Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Metropolitan Airport’

Reliving A 1929 Eastern Airlines Flight

May 1, 2014
Photo by Alexf

Photo by Alexf


I flew in an airplane older than I today.

In 1929, a Ford Tri-Motor went into service for Eastern Air Transport, which became Eastern Airlines. That 85-year-old airliner is flying at Columbus Metropolitan Airport in Columbus, Georgia through May 4th. For $70 in advance, $75 walk-in, and $50 for children, you can catch a ride..

Eastern only used it for a year because newer, faster transports became available. It was sold in 1930 to Cubana Airlines and became Air Force One in the Domincan Republic.

Ford Motor Company maufactured 199 of them from 1925 to 1933.  More than a hundred airlines in the world have used them.

The vintage “Tin Goose” is owned by the EAA, Experimental Aircraft Association Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, home of one of the world’s biggest air shows. The Columbus chapter of the EAA brought the plane to Columbus with the help of sponsors such as the Columbus division of Pratt and Whitney. The three motors on the Ford Tri-Motor are all Pratt and Whitney engines.

Some members of the 13th Air Attack Company joined us on the “media flight.” They had to park their highly sophisticated attack helicopters at the Columbus airport to wait out some bad weather between Columbus and Savannah, their home post. They were returning from a training mission.

That old bird takes flight fast. The pilot, Ed Rusch, told me that it lifted off the runway today in only 500 feet. It doesn’t fly fast, crusing at about 85 miles-per- hour. If you give it full power, it can actually get up to a little more than 100 mph, depending on the wind. Commercial jets cruise at about 500 mph.

I asked a pilot when I flew in one at Wings and Wheels Air Museum in South Carolina in the 1970s what it is like to fly one. He said, “It’s like flying a barn.” Ed Rusch is quoted as saying that it’s like a boat. He said that you turn the rudder to the left or right and eventually it will start to turn.

It’s a fun experience. You can’t help but reflect on the fact that this was, in the late 20s, state of the art. Franklin D. Roosevelt flew in one to campaign for president in 1932. It was the first time an airplane was used for that purpose. In 1929, Commander Richard E. Byrd made the first flight above the Geographic South Pole in one. In 1965, Jerry Lewis “flew” the one we flew in today in the movie “The Family Jewels.”

Bottom line: flying in one is a hoot. I’ve done it twice and loved it both times.


Bag Back

January 9, 2014

After tracking my delayed bag, I said I expected to have it “soon.” “Soon” turned out to be this afternoon, My flight from Atlanta to Columbus arrived Monday evening about 8:40, give or take a few minutes, and I picked up my bag this afternoon, Wednesday, at about 2 p.m. I barely made the Columbus flight out of Atlanta, but my bag didn’t.  A lot of people around the country experienced the same problem because of the winter weather.

Will I fly out of Columbus again?  If the price is right, most definitely.  Things are a lot calmer at the Columbus Metropolitan Airport.  There are only eight flights a day here compared to almost a thousand at Hartsfield-Jackson,  the busiest airport in the world.   

Airport Manager Claims Reliability is Greatly Improved at Columbus Metropolitan Airport

June 25, 2009

A prominent Columbus physician, who I won’t identify because he told me privately,  said, “I would like to start flying out of Columbus again.  I stopped because of the flight delays and cancellations.  What can you find out about the status of that situation?”  My blog about how flying out of Columbus has become affordable again prompted his response.

Mark Oropeza, Airport Manager, Columbus Metropolitan Airport

Mark Oropeza, Airport Manager, Columbus Metropolitan Airport

“Once I finally figured out what was happening that was causing all of those delays and cancellations, I was able to do something about it,” Airport Director Mark Opropeza told me.

He said he called the president of ASA and advised him that the delays and cancellations were driving people away from flying out of Columbus. After investigating the problem, the president said the problem quite often was not caused by mechanical problems with the plane scheduled for Columbus.  The person who scheduled flights would run into the problem of having to cancel a flight to a bigger town because that plane had problems and solved that problem by switching the Columbus plane to the other run and canceling the Columbus flight. He basically put a stop to that and reliability has improved a lot at the Columbus airport. Mark says he does have to keep on top of it because, “We’re dealing with people here and some flight scheduler may not have gotten the word that he can’t do that.”  When we sense it’s happening again we call ASA and they take care of it.

He says another reason reliability is better is that ASA’s new regional jets are simply more reliabile than the ones they had been using.

If the flights are more affordable and more reliable now, there should be no reason that business for the airport not to  increase even more.  Of course, the word has to get out. The airport commission has a big marketing push planned and it should kick off soon.

Columbus Metropolitan Airport Seeks More Airlines

June 23, 2009

Getting the Columbus Metropolitan Airport back up to speed can have a huge economic impact on the Columbus-Phenix City- Fort Benning area.  

Before 9-11 had its devastating impact on the airline industry,  Columbus had Atlantic Southeast Airlines,  U.S. Airways Express, American Eagle, and Northwest Airways.  With direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis and Nashville, about 250,000 people were flying in and out of Columbus a year.  Now, with only ASA still operating in Columbus,  there are about 100,000.

ASA-Delta Connection jet at Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

ASA-Delta Connection jet at Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

 Airport Director Mark Oropeza tells me  each airline can generate  a $38 million impact on the community.  He also tells me that he and the airport commission are working on getting more airlines to come back to Columbus. 

Mark Oropeza, Airport Director, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Mark Oropeza, Airport Director, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Recently, he attended a Jump Start Conference in Canada.  Representatives from all of the major airlines were there to hear pitches from different communities seeking to attract them to serve their airports.  “You only get 20 minutes to convince the airlines that they need to hear a longer and more involved presenation at a later date,” he told me. Turns out he was successful in getting future sessions lined up with American Eagle, American Airlines regional service; U.S. Airways; and Delta.  ”

Why Delta,” I asked. “you already have ASA service, which is the Delta Connection.”

“We want Delta to put some larger planes in service in Columbus.  You know, DC-9’s.  The ASA flights would continue, but those planes only carry 50 passengers.  Fort Benning would be flying more people out of here if we had those larger planes.  On weekends they are filling up ASA flights and having to put the overflow on chartered buses to the Atlanta Airport.  Benning officials tell me they will use our airport as long as it is cost effective.”

“So you think you will have enough traffic to justify Delta’s flying DC-9’s here again?”

“Absolutely.  We’ll be meeting with Delta soon and a Fort Benning representative will also attend that meeting.”

What will landing American Eagle do for the airport?

“It will connect us directly with Dallas,  American Airlines hub.”

He said American is interested and will hold a future meeting for Columbus to make a longer presentation.  But, he said American wants a first year guarantee.  If business doesn’t generate enough money to pay for the service, they want the airport to make up the difference.  Mark says he is working on raising the money for that guarantee.

If he can get U.S Airways Express to serve Columbus again, it will provide a direct flight to the Charlotte hub.  They are interested, but have a problem: not enough airplanes.  They would have to either buy some more or shift flights from less profitable cities.

What about the reliability problem?   A lot of businesses and individuals stopped flying out of Columbus because of too many delays and cancelled flights.  Mark says he discovered why that happened,  and that he has basically corrected the problem.   More on that coming up. Stay tuned.

Flying Out of Columbus is Affordable Again

June 14, 2009

I’ve started flying out of the Columbus again.  Like just about everyone else, I stopped doing it because the cost was just too prohibitive.  It was a lot cheaper to take the Groome shuttle.  That has changed, according to Carolyn Marlow, who handles communications for  Columbus Metropolitan Airport.  The airport commission has negotiated a benchmarking deal with Delta  that means you can’t be charged  more than $100 – Delta likes to keep it at about $79 – to Atlanta to connect with a Delta flight.  It can cost less, but not more.

Atlantic Southeast - Delta Connection jet at Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Atlantic Southeast - Delta Connection jet at Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

“Flying out of Columbus now is a no-brainer,” she says.

My experience a few weeks ago validates what she said, at least to me.

 I prefer 20 minutes in the air to an hour-and-a- half in a van or a car,   and I don’t like going through the time consuming security hoops at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.   That’s why I went on line and was happy to learn I could fly from Columbus to Fort Lauderdale for just a little more than if I used Groome.  Nothing wrong with Groome, by the way. They do a good job for a reasonable price. A Groome roundtrip from Columbus to Atlanta is less  than Delta;  how much less depends on the rate for an individual flight .  I figured my roundtrip flight from Columbus to Ft. Lauderdale cost me about $60 more than if I had used Groome. 

Passengers waiting to board a Atlantic Southeast jet to Atlanta, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Passengers waiting to board a Atlantic Southeast jet to Atlanta, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

And I found that a lot of people were doing it, mostly Fort Benning soldiers and their relatives.  The Atlantic Southeast Airlines jet was almost full on my flight out on a Saturday and my return flight on Thursday.  Boarding in Columbus was a snap.  It took about five minutes to go through the security check, even with everyone taking off their shoes.  The security guards were vigilant, but polite and efficient. You can wait in line in Atlanta for up to  45 minutes sometimes. 

When we got to Atlanta to change planes, it was just a matter of getting off one plane and getting on another one – o.k. my Delta flight to Fort Lauderdale  was at the other end of the sprawling Atlanta airport.  But, I needed the exercise.  I usually walk two miles a day anyway.

Business is picking up at Columbus Metropolitan.  45,000 travelers flew out of Columbus in 2007, and 48,057 in 2008.  Still, it needs to pick up a lot more for the Columbus airport to attract more airlines and add more destinations.  Studies show that 90 percent of folks in our area ,who are flying out of Atlanta, take a ground shuttle or go by car.

Linn Gets Ready to Fly the Airplane He Built

May 23, 2009

Want to buy a brand new airplane for less than $180,000, which is about what you would pay for a new Cessna?  Easy.  Just build your own for $50,000. That is, if you don’t count the labor that you put into building it yourself.  How do I know that?  My friend Linn Hall told me.  He should know.  He did it,  and it’s ready to fly. He has already taxied it around  a little, and he says the Federal Aviation Administration has already inspected and licensed it. 

Linn Hall rolling his RV-6A out of his hangar, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Linn Hall rolling his RV-6A out of his hangar, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Oh, if you do plan to follow Linn’s example and build your own plane, you’ll need not to be in a hurry.  It has taken Linn eight years to build his.  It is a kit plane,  but things like wings did not come assembled.  He had to do it, and it took 16,000 rivets.  He had to cut out the dash panel,  and since he didn’t get it quite right a couple of times, he had to keep doing it. 

Linn Hall shwoing how he had to cut out ports in the instrument panel, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Linn Hall showing how he had to cut out ports in the instrument panel, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA


RV-6A Cockpit

RV-6A Cockpit

“You must have enjoyed building it to have spent that much time doing it.  How many days a week did you work on it?”  I wanted to know.

“Oh, five days a week.  Not all day, of course. I have to make a living.  I’m a data systems administrator at TSYS.  And, yes, I did enjoy building it. It gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment.”

Linn, who is originally from Oklahoma, came to Columbus to work at TSYS.  A veteran single engine plane pilot,  he brought a Moony with him.  He liked the plane, but he said it was just too expensive for him to maintain.  That’s one reason he built the RV-6A.  He said, “If you own a plane like a Moony, or Cessna,  the FAA says you have to use their maintenance service.   However, if you build your own plane, the FAA allows you to maintain it. That’s a lot cheaper.”

The RV-6A,  a two-seater whose parts and building plans are sold by RV of Seattle, Washington, will cruise at about 185 m.p.h, with gas tanks that will allow you to fly about four hours.   That mean, as an  example, you could fly it from Columbus, GA to Washington, D.C. in a little less than four hours and have a few gallons to spare.

Linn Hall and me in posing in front of his RV-6A.  Fellow retired brodcaster Don Nahley took this picture.

Linn Hall and me posing in front of his RV-6A. Fellow retired broadcaster Don Nahley took this picture.

Being an experimental craft,  he gets to use some parts not approved by the FAA for commercially built planes.  Instead of an aluminium propeller, he is using one made of  a graphite composite over maple wood. It provides better fuel efficiency and more speed. 

Turnabout is fair play so I took this shot of Don and Linn

Turnabout is fair play so I took this shot of Don and Linn

He also uses a dry cell battery, which he says is better than the wet cell ones used in commercially built aircraft. 

Dry cell battery in Linn's kit plane

Dry cell battery in Linn's kit plane

Why hasn’t the FAA approved those for commercially built planes?

“They just haven’t gotten around to inspecting and approving them yet.  I’m sure they will eventually.”

“Are you going to take anyone with you on your first flight?”

“No. The FAA won’t allow that.  I have to have over 40 hours in the plane before I can take anyone up.  I have flown one like it so this won’t be the first time I have flown in an RV-6A, but that 40 hours  has to be in this plane.”

After putting on a few finishing touches,  Linn plans to take his maiden flight early next month.  I’ll let you know how it goes.