United Airlines had one of the truly great ad slogans of all time. After all, most people over 20 can complete the sentence; “Fly the friendly skies of …”.
I believe it struck a chord with the American psyche because almost above all else, humans want to connect. People want a pleasant ‘friendly’ experience regardless of their endeavor, but especially when they travel. The bottom line is happy employees, make friendly employees & friendly employees make customers want to return.
This is Andy. He is a Service Director and spends most of his days on the ramp gently loading thousands of pounds of luggage on to aircraft destined for far away locations. And although he works very hard, he is virtually always smiling. Just what you would expect from ‘The Friendly Skies’ of United.
Welcome to SXSW! Thousands of visitors are arriving in Austin this week for the annual SXSW Music, Film & Interactive conferences. One of the welcoming sights that gives visitors a clue of how important the music culture is in Austin is the display of giant Gibson guitars at the Austin airport baggage claim.
You can see my other ‘Music’ related photos including photos of SXSW here.
This week I’ve had a chance to play with a 16mm Fisheye. It’s been fun finding subjects that work well with this rather extreme lens. Here is a shot I took at O’dark thirty this morning of the Austin Bergstrom International Airport just as it was starting to come to life. Take a look at my other Airline & Airport photos here.
I like the B&W processing on this. I think it adds to the vintage ‘feel’ of the photo. Although, I must say the photo looks great in color as well. Perhaps I’ll post the color version at a later date…
I thought this to be an appropriate image for today since as of midnight last night, Continental Airlines public face no longer exist. There is still some behind the scenes work to be done on the merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines, but to the flying public, there is only United Airlines. Hopefully as they are re-branding the aircraft with the new United Logo, they will keep this 737-900 with the vintage Continental logo as a tribute to the thousands of Continental employees that now are part of the new United Airlines. You can see another photograph of the Continental Airplane with the vintage Continental logo here.
The Continental Airlines 737-900 with a vintage paint job spent the night in Austin last night. This livery or paint design was featured on CO’s DC-3s back in the early 1960s. That was not too many years before I started riding my bicycle to the old Austin airport just to watch the planes take off and land. After all these years I still love airplanes. Call me a kid, or a geek, (perhaps both).
As a side note, you can see in the photo that the plane is parked at spot 12. I thought that was especially apropos since 2012 will be the last year of Continental. In fact, it’s just a matter of weeks before the public face of Continental Airlines will no longer exist as Continental is merged with United Airlines.
These are aircraft that spent the night at ABIA airport in Austin Texas and are ready to start work as the sun is about to rise.
Although I am a full time photographer, I also work part time for an unnamed airline (guess…). Some days I am greeting customers in my white shirt and tie, and on many days I’m working the ramp in my ‘village people’ outfit and get to watch the sun rise while towing the aircraft to the gates so all those travelers can fly to where they want or need to be. I’ve always been like a kid around airplanes so while the work is sometimes hard, for me the hours are short and for the virtual donation of my time I can fly pretty much any where in the world for less than the cost of a good dinner out.
Now for something really different…
For those that follow my ramblings and are not aware, in addition to being a full time photographer, I exchange 15-20 hours a week of my time working at United Airlines for health insurance, free flights & pocket change. My days start around 4:am and I am on my way home by around 9:am. Some mornings I am in a white shirt & tie greeting passengers at the ticket counter. Some mornings I am in what I refer to as my “village people” outfit pushing airplanes around & gently tossing baggage. Since this morning it was a record 11 degrees (F) outside in Austin Texas, of course, I was out on the ramp. I snapped this photo on my iPhone to send to my wife while I was waiting for the deicing crew to finish clearing the frost off the wings before I pushed this aircraft out & set it on it’s way to Chicago. My wife liked the photo & asked that I post it, so here it is. Just a little self portrait on a cold winter day.
Here is another image (actually two images) from the GuitarTown Gibson Guitars on display at the Austin airport. You can see my previous post about the Austin Guitar exhibit here.The guitars were originally displayed around Austin and then auctioned off as a fund raising project. It’s wonderful living in a city that celebrates & endorses it’s live music scene. Perhaps that is why Austin is known as “The Live Music Capitol of the World”
I love airports and airplanes. I always have. I’m not sure where the love came from. Perhaps my neighbor “Mr. Chandler” the Air force Pilot who first took me up in a small plane. Perhaps the poem “High Flight” that the local station played every evening along with the “Star Spangled Banner” just before signing off for the night.
When I was a young teenager growing up in Austin I would ride my bicycle to the ‘old’ Austin airport & watch the planes takeoff and land. In that more innocent time there were no fences or gates around airports. If you were brave (or foolish) enough you could walk right up to the runway. (I have a wonderful memory relating to that I will post at another time.) Shortly after high school I took flying lessons through the aero club at what was then the Bergstrom Air force base and is now the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. In fact I first soloed very near where I was standing when I took this photo. To me airports and airplanes have never lost their magic. Flying for me can be a near spiritual experience. As John Gillespie Magee wrote in the previously mentioned poem:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless falls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor eer eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
When you fly into Austin Texas make sure you check out the 10 ft tall Gibson Guitars sitting on top of the number three Baggage Claim Carousel. You probably are aware Austin is known for it’s live music. That philosophy extends to the ABIA (Austin Bergstrom International Airport). ABIA is the only airport I’m aware of that as often as not you will pass by someone performing live on a stage while you are walking to or from your gate. The guitars on display are a sample of the guitars that were part of the Austin Guitartown Art project a few years ago. There was a fund raising auction at the end of the project & it appears the Milton Verret Family purchased these as a donation to the airport.