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Flying To A Nascar Race ATL-MCO-RIC-MCO-ATL

Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:08 pm

Flying again for the second time in as many weeks. Man is that a rarity. I can’t complain about that. This was the weekend of Friday September 11 through Sunday September 13. When your cousin asks you to go to a Nascar race you don’t tell him no. Richmond is about an 8 hour drive. Forget that. I hate driving with a burning passion, so flying it was. It was on Southwest, and even more fun I managed to book myself out of the way through Orlando for the same fare. Yeah I’m nuts. I love it.

My day was a late one for me (relatively). After lunch I left for ATL at 1:23 parking at 2:15
No need to check in today. I had my boarding pass on my phone and no checked bags.
Line for TSA was pretty crazy. It ended up being a half hour. I wasn’t worried. I left myself plenty of time. I explored a bit, saw some airplanes I had flown before and made my way to gate C14 for my own flight.

Southwest Airlines Flight 5
Depart ATL: 4:50 PM (was actually 4:51)
Arrive MCO: 6:15 PM (was actually 6:16)
Boeing 737-700

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Photo © Bobby Allison
A look out at N795SW
I upgraded my boarding group because I was toward the back of B. Screw that. I got a spot with A4. I don’t do middle seats. We started boarding at 4:15 and I grabbed the exit row seat 12A.
Lots of legroom
People getting on
My view
We pushed at 4:51 and headed to runway 27L
Delta land
Some heavies at Concourse F
Takeoff from 27R
Takeoff was pretty meh. Nothing special. Not even really powerful.
Climbing to 39,000 feet.

Cabin service began at 5:19, but it didn’t get very far. The air got really rough. No matter to me. I was enjoying the ride. The flight being short as it was we began descending in to Orlando at 5:50, eventually passing the airport and landing on runway 36L.
MCO out the window
Landing was smooth and we headed go gate 128
TAM 767
A 737-800 with split scimitar winglets next to us.

My connection was tight-ish, so I didn’t have much time to mess around unfortunately, so I walked over to gate 110 for my next flight.

Southwest Airlines Flight 454
Depart MCO: 7:15 PM (was actually 7:09)
Arrive RIC: 9:10 (was actually 8:51)
Boeing 737-700

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Photo © Mark Kwiatkowski

We boarded at 6:50. I was in the A group for this one, and nobody was in the exit row when I got on, so I snagged seat 12F. Yay more legroom!
Another 737-800 with split scimitars
We pushed a 7:09 and headed for 35L. The seat next to me was empty which was great. I had plenty of room to spread out. The flight was nowhere close to full.
Heavies about to head for Europe
Takeoff from 35L. Much better than Atlanta’s takeoff, but then again we had nowhere close to a full load.
Looks after takeoff as the sun set.

Cabin service started at 7:32 when we got to cruising at 41,000 feet. It continued despite it being choppy as we got over Georgia.
Listening to my Neal Boortz podcast and snacking. That’s living the life right there.
After I was done with my podcast I watched some college football.
The sun had set at this point so I didn’t take any more pictures or videos. We began descent at 8:21 for runway 34 in Richmond. Once we landed we stopped super hard. Not sure why. In any case we taxied to gate B13 and I got off for my race weekend.

Saturday we spent the day at Richmond International Raceway for the Nascar Sprint Cup race. It was a great race day experience, and my favorite driver won. Pretty great.
Pace car at the airport
Giant Toyota Tundra
View from our seats

Then sadly came time to go home. I was excited for the flights home not because I was going home, but because both segments were on a 737-300. I’m guessing it’s probably my last time flying a 737 classic, but I suppose that depends on how long Southwest keeps them around. It was my first flight on a 737-300 in a VERY long time.

I woke up at 5:00 and we left for RIC at 5:45. We were right around the corner almost so I didn’t have any worries on time. TSA was short and I walked to gate B13.

Southwest Airlines Flight 1931
Depart RIC: 7:45 AM (was actually 7:44)
Arrive MCO: 9:50 AM (was actually 9:38)
Boeing 737-300

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Photo © Jonathan Rankin
MD-90 to ATL
I found very quickly another exit row seat this time in 11F. We pushed at 7:44 and headed to runway 34, the same runway I landed on a couple nights earlier. Small note on the videos from here to the end. I heard of an app called Filmix Pro, and I guess is screwed something up in the settings because the frame rate was awful. Oh well. I know now for the future.
Beautiful morning once we got above the clouds
This flight we only went up to 32,000 feet, but it was a nice ride. We had a round of service at 9:06. The 737-300s don’t have wifi so there was no streaming tv or the like, but I enjoyed the ride mostly.
Coming with drinks and such
I think my notebook just makes it super classy
At cruise
Descent through the clouds. We started that at 9:06. It was actually quite bumpy.
Landing on runway 17R
My view as we parked at gate 125. Apparently I’m the king of finding Southwest 737-800s next to me.

I actually wasn’t supposed to change planes. The same one was set to go to Atlanta, but after we landed that wasn’t the case. I had to walk over to gate 121 for the next segment. Everything else was the same as far as crew and such. I didn’t have a boarding pass for this one so they just checked our IDs at the gate. I’ve never had a booking like this before so I’m not sure if that’s standard procedure or not. It actually got us on even before the first A group so I wasn’t complaining.

Southwest Airlines Flight 1931
Depart MCO: 10:25 AM (was actually 10:29)
Arrive ATL: 12:00 PM (was actually 11:28)
Boeing 737-300

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Photo © John E. Jauchler - New England Airports

I’m glad this was an aircraft swap. It’s not often these days I get to fly an airplane that’s older than me, but this one was. Quite a history on this plane. Admittedly this plane was nowhere near as comfortable or modern as any of the other 737s I had flown on. The seat padding on my particular seat was squished down to nearly nothing, but I enjoyed the fact that it was a classic. I can’t imagine this particular airplane has that much life left in it.
Not even winglets on this one
Looking toward the front. I grabbed another exit row making it 4 for 4 on this trip. I was in 11A this time.
Hey look a 737-800 out my window! What else is new? Ok actually it’s the same one next to me when I got in from the other side.
Boarding took forever and we pushed at 10:29 for runway 17R.
American A321
Same A321 and a Delta 757. I’m guessing it was headed to ATL, but I guess it could have been MSP also.
JetBlue A320. Don’t see that at home.
Again sorry for the frame rate. You’d think I would learn just to keep things simple. I will in the future.
Climbing on a cloudy day.
Anybody who has taken this flight knows how fast it is. We got up to 35,000 feet and almost immediately began descent. I keep hoping to land on runway 28, but sadly we lined up for 27L. There was a decent crosswind in ATL that morning. You could see the plane crabbing like crazy. I guess if CNN were writing the headline it would read “SOUTHWEST PLANE MAKES SCARY LANDING IN NEARLY 30 YEAR OLD PLANE.”
And landing on 27L

It was fun. We pulled in at gate C17. Apparently C17 is a gate that belongs to me. Despite ATL having the most gates of any airport in the world I’ve used C17 three different times.

It was great to get to fly to a race. That beats the heck out of driving. It was a fun weekend. I’m flying the 747 to and from Minneapolis after Thanksgiving so I’m looking very forward to that. Thanks for reading.   
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RE: Flying To A Nascar Race ATL-MCO-RIC-MCO-ATL

Thu Oct 01, 2015 12:56 am

Hi N776AU,

Looks like you had a great day out.

Always a bonus to fly on an older type and to get extra legroom doing it.

I like the cloud formations captured in some of your photos.

Thanks for sharing.
A man may learn wisdom even from a foe - Aristophanes

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