Last year, United in ORD rebooked us to fly via CDG, instead of a direct AMS flight. We were forced to spent the day at CDG ( Flying LH, YV, UA, And Unexpectedly, KL (by CrimsonNL Nov 8 2009 in Trip Reports) ) but it did get us both $1000 dollars in travel credit for UA. They were only valid on UA flights, unfortunately no code shares. As we would be travelling on a budget, the cheapest option we could find was a BRU-IAD r/t. I had been to DC twice before, and to DCA, but not yet to IAD. Also BRU would be new. And scoring 2 767 flights for next to nothing wasn’t bad either!
My dad and I decided we we’re going to visit the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. We’d both wanted to go there for quite some time. After that we would have 5 more days until our flight back, and decided to see what we would run into along the way. We ended up going as far West as Indiana, and even visited Kittyhawk, NC and Dover, DL.
On the 12th of August we left home for a 2 hour drive to Brussels. We dropped the car at a parking, and the shuttle brought us to the airport. Before checking in we we’re questioned about our trip to the USA, and who had packed our suitcases, and some other silly questions. The guy checking us in was very friendly. Our seat selection was confirmed and we got our boarding cards. We still had about 3 hours to wait, and in an upstairs area we found some comfortable couches in a very quiet area, with great views of the ramp.
American planes, our’s had not landed yet
The upstairs area
After a while we decided to head to the gate area. Clearing security didn’t take long, and we walked into the B concourse where it was rather busy. Our plane had since arrived and was being prepped for departure. To my relief it wasn’t the same ship I had flown on last year.
Ship 6452 at the gate, looks like she could do with some paint!
When it was time to board, a security person was questioning people. He talked to me in Flemish but I just couldn’t hear what he said. He had to repeat it three times; “Did someone give anything to you?” Nope.. Upon entering the plane we were welcomed by 2 friendly flight attendants. One of them was pointing everyone to their seat. I said I could managed to find the seat myself and he replied “Oh you know the house? Welcome back!” First thing I noticed was a picture of Steven Slater in the forward galley. I thought that was pretty daring!
Boeing 767-322ER, 4th time on type
Photo © Urs Zimmermann
View from my seat
Legroom, significantly less than the last time when I was in Y+
Dreaded entertainment box, eating up my legspace
We were welcomed on board in three languages, being English, Dutch and French. The purser announced that the Captain’s name was Hank Williams, which made for some laughs among the pax. Everyone got settled pretty quick, and it appeared to be a full flight. We pushed back and after a short taxi we reached the departure runway. Unfortunately Channel 9 was not enabled..
Take-off video, I could see our car in the carpark.
Climb out was smooth, and we passed some big cloud formations.
Over the North Sea
Dinner service started. The choices where chicken or ravioli. I opted for the chicken. It was pretty good, however the yellow, potato like stuff, tasted very bad. The salad was very dry, I wish they had put some cucumber in there!
After the dinner service I went to the aft lavatory. There was a line so I had to wait, when one of the flight attendants there asked me if I was going home. I told him that I was going on vacation. And he looked a little surprised when I told him I was heading for Ohio haha. We started talking when another flight attendant showed up. One was French born, (he did all the French announcements) and the other one was from Dutch-Indonesia and could speak Dutch. We had a nice convo about United’s destinations and the CO merger and all. When I mentioned I worked with Lufthansa, they both said; “Oh that gets you special treatment!” One of them rushed forward to get me an amenity kit, while the other one got me a beer for free. It appeared they had brought Belgian pie on board which they happily shared with me. Another guy that was in the galley got a slice as well. When a father and a little girl asked for some snacks. One of them rushed forward to get the girl a bowl of chocolate mousse from the biz class. These guys were really putting effort in making the passengers having a good flight! By far the coolest flight attendant’s I’ve encountered on my flights.
IFE, 10 points if you can guess the episode
I spent the remainder of the flight watching Iron Man 2, which IMO was even worse than part one. Nothing to see down below except a whole lot of water. One thing that was very annoying was that with every bump, the captain switched on the seatbelt sign, and the announcement to get seated was made in 3 languages. This happened multiple times during the flight without encountering any serious turbulence.
Feet dry! Over Canada
Snack service prior to landing
Only during the decent the captain made an announcement. He didn’t welcome us on board which I don’t like at all. He informed us about the WX at IAD and such. Still no channel 9..
Very nice to see these two, they are kinda famous!
After saying thanks and goodbye to the two awesome f/a’s, we disembarked and walked a long way into the terminal.
At one moment we walked into the moving passenger lounges and that really made me think Oh my god, how old fashioned! On one hand it was cool to experience, on the other hand, for the capital of the USA you’d expect something nicer.. Immigrations and customs were by far the smoothest I encountered since 9/11 so that was a plus. And we got our bags within a few minutes. We headed towards the car rental where we picked up a Ford Fusion. We’d be making a lot of miles! We drove to our airport motel, the Best Western (which I can recommend) And after dropping the bags we went for a lightning visit to the NASM at IAD. We had been there before 2 years earlier, but well worth visiting again. Amazing collection.
The next day we drove 8 hours, from DC to Dayton Ohio, to visit the USAF museum. I had planned to meet fellow anetter Transpac787 there. By coincidence we had booked the same hotel, and we went to a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant.
Me on the left, Transpac787 on the right
The following day we went to the USAF museum, they had a couple of planes in their collection I just HAD to see. The B-36, Bockscar, the B-2, and of course the XB-70 Valkyrie!
Thunderscreech, supposedly the loudest plane ever build
Powerplant of the enourmous B-36
Overview of some of the planes
I don’t know how long we spent, but it was several hours of walking in the museum. Not only was I amazed by the collection, also by the huge amount of “large” people in electric scooters. I don’t think I had ever seen that many in one day. After visiting the museum we dropped off Transpac787 at DAY and said goodbye. Me and my dad went on to Lawrenceburg Indiana, so we could cross that state off our list. Turned out to be a very nice place.
The following days we drove a lot. Through the Kentucky countryside, visited the Woodford Reserve still, and ended in Charleston WV. Which I found a very boring city. Despite the huge distances we were covering, we actually made very good progress. We decided to go all the way to Kittyhawk NC, to visit the first flight monument. But before that we would drive into the West Virginia countryside, to visit Coalwood and War, which I read about in the awesome book “Rocket Boys”
War, WV was very interesting. A lot of old buildings and old cars. Very different from the image you have of the US of A. Interacting with the locals was a great experience. The next day we made it to the NC Outer Banks. It reminded me of Florida, only much less extravagant, and nicer. We had terrific weather. While stopping at a visitor center, I found a flyer for scenic rides on a classic biplane. Assuming it would be too expensive, we decided to visit Dare County Regional airport, just to have a look. The airport was very nice, the biggest planes I saw were 2 Fedex C208 feeders. We immediately noticed a beautiful classic Waco UPF-7. In my ongoing quest to score as many classics as affordable, we went into the office to inquire about the fee’s. The staff at Barrier Island Aviation was very laidback and friendly. They told us the two of us could fit in the front seat, and we found a 20 minute ride to be quite affordable. We signed up and they asked us; “Are you ready to go now?” The pilot was somewhere in the hangar and turned out to be a great guy. He had some stuff to do and asked us to wait for a moment, which I used to make some pictures of the old lady.
Plane in front of the hangar
When the pilot returned, we climbed into the front seat. It was a tight fit haha. He explained to us not to touch any of the controls, or the rudder pedals. And we put on leather pilot hats with glasses.
Me and my dad
Very basic panel
MEO Dare County Regional, roundtrip
VFR, operated by Barrier Island Aviation
Weaver Aircraft Company of Ohio, UPF-7.
N32159, built 1942.
It was very hot outside, and the plane had been out in the sun all of the time. The engine started without hesitation, and we taxied to the active. We had noise cancelling headphones on, as the engine sound was very loud. We could hear the ATC over the headphones. It was my first flight on a plane with an open cockpit, so I was very excited.
Take off roll was very short, and we soon floated away. The heat coming from the engine was very hot, and without the glasses you wouldn’t have been able to see anything!
Love this view, over the cowling
Or this, the landing gear!
One of the first things we saw while flying over Kill Devil Hills was a USCG Hercules. We flew over the first flight memorial, and then South along the shore. The pilot told us he saw a large school of fish, and made some incredibly tight turns over it so we got some great views.
Kill Devil Hills
After a tight turn, we floated down onto the runway, video;
While taxiing back to the stand, I took off the helmet and enjoyed the loud engine sound for a moment. On the stand we made a 360 degrees turn, and we disembarked. Block time was well over 20 minutes.
One last look, goodbye beautiful!
After the flight we had a chat with the pilot, he was a very nice guy, and (I’m quoting) the proud owner, of the Waco. I ended up buying an awesome Tshirt with an image of the plane on the back.
Later that day, he was doing another flight
First flight monument, they made a very nice memorial park
After that we headed North, stayed in Elizabeth city, and the next day we made it to Norfolk. We decided to take a tour of the Naval Station, which turned out to be very interesting. Some very nice ships were docked.
The George Bush (I think)
I think this was the Eisenhower
The next day would be the day we’d be flying back to BRU. However as the flight was only at 3PM, we decided to squeeze in a visit to the AMC museum at the Dover AFB, in Delaware. Well worth a visit, great collection of heavy transporters, and a lot of action at the adjacent AFB.
My favorite plane, the Boeing B-17
Starlifter, you could actually go inside it
Galaxy’s at the AFB
More C-17s in a row then you’ll ever see I guess!
The C-119, one of my favorites as well
And of course the massive C-124
After that it was finally time to head back. In the last half hour, after driving over 2000 miles, we almost had a Buick crash into us because the (bad word) behind the wheel was talking on his phone. After dropping off the car we headed back to IAD. The main terminal was pretty nice. I didn’t really get the checkin process. At the desk, you had to check in yourself at a kiosk. The kiosk printed a reservation card, which you then gave to the agent, standing directly behind the kiosk. She labeled the bags and got us our boarding cards. What a waste of paper, printing the reservation while the agent is just there! We headed downstairs to the security area. Where for a change all the posts were manned. Even though it was busy it didn’t take long. We got onto another people carrier and were driven to the concourse.
The concourse was very busy, and hardly had any windows. This is the only picture I could make of the plane.
Flight info, I wish we had this at AMS.
While waiting at the gate, we saw a familiar face boarding the plane. It was Captain Hank Williams again. We made our way on board, only to find some incredibly annoying Belgian folks sitting in front of us. One half of the party was in the A/B seats, the other in the J/K seats. While everyone was boarding they were just standing in the aisle screaming to each other.
Boeing 767-322ER, 5th time on type
Photo © Bruno Porchat
View from my seat
We departed more or less ontime, again without channel 9..
As we lined up the runway, the engines spooled up to takeoff power, only to go back to idle. To my relief they spooled up again and we were off!
Hardly visible, but this was JFK, and we got a good view of NYC as well
Pretzels were distributed, and I remembered to order cranapple juice, so I’d get the whole can.
Delta’s Habitat for Humanity plane. I run into her everywhere I go
Dinner service, it was alright. No desert though, only some crackers..
Last rays of sunlight
At first I tried to get some sleep, but failed as usual. I watched the latest Shrek movie (I’d seen the previous three on three different USA-AMS flights) but did not really like it. After that I watched another action movie, with Orlando Bloom, it was so bad I forgot the name! I had a quick chat with some of the crew in the aft galley, who were again very nice. In all a pretty eventless flight.
Breakfast, yoghurt and a pastry with a horrific artificial banana flavor. The coffee was acceptable
Sunrise over London
Dry feet over Belgium
Over Belgium the first officer informed us about wx at BRU. I really appreciate it if one of the cockpit crew members welcomes you on board at the beginning of the flight, but this wasn’t the case on these flights. At least they weren’t turning the seatbelt sign on every 5 minutes.
Unfortunately no windows at the BRU arrivals area, so I never got a good exterior shot of the plane. After we docked we walked through immigrations in seconds, and after about 10 minutes the bags dropped on the belt. All that lasted was a 2 hour drive home.
This was my 8th trip to the USA. I still think it’s a great country for vacations. We did some off-beat destinations again, instead of the usual touristic stuff where most Europeans go. Next year I’m probably heading East for a change though! I can definitely recommend the museums I mentioned in this report.
UA Was definitely a better experience then last time. But that was mainly because of the crew. The 767 interiors are decent, though it’s a shame they didn’t include AVOD in the cabin refurbishing if you ask me. We got to fly for next to nothing thanks to the vouchers On time performance was good and no real complaints. The 767 was great as always.
I was pleasantly surprised by BRU. Well organized and modern. We found everything in no time and security and immigrations were a breeze. I can’t say the same for IAD. What a disgrace for a city as DC. The main terminal is nice but it all goes downhill in the UA concourses. People movers? Come on!
It’s hard to explain how cool this flight was. You really need to do it yourself, the heat, smell, vibrations, just amazing! 68 years old and still going strong. Now that’s quality!
I hope you enjoyed the report, as usual all remarks and replies are appreciated!
[Edited 2010-09-20 04:55:53]