Aviation Memorabilia, Books For Sale Just in time for Holiday Gift Giving for the Aviation Geek in your Life


Antique Aviation Collectibles, Books & More

Dear Fellow Aviation Geek:

After 40 years as an aviation journalist, I am ready to part with some of my most prized aviation memorabilia and unique books and let someone else enjoy the touch of aviation history.

Yes, I will take offers. Kcreedy@gmail.com or contact via Facebook Messenger. Prices reflect internet research and are competitive.

All prices exclude shipping. I will find out how much shipping will be, let you know and endeavor to ship within 24 to 48 hours. If more than one person wants an item, I will auction it on eBay.

Kathryn Creedy

Charles Lindbergh Tapestries

$400 Antique Charles Lindbergh Tapestry


New York to Paris, Spirit of St. Louis, Lindbergh Commemorative Tapestry

Most available online are unframed and some are only parts of this tapestry. Professional, archival framing protects the work from damage.

French, Good condition, framed. Approximately 5′ wide 25″ high

$450 Trans-Atlantic Aviator’s Commemorative Tapestry


This tapestry honors all those who attempted the trans-Atlantic challenge including the only woman to make the attempt before Charles Lindbergh succeeded. At a time when we are seeking women to enter the aviation field, honoring Aviation Pioneer Ruth Elder makes this tapestry special.

Ruth Elder, Nungesser & Coli, Admiral Byrd, Chamberlain & Lindbergh

Archival framing to protect the work from damage

French, Good condition, framed. Approximately 5′ wide 25″ high

$100 Lindbergh Spirit of St. Louis commemorative antimacassar 


This piece recalls an era where men used macassar oil to tame their hair necessitating the use of antimacassars to protect furniture. I have searched the internet and have never come across another example making this a rare find.

$800 One-of-a-Kind Antique Lindbergh New York-Paris Commemorative Banjo Clock

Condition Excellent. Working timepiece.


New Haven Clock Company USA

Unique banjo clock painted with Charles Lindbergh’s New York-Paris route and the Spirit of St. Louis. I’ve searched for another like it but have never found one making this item truly rare.


$75 Great Russian Airliner Pins


Antique Russian Airliner Pins. These medals commemorate the great Russian airliners.

TY 124 1962
AH24 1962
AN62 1967
TY134 1967
RK40 1968
TY 154 1972
AN 76

Condition good.


Aviation History Books

$15 Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Revolutionary Structure 2004

Condition: Excellent


Today, airports are places to endure but once upon a time, they evoked the romance of travel and flight. Naked Airport traces the history and architecture of airports and their far-reaching effect on our culture. They are the scene of action movies, political earthquakes and the daily commute. They have grown from muddy pastures like Roosevelt Field from which Charles Lindbergh launched to such Cathedrals to Aviation as Eero Saarinen’s iconic TWA Flight Center. This book charts the course of airports from open terminal to 24-hour surveillance and the shift in popular perceptions from glamorous to infuriating. It also chronicles how airports changed our sense of time, distance and style and, ultimately to the way cities are built.


$20 The Mighty Martin Mars

Condition Excellent


Few Martins continue to fly but the Mighty Martin Mars is instrumental in fighting wildfires. This book, the original, by Wayne Coulson & Steven Gitner, chronicles the history of Martin Aircraft, the Mars and its role flying firefighting sorties.


$20 Thrusting Forward

Condition Excellent


One of the most iconic propellers is Hamilton Standard and its props have graced the Spirit of St. Louis and dozens of other storied aircraft. Hamilton Standard played an important role in more than 80 years of aviation history and continues to do so.  Thrusting Forward details the history of this important propeller company. It was prepared in a cooperative initiative between United Technologies’ (now Collins Aerospace) Hamilton Standard Division and British Aerospace Dynamics Group to commemorate a partnership lasting 50 years.


100 Years of Aviation by Paolo Mastricardi

Condition Excellent


This book chronicles the history of military and civil aviation and how far we have come in the century-plus since the Wright Bros first took to the air. Ideal for someone just starting their interest in aviation.


$20 From the Ground Up – The Rise of Connected Aviation

Condition Excellent


Nothing has changed aviation more in the modern era than connectivity which promises to continue to transform the industry. This is the story of how aviation adopted the Internet of Things and includes such topics as its impact on the industry, capabilities of smart airplanes, data as the new currency, tackling privacy and what is next.


$35 The History of Embraer

Condition Excellent


Written in English & Portuguese

Embraer celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2019. The story of this plucky Brazilian aircraft manufacturer is a riveting read. The company set the standard for how developing countries work to take their place on the world stage. It grew from a fledgling manufacturer to one competing with such luminary aircraft manufacturers as Boeing and Airbus. Today it is one of only three survivors of numerous commercial aircraft manufacturers who began filling the needs the burgeoning regional airline industry in the immediate post-deregulation period in the US. With its counterparts in Sweden, France, UK, US and Netherlands, Embraer helped build the global regional airline industry. Since then, it has transformed the business aviation industry, creating a line of aircraft the industry describes as game changers and also builds one of the most modern military airlifters in the industry.


$20 New Horizons — ATR 


Condition Excellent

The ATR 42 and ATR 72 helped build the global regional airline industry and, at this point in time, ATR is unquestionably the strongest turboprop aircraft manufacturer. Today, the half-dozen or so turboprop manufacturers such as Saab, Fokker, British Aerospace, Shorts, are now gone leaving only two – ATR and de Havilland remaining. This book, chronicling the history of ATR in pictures and text, tells why.


Airline Histories by Robert J. Serling

The dean of airline histories was unquestionably Robert J. Serling, who, as a reporter for the Associated Press, was one of the first aviation journalists. Serling wrote many entertaining aviation novels including The President’s Plane is Missing, Stewardess and Wings (all offered here) painting detailed pictures of what it was like to work the line in the middle of the 20th Century.

However, it was in authoring this nation’s airline histories that he made the greatest contribution as he documented the histories of Western Airlines, Continental Airlines, Boeing and Alaska Airlines. In these, he wove together the history of these great brands and pioneering personalities as only he, a great storyteller, can do. These are no dry histories of dates and times. Serling chronicles, in his entertaining style, minor and major events, bringing to life the people who built the industry.

I met Bob when I was a little girl and immediately devoured whatever he wrote. He inspired me to become a pilot but, instead, I decided to follow in his footsteps, that of an aviation storyteller. In addition to spending my entire career as an aviation journalist, I also wrote Time Flies – The History of SkyWest Airlines, documenting the history of this dynamic airline and the entire regional airline industry in the post-deregulation period in the U.S.

My favorite Serling novel was She’ll Never Get Off the Ground, detailing the difficulties for women who wanted to fly the line.

$20 Legend & Legacy – The Story of Boeing and Its People 1992


Condition Excellent

This book is important because it tells the story of Boeing from crates through the most iconic aircraft of the 20th Century – the Boeing 737 and the Boeing 747 — and beyond. It also depicts Boeing’s engineering-first culture, painting a picture of a bygone era with the company. Today, as it wrestles with changes wrought by its merger with McDonnell Douglas and the return of the 737 Max, Boeing could take a few lessons from the past. This book also chronicles the role of such aviation luminaries as Pan American President Juan Trippe in the design of an aircraft and how manufacturers continue to “bet the company.”


$10 Character & Characters – The story of Alaska Airlines 2008


Condition Excellent

Alaska is the most rugged aviation environment in the US and what it took to become one of the nation’s major airlines is documented in this, the last airline history written by Serling. The pioneers of Alaska aviation such as Bob Reeve and Noel Wein loom large in Alaska aviation history but it was Alaska Airlines that survives today after rising from a single-engine bush airline to a trans-continental and trans-oceanic carrier.


$40 Signed Edition: Maverick – The Story of Robert Six & Continental Airlines 1974

Condition Good

Bob Six was a Maverick but he built one of the most powerful airlines in America and was a long-time member of Conquistadors del Cielo – a secretive club of some of the most infamous airline presidents that have built the US airline industry.  Continental’s brand is now gone but, with books like this, it certainly will not be forgotten.


$15 The Only Way to Fly – The Story of Western Airlines, America’s Senior Air Carrier 1976

Serling dedicated this book to his brother Rod Serling.

Condition Good


The Only Way to Fly documents not only the history of Western Airlines but the history of the entire airline industry during the 20th Century. Western predates Lindbergh’s historic trans-Atlantic flight. Like many legacy airlines, its origins were in the air mail services during the 1920s. It grew and expanded, flying proudly until it merged with Delta in 1987.

USAF Provides Path to Train Better Pilots in Half the Time

By Kathryn B. Creedy

The US Air Force provides better pilots in half the time, according to Secretary Heather Wilson who spoke before last week’s FAA Workforce Summit, providing a solution for the commercial industry to the fact that we don’t have the physical capacity to train the number of pilots needed every year. Wilson echoed aviation training professionals and international pilots who have been quietly transforming pilot training outside of the US.


Wilson explained the new program under testing by the Air Force relies on simulators and Virtual Reality (VR) and, like her civil counterparts worldwide, paves the way for a realistic, near-immediate solution to the crippling pilot shortage. It re-imagines pilot training with a 21st Century curriculum. It is not just the use of simulators and VR, it is tossing out antiquated training methods.

New Training Regime Mirrors that Recommended by World’s Pilots, Trainers

The Air Force’s new training regime is exciting not because it is being proven but because it reflects the combined wisdom of training professionals around the world who understand the industry cannot keep doing what it is doing and succeed.

“We have to start out with safety as a priority,” said USAF Secretary Heather Wilson. “We can’t reduce expectations for performance.”

Years ago, pilots around the world identified what is needed to help students master skills needed to become a pilot. Indeed, these programs make up much of the speeches and discussions at two leading training events – the World Airline Training Summit (WATS) and the annual Royal Aeronautical Society’s (RAeS) New Era for Pilot Training & Assessment scheduled for the end of September. In addition, the Flight Safety Foundation published a detailed report on how to improve both safety and training.

“I think this is the biggest opportunity for improving the proficiency and safety of pilots,” Wilson said, referring to  changes in the Air Force program and recent training changes made by FAA. “I commend FAA changes for allowing more time for simulation than actual flying.”

“We found we were able to take out five to nine weeks of pilot training, not by changing the standards but by recognizing how much overlap there was between undergrad pilot training and the next step in pilot training,” said Wilson.

Wilson’s statement comes at a time reliance on simulation is under attack. In fact, in rather stunning testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Air Line Pilots Association President Tim Canoll said simulators aren’t good enough. It is a familiar argument I hear from veteran pilots who love to argue with me over social media.

“Experience counts when operating complex equipment in a changing environment and so does constantly maintaining and sharpening skills and judgement through training,” Canoll told the committee. “Experience in the cockpit allows pilots to gather information through their senses about their environment and aircraft. That cannot be simulated in training. It can only be learned from time spent at the controls. Today’s simulators simply can’t replicate complexity of commercial flight making real world experience essential.”


ALPA seems to suggest industry wants to replace flying in training. The fact is, no one is suggesting training on simulators alone and, indeed, everyone recognizes that real-life flying is important. This is not about trading simulators for flying experience, it is about smarter training. That is why it is instructive to understand the Air Force program.

“It cannot be assumed that critical skills and knowledge will be obtained only through hours in the air,” said Former ALPA President Randy Babbitt.

More Opposition to Hourly Metric 

But even Former ALPA President Randy Babbitt extolled the advances in training developed since the 2009 Colgan accident. Indeed, Babbitt, who was also FAA Administrator during Colgan, quoted Flight Safety Foundation’s call for modernizing pilot training that favors competency/evidenced based training over hours as seen in this video of the Summit. What makes his statement so powerful is the fact ALPA condemned the FSF report he quotes and members have characterized FSF as industry hacks.

“The commercial aviation industry is at a crossroads, and the practices it adopts now relative to how the pilots of the future are selected, trained and mentored will have critical safety ramifications during a period of projected rapid global growth,” he said as he launched panel discussions, quoting what he termed a unique document from a well-known group. “With the perspective of more than 70 years spent focused on aviation safety–related research, education and advocacy, Flight Safety Foundation believes that a pragmatic, data-driven approach to pilot training is essential to the continued improvement of the industry’s safety performance. The industry needs to embrace, and national civil aviation authorities need to have the flexibility to adopt, competency- or evidence-based training methods that target real-world risk and ensure a progressive and satisfactory performance standard. It cannot be assumed that critical skills and knowledge will be obtained only through hours in the air.”

Babbitt also said that he is uninterested in maintaining the status quo but is more interested in improving safety.

“Since Colgan we have certainly made advances in training techniques and we’ve made huge advances in simulation and simulator capabilities,” he said. “We now have a lot more avenues available to us to provide safer and more skilled pilots. We have the tools. We have the techniques …Experience counts but experience by dictionary definition is literally observing things and acquiring new skills and understanding. Experience does not mean doing the same thing a thousand times. That’s simply repetition. Instead, we want to build real experience so no one is surprised. An early mentor told me a good pilot is never a surprised pilot. So, if I’ve seen seen everything that can happen in an airplane I won’t be surprised. We can come together and develop the best practices so we wind up with the best trained, best skills and, with the highest level of safety, of people who are entering commercial cockpit of our aircraft tomorrow.”

Taking 5-9 weeks out of training

“There are things we can test a pilot on in a simulated environment that we can’t do in the aircraft environment,” said Wilson echoing other airline trainers. “But, if it happens in real life, we want them to identify what is going on and take appropriate action to land the aircraft safely.”

Wilson noted last year, the Air Force was 2,000 pilots short, including 1,300 fighter pilots. She also said the service is increasing training from 1,200 pilot to 1,400 next year and 1,500 in 2020. That is why her inspirational speech, crystalized the path forward for both military and commercial aviation and her message was simple. In fact, US Air Force Reserve Brigadier General Mark Casto noted Air Force retention targets are to keep 65% of pilots but actual retention is 50%. A pilot for XX, Casto also noted the financial disruptions, bankruptcies and consolidations also took their toll on the airline industry because much of the burden rested on the shoulders of employees.

‘Efforts to address the problem by throwing money at it is not working,” he said. “We then went to a technology solutions with remote pilots. There is a love-hate relationship between airlines and the military but we need to address this as partners.”

“This is doable,” she told the audience assembled at Washington National Airport’s historic terminal of tossing out the set syllabus and rigid training times. “We haven’t changed much about pilot training for 30 years. So, we asked whether you can improve the skills of pilots while reducing the time it takes it to learn to fly. The students in this immersive new program successfully earned their pilot wings in half the time as traditionally trained students. You can improve pilot skills while reducing the time it takes to learn to fly with simulation, VR and individualized learning models.”

In fact, airline trainers at WATS and RAeS identified one of the biggest problems with pilot training is the lack of individualized learning. They recommend curricula be changed to account for different learning styles and, instead of passing a student along, monitor that student closely to ensure mastery of skills. Furthermore, they recommend the most important change would be providing students with immediate feedback on how they could perform better. Finally, they recommend incorporating modern training techniques and technology that enhance learning as well as provided web-based lessons to meet students where they learn — on the commute, in the dorm, and at home. Many of these recommendations have been adopted in the new Air Force program, which Wilson said, could be copied since the sims the Air Force uses cost $15,000 at most.


Source: Flight Safety International


Wilson started by addressing safety. “We have to start out with safety as a priority,” she said. “We can’t reduce expectations for performance. We started out adjusting the syllabus where it made sense and found we were able to take out five to nine weeks of pilot training, not by changing the standards but by recognizing how much overlap there was between undergrad pilot training and the next step in pilot training.“


“This,” said Wilson in describing the proposed training regime, “is advanced pilot training.”


That reduction in training time is important because airline trainers have had to increase the number of training sessions owing to a decline in the quality and experience of new pilots. They explain they have to re-teach the discipline and professionalism pilots learned in structured learning environments, noting it is lost to non-airline time building necessary to achieve an ATP.

“Instead of a syllabus,” Wilson explained, “we identified 120 skills you needed to master in order to graduate from undergraduate pilot training. Instead of a set schedule, we let them work with instructors toward mastery of those skills. We also provided 24/7 access to simulators in the dorms. There is no more poster of an aircraft panel on the wall. No more chair flying. Instead we gave them a simulator in the dorm.”

A significant change was flipping the in-air and simulator coursework. “We used to have them start out in jets with four rides per week and two sim sessions,” she explained. “We flipped that to four sim sessions and two jet rides a week. In those sims, they not only have virtual instructors but immediate feedback on what they could do better next time. The ratio of instructors to students was also different as was the repetition. By using simulators and Virtual Reality, we can take pilots through more practice simultaneously with instruction before they enter a live situation.”

The Air Force also monitors student vital signs. “We wanted to know not that they were stressed but when they were overstressed,” she said. “Inside the VR glasses we had sensors looking at the eyes not only to monitor where they were looking but inside the eye for stress receptors to monitor how someone is learning and training. That relationship between the instructor and the student learning in a different way improved performance and has reduced the time it takes to train pilot.”

Finally, the Air Force changed flying time. “On their first couple of rides in jet, normally the instructor flies 90% of the time. Now the student flies 90% because they have already flown that sortie multiple times in the simulator. VR and simulators are far better than even 10 years ago. There are things we can do to enhance safety and efficiency that we could never do in live aircraft environment.”

Numbers add up to new thinking needed

“Here’s the reality,” she said. “The math doesn’t add up when it comes to the demand for pilots. Both the military and industry have to look at the problem holistically. The industry trains about 4,500 to 5,000 pilots a year and the projections for the next decade are about same. I’m producing 1,400 to 1,500 pilots per year who have an obligation to stay with the Air Force for 12 years. There are also opportunities in universities but all of us know that pathway is very hard.”

She likened today’s challenge of developing more interest in aviation to the World War II effort that created the civilian pilot training program, the Women Airforce Service Pilots, and the Tuskeegee Airmen who made up the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group.

“Today the industry demand is increasing and outpacing production of pilots and affecting our ability to defend ourselves and meet the needs of growing economy,” she said. “We have a national shortage of aviators and we need to be good wingman to each other because if we continue to cannibalize off each other we will never solve the core problem. We need to work together on a national strategy to overcome barriers to entry and foster retention of senior pilots and professional aviators. It is prudent the FAA is taking the lead; driving solutions with a mutual benefit for national security and the commercial airline industry. We have to start with safety at the core. We have to look at new pathways. We have to meet the demand cost effectivity and provide multiple pathways to become a pilot. It’s time to start. We need a new vector and airspeed.”

That new vector includes the changes made to training curricula.

“This,” she concluded, “is advanced pilot training.”

In-Bound Security Procedures Make a Bad Situation Worse

Security and passport control at airport

Confusion reigns at security. Photo: MariusLtu

By Kathryn B. Creedy

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has been patting itself on the back for dealing with a record Thanksgiving rush but it only served to reminded of the new enhanced security screening I experienced recently. In June, DHS notified airports and airlines US-bound passengers would be subject to enhanced security procedures, otherwise their flight privileges to the US would be revoked.

This additional layer reconfirmed my belief DHS/TSA efforts to develop technology and methods that give passengers the seamless experience they want is long overdue.  All we want is to check in and get to the gate with minimal disruption. The recently implemented procedures make that harder than ever. I say this not because of my experience but because more than a decade ago, I was told of security technology that would make our travel much easier. I have also followed industry efforts to achieve the same. But little has changed except to make it worse.

In-Bound Screening

I was traveling from Quito to Fort Lauderdale aboard JetBlue. We dutifully lined up to get into the check in area and then lined up again to actually check in. Mind you, most of us had already checked in at the kiosk and were just dropping off bags. This in addition to the fact that JetBlue/DHS had my information for as much as two months, not to mention I’m a so-called “Trusted Traveler” with TSA.

As we waited to drop bags, the line ground to a screeching halt and looking ahead, I saw a young woman interrogating a group of middle-aged women.

“What the heck,” I thought. “Why does she need to know their entire life story?” It took a good 15 minutes because there were multiple people in the party. The fellow in front of me was traveling alone as was I so our time in the inquisition box was less but for a plane load of people, how long, exactly, would that take? Meanwhile, the line was not moving and now stretched far into the distance, blocking check in areas for other airlines.

The inquisitor looked like a JetBlue employee. She asked the purpose of my visit. No introduction, no “we are doing this at the request of the US government,” no nothing. So my conclusion was it was JetBlue or the Ecuadorian government and, again, I wondered, why.

“Vacation,” I responded, thinking Nunya – as in none of your business.

And, where did you go? “Quito, Salinas, Porto Lopez.”

Why there? “To visit my daughter and see the country.”

What did you see there? I repeated the tourist destinations I’d visited.

Did you go to the chocolate factory in Salinas?

“No, didn’t know about it.”

How long have you been here,” she asked flipping through my passport for the umpteenth time without looking down at it.

“Six days.”

Why were you here?

“To visit my daughter,” I intoned patiently once again. And on and on it went.

Why are you taking this flight?

“I’m going home.”

She finally let me pass . I don’t suffer security gladly because I know it is security theatre, not security reality and cringe whenever the passenger-in-the-terminal intones that it is for our own good. No it is not. This is to make it look as if we are safe rather than making us safe. Our tax dollars and DHS’s energies could be much better spent on technologies that would move us along with minimal disruption. Right now, all we have is a guidebook for anyone — good or bad — who knows how to game the system. Tell me, if security is so important why isn’t in applied to buses and trains? They, too, have been targets of terrorism around the world. DHS recently indicated expanding security to those modes is not in the cards. I rest my case.

What passengers want

When we arrive at an airport, most of us want to get the job done – check in, drop off bags, go through security and get to the gate where I invariably haul out my computer and start working.

My job getting to the gate this time became a victim of a worsening start-stop-start-stop aspect of airline travel – what I call the hassle factor that is driving so many away from the airlines. It’s enough to give you whiplash.

Admittedly, my discomfort is nothing compared to the economic impact of aviation’s hassle factor. Recently, the US Travel Association raised alarm about this year’s near 4% decline in in-bound travel to the US. With travel being the Number Two export which supports 150,000 jobs, anything that would hamper in-bound travel should be reconsidered and that includes the security cross-questioning I experienced.

The 2013, a US Travel Association study “Flying Hassles Keep Travelers at Home,” concluded hassles cost travelers $8.5 billion in time lost, missed connections and missed travel activity. Security lines, ancillary fees, high load-factor flights, congested terminals and delayed/cancelled flights prompted passengers to avoid 38 million domestic trips in 2013 or 8% of air travel demand.

Avoided trips cost travelers, airlines, hotels, recreational facilities, food services, car rental agencies $35.7 million. Local, state and federal governments lost significant tax revenue and total costs of these avoided trips amounted to $85 billion and 900,000 jobs. While some have taken to the road, with the advent of subscription airlines such as Surf Air and Wheels Up and on-demand operations such as Linear Air and Imagine Air, it is driving more passengers to business aviation. These companies report 65% of their passengers are new to BizAv.

It should be noted there are far more travelers in 2017 than in 2013. Clearly there is an economic case to ease the travel burden. More recently, travel publications have reported while most of us like to travel, we hate the act of traveling. So, does security have to make it worse? I think not. Security specialists report such low-tech solutions as bomb-sniffing dogs would be ideal if DHS would expand their use.

Police German Shepard dog sniffing luggage

Low tech, but excellent solution. Photo: humonia

Global Travel Business Association Foundation and Sabre more recently released a study – “Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience” – concluding business travelers think the actual travel experience is the most challenging part of their job.  Indeed, 79% (of which 88% were Millennials) concluded the travel experience significantly affected their overall job satisfaction while similar numbers reported the quality of travel affects their business results. That’s a whole lot of disaffected customers.

The organizations further concluded travelers want to save time and be productive but equally important have a pleasant experience. A similar study was published by ARC concluding travel wear and tear has implications for business recruiting and retention.


A bad security experience makes a great airport, such as Quiport, a miserable experience. Photo: Brooks Creedy

But, my dismal experience in Quito wasn’t over. On boarding, there she was on the jet bridge, again taking passports, rifling through the pages without looking at them and asking questions. “Are they nuts,” I asked myself. My attitude is: You get one bite of the apple — the miserable machine screening. Don’t bother me again!

When I got to her I took her by the shoulders and said, “I just need to get this over with,” turned and entered the aircraft. It was midnight and I was boarding group E and had waited so long I wondered whether I’d been assigned to fly on the wing.

So, now you know what to expect with the new security procedures. More security theatre that just makes you angry. Even DHS/TSA knows it needs to develop something better, according to news reports. It is delving into social media now and using other means to identify actual terrorists and it can’t come fast enough.

Filmmaker, Airline Foodie Highlight Plane Food



Airline Foodie Nik Loukas and Filmmaker James Mellor on assignment to film Air Baltic kitchens as part of their planned 90-minute documentary

By Kathryn B. Creedy

Who would have thought there would ever be an airline foodie? Nik Loukas did and, in fact, he’s made a career out of it.

A frequent flier, Loukas noticed airline efforts to up their inflight meal game, and, in 2012, he established an inflight food website Inflight Feed, helping passengers get a better onboard experience. He later launched an airline food blog and next up is a documentary. Already in production, he and his partner, Filmmaker James Mellor of Rainbow Trout Films, continue to troll for the $200,000 to complete the 90-minute documentary. They even have plans to create a six-part television series but admit they may be getting ahead of them selves.

They tried to crowdfund their film but only came up with enough money to do a trailer. In the meantime, they add to their library with the many food and cabin assignments they do. Even so, it hints at a great project. After all, BBC and PBS have teamed to air City in the Sky so it stands to reason that The Inflight Food Trip – It’s Not Just Plane Food! would be a natural for the Food Network and a must for the inflight entertainment menu.

“Our documentary aims to lift the lid on airplane food, as we discover exactly what goes into getting a meal to you at 35,000 feet,” the two wrote on their crowdfunding site.

But it is more than that, said Mellor. It is about story telling.

“A lot depends on airlines who have culinary stories to tell and are fielding new recipes,” he said. “We want to know how they develop a concept recipe, where it came from right through to how it gets distributed around the globe. It is really the human interest stories behind the inflight experience and the interaction between the crew and the passenger to make the infight experience.”

Mellor agrees. “For me, the film is all about discovering how airlines express their own identity by the foods they serve,” said Mellor. “Each one has a story. They have a defining dish and the way they serve it, which is quite unique to them. Food is one of the ways they say we are SAS, China Southern or Swiss. It’s interesting how much effort goes into airline food – the logistics, how they source their food, how they prepare and serve it and the innovative things they do to engage with customers and bring new menus to the table.”


Kitted out for the kitchen, filming behind the scenes at Air Baltic.

In fact, their documentary came to my attention because they were filming a segment on how China Southern did a passenger engagement social media campaign to find the next big food sensation to raise their visibility in the New York market.

But, says Mellor, it is about much more than food. The film is about everything that affects food, lighting, pressure, noise, altitude and the comfort of the seats. Indeed at press time, they were about to visit STG Aerospace for a segment on lighting.

“We want to provide a window into a unique world especially from the business/first class experience,” he said.

But Loukas says it is possible to eat well in economy. “I’ve had some amazing experiences in economy if you know how to pre-order an upgraded meal,” he told Runway Girl Network. “In fact, that is part of what Inflight Feed does, teach people how to have a better flight experience.”

Mellor and Loukas are also interested in airline efforts to make food tastier since we lose 33% of our senses at 35,000 feet. Lufthansa even tests its meals in a hyperbaric chamber, said Loukas, while United and gategroup work to source different, more flavorful food and cooking methods to overcoming the handicap.

“We went with SAS to Tokyo for two days of menu presentations with the local catering company,” Mellor said. “We watched how Head Chef Peter Lawrence chooses the menus for the next 12 months and the tweaking done to put an SAS twist on Japanese food. We spent a day filming the Swiss first class cabin training. We’ve also been to Riga to visit the Air Baltic kitchen to sample dishes.”

Industry reaction to Inflight Feed has been gratifying said Loukas. “I get lots of messages from the industry,” he said. “Everyone is really supportive and I’m always invited to take a flight to test out their latest meals. I think a lot of airlines also come to the site for inspiration and to keep an eye on what the competition is doing. I’ve also been fortunate enough to be invited to industry functions, events and conferences to talk about my airline food experiences and give guidance to airlines on what trends are currently happening inflight and what to watch out for too.”

His best experience: Singapore Airlines. “I pre-ordered an amazing five-course Japanese meal, that was absolutely stunning and perfect in every single way,” he recalled fondly. “Drinks were paired carefully with each course, and the cabin crew explained how to eat each course and what to do exactly. It was a fantastic, fine dining experience.”

And therein lies the secret. It’s all about creating memorable experiences. “Can you name your last airline meal, whether it was good or bad,” Loukas asked. “I bet you can recall a meal you ate in flight recently. Now, tell me what you had for lunch last Wednesday. I bet you can’t remember, but you remember the airline meal. Airline food whether good or bad leaves an impression on you.”

As for airline food’s bad reputation, Loukas is philosophical. “It really boils down to the airline you’re flying with,” he said. “I think airlines are really trying hard to make your experience better. Most of the major airlines are working with some sort of celebrity chef, but not much is happening in economy class although Delta has started bringing back free meals even in coach. That tells us something.”

Brexit fallout threatens US airlines


US airlines could take a hit if Britain votes to leave the European Union tomorrow, according to analysts who suggest American and United are most at risk. Equally important is the impact on international travelers and it doesn’t look good.

Beyond the negative economic impacts, there will be longer wait times at border entries such as London’s Heathrow, widely viewed as the gateway for European travel. Currently, European travelers enter quickly through a special line because they are all EU citizens. Should Britain leave the union, those travelers would join Americans in a single queue, said Bloomberg, which also indicated the British pound will likely take a huge hit in the immediate aftermath of a successful exit vote. Bloomberg likened changes to the customs clearance experience to transiting New York’s JFK International Airport and its normal four-hour wait times to clear customs.

But there is more at stake than the convenience of a shorter customs queue. Brexit, the short-hand term for the debate raging on whether or not Britain should remain in the European Union, has serious economic implications if the free flow of services such as flights, banking, telecommunications and European citizens is disrupted.

For the past 30 years, governments have been liberalizing air transportation through various open skies initiatives to the benefit of consumers, who have seen fares drop 30%, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization. There is no question that airlines around the world have also benefited from moves that allow free access to markets.

Now, however, beyond the Brexit debate, airlines are growing more protectionist as carriers from the Middle East and Asia take industry leadership positions. US carriers have complained that the Big 3 competitors from the Gulf region – Etihad, Emirates and Qatar – are heavily subsidized upsetting the balance of what should be a level playing field. That debate continues to rage and has called the role of the US Export-Import Bank in aiding sales of US products abroad into question. One of the biggest beneficiaries is Boeing.

Analysts fear the dramatic economic downturn that would result would dampen travel demand as corporate profits tumble. This would only compound the impact of other troubled economies in the rest of the world. Capacity in the US-UK market could be reallocated to other regions, were it not for that.

Reuters, reporting Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary’s comments during a recent aviation forum, noted he expects a three-year economic decline should the British vote to exit. O’Leary also boldly predicted it would “fatally damage” the EU which would then unravel creating more chaos for airlines, travelers and economies around the world. Instead, O’Leary and others would like to see the EU reformed to streamline regulations and bureaucracy.

Low cost carriers such as easyJet and Ryanair are already warning that Brexit would increase fares between 15% and 30%, further depressing demand. One statistic signals the impact the move would have. InterVistas estimated that after open skies was ushered in, traffic doubled. Brexit could mean reversing that as more restrictive rules come into play, limiting the number of flights fielded by airlines as well as the amount of competition.

Willie Walsh CEO of British Airways’ parent company seems an outlier because he said Brexit would have little impact on airlines. So far polls suggest the vote for staying is 53% to 46% for leaving.

The issue could also complicate the recent European moves under its Aviation Strategies Europe program to allow the European Commission to open negotiations to forge the first bloc-to-bloc aviation agreement with ASEAN nations, in addition to negotiations with Turkey, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on behalf of Qatar and United Arab Emirates. The beneficial economic impact of these new agreements would exceed $25 billion as aviation regulations are liberalized between the EU, Asia and the Middle East, according to Global Trade.

The bottom line for U.S. airlines is the necessity of creating a new US-UK bilateral agreement as would airlines around the world as Britain forges new bilaterals with their nations. Currently, U.S. airlines are covered under America’s current open skies agreement with Europe, which lets carriers serve the many states that make up the union.

That agreement also allows the joint ventures affording airlines the ability to share both services and revenues such as Delta’s deal with Virgin Atlantic and American’s partnership with British Airways. Indeed, the AA-BA partnership is expected to take the biggest hit because of its larger footprint in the UK at 6.2% of transatlantic capacity, according to Investors Business Daily. United, it said, has 5.3% of capacity to Delta’s 2.7% although Delta also a 49% ownership of Virgin Atlantic. It may also put into question the global alliances forged over the past decade, according to observers.

Analysts, such as Wolfe Research’s Hunter Keay, expect the US and UK to move quickly to cut a new bilateral agreement that would mirror the open skies agreement with the EU, according to his recent research note. The two countries are like-minded on the value of open skies but that does not guarantee quick passage.

British airlines may have a solution in following what Norway did, said International Airport Review (IAR). Norway is not a member of the European Union. However, it retains access to the Single European Market because it is a signatory of the European Common Aviation Agreement (ECAA). The UK could do the same and regain unfettered access to European skies instead of pursuing the long and arduous process of forging bilateral agreements with each of its European counterparts.

However, IAR suggests the dominance of UK hubs could make some ECAA members – Netherlands, France and Germany – reticent to quickly regain the current status quo because of their hubs in Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt. The question then becomes whether ECAA will accept such membership since Britain’s hubs and well-heeled carriers constitute a significant competitive advantage in international airline traffic.

Government officials would likely rush to solve the problems a Brexit scenario would bring given Britain’s huge role in the global economy and the significance of its hubs in navigating the world. But governments are not exactly known for their ability to rush.

Airlines Hassles Drive Passengers to Private Aviation — Part II

New air taxi/charter companies increase market for business aviation by demystifying process, lowering price and increasing passenger productivity. Check out Part II of the story published on Forbes. I’d love to hear your feedback. Cheers — Kathryn

Airline Hassles Driving Pax to Private Aviation — Part I

New, nimble business aviation companies are leveraging changes to airline route networks to develop the next generation of regional air travel. Here is Part I of a two part series. Hit the follow button on my Forbes site to get alerts about tomorrow’s posting about how these new companies are changing the business aviation model and making it more accessible.


Norwegian Air Makes Headlines With $69 Fares, But Can It Deliver?

This is my analysis on what low fares on the trans-Atlantic will do to the industry. Enjoy! Follow me over on Forbes as well.

Norwegian Air Makes Headlines With $69 Fares, But Can It Deliver?

Take a Flight to St. Barth, Saba? You Are In For a Quite a Ride

A Winair DHC-6-300 Twin Otter makes its usual approach into St. Barths. Courtesy Alain Duzant

A Winair DHC-6-300 Twin Otter makes its usual approach into St. Barths. Courtesy Alain Duzant

By Kathryn B. Creedy

An AvGeek’s a trip to St. Maarten is not complete without the experience of flying to St. Barth and Saba but don’t get in the way of the landing aircraft or, at least at St. Barth, the gendarmerie will be on you in a flash. More on that later.

St. Maarten is most assuredly one of the greatest #AvGeek spots on earth as illustrated by my recent report for Beachcombers Chronicles. St. Maarten is, indeed, a unique beach adventure and that is what Beachcombers Chronicles is all about. The aircraft thundering into Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) come within a hair’s breadth of sunbathers on Maho Beach. Few places in the world offer a spectacle of aircraft in flight so close it seems as if you could reach up and touch their dangling landing gear. And SXM has Sunset Beach Bar where aviation geeks and non-geeks alike gather to watch the miracle of flight on this 37-mile stretch of paradise.

Most shots of aircraft landing at SXM are taken over Maho Bay. This is KLM 747 taking off from SXM. Courtesy of Alain Duzant

Most shots of aircraft landing at SXM are taken over Maho Bay. This is KLM 747 taking off from SXM. Courtesy of Alain Duzant.

But it is the operations at St. Barth and Saba that really set an AvGeek’s heart aflutter. St. Barth was featured in the History Channel’s Most Extreme Airports, which named it the third most dangerous airport in the world. St. Maarten, known as the gateway to the Caribbean, came in fourth in the program which cited the sharp incline on takeoff and right turn necessary to avoid the 2,400-foot (800-meter) mountains to the east of the runway. Oh, and of course, it cited the crazy fence surfers who hang on to the fence surrounding the airport as thousands of pounds of thrust from departing jet aircraft literally blow them away.

Saba didn’t make the History Channel’s list but has made other challenging airport lists and rightly so. Saba has been correctly described as trying to land on an aircraft carrier because it has 60-foot drops at either end of the runway with Cove Bay on one end and the sparkling waters of the Caribbean on the other. However, it has a healthy 1,300-foot length, four times that of an aircraft carrier and it doesn’t pitch and roll as aircraft carriers do.

It is little wonder the two airports take special training and the controllers at St. Barth have a photo album of those who went nose over in the sand or ended up in the clear blue waters of the Baie de St. Jean. Local aviators know that the incidents result from pilots not heeding the warnings about how challenging the airport is. One jet even attempted the landing and didn’t make it. Now, that was a cocky pilot who didn’t know or care that St. Barth is strictly a piston and turboprop airport. Despite the challenges and accidents, there have been no fatalities, a testament to the care and skill of the pilots that regularly serve the island.

For unsuspecting passengers and veteran aviators alike, the St. Barth’s approach is a thrill. We jostled our way on board hoping to sit in the front of the Winair Twin Otter for a bird’s eye view of the flight and landing through the cockpit window. Little did we know that at both Saba and St. Barth, the best place to sit is in the back for a far more dramatic feeling of the steep angle on approach. But we were as excited as kids on Christmas morning and wanted to get the best shots. Oh, well, always leave something for next time.

Our group was about a dozen aviation and travel reporters each wanting the best view for the approach at St. Barth and doing heaven knows what to the center of gravity. Courtesy Alain Duzant.

Our group was about a dozen aviation and travel reporters each wanting the best view for the approach at St. Barth. Courtesy Alain Duzant.

Group Selfie. Crazy AvGeeks from the other angle. Courtesy Adam Twidell

Group Selfie. Crazy AvGeeks from the other angle. Courtesy Adam Twidell.

Wandering Aramean Blogger Seth Miller, mounted his GoPro just behind the first officer while PrivateFly’s Adam Twidell kept his smartphone camera rolling throughout the flight. The rest of us were crowded behind them in the unpressurized, un-air conditioned aircraft doing heaven knows what to the center of gravity. We knew we were in for something special because SXM Air Traffic Control Supervisor Duncan van Heyningen described the approach during briefings chuckling as he explained how difficult it was.

SXM Air Traffic Control Supervisor Duncan van Heyningen briefed us that we were in for a great ride in describing the approach at St. Barths.

SXM Air Traffic Control Supervisor Duncan van Heyningen briefed us that we were in for a great ride in describing the approach at St. Barths. Photo by Kathryn B. Creedy.

None of us, however, expected a 10-degree, nose-down attitude as we approached. The left wing seemed to barely skim the mountain before we dropped on to the runway. For Captain Carlyle Dubline and First Officer Alexander Spencer, however, it was just another day at the office.

The Winair Twin Otter skims over the heads of assembled AvGeeks trying to get the best shot of this absurd approach.

The Winair Twin Otter skims over the heads of assembled AvGeeks trying to get the best shot of this absurd approach. Courtesy Alain Duzant.

Aircraft have to dodge traffic on the traffic circle atop the gap between the two mountains pilots have to thread their way through. Traffic included huge boats and construction cranes sticking well into the sky.

Aircraft have to dodge traffic on the traffic circle atop the gap between the two mountains through which pilots have to thread their way. Traffic included huge boats and construction cranes sticking well into the sky. Courtesy Alain Duzant.

Aircraft have to navigate their way down a steep slope as they land at St. Barths. The aircraft on final is Winair's Twin Otter while the Tradewind aircraft in the foreground is a Pilatus PC 12. Photo by Kathryn B. Creedy

Aircraft have to navigate their way down a steep slope as they land at St. Barths. The aircraft on final is Winair’s Twin Otter while the Tradewind aircraft in the foreground is a Pilatus PC 12. Photo by Kathryn B. Creedy.

Local aviators know that it takes good hand-eye coordination as well as very good stick and rudder skills. Operations can only be done in VFR conditions. The aircraft used at these airfields may not have the sophisticated automation of larger and newer aircraft but these are airports where you wouldn’t want automation anyway.

“Pilots need a separate certification for Saba and St. Barth’s,” Winair Chief Pilot Jeff Oliver told Winging It. “Certification calls for six landings to be qualified at St. Barth’s and a minimum of three at Saba. But our training exceeds those minimums.”

Winair Chief Pilot Jeff Oliver explains the tricky landings at St. Barth and Saba. Photo by Helena de Bekker

Winair Chief Pilot Jeff Oliver explains the tricky landings at St. Barth and Saba and what it takes for a pilot to get certified to land at these two difficult destinations. Photo by Helena de Bekker.

The transition from first officer to captain at Winair typically takes between three and three and a half years, according to Oliver. However, once they transition to the left seat, they need a minimum of 100 hours as pilot in command before they can begin training for landings at Saba and St. Barth. Considering Winair flights are between 12 and 35 minutes that is a lot of flying time for these pilots but with a pilot corps between 32 and 36 and 18,000 flights annually we could say that time flies.

The airport is a tiny gateway to a posh tropical island served by Winanir, St. Barth Commuter and Tradewinds. Photo by Kathryn B. Creedy

The St. Barth airport is a tiny gateway to a posh tropical island. Photo by Kathryn B. Creedy.

St. Barth Gustaf III Airport (SBH) runway is 2,133 feet (650 meters). Commercial services includes Winair’s Twin Otters, St. Barth Commuter’s Cessna Caravans and Britten Norman Islanders as well as Tradewind’s Pilatus PC 12.

While it is a short runway, it is the approach that is the challenge. Aircraft are required to thread the needle through a gap in a mountain. On top of that gap is an extraordinarily busy traffic circle and approaching aircraft come excruciatingly close to the traffic below before abruptly dropping down a slope to the airfield.

Winair Twin Otter prepares for landing with a dramatic nose dive into the airport. Courtesy of Chris Kjelgaard

Winair Twin Otter prepares for landing with a dramatic nose dive into the airport. Courtesy of Chris Kjelgaard.

In fact, while the terrestrial traffic dodged our excited party standing atop that gap, one of the St. Barth Commuter pilots called in an alarm to the control tower about some silly group that was interfering with air traffic and ignoring the warning signs restricting the areas on which we could stand. A few minutes later, the gendarmerie arrived scolding us, moving us away from the flight path. Meanwhile, the pilot had gone around and only after we were cleared did he attempt the landing coming in just feet over our heads.

It is not as if we weren't warned that we were violating the approach air space as we scrambled around the hill and traffic circle positioning to get the best shot. We were soon dispersed by the gendarmerie. Photo by Kathryn B. Creedy

It is not as if we weren’t warned that we were violating the approach air space as we scrambled around the hill and traffic circle positioning to get the best shot. We were soon dispersed by the gendarmerie. That’s Wandering Aramean Seth Miller in the photo. Photo by Kathryn B. Creedy.

The runway at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SAB) on Saba is the shortest commercial runway in the world at 1,312 feet (396 meters) and only 65 feet wide. It is flanked by a mountain on one side and sea on the other. Operations are restricted to the Twin Otter or the Britten Norman Islanders.

Saba has 60-foot drops at either end of the 1300-foot runway and it takes a lot of special training to navigate the windy, mountain-bound approach. Photo by Kathryn B. Creedy

Saba has 60-foot drops at either end of the 1300-foot runway and it takes a lot of special training to navigate the windy, mountain-bound approach. Photo by Kathryn B. Creedy.

“Saba used to be more challenging,” said Winair Chief Pilot Jeff Oliver, “before the airport blasted away at some of the mountain. There is still very little room for error, particularly if the pilot has to go-around, but that’s a major part of the training. It is still challenging at times since you may get sudden wind direction changes. When the winds are from the north, runway 30 for departure is only permitted when the wind direction is within 30 degrees of the runway direction, with a minimum wind speed of 15 knots. However, these conditions pose another problem because they tend to push you further towards the mountain particularly on a go-around. It also has an uphill slope of three degrees, which helps with landing. Clearing away part of that hill makes it more relaxing.”

Well, relaxing after a fashion. When approaching runway 12, the approach requires a flight straight at the mountain before the pilot makes a sharp left turn to line up for approach and landing.

St. Maarten can rightly be described as an aviation geek’s paradise but if you want more than the world’s best plane spotting venue, you must experience St. Barth and Saba. As for Saba, we had no time for anything except a quick turnaround, which astonished the customs and immigration official that approved our entry into and exit from the island in one swift maneuver. With the too-short visits to these wonderful islands, I look forward to exploring them at length in the future.

Oliver summed up the experience with a chuckle. “People all over the world decide to make the Caribbean a destination,” he said, adding “They are guaranteed to like it because of where we fly. But it’s the landings that are worth the price of the ticket alone.”

So, I guess you could say I'm a Winair fan, holding a Winair fan. The Twin Otter is unpressurized and un-airconditioned so it was definitely appreciated.

So, I guess you could say I’m a Winair fan, holding a Winair fan. The Twin Otter is unpressurized and un-air conditioned so it was definitely appreciated.

St. Barth is very aviation minded. So much so, it has fantastical animals surrounding its government building. This, of course is my favorite. Can you see the bi-plane wings on the body? As for me, I love anything in an aviator's helmet and goggles! Photo by Kathryn. B. Creedy

St. Barth is very aviation minded. So much so, it has fantastical animals surrounding its government building. This, of course was my favorite. Can you see the bi-plane wings on the body? As for me, I love anything in an aviator’s helmet and goggles! Photo by Kathryn. B. Creedy