Thursday, 30 June 2011

BHX-EDI-BHX Trip report [Part 2]

 This is the continuation of the post below, check that out first if you haven't.

The day in Edinburgh
 We left the terminal building and started hunting for a spotting point. This unfortunately led to us straying onto private property and being shouted at... so we gave up! Instead, we went to the Airlink bus stop outside the terminal. We'd pre booked the buses into Edinburgh city center, for a very reasonable £6 per person open return. The buses run every 10 minutes, and I recommend Airlink, even though the journey takes 30 minutes (just because the airport's outside the city).

We got off the bus in Princes Street and began the hunt for a haggis (easy to find one, right, it's Scotland?). Apparently not! We couldn't find a single stuffed stomach anywhere on Princes Street.  In fact, we couldn't find anywhere to eat: except for a high-end restaurant by the castle and a McDonalds. We ate from McDonalds, of course. And so followed a lazy lunch in the park, looking up at Edinburgh castle:

After refueling it was time to head back. Easier said than done, we walked up and down the entire length of Princes Street at least twice, searching for the Airlink bus stop back to the airport. The stop isn't opposite the one you get off at, oh no, it's the other end of the street and round the corner on a bridge! Before leaving we popped into a souvenir shop (lured in by the sound of rock & bagpipes...), buying some shortbread and a little musical bagpipe for sticking on windows. "Scotland the Brave" was becoming very familiar by the end of the day...

On the way back to the bus we noticed this:
Stelios gets everywhere these days!

We got back the airport at 5pm (ish) and decided to try spotting again. To avoid the private property, we walked for miles to a distant car park (OK slight exaggeration) and watched a few movements, including a BA A321:
Now it was time to walk all the way back and check in for BE856 back home, due to depart at 8:25 and scheduled as a Dash 8.

My thoughts on Edinburgh? Its nice for a large city, I think, and the transport links are good. Next time, part 3, with surprise equipment changes, fantastic sunset views and a trip to the flight deck!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

BHX-EDI-BHX Trip report [Part 1]

Each year for the last 3 I've gone on a daytrip, from BHX, to European capitals for my birthday.  First in 2009 was Dublin, flying on Aer Lingus A320's both ways. Next in 2010 was Belfast City, out on G-FBEK and back on -FBEG, both Flybe Embraer 195's. Working my way clockwise, the next destination was bound to be Edinburgh! This trip report will be in 3 sections: outbound, the day in Edinburgh, and return.

Birmingham (BHX/EGBB) to Edinburgh (EDI/EGPH)
Flybe Bombardier Dash 8Q-400 G-FLBD

The 10th April 2011 was a warm and sunny day. Me and my 2 mates arrived in the now combined terminal building after a little pre-spotting in the long stay car park, and used the the quick and easy self-service check in. We then proceeded to the new, single, security area. I personally like the change: passing through here was also quick and easy. It does however mean that you come out into the terminal 1 departure lounge, which forces you to walk all the way back along the "mellenium link" to terminal 2. I'm not complaining,  you get great apron views, but I doubt everyone would think that way. After the trek (and some hilarious comments from staff about buying certain drinks...a-hem...)  we made it to the T2 building. It was time to go to Scotland!

Our Dash8Q-400 trundled up to the gate looking brandnew. Turns out that G-FLBD  was leased to Olympic Airlines of Greece in 2009 before returning to its original owner earlier in 2011. That explains the shiny paint job! We proceeded to board on time. We did not, however, depart on time. No fault of Flybe's may I add: after some commotion on the tarmac with bags being loaded and offloaded twice (which everyone on the left side could see), it was revealed that 2 bags had the same code leading to the "wrong" number of bags being put on. Eventually, 45 minutes late, the doors were closed and the 2 PW150A turboprops were started. 
Runway 15 was in use so it was long taxi from stand 8L via delta and alpha. There's nothing quite like a Dash 8 on take off: the sound is epic. We rocketed up and got spectacular views of the terminal, with the whole airfield coming into a view a few moments later as we followed the Trent 4E departure. 

  The climbout was a tinsy bit choppy due to thermals, but as we climbed the turbulence stopped altogether. The flight to EDI is only about an hour, and the cabin crew were out straight away. I can never fault service on Flybe, and we were kept updated with information from up front.  Our cruise was at FL240, giving hazy but nevertheless good views, including Manchester airport:
  So after a very pleasant cruise, we began our descent! This was also calm, until around FL80 when some broken cumulus caused the odd bump. We descended through the cloud and were positioned on base leg for runway 24, turning to intercept the ILS just off the coast. Landing at EDI was around half an hour late but this was of little concern to me! 
  G-FLBD on stand, ready for the quick turnaround
  The futuristic-looking tower at Edinburgh   

  And so that concludes BHX-EDI, my 3rd time on a Dash, 5th time with Flybe, and 37th sector. As always Flybe are great, the only thing is that the seats could be comfier. The leg room is fine, but the seats themselves aren't the best, although on short flights like this it really isn't an issue. 

Here's a video! 

Coming very soon, part 2 of this TR, which includes hunting haggis, buses and bagpipes! 

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Coming soon...

Whats to come on Midland Skies? Well, in the next few weeks:
  •  There will be a trip report for my birthday daytrip to Edinburgh
  •  Pictures and videos of many of my previous  flights
  •  Some the best pics that I've taken in the past few years
  •  Any significant news or changes at BHX or COV
So stay tuned!

Paris Le Bourget Airshow aftermath

So the 49th Paris Le Bourget airshow is over, and what a show it was! There were some pretty cool types making a visit, like the Sukhoi Superjet and Boeings' 747-8i.

What does this mean for BHX and COV? Not much, really. There were huge orders: like the record-breaking 200 A320neo order from Malaysia's AirAsia; surprise orders, like Korean Airlines and 10 (up to 30) Bombardier CS300;  and there were banned orders (Hong Kong Airlines and the A380).

But not a single UK airline ordered any aircraft at Le Bourget this year. Perhaps they prefer to buy planes at Farnborough or elsewhere? I find this a little odd, there are some British aircraft that will need replacing sooner or later: BA's 737-400's, Thomson's 757's, Bmibaby's 737-300's.... the list goes on.

On the topic of new aircraft types in the Midlands, Flybe's Embraer 175's will start to be delivered as of July, initially flying to Glasgow from Birmingham.

I'll leave you with a shot of bmi A320 G-MIDS, flying for Lufthansa, that was taken on Sunday before Premier Wen departed (sorry that was worded badly, makes it sound like he died)

Monday, 27 June 2011

Air China 747-400 Taking Off at BHX

Air China 747-400 at BHX
Well this wasn't your average BHX visitor. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao came to the UK for a trade summit with David Cameron, arriving in B-2472, a 747-400. It then departed on the 26th June after an overnight stop, using barely any runway for a 747! Turns out it was nearly empty, with enough fuel to get to Heathrow and hardly anyone onboard.

Hello world!

Well this is exciting isn't it? My own blog! First of all, thanks to a few people who inspired this blog:, who do a great job of keeping everyone up to date with goings on at BHX, and, my mate who's got a great fsx aircraft reviewing site going.

So what will this blog be about? It'll be mainly about aviation in the midlands, particularly Birmingham (EGBB/BHX) and Coventry (EGBE/COV) as these are my 2 nearest airports. But if I find something else relevant to put on from elsewhere in the world of aviation I will!