American airport to host the Concorde, the Boeing 747, and the Boeing 777 in commercial service. You have surpassed National Airport in passenger traffic, with more than 23 million travelers passing through you every year.

I have flown through you 45 times, on Air France, Air Tran, British Airways, American, United, Delta, and Independence Air. And though your security lines are ridiculously long and your concourses ridiculously cramped (and low-ceilinged), the airline geek in me still gets excited when it catches a glimpse of the mid-century modern styling and sleek, timeless terminal building.

Happy 50th Birthday, Dulles Airport!

Images by theqspeaks, Pierre Metivier, and Jennuine Captures.

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)