In the photo below one can see a relic of the Cold War. Recent events might demand the reactivation of this airfield, if in fact it was ever deactivated. I knew about the strip and had seen it from the air during my days as a military pilots. Allegedly--because nothing official was revealed--this airfield was used to launch U-2 aircraft to spy deep into Soviet territory. There is no other reason for such a long runway to be built in such a remote location.
I spotted this runway on a recent flight, as our plane approached Frankfurt Airport, and wondered about its past and present uses.
The photos in the slide show below are screen shots on the in-seat television of an Emirates Boeing 777 which display the scene from the out-board camera on the aircraft. This is, basically, the view the pilot has of what's in front of him. The slide show demonstrates the approach and landing at Frankfurt. The weather is not great, so the shots are not as clear as they could be.
The first photo is from about twenty miles out on the glide path to runway 2r left. The airport is the light patch in the centre of the photo. This will become more apparent at the aircraft gets closer.
The light line curving through the middle photos is the A3 autobahn, one of the busiest highways in Europe. The parallel runway, 25 right, is--where else?--on the right.
The terminal is on the right side of the runway. On the left side is the site of the former Rhine Main Airbase, which will soon become Terminal 3 of Frankfurt airport. The space is currently being used for freight operations, private jets, and maintenance hangars.
The last photo is just before the aircraft veers to the right, following the yellow line to a taxi way.
Mauritius has a very nice airport, which has been only ten months in operation. Being uncrowded, due to the small number of daily flights, the atmosphere is uncrowded and pleasant. Long lines do not greet departing passengers upon entering the door.
The most-interesting aspect is the world’s largest toilet sign.
For anyone that flies or has flown on commercial airlines, below is an interesting and entertaining piece from the Guardian.
I have known this for years, which is why I avoid US carriers and most European ones.There was a saying, I believe used by cruise ships a long time ago, that said “Getting there is half the fun”. Of course, that ended long ago, but current travel in first class of the best airlines is not bad and a begin to any vacation. And, first class of the top carriers bears no resemblance to first class on a US carrier, except that both get you from point A to point B.
Don’t take my word. You can read an article from Vanity Fair on Emirates and the Dubai Airport. Notice the photo of the baggage claim area and compare it to ones you know in the United States…or Heathrow.
Air travellers should be forgiven if they are confused. For years, people have been instructed to turn off all electronic devices during flight. Now, they will not be permitted to board an aircraft if a device is not able to be turned on.
Americans are known for the delusion that everything about their country is divinely ordered and that every aspect of the country and life in the country are superior to everything else in the work, but the English are not far behind in the delusion department.
Case in point: the CEO of London’s Heathrow Airport thinks that its the best in the world. I’ve bee to third world airports the function better and I prefer. In a P.R. puff piece on BBC, he made such absurd comments as
(We have the) “best baggage system in Europe/one of best in world”
(Heathrow has) “two world class terminals”.
Why was he speaking to the press? The baggage system broke down last week, with many people still not having received luggage after 5 days. He blamed a computer glitch and the need to sort baggage by hand.
If you ask me, this guy must not have traveled to other countries or in and out of his own airport. I have always found Heathrow to be one of worst. Arrival and depart is bad enough, but transferring terminals is a disaster. Terminal 5 gives priority to shops and not passenger flow. Lines are long and slow-moving for check-in and security. The word efficiency does not come to mind…ever.
Finally, someone has pointed out reality about the United States, which I have known for thirty years. From a piece in Time:
Biden said that if one blindfolded a person and took them to Hong Kong’s airport and asked where they were, they would reply: “This must be America, it’s a modern airport.” On the other hand, he said, “if I took you and blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York you must think, ‘I must be in some third world country.’”
Things are different in non-US and non-European countries. Some might consider certain practices to be lax, but they seem to work.
The international airport at Malé, the capital of the Maldives, is small. Land is limited, so the runway is made from reclaimed land. The is no taxiway, so planes are forced to taxi to the end of the runway after landing or before takeoff to turn around. There are no jetways, so passengers climb down stairs at departure and walk the short distance to the terminal. For departure, the process is reversed.
Walking to the plane is not a problem. I was only surprised that we walked by refuelling airplanes. And, passengers remained on the plane during refuelling, as our plane had originated in Sri Lanka. None of this would have been allowed in the US or Europe. I found the experience interesting, because one saw what happens on the tarmac of a busy airport.
Another day, another shooting in the United States. Well, at least one that makes it into the international news, because hundreds suffer each day from gunshot wounds.
I expect that the result of this latest airport “incident” will be new controls at or near airports. At some point, armed officers will come to the house of anyone having booked a flight, frisk them, and accompany them to the airport…where more checks will be conducted. Traveling by air in the United States will become even more unpleasant than it already is.
It’s amazing what one or a few people can do to screw up the lives of the majority. And, the majority accepts this treatment…
But, gun manufacturers and “security” firms will be happy, because sales and profits will continue to rise.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.