At this point does Henry Rollins really require an introduction? Since the hardcore punk era Rollins has been a jack-of-all-trades entertainer and thought-provoker with his bands, books, acting gigs, radio shows, spoken word tours, stand-up comedy, and most recently two National Geographic television specials about ‘the warrior gene’ and about snakes! Rollins grew-up in DC and to celebrate his 50th birthday on Sunday (50th!? We’re getting old!) he is coming home to put on two sold out shows at National Geographic’s Grosvenor Auditorium. I recently caught up with the notoriously tight-lipped Rollins and wrestled a few answers out of him.
This is my favorite thing about flying back into DC from a trip: the famous River Visual Approach to DCA, the path planes must take to avoid no-fly zones when landing from the North in clear weather. Sit on the left side of the plane during a river visual landing, and you get great views, from the Mormon Temple and the Beltway, down to the Cathedral, right down to Georgetown, the Watergate, the National Mall, Hains Point, and Southwest Waterfront.
When flying in to DC with a chance to reserve seats, pick a window on the left side. Even if you end up doing the less climactic approach from the South, you get a great view of Alexandria and the George Washington Masonic Memorial before touching down. (Conversely, if flying out, get a window seat on the right side of the plane for similar views.)
Love flying JetBlue but hate getting to Dulles or Baltimore? Good news – it looks like the discount airline has gained eight daily takeoff spots to operate out of Reagan starting in November. It isn’t many flights a day, but it looks like the targeted routes involve New York and Boston. JetBlue’s ability to get into National is the result of a “collaboration” with American Airlines, which is also expanding its footprint at DCA with more flights to BOS and JFK, and it is certainly good news for anyone who frequents the airline.
Ah, the airport. Is it strange that I find it to be a magical place? It’s where people come together, some sharing the same flight, others departing to different destinations, but all part of a worldwide system that just somehow works. You make your reservation online, pack your tiny tube of toothpaste, roll in with your luggage, wait in line to check in, take your shoes off, watch as your cigarette lighter passes right through security, get to the gate and scope out your fellow passengers, grab some food to bring on the plane with you (since the days of free meals are long gone), turn your portable electronics off so as not to interfere with the plane that was built in the 1970’s, sit back, relax, help the person next to you with their oxygen mask before placing yours firmly around your nose, resist tampering with the smoke alarm in the lavatory, read SkyMall and wonder who actually buys this stuff. You gaze out the window and admire the polished wings, held together with rivets as they pierce through wispy clouds at speeds of over 400 miles per hour. Oh but wait – what’s that? Before you know it you’re placing your tray and seat back in their full upright position and the stewarde – um, flight attendant is welcoming you to Los Angeles. It’s magic I tell you. Without breaking a sweat, you’ve flown, through the air mind you, to the opposite side of the country.
But like most magic tricks, there’s more than meets the eye. While you were begging for an exit row seat and anxiously waiting for the gate attendant to call Seating Area 3, the ground crew was loading your luggage, stocking those $10 boxes of airplane food, fueling the plane, de-icing the wings, pushing it away from the gate, oh, and taking photos of the spectacular sunrises that bath the runways in deep hues of purple, orange, and yellow. Magic, I tell you.
So like me you’ve waited until the last second and now you’ve got to hazard the crowded shops and DC streets to finish up your Christmas shopping. You’re fairly limited with online shopping opportunities, you have no time for brainstorming, and you’ve got a gazillion other things to do, so you’ve got to put your nose to the grind stone and pound these last little (or big) tidbits out. Lucky for you, and me, there are plenty of cool DC-related gifties out there waiting to be scooped up.
Many of us will be heading through Union Station today and the shops there offer some fantastic last minute gift pick up opportunities. You can find historic memorabilia and inauguration items at America!’s Spirit, or small paintings, pottery and jewelry at Echo Gallery Mezzanine Kiosk, or perhaps Lids, where you can pick up a Redskins or Capitals branded baseball cap. There’s also a solid wine and spirits shop that can provide that much needed Jameson for eggnog or bottle of bubbly for Christmas morning drinkypoos. These shops are a hurried travelers delight and are definitely worth checking out, if you’re still gift hunting or needing to fill up those stockings. Continue reading →
American Airlines Flight 331, a 737-800 originating from DC National Airport, overshot the runway on landing in Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica, with heavy rain. The plane broke into pieces and came to a stop on the beach, just short of the water. At the moment we are hearing 154 on board, no fatalities, 91 injuries, 3 reported serious. Survivors escaping the fuselage emerged into dark and rain, then had to walk down the beach to get to waiting buses. More from NPR, and discussion on Airliners.net.
Local pilots and planespotters will be happy to know that LiveATC has live streaming tower communications from National Airport (DCA) and Dulles (IAD). Few things are more soothing and fascinating for the aviation geek than listening to the smooth, seductive tower-and-aircraft dance of ATC broadcasts from your local airport.
WTOP is reporting that the main runway at DCA will be moved 300 feet south and made longer in order to keep planes from ending up in the drink and to comply with current FAA rules. That sounds simple enough, especially since they have until 2015 to complete the job. Yep, 7 years to move a runway 300 feet south. Clark Construction could build two or three stadiums in that amount of time.