Start The Week – What Motivates?

This week is the Farnborough International Air Show so we’ll be looking at the real aircraft that provide us with models – the 737 Max will feature as will the CS100, and I’ll be there Monday & Tuesday on business and  Wednesday & Thursday meetings and touring about, so expect an FIA special Friday. There won’t be anything published on Wednesday this week (16th July), as I just won’t have time.

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If you’re reading this you possibly come here quite often, and you know I trust, that I really appreciate that you do. It’s what makes doing this so worthwhile.

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In the last few weeks, I’ve been asked a couple of times what motivates me to do, not just this blog, but buy and collect models of aircraft and go to the length of constructing and reconstructing, an airport diorama.

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Danish airline JetTime are running UK domestic flights for BA over the summer on wet lease. Every night they fly back to Denmark after a day flying to Glasgow and Edinburgh from Heathrow.

Firstly, when we were kids, my parents never even had a car, my father failed his driving test when he was 23 and refused to ever take it again, my mother had zero interest and would never have shown him up by doing what he couldn’t!  How times change. As a result we never went anywhere, bar two road trips, one to Scotland and one to Cornwall, with 6 of us and a large black Labrador in a Ford Zephyr driven by my uncle.

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Etihad’s brilliant new livery on A6-APE

What’s that got to do with anything?  Simple. In the 1970’s we were exposed on BBC TV to a weekly show, Holiday 73, (change year in question for some 20 years). They showed us places we could only imagine, and I read, I read about anything about travel and discovered I had an eidetic memory, though didn’t really understand what that was until years later.

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G-VRED is due to retire in 2017

All I wanted to do was travel, go somewhere, anywhere, and not in Britain. When I first went off on my own, to Greece, I was considered a bit more than adventurous, even slightly odd (nothing changes), I saved for a year to fly to Athens. Fares then for a return flight were almost the same as they are now – which shows you how much the real cost has fallen. It cost me the equivalent of nearly three months salary in 1980, £299.

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G-YMML in the China art livery

Since then, the joy of going to an airport and going somewhere, has never ever diminished. I love every part of the process, from booking a ticket (you have no idea how easy that is now, no paper, no triplicate carbon ticket pieces you had to protect with your life, no watching the travel agent lift 60lbs of airline schedule catalogues, telephone the airlines central booking office, blah, blah, blah! All the way to packing and leaving for the airport.

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The view from the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse garden in the very centre of Heathrow is being slowly compromised by new construction to keep T3 viable for the next few years until it’s eventually demolished.

When I see aircraft fly overhead, I find it fascinating to know where they’ve been, the whole process of flight, the mechanics and technology of airports, the passenger experience, the marketing, the luggage systems, the catering, fuel systems, on and on. It’s a vast multi-faceted process that few truly comprehend in its entirety. When I hear people say, “it’s just a bus in the sky”, it never ceases to annoy me; their ignorance may be bliss, but it belies the awesome human and technical achievements required to make it that simple from their tiny, narrow, perspective.

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So much of my life has been spent wanting to go places, I can honestly say that there hasn’t been a single day in the last 30 years when I haven’t had a ticket booked to go somewhere by plane. I never get off a plane without knowing I’ll be going somewhere else in a few weeks or months at worst.

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Aircraft represent a means to travel to friends, to exotic locations, to holidays and homes abroad, to shop, to experience, to see, to absorb other cultures, food, lifestyles and make new friends, hear new music, see new art, old history, modern architecture, natural wonders, remote, isolated locations. None of it is easy without aircraft, airlines and airports.

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I’d love this in my collection.

So I collect, the models, I build the airports, because I can never bear to imagine that one day I might not be able to do what I do now. The aircraft fascinate me, both technologically and aesthetically; their liveries and logos convey meanings, promote nation states, and our holiday dreams. They represent commerce, freedom, enlightenment and liberty.

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Why write this blog? Because I like things to be perfect. Nothing, especially 1:400 model aircraft ever is, but it can damn well try to be.

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Aer Lingus retro 1970’s livery A320 EI-DVM

I love my model aircraft for so many reasons, and I spend a lot of money on them, and I expect better than what I’m being given in return for that cash. I know when I’m being had, and some of these models are way, way too poorly made to be anything but a bad joke. Others, from time to time, prove that it can be done, and as reasonably close to perfect as is possible comes out of these factories, but it’s few and far between.

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If I can make you more aware, able perhaps, to choose more wisely, see faults and issues in things you really hadn’t noticed, and I contribute to an environment where you able to confidently kick that really bad model back to the retailer, so that they kick back against the wholesaler and the manufacturer, then slowly, something might get done.

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I take photos of detail like tails and engines so I can see for myself when the models are good or bad, especially on airlines I really care about.

Now I’m not holding my breath here, change is slow, pressure builds at a snail’s pace, and yet, ideas, knowledge, expectations change over time. Humans rarely realise change has come if it creeps up slowly.

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G-BNLF has recently been refurbished and is one of the  18 744’s BA will keep until around 2023 when the A350-1000’s should replace them all.

If the pressure to do better slowly seeps into the manufacturing mind-set, if the pressure, slowly builds so they don’t see it or feel it but they change anyway, then while it may not be obvious right now, in a few years we might all be looking back and realise how much better things really are.

You can but live in hope.

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IcelandAir 767-300

You might ask why I used these photos. 1) I haven’t had a chance before now, and 2) Even when things don’t go to plan – and we ended up for 3 hours stuck on an apron at Oakland waiting for the wind at SFO to die down and get more fuel, there is always an opportunity I may never have again. Cargo and freight is something I never get to see this close, though it was almost dark, and anything that went by is something different, new, exciting, the whole point of air travel and why I love everything about it.

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Not long left for this brand now

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Enjoy the side-show below from Oakland, sadly only had the iPhone 6S+ available and the light was poor

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