Airliners International 2008 at DFW Airport, Wow!

I had a whirlwind day at the AI 2008 Airliner nerd/enthusiast show and it was terrific! Important family business meant I had to bail after the one day but I sure had a good time anyway. People in Texas are, and I hope will always be, friendly. First and foremost. Regional cuisine was limited to watching my friend Ken eat a piece of Texas-shaped waffle, and loveliy fresh fruit & veggies in my hotel breakfast. Ken said the waffle was chewey, I thought the all-the-veggies-and-a-little-ham-and-cheese-please omlet was terrific. The buffet hash-browns were very nice- little bits of red pepper, moist without being either wet or oily. All this at the DFW Sheraton. If I could have had a breakfast the next morning I would have tried the waffle.

We took the American Airlines DFW maintenance base tour- 4 hangers in 3+ hours at 2 sites, very, very, nice. Far superior to the Kansas City maintenance tour last year for several reasons:

1) They let us take photos

2) DFW is a going concern, KC was something like the Marie Celleste, even if we did get to see the escape slide repair and refurb shop and a bunch of other deep-inside activities- A busy shop is a happy shop: DFW was hoppin’

3) we got to walk all around and go into the cockpit and interior in (groups of 5) of a 777 and a 757, (the 757 was having an engine cowl change so the tour guides powered it up and deployed the thrust reverser on the other engine!)

4) we got to walk around a number of MD80s, 767 and 757s;

5) They let us take photos!

Big thanks to AA management and the union, each of whom contributed a tour guide, emphasizing that they worked together on everything, at every level. And I’m sure they do… now. Terrific tour, American already gets good marks from me for offering tours, and this was a GREAT tour. One little boy with his mom and dad got to stand in the intake of a 777 and a 757- in the 777 the union guy jumped in first and stopped the windmilling fan by holding onto the spinner. One of those pictures is going to be the holiday card this year…

Good so far, and a nice lunch at Sonic too. The grilled chicken-breast sandwich, no dressing, was tasty and healthy, and I partially made up for that with the banana-split splash/smash/swirl/blended drink. Cold and tasty, and no doubt no good for me.

Then we went to Wild Bill’s Hobby shop and looked around and I found a PitRoad/Skywave 1/700 accessories set including two P3 Orions, at least one of which will become an Electra airliner, and a bunch of cast-metal 1/144 WWI bi-planes (!). I bought a DH-4, which can be a US Airmail plane or ???, and a Neuport 28. They had a bunch more, but the Fokkers and SPADs and DH-2 and Sopwith Camel were sold already.

Wild Bill’s Hobby Shop  <—- interesting, that… I wonder which came first!

535 E Shady Grove Rd
Irving, TX 75060
(972) 438-9224

This is a full-service shop, RC from small to chain-saw engine powered, plastic models, slot cars, balsa and other construction materials, die-cast collectables of every kind of vehicle, in all the popular sizes. The model paint range was extensive, Testor’s, Floquil, Polly Scale (Yay!). The building is a serviceable size, but its packed with stuff, so you’re really looking at the depth in stock of warehouse operation. Prices are MSRP or thereabouts- no astounding bargains and nothing very old or dusty on the shelves. They know what their customers buy and that’s what they stock. There appeared to be an RC vehicle race track behind the store, but I can’t confirm it is open.

We visited an Army-Navy-Pawn shop and paused at “Trinity Broadcasting” on our way back… Army Navy Pawn is a good-quality army-navy store with a wide variety of new patches and tee shirts and pouches, etc. I bought a cotton tool bag for my son Benjamim, as a souvineer.

Our one mis-step was to try to find a good photo location at DFW… we spent an hour or more driving around looknig for some place worth parking and taking pictures from. There’s a “founders park” that’s being moved, and the temporary one does it exist, but with three (!) pairs (!!) of runways in use, its not close to any of them and infavorable form a son perspective in the afternoon. Oh well! Be a great place in the morning, especially if you like climbing around in weeds. In the afternoon the closest pair of runways was upsun of us, and the pairs (!) further away were too far for the lenses we had. There were 6 active runways and that was something to behold. You just have to make the sun angle match your location, and get close enough to get the shot. Shooting the shadow side of an airliner under a blue sky is like drawing on an inside straight… you might succeed but you probably won’t.

After that, we went out to get Ken’s photos printed (worth it, he took 2 3rd places in the photo contest!), had dinner at Chili’s (nothing regional about it, other than the nice service staff), and then we had a beer at the hotel bar. I was working to finish some of my small models so I joined late and didn’t go to the swiming pool. I did confirm you can apply model decals with beer, however. Back in my room at 11:00, I caught a 7:30 departure for Oakland and arrived at 11:45 local time- 6:15 travel time, gate to gate.

Pictures will be posted soon. This was a great trip.

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