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KPWMSpotter
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Posts: 461
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A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:47 pm



A "Liberal" Amount of Flying on Great Lakes' Beechcraft 1900Ds


In my free time over the summer I was trawling that "other" aviation photo site for planes I had never seen before. In my search, I stumbled upon this picture of what looked to be a Pitts S-2. Out of curiosity, I plugged the N-Number into the FAA database and found it to be registered to the "Mid America Air Museum." I had never heard of this museum before, but soon found that it is the fourth largest air museum in the United States. I had also never heard of the town where it was located: Liberal, Kansas.

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Liberal, KS is located quite literally in the middle of nowhere. About a four hour drive from Wichita, five hours from Amarillo, and even further from anywhere else, Liberal is the exact stereotype of a small Kansas town. I briefly considered flying into Wichita and making a road trip to the air museum, but set the idea aside. Road trips through Kansas are far from fun.

My plans to visit the Mid America Air Museum did not resurface until later in the week when I decided to read up on the history of the Liberal airport. As I reached the bottom of the Wikipedia page I noticed a section for "Airlines and Destinations". "Wait, what? Airlines and destinations? At this tiny little airport??". Yes, it was true, it turns out that Great Lakes Airlines serves Liberal twice a day on its Beechcraft 1900Ds from Denver, via Dodge City and Clovis.

I had never flown on Great Lakes before, and I had never flown the Beech 1900D before. I decided that I had to make this trip happen. After a bit of searching on ITA, I settled on an itinerary in early September, flying ATL-DEN-DDC-LBL and back again, on United Express E-170s and Great Lakes' Beech 1900Ds!
Early on Saturday, September 14th I made my way to the Atlanta airport and bypassed my usual Delta check-in kiosk, instead making my way to the nearly deserted United check-in in the North end of the terminal. United's kiosk promptly spat out my boarding passes and I was on my way.



KATL-KDEN Flight # UA 3538 (Operated by Shuttle America)
Equipment:
Embraer EMB-170 (N656RW)
Scheduled Departure: 07:39 Actual Departure: 07:30
Scheduled Arrival: 09:16 Actual Arrival: 09:10

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I begin this trip report with a Lockheed Tristar. (I wish...) An interesting mural on the wall in the T-Concourse.

United's operations in Atlanta are rather diminutive compared to the massive Delta and South/Tran presence. United operates primarily Express service to Hartsfield, running only three daily flights between Atlanta and Denver on E-170s and CRJ-700s. For comparison, Delta runs the same route 8x daily on a mix of MD-90s and 757s, Frontier runs twice daily A319s, and AirTran runs twice daily on 737s. Needless to say, there's lots of competition. I was satisfied with my E-170 though; I've never done a "long range" RJ flight before.

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United's operations for the day in Atlanta.

My flight to Denver was operating from the far end of the "T" concourse, a very quick walk from the North security checkpoint. Unfortunately, United's gates do not have any windows installed; I would have to wait until Denver to catch a glimpse of my plane. The small gate area never really filled up, there were more than enough seats available for the 76 passengers headed to Denver. Boarding was quick, called by zones; I made my way aboard with Zone 3 (of five).

The Embraer was just as comfortable as I remembered from past E-170 and E-190 flights. The seats were wide, the windows huge, and the overhead bin accepted my backpack without any problems (most roll aboard bags fit too, although a couple people struggled). My only complaint was with the window placement. While the windows themselves were huge, the gap between them was equally large. With United's configuration, the windows almost exclusively lined up just behind the seat-backs, making viewing less than comfortable. Once reclined I had a better view out over the wing.

Push-back commenced on time (perhaps a couple minutes early). From T16, taxiing to Runway 8R took no more than a minute. The engines spooled up and we made a rather sluggish departure out to the East, slowly turning North and then on our way to the West. The E-170 was loaded down with a full load of passengers, and fuel for the 1100 mile (3.5 hour) flight. Regardless, we climbed straight up to 36,000ft and remained there until just outside of Denver.


Onboard, looking out the massive windows of the E-170.

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Taxiing out of Delta-land.

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"Fly Delta Jets", not today at least!

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Airborne, just past the Delta TechOps center.

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Making a turn slowly to the Northwest.

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Climbing out over the Marietta Dobbins Air Reserve Base.

In-flight service heading to Denver was...well, it was typical domestic United service. The drink cart came by after 20 minutes and offered thimble-sized cups of soda. United does not offer any complimentary food on domestic flights of any length. Buy-on-board items were available, but only the non-perishable snack boxes. The flight attendants were polite and efficient, but after the initial drink offerings they did not re-appear for any follow up services.

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"Snack Service."

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Forming some ice crystals on the window. It got surprisingly cold next to the window after two or so hours of flight.

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Descending over the plains of Kansas. More on them to come...

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Airport in sight.

Descent into Denver was uneventful (no sign of the storms which had been flooding Boulder throughout the week). We lined up for a long final on Runway 34R, one of Denver's shorter runways (I use the term "short" liberally, it's still 12,000ft long). Denver's runways are so spread out that we cruised past the terminal still 500' above the ground, eventually finding the tarmac and making a mile-long taxi back to the gate.

After pulling up to a jetway in the "B" concourse (United's own concourse in DEN), the plane emptied very quickly (one perk of such a small aircraft). Just outside the gate I was met with a large wall of flight information screens, so I determined my connecting gate and started the long walk in the right direction.

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Making some condensation on final.

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Still on final... Denver's airport is absolutely massive, I felt like we were flying by the terminal half way to cruising altitude...

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Pulling into the gate. Looks like we're in the land of United here.

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Oh cool, apparently I was flying aboard and old Tulip livery (UA's best livery, IMHO).

The Denver airport is massive. While set up in the same general layout as Atlanta, everything in Denver is scaled up by a factor of two or three. The gaps between concourses are wide enough to taxi four or five aircraft abreast; the terminals are longer, wider, and quite a bit nicer. I've always enjoyed flying into and out of Denver, the terminals have a definite open and airy feel to them. The trains between concourses, on the other hand, are quite annoying. There's no way to walk between concourses, the trains run at a 3-5 minute interval, and they just feel slow. The "Rock N Roll" theme public address announcements always seem weird to me too. Regardless, I made it to the far end of the A concourse with plenty of time to spare to catch my flight to Liberal on Great Lakes.


Massive multi-story atrium at the center of the concourse.

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Checking out Frontier's operation from the famous over-the-taxiway bridge.

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Now that's what I came for... Amsterdam has its Fokker Farm, Denver has a...Great Lakes Gaggle?



KDEN-KLBL (via KDDC) Flight # GLA 7185
Equipment:
Beechcraft B1900D (N211GL)
Scheduled Departure: 11:15 Actual Departure: 11:25
Scheduled Arrival: 14:18 Actual Arrival: 14:10

Arriving at my gate, I was quite surprised by the sheer number of Great Lakes aircraft on the ramp. A handful of Embraer Brasilias and more than a dozen Beechcraft 1900Ds were scattered around the end of the A Concourse. The concourse itself was relatively quiet, oweing mostly to the light Saturday morning schedule. I checked in with the gate agent, who took down my weight and scribbled something on my UA-printed boarding pass.

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One of Great Lakes bigger Brasilias out on the ramp.

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That's more like it; the bloated King Air, the airplane of many appendages, the Beech 1900D. This one's having some maintenance work done on the engines.

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Some of the Great Lakes Beeches have branded tails, this one for "Dodge City, the Cowboy Capital of the West", my intermediate stop for the day's flight.

Great Lakes operates from a ground-level addition at the end of the A concourse. The architecture of the terminal reminds me of an old elementary school building: painted cinder block walls, scattered wire-reinforced windows, and a slightly musty and dim ambiance (quite the opposite of the rest of DEN's brightly lit concourses). Luckily the concourse was nearly empty and therefore very quiet.

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Looking through the safety glass at a busy ramp.

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The end-of-concourse waiting area.

Approaching the scheduled boarding time, an announcement was made stating a delay of "about 20 minutes for maintenance." I sat back down, but was pleasantly surprised two minutes later when general boarding for the flight was called. As we lined up at the door, a very concerned looking gate agent returned to the counter muttering to no one in particular "No, no, no! Turn around, we're not boarding yet!" As I walked away I overheard her chastise the other gate agent, asking "Do you ever listen?!"

Luckily the maintenance delay was just as quick as promised, and we were soon headed out onto the ramp. As I stepped outside the door, a Beech 1900 came flying down the taxiway and onto the ramp, coming to a stop right in front of the door. A gate agent collected everyone's gate checked bags while waiting for the propellers to come to a stop. I was the second person to board, climbing up the aircraft stairs and picking myself a seat towards the back.

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Waiting on the ramp for my ride to Liberal. N211GL, titled for the city of Laramie, Wyoming.

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Climbing aboard.

My United boarding pass had printed a seat assignment of "1A", but hadn't given me an option to select a seat. I wasn't sure whether seating was actually assigned or not, so I just picked one with a good view. Seat 1A had no window, so I ended up in 6A. The load on the day's flight was very light (7 passengers total) so my seat choice wasn't a problem.


The distinct view from the inside of a Beech 1900. Note the odd colors; all the windows are heavily tinted and polarized.


Surprisingly spacious cabin. I had never really believed Beechcraft when they called this a "stand-up cabin." At 5'10" it was fine for me.

The Flight Attendant duties were performed by the first officer, a very charismatic young man. He had welcomed the passengers on board, making sure that passengers didn't come near the wing or propeller. Once on board, he took a count of passengers and asked that "anyone headed all the way to Liberal, please raise your hand." I raised my hand, looked around, and noticed that I was the only one. All six other passengers would be disembarking at Dodge City. The F/O came back to each exit seat (seats 1A, 5C, and 6A and C) and gave a personal exit seat briefing (including demonstrating opening the main cabin door).

After a standard safety briefing (all the usual seat belt and flotation points covered) the F/O disappeared into the cockpit and began the start-up checklist. Before the engines started it was easy to listen in on the checklist items. The two in the cockpit had obviously done this routine before; they rattled through the checklist items with auctioneer like speed. "ParkingBrakeSetLandingGearLeverCheckedDownBatterySwitchOnConditionLeverCheckedCutoff etc, etc." After the engines were started it wasn't possible to hear any conversation up front, but the door to the cockpit remained open and I was still able to view the pilots' hands moving cartoonishly fast across the various controls.

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Taxiing out from a busy ramp.

We made a very long trek down to Runway 8 for takeoff. One of the passengers behind me leaned over to his travel companion and remarked "I didn't know we were just going to drive to Dodge City!" The cockpit door remained open throughout the taxi and takeoff. It was no surprise when the throttles were advanced for takeoff; I was able to watch as the pilots ran through their checklist!

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Lining up on Runway 8.

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Airborne!


Making a quick turn to the Southeast, heading towards Dodge.

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Slowly making our way up to cruising altitude.

Great Lakes doesn't provide a flight attendant on their Beechcraft flights. With no snack to look forward to, I settled in to do some reading and enjoy the view. We climbed surprisingly high (23,000ft); high enough that my window quickly iced over. The exhaust from the engine seemed to be hitting my window just right to form a thin layer of frozen condensation. As far as I could tell, every other window on the plane was perfectly fine. Luckily there wasn't all that much to see outside; lots and lots of flat fields and plains.

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Checking out the seat-back contents. A rather generic safety card.

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That girl looks eerily content bobbing there with a seat cushion...


Mandatory leg room shot. About the same as a CRJ, but with a much bigger windown and direct aisle access.

Shortly after reaching cruising altitude the pilots slid closed their small privacy doors. I wonder what they were doing up there that they didn't want observed? Taking a nap maybe?


Droning along at 23,000ft.

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Foggy view.

Almost exactly one hour after takeoff, the first officer slid the cockpit doors open and peeked out at the cabin. Seeing everyone awake and doing well he picked up the microphone and announced our descent into Dodge City.
Great Lakes also has an automated passenger information system installed. Just after the first officer made his announcement, a disembodied voice repeated much of the same information ("seat backs up, no electronics, etc, etc") in far more vague terminology.

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Spying on the flight deck on descent.

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It's starting to look like Kansas out there.

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Signs of civilization on final.

The approach into Dodge City was a little bumpy, but the relatively heavy Beech (relative to, say, a Cessna Skyhawk...) seemed to handle the thermals well. I didn't observe any of the white knuckles which are commonly latched to the seat backs on Cape Air or other small-small plane flights flights.

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On the ground in Dodge, pulling off of Runway 14.

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Coming to a stop in "The Cowboy Capital of the West."

The stop in Dodge City was brief. The #2 engine was left running while ramp agents grabbed some baggage from the back and then escorted all of the other passengers to the terminal. I stayed onboard, but decided to move up a few rows for a nice view of the propellers on the next short leg to Liberal.

One passenger got on in Dodge, heading to Denver. I was hoping to have a truly private flight to Liberal, but I suppose a 1:1 pilot to passenger ratio isn't all that bad either.

The first officer once again came back and greeted each of us personally. After his safety briefing, he paused and asked "How was the temperature back here for the last leg?" when I responded "a little chilly" he grinned and said "that's what I thought, but I kept checking with the guy in row one and he just kept giving me a thumbs up!"

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Nice little Western-themed terminal. I'll have to check it out sometime in the future.

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Big prop attached to a PT6A-67D turbine.

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Better view of the flight deck from up here too.

Once the other passenger was buckled in the first officer shut the door (taking care to check the door latches with a flashlight, the King Air series doors have a bad habit of falling off in flight...). The left engine was started quickly and we taxied back down to Runway 14; total time on the ground was around ten minutes.

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Taxiing out.

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Cool reflection in the prop.

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Full power. Very sporty acceleration from the nearly empty plane.

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Airborne!

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Up to a fairly low cruising altitude, over the ubiquitous "crop circles" of the American West.

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Making pretty good speed, just over 180 knots indicated.

The first officer poked his head out of the cockpit about mid-flight and tried to mime something to the extend of "are you cold?" It was a little chilly, but not terribly so. Not knowing how else to respond over the drone of the engines I just gave him a thumbs up. He looked a little confused, shrugged, and retreated back to the cockpit.
Not long afterwards, the automated descent announcement began playing, informing us that we would be on the ground very shortly.

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Making a slow left turn onto final approach for Runway 17.

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Already pretty low, lining up with the runway.

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The small town of Liberal coming into view in the distance.

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Just about to touch down.

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Oh hey, the air museum, that's what I'm here for!

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The unique profile of the Pratt and Whitney PT-6.

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Lots of cool planes out on the ramp.

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Some interesting airworthy planes on the ramp too.

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Coming to a stop at the Glen L Martin Air Terminal in Liberal.

The stop in Liberal was a quick turn as well. The #2 engine remained turned on while the ramp agents scrambled to the back to grab my bag. The F/O opened the door and directed me towards the terminal, where a ramp agent was already waiting for me at the door. The terminal door was shut behind me, leaving me standing (my ears still ringing slightly from the flight) inside the nearly deserted terminal.

Knowing that I would return to the terminal early the next morning, I made a bee-line to the door and turned right, walking down the fence line towards the Liberal Mid-America Air Museum.

The Liberal Mid-America Regional Airport was first constructed in the early 1940's as a heavy bomber crew training base and manufacturing facility. The airport was originally quite large, featuring three sets of parallel runways and a large Beechcraft manufacturing facility. In 2013, four of the six runways are crumbling (one is now a drag racing strip), but luckily the Beechcraft facility is still standing, now filled with unique airplanes as the Mid-America Air Museum.

The Mid-America Air Museum is supposedly the fourth largest air museum in the United States (behind the Smithsonian, US Air Force Museum at Wright-Pat, and the Pima Air & Space I believe). For being in the middle of nowhere, there's a surprisingly diverse collection of aircraft on display, from modern General Aviation to rare experimentals and military warbirds.

Unfortunately, the air museum has a few more airplanes than it knows what to do with. The planes are packed in so densely that some are hard to view, let alone photograph. Nonetheless, there was plenty of cool stuff to see.

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Lot of unique homebuilt aircraft and other modern GA.

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Classic GA and some WWII Liaison aircraft.

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Beech 2000 Starship, wedged in the back of the hangar.

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Interesting paint scheme on this Mooney M-18 Mite. Throwback to the early Culver drones which Al Mooney designed during WWII.

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Very rare Luscobe type buried behind some planes, the T8F Observer, a tandem two-seater designed for military observation work.

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Quite an angry looking plane, a Call-Air A-9 agricultural plane.

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One of only three Part-23 certified auto-gyro types, the McCulloch J-2.

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My favorite catch of the day, a highly modified Globe GC-1 Swift. Fitted with tip-tanks, a larger engine, and modified tail.

The town of Liberal itself wasn't much to write about. Aside from the air museum, the town's claims to fame include an annual pancake festival and "Dorothy's House Museum", a museum devoted to the Wizard of Oz. My cab took a scenic route through town on the way to the hotel, but I didn't see much (aside from a surprising number of Mexican restaurants and trucks with Haliburton logos on the sides.)

I ordered out some sub-par Chinese food and slept decently well (the Days Inn Liberal, not terrible for $54/night) before getting up early and heading back to the airport for a 7:45am flight.



KLBL-KDEN (via KDDC) Flight # GLA 7281
Equipment:
Beechcraft B1900D (N192GL)
Scheduled Departure: 07:49 Actual Departure: 07:50
Scheduled Arrival: 08:48 Actual Arrival: 08:45

Not wanting to risk being stranded in Liberal, I arrived at the airport very early, about 1:45 before the scheduled departure time. I found the terminal to be entirely deserted, except for a skunk which was digging for grubs and keeping me from getting very close to the fence...

I found a small plaza across from the terminal and played around with my camera while I waited.

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Today's airplane, N192GL, waiting out the night on the ramp.


How low (an ISO) can you go without a tripod?

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The Glenn L Martin Air Terminal still closed up for the night.

Eventually, about one hour prior to departure, the airport staff and other passengers began to arrive. When I walked in to the airport I was the third in line to check in for the flight. The terminal eventually became relatively busy, with a whole seven passengers embarking from Liberal.

Among those passengers were a pair of school children connecting to a Frontier flight, apparently as part of a school sponsored program. There was quite a bit of confusion about their baggage, since Frontier had recently enacted its ever-popular $100 carry-on rule. Frontier still allows free carry-on baggage if the flight is booked via Frontier's own website, but these children (and dozens of others from the same school district) had been booked through a travel agent.

The Great Lakes check-in agents were very apologetic, and offered to call the school district to work something out in the future, but for this day's flight the parents forked over cash to check the bags through instead.

I was connecting through to United and had no trouble checking in (although the check-in agent recommended I trade my boarding pass for a "real" one when I get to Denver, since theirs don't always scan properly with United's machines).

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Liberal's terminal is decorated with Glenn Martin memorabilia. According to a plaque at the airport, Martin lived in Liberal as a child. Wikipedia says he lived in Salina, though...

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T-20 Minutes to departure. Still no pilots, but the sun is coming up!

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Now we have some pilots.

The TSA eventually showed up (3 TSA "officers" and a local cop all for seven passengers) and opened the checkpoint. No nude-o-scope here, but as I've noticed with other small airports everyone received an explosives screening swab and bag search instead. Past the TSA checkpoint there was a small room, barely 10'x10', and a door to the ramp. It wasn't long before we were ushered out to the plane.

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Bag handed off to the ramp agent, climbing abo
I reject your reality and substitute my own...
 
KPWMSpotter
Topic Author
Posts: 461
Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2006 1:01 am

RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:49 pm

Since today's flight was relatively full (and to become more full in Dodge) I decided to actually take my assigned seat, one row aft of yesterday's, in 7A.

Both pilots on today's flight were wearing four bars (perhaps a line check?). The first officer was significantly older and significantly less animated than yesterday's. Today he stuck to the script for the safety briefing; pleasant, but not as friendly as the day before. Engine start was done very quickly and we were underway without any delay.

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Very similar cabin view, although this aircraft doesn't seem to have tray tables.

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Taxiing out.

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Sunrise.

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Airborne, turning around to the Northwest.

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Over downtown Liberal. The big street is "Pancake Blvd"

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Lots of sun, making me thankful for the tinted windows this time.

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Crop circles.

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Rows and rows of windmills.

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Descending again, turning a midfield crosswind for Runway 14 at Dodge.

The trip from Liberal to Dodge was silky smooth. There wasn't a bump to be found in the early morning air. We cruised low, giving a good view of the farms and sparse rural landscape, and it wasn't long before I noticed the Dodge City airport coming up underneath us. We flew an overhead crosswind to the downwind, giving a good view of the airport on the way by.

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Overhead Dodge.

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On a very wide downwind.

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Flaps and gear down, turning base to final.

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Short final.

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Pulling back into the now familar terminal at Dodge City.

For some reason we were marshaled into the ramp with the door facing away from the terminal. The pilots were visibly confused about this, but went ahead and shut down both engines before popping open the door. Five passengers came aboard, for a total load of 12 passengers to Denver (not bad, but certainly not great for a 19-seat turboprop.)

After a bit of struggling with checked bags the engines were re-started and it was time to get the hell out of Dodge! (heh, I promised myself I would only say that once in this trip report, but I said it to myself a dozen times on the plane. And yes, Dodge City is where the phrase originated.)

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Taxiing past a hangar full of smaller King Air brethren. And a Cessna 421.

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If this doesn't look like Kansas, I don't know what does.

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Airborne for the fifth time in 24 hours. It's time to get the hell out of... nevermind, I already hit my quota for that phrase.

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Huge grain silos and trains have replaced the cowboys out here these days.

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I think I'll be using this shot in an aircraft recognition test sometime soon. Quite the recognizable tail shadow.

http://imageshack.us/a/img17/7565/0xge.jpg
Checking out the Great Lakes route map in their in-flight magazine.

http://imageshack.us/a/img43/267/xrsg.jpg
Unfortunate ice crystals on the windows once again.

http://imageshack.us/a/img43/4845/iul9.jpg
The passenger service unit, wedged into the wall. The air vent was located in the side wall, just forward of the arm rest.

http://imageshack.us/a/img703/7729/9t6b.jpg
Cruising through some clouds approaching Denver. This same system of clouds was the one that dropped massive amounts of rain on Boulder and caused quite a lot of flooding in the area.

The flight from Dodge to Denver was again quite uneventful. These pilots quickly disappeared behind their privacy screen and didn't reappear until on final in Denver. Without any in-flight entertainment and my book accidentally packed away in the cargo compartment I was rather bored by the time the hour and fifteen minute flight came to an end.

Approaching Denver things began to get a bit more sporty, as there were lots of clouds remaining in the area from a large storm front. Each layer of clouds brought a new round of bouncing and rolling, before punching through to clear air below.

http://imageshack.us/a/img21/2301/vuti.jpg
Descending into a deck of clouds.

http://imageshack.us/a/img822/2483/4zb1.jpg
Cruising about the SCUD, lined up on final now.

http://imageshack.us/a/img32/8346/3ot5.jpg
Looks menacing.

http://imageshack.us/a/img42/5455/mnzm.jpg
It's not SCUD running if you're IFR...

http://imageshack.us/a/img15/2954/vun6.jpg
On the ground after a very smooth landing, rolling past the distinctive teepee terminal.

http://imageshack.us/a/img837/2553/27h4.jpg
Pulling back into Denver's bunch of Beeches.

I stepped out into the humid Denver air, my ears still ringing from the droning propellers, retrieved my bag, and stepped back into the terminal, right where I'd started 18 hours prior. I had a comfortable hour and fifteen minutes to make my connection, so I slowly strolled through the concourse, to the train, and over to my connecting United gate.

http://imageshack.us/a/img708/7729/78gf.jpg
Why yes, I will.

Arriving at my gate in the B-concourse there was no aircraft or gate agent to be seen, but both soon made an appearance. My ride today would be another Embraer E-170, N637RW, an EMB-170SE in the new United livery. Apparently this aircraft landed with its nose gear up in Newark in February of 2012. When it pulled into the gate it didn't look any worse for wear.


KDEN-KATL Flight # UA 3462 (Operated by Shuttle America)
Equipment:
Embraer EMB-170 (N637RW)
Scheduled Departure: 10:03 Actual Departure: 10:03
Scheduled Arrival: 15:03 Actual Arrival: 14:59


http://imageshack.us/a/img826/9607/ojjl.jpg
Sad panda... I wish one of those was my plane for today.

http://imageshack.us/a/img22/4232/pyei.jpg
Lots and lots of RJ traffic in the B concourse.

http://imageshack.us/a/img51/5875/b1lz.jpg
There's my ride, N637RW.

http://imageshack.us/a/img42/9831/nyw4.jpg
Pulling into the gate.

http://imageshack.us/a/img716/5851/p6jx.jpg
Waiting for the gate agent to print me a new boarding pass.

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Interesting new boarding lanes signage, a la Southwest. I suppose that's one way to control the gate lice.

http://imageshack.us/a/img266/5342/27p0.jpg
Checking out some more RJs. Sometimes I wonder if United actually operates mainline aircraft anymore...

Boarding commenced on-time and proceeded very quickly. The 76-seat RJ didn't nearly fill the gate area which was probably designed for a 727 or A320. That's certainly one benefit of large RJ flying, boarding proceeds in a much more civilized manner.

For this leg I had chosen seat 16A, towards the back on the left hand side, for a good view of the wing. I settled in to the comfortable seat, finding the window to once again be large but very misaligned from the seats. I almost got away without a seat-mate, but a man boarded at the last minute and took the aisle seat.
After the door closed we waited on the tarmac for what felt like 20 minutes without moving. The aircraft at the next gate over finally pushed back and the ramp agents came running directly to our plane once finished. It didn't take long before we were underway.

http://imageshack.us/a/img43/3286/6h2t.jpg
Finally pushing back.

http://imageshack.us/a/img708/5237/a95s.jpg
I've spotted a 787 in its natural habitat: sitting idle outside a maintenance hangar!

http://imageshack.us/a/img15/9743/abnj.jpg
Airborne again, for the last time in a busy weekend of flying.

http://imageshack.us/a/img109/1325/yukc.jpg
Cruising through the high clouds, quite bumpy for the first hour or so.

Service on board was quite standard for United. Drinks were served in thimbles and that was about it. One of the flight attendants (I couldn't tell if he was the lead or not) did do a very good job keeping the many children on the flight entertained, bringing out a bubbling cup of dry ice fog to amuse them at one point, and keeping their parents well supplied with juice and water.

http://imageshack.us/a/img580/5498/sqmh.jpg
Ginger ale and a $7 snack box. The box was literally nothing to write about, loaded with preservatives and junk food.

http://imageshack.us/a/img21/9729/2v7i.jpg
Crossing the Mississippi.

http://imageshack.us/a/img534/2986/5vrn.jpg
Back in Delta country. Spot the MD-88!

http://imageshack.us/a/img819/6223/91ju.jpg
Spoilers! Descending into Atlanta.

http://imageshack.us/a/img703/3204/njne.jpg
Short final, still parallel that MD-88, with downtown Atlanta obscured by haze behind.

http://imageshack.us/a/img801/8310/tnhw.jpg
Welcome back to Atlanta, where United RJs are no longer in the majority!

The remainder of the flight was entirely uneventful, landing straight in on Runway 10 (the really far South one that goes over I-285) in Atlanta. We taxied to United's gates on the D concourse. I exited the plane and came face to face with a brand new Five Guys restaurant location in the concourse. I resisted buying a burger and headed home to start processing photos...


In Conclusion:

United Airlines: United Airlines provided uneventful service consistent with their brand standard. I'm still not sure why they don't offer even the cheapest of snack items on board; even the low cost carriers still manage to provide peanuts. Either way, I have nothing to complain about. The plane was comfortable and the flights arrived on time.

Great Lakes Airlines: Great Lakes was a fun little airline. The staff certainly didn't have the same energy and "MoCHA HAGoTDI" attitude as Cape Air's employees, but they certainly beat the disorganized "shoe string airline" feel that I found at Georgia Skies and Silver. If I had somewhere to be within the Great Lakes network, I wouldn't hesitate to book with them again. Prop planes are always more fun than jets, and Great Lakes seems relatively experienced in making them work.


Thanks for reading, everyone! Hope you've enjoyed the TR!


Past Reports for your reading pleasure...
MD-90 To Ford Trimotor - Airventure @ Oshkosh '13! (by KPWMSpotter Aug 9 2013 in Trip Reports)
The Mississippi Delta On Silver Airways' Saab 340! (by KPWMSpotter Jul 8 2013 in Trip Reports)
Cape Air For $12! LEB-HPN-LEB On 9K's Cessna 402s (by KPWMSpotter Jan 2 2013 in Trip Reports)
The Oregon Coast On AS And AA (MCO-PDX & Return) (by KPWMSpotter Oct 20 2012 in Trip Reports)
DL To Deutschland, Munich And Düsseldorf In Y & J (by KPWMSpotter Sep 8 2012 in Trip Reports)
Southern Hospitality? Georgia Skies C208, ATL-AHN (by KPWMSpotter Jul 9 2012 in Trip Reports)
Mr. Porter Flying Porter! EWR-YTZ On PD + DL Y/F (by KPWMSpotter Jun 18 2012 in Trip Reports)
To Kansas Pt. 2: SLN Spotting & ICT-DAB On DL (by KPWMSpotter Jun 1 2012 in Trip Reports)
To Kansas Pt. 1 On DL, F9, And SeaPort's PC-12! (by KPWMSpotter May 31 2012 in Trip Reports)
A Domestic US Sampling MCO-PWM-DAB On CO & US (by KPWMSpotter Apr 12 2012 in Trip Reports)
FRA On DL Business Elite + Amtrak & DL Domestic Y (by KPWMSpotter Jan 6 2012 in Trip Reports)
Maine For Thanksgiving On US And Cape Air! (by KPWMSpotter Nov 29 2011 in Trip Reports)
ATL-AMS/DUS-ATL, DL F + ICE Train And Köln (by KPWMSpotter Nov 1 2011 in Trip Reports)
ATL-PWM-DTW-ATL, DL Y + New PWM Terminal (by KPWMSpotter Oct 31 2011 in Trip Reports)
ATL-SLC-SUN & Back DL F, Flying The Brasilia (by KPWMSpotter Sep 5 2011 in Trip Reports)
PWM-MCO, STL-MSP-DTW-PWM +NIFA (LONG!) (by KPWMSpotter Aug 10 2009 in Trip Reports)
MCO-JFK-PWM On JetBlue (by KPWMSpotter May 1 2009 in Trip Reports)
BOS-LHR-BOS + Eurostar (Long/Pics!) (by KPWMSpotter Mar 11 2009 in Trip Reports)
DAB-ATL-PWM & Return On DL (+Pics) (by KPWMSpotter Jan 7 2009 in Trip Reports)
MCO-ORD, MDW-MHT, PWM-MCO (pics) (by KPWMSpotter Nov 27 2008 in Trip Reports)
Flying Into A Hurricane: PWM-MCO W. B6 (pics) (by KPWMSpotter Aug 24 2008 in Trip Reports)
PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics) (by KPWMSpotter Jun 25 2007 in Trip Reports)
PWM-EWR-SEA-IAD-PWM On CO/UA (by KPWMSpotter Dec 25 2006 in Trip Reports)
I reject your reality and substitute my own...
 
767747
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:07 am

Another great report, KPWMSpotter!

You are always able to find some really interesting trips, and this one was no exception. How great you were able to get on the Beech. I flew on one back in 2006 when Midwest Express was still around and had a few for short little flights, such as our flight to Muskegon, MI from MKE. It was a short flight, but memorable.

Thanks for sharing!

Matthew
I love to fly!
 
ATLTPA
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:22 am

Great trip report.

I noticed Great Lakes in 2006 or so on a trip from ATL-DEN-BIL and was curious about them. The last bit leg was on Horizon flying for Frontier and we boarded near Great Lakes' operation in Denver.

Now that I know more about them, I want to fly Great Lakes--just because!

Thank you again for sharing. Good to see that there's someone else here in ATL who thinks it is fun to fly something else from time to time besides the Widget or, as you so brilliantly termed it, South/Tran!

ATLTPA
 
lpdal
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:14 am

United operates a mide size fleet of B1900Ds from my home airport, FLL. I laughed when you said the ERJ was too small looking for a mainline gate, because at FLL they use a gate formerly used by CO with 738s as a makeshift staging area for two B1900Ds. Nice TR.
TWU Local 568 represented. All of my views and posted content are mine alone, and should not be viewed as official communication from my employer, its subsidiaries thereof, or any other entities or airlines.
 
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RyanairGuru
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:48 am

Thank you for this wonderful trip report!

Great Lakes is an airline that I'm really interested in, so it was really great to learn more about their operation. It looks like you had a fun trip, and it was good to visit a little-know museum. I can't imagine that they break even running that was out in the middle of nowhere, but it's great they they're keeping it up nonetheless.

United look like their normal self, nothing truly remarkable but nothing to complain about either. For the record AA also use thimbles and don't offer a complimentary snack, it is something where DL is ahead for sure.

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Great Lakes Gaggle?

Beech Beehive?

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
I've spotted a 787 in its natural habitat: sitting idle outside a maintenance hangar!

Touche   
Worked Hard, Flew Right
 
Stackhouse007
Posts: 377
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:15 pm

I really enjoyed reading your report! Sure looks like you had a fun mini vacation! Keep the trips coming, nice work.
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WA707atMSP
Posts: 2020
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:07 pm

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Nice little Western-themed terminal. I'll have to check it out sometime in the future.

I've flown Great Lakes three times: Minneapolis-Ironwood-Iron Mountain-Chicago in 2002, Las Vegas-Page-Moab-Denver two years ago, and Minneapolis-Huron-Pierre-Chadron-Denver last year.

Because the Beech 1900 doesn't have a lavatory, on all three trips, I was able to get off the airplane at each intermediate stop to use the terminal rest rooms, and see what the terminals looked like.

The only problem I had was in Iron Mountain, when a fat, ornery older woman boarded before I did and dumped my belongings at the front of the aircraft because she wanted my seat. Although I nicely asked for my seat back, she became very nasty and sarcastic to me, and refused to give it back.

I definitely want to fly Great Lakes again - they are a fun way to log new airports!
 
777ER
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Thu Oct 17, 2013 6:53 am

Those little 1900Ds are certainly interesting 'puddle jumpers' are they are known really well here in New Zealand! Recently did a flight on an NZ Link 1900D from WLG-Timaru. The 1900Ds are the back bone basically of small regional operations here, but some flights are being upgraded to Q300s as new ATR72-600s arrive. NZs 1900D fleet will shrink as a result.

Very surprised the cockpit 'doors' were closed especially since the 1900Ds don't have cabin crew. The doors always remain open here
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Flown: 1900D,S340,Q300,AT72-5/6,DC3,CR2/7,E145,E70/75/90,A319/20/21,A332/3,A359,A380,F100,B717,B733/4/8/9,B742/4,B752/3,B763,B772/3, B789
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KPWMSpotter
Topic Author
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:35 pm

Glad you've all enjoyed reading the report!

Quoting ATLTPA (Reply 3):
Now that I know more about them, I want to fly Great Lakes--just because!

Sounds like a valid reason to me! If you haven't tried them out yet, check out Silver Airways out of Atlanta, their Saabs fly to some interesting southern destinations, and it's a bit cheaper than flying out to Denver first. When I flew out to Greenville ( The Mississippi Delta On Silver Airways' Saab 340! (by KPWMSpotter Jul 8 2013 in Trip Reports) ) I was one of only two people on the plane.

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 5):
For the record AA also use thimbles and don't offer a complimentary snack, it is something where DL is ahead for sure.

It still surprises me how things have changed. I remember ten years ago when Southwest was considered bare-bones flying by only offering drinks and peanuts.

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 5):
Beech Beehive?

That works too!

Quoting Stackhouse007 (Reply 6):
Keep the trips coming, nice work.

I plan on it!  
Quoting WA707atMSP (Reply 7):
Because the Beech 1900 doesn't have a lavatory, on all three trips, I was able to get off the airplane at each intermediate stop to use the terminal rest rooms, and see what the terminals looked like.

Hadn't thought of that. How did security work for that? In Liberal the only bathroom was in the landside area of the airport.

Quoting 777ER (Reply 8):
Recently did a flight on an NZ Link 1900D from WLG-Timaru. The 1900Ds are the back bone basically of small regional operations here

The B1900 sure looks great in the all black scheme. The B1900s are disappearing in the US too, the little puddle jumpers used to be everywhere, now they're mostly relegated to the smallest of EAS routes.
I reject your reality and substitute my own...
 
Widebodyroga
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Thu Oct 17, 2013 4:43 pm

This is a super cool report KPWMSpotter. I love to read about carriers like that. I have flown the Beech 1900D a few times and it's a great experience.

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
I had also never heard of the town where it was located: Liberal, Kansas.

Kinda ironic that a city with that name is in Kansas. I wonder how the locals feel about it .

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
I had never flown on Great Lakes before, and I had never flown the Beech 1900D before. I decided that I had to make this trip happen.

I've been wanting to fly with them for a long time. They were meant to replace some of the services that DL abandoned in Minnesota but I don't think they have done so yet.

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Unfortunately, United's gates do not have any windows installed; I would have to wait until Denver to catch a glimpse of my plane.

Don't you hate it when that happens?

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Coming to a stop in "The Cowboy Capital of the West."

That terminal building is surreal. Almost too good to be true!

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
except for a skunk which was digging for grubs and keeping me from getting very close to the fence...

I had skunks get in my way like that before. What a pain.

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 1):
After a bit of struggling with checked bags the engines were re-started and it was time to get the hell out of Dodge! (heh, I promised myself I would only say that once in this trip report, but I said it to myself a dozen times on the plane. And yes, Dodge City is where the phrase originated.)

That made me laugh  .

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Back in Delta country. Spot the MD-88!

Cool shot!

Seriously, thanks for this treat! I enjoyed your report immensely!

Stojan
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lpdal
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Fri Oct 18, 2013 11:43 am

Great trip report by the way! When I flew FLL-Grand Bahama, the cockpit view was so surreal!
TWU Local 568 represented. All of my views and posted content are mine alone, and should not be viewed as official communication from my employer, its subsidiaries thereof, or any other entities or airlines.
 
rockyracoon
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:11 pm

Nice report. Enjoyed seeing this unique route.

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
United Airlines: United Airlines provided uneventful service consistent with their brand standard. I'm still not sure why they don't offer even the cheapest of snack items on board; even the low cost carriers still manage to provide peanuts.

I know, right? Flew HNL-ORD last winter and got nothing!
Airports I've flown from: CVG PIT DAY JAX MWO PHL PHX ORD DCA IAD MIA TPA MCO FLL ATL DTW DFW SJC LAX DEN SLC LAS HNL LIH OGG YVR GYE MUC ICN NRT PVG SHA SZX MNL PPS CRK BKK DMK KBV EOH MDE CLO CTG SMR BOG ACD MEX CUN MID MGA AUA SAL RTB
 
Goldenshield
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:37 pm

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Checking out some more RJs. Sometimes I wonder if United actually operates mainline aircraft anymore...

You did notice the other 2/3 of the concourse, right?

The mid and mountain-west has a lot of smaller cities than don't support mainline (or the aircraft can't operate to/from safely.) In lieu of doing 6-7 stop milk-runs with a mainline plane (taking forever in the process,) running regional aircraft is viable alternative.
Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
 
KPWMSpotter
Topic Author
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:18 pm

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 10):
I've been wanting to fly with them for a long time. They were meant to replace some of the services that DL abandoned in Minnesota but I don't think they have done so yet.

It looks like Great Lakes has a decent route structure running out of MSP, it must be recent though, I don't recall seeing any of the B1900s there last time I connected through.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 10):
Seriously, thanks for this treat! I enjoyed your report immensely!

Glad you enjoyed it!

Quoting LPDAL (Reply 11):
When I flew FLL-Grand Bahama, the cockpit view was so surreal!

Cape Air's C402s are even better, you can sit in the cockpit.

Quoting rockyracoon (Reply 12):
I know, right? Flew HNL-ORD last winter and got nothing!

Yeah, the Hawaii flights specifically surprise me. Delta flies ATL-HNL (which is a few hours longer than most trans-Atlantic flights) and doesn't offer any food other than the usual Biscoff and snacks.

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 13):
You did notice the other 2/3 of the concourse, right?

Yes, but it does seem that United and US Airways specifically rely on their regional carriers very heavily these days. Even big cities like Atlanta see predominantly 76-seaters. Luckily it seems that everyone is phasing out the 50-seaters though.
I reject your reality and substitute my own...
 
flymia
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:25 pm

Great report. These are the ones I enjoy the most, flights into random small towns.

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
aside from a surprising number of Mexican restaurants

I was in the middle of no where Wyoming. Well actually for Wyoming Evanston is probably a fairly large town but there might have been 6-7 places to eat I think 3-4 of them were Mexican and two where the same owners. Mexican restaurants are surprisingly popular in rural areas and when I had it surprisingly good!

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 1):
Both pilots on today's flight were wearing four bars (perhaps a line check?). The first officer was significantly older and significantly less animated than yesterday's. Today he stuck to the script for the safety briefing; pleasant, but not as friendly as the day before. Engine start was done very quickly and we were underway without any delay.

Well unless the older guy is flying for Great Lakes a post-retirement job or something I don't blame him. Unless you are in your early 20s and its your first airline job Great Lakes is probably the worst airline to fly for in the U.S. or Canada.

Quoting LPDAL (Reply 4):
United operates a mide size fleet of B1900Ds from my home airport, FLL.

Actually Silver Airways are the ones who operate them. And now days its mostly Saab 340s.
"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
 
WA707atMSP
Posts: 2020
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:48 pm

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 9):
Quoting WA707atMSP (Reply 7):
Because the Beech 1900 doesn't have a lavatory, on all three trips, I was able to get off the airplane at each intermediate stop to use the terminal rest rooms, and see what the terminals looked like.

Hadn't thought of that. How did security work for that? In Liberal the only bathroom was in the landside area of the airport.

At every airport except Huron, the lavatories were outside security. I just used the lavatory, stepped outside to take a picture of what the "land" entrance to the airport looked like, then re cleared security and went back to my seat on the aircraft. Nobody asked me what I was doing.

I did not have any problems, except in Iron Mountain when "Miss Fatso" kicked me out of my seat. Now that Great Lakes assigns seats, this shouldn't happen again!

I've noticed that the TSA screener count often out numbers the passenger count in Great Lakes' cities. In Moab, there were no less than SIX screeners, who were all delighted to talk to a real live passenger. When I entered the terminal in Chadron, a TSA screener greeted me. I was honest with him, and said "I just want to see what your terminal looks like", so he walked with me out to the land side entrance, then walked me back to the aircraft (I did not use the terminal lavatory in Chadron).

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 14):
Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 10):
I've been wanting to fly with them for a long time. They were meant to replace some of the services that DL abandoned in Minnesota but I don't think they have done so yet.

It looks like Great Lakes has a decent route structure running out of MSP, it must be recent though, I don't recall seeing any of the B1900s there last time I connected through.

ZK uses the pre merger DL / pre merger Western Airlines gates at the tip of the E Concourse. It's ironic that ZK is using Beech 1900s on MSP-PIR from the same gates WA flew 737s MSP-PIR to 35 years ago.

I've seen three ZK 1900s on the ground at once in MSP.
 
adamspotter
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RE: A "Liberal" Amount Of Flying On Great Lakes' B1900

Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:58 pm

Hi KPWMSpotter,

Very nice report you made here on some airports and an airline you don't see much of here. I had no idea Great Lakes flew this route and will definitely look into it the next time I cross the pond again!   The museum also looks very interesting, who would think the 4th largest would be in Liberal, Kansas?
United looks like the usual and I definitely agree they should at least serve some peanuts on a 3,5 hour flight. Great Lakes looks like a great little airline, can't wait to try them out.

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Road trips through Kansas are far from fun

Haha, driving through the wheat fields should be fun 
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
United operates primarily Express service to Hartsfield, running only three daily flights between Atlanta and Denver on E-170s and CRJ-700s. For comparison, Delta runs the same route 8x daily on a mix of MD-90s and 757s

What a huge difference, it clearly shows who is boss in ATL!

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
According to a plaque at the airport, Martin lived in Liberal as a child. Wikipedia says he lived in Salina, though...

I would believe the airport before Wikipedia myself..

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
Bag handed off to the ramp agent, climbing abo

And the Pilot is looking straight at you 

Thanks for sharing this very interesting report!

cheers,

Brendan

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