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From Air New Zealand: How did the kiwi get to New Zealand?

The kiwi is much more than just a native New Zealand bird, it’s an iconic symbol of the nation. Although the kiwi is a bird, kiwi are not able to fly. This isn’t unusual in New Zealand, which is home to more species of flightless birds than anywhere else in the world. The unique location and history of the country has meant historically birds didn’t need to fly to avoid land-based predators, they could happily forage and nest on the ground.

The fact the kiwi could only really have evolved in New Zealand, combined with their quirky characteristics, makes them the perfect symbol to represent the unique characters you’ll meet on a trip to New Zealand.

Although kiwi can’t fly there is one way for them to get up in the air, as Pete the Kiwi found in the video below.

The great kiwi mystery

One mystery that still baffles experts is how the kiwi found its way to New Zealand in the first place. The kiwi’s closest relatives live 1000s of kilometres away in Madagascar and Australia, which is a long journey for a flightless bird travel. Although the kiwi is a strong swimmer, it’s not likely to have paddled all the way.

There’s a few theories as to how the kiwi did it, it might have used stepping stones or small islands that have long since sunk back into the water. It could also have been that kiwi evolved from a New Zealand ancestor that lived millions of years ago, before the many islands on Earth broke away from the main land masses that exist today.

However, one of the strongest theories is that the many years ago an ancestor of the kiwi could still fly, and that over the centuries this ability was lost due to there being no ground-based predators to attack the kiwi.

Kiwi facts

You can find more facts on the New Zealand Department of Conservation website.

  • There are 68,000 kiwi left in New Zealand.
  • The unmanaged kiwi population is declining at a rate of 2% a year because of predators introduced by humans.
  • Kiwi usually live to between 25 and 50 years of age.
  • They are the only bird with nostrils at the tip of the beak, meaning they have a great sense of smell.
  • Their powerful legs make up a third of their bodyweight, making them fast runners.

If you want to learn even more about the kiwi, one option is to fly to New Zealand where you can see them in the wild or in captivity at the many zoos and ecological centres. You can also learn more about this amazing bird and efforts to save them on the Kiwis for Kiwi website.


The End of an Era: Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 Combis will retire on October 18

From the Alaska Airlines Blog:

After a weeklong fishing trip in Yakutat, Alaska, retired Captain David Olson found himself on one of the last flights of the 737-400 combis – a plane he piloted for two years straight when he first started flying for Alaska Airlines nearly 36 years ago.

The unique cargo-passenger aircraft will officially retire Oct. 18.

“It’s truly nostalgic,” he said aboard Flight 66. “They’ve been around a long time and brought me some great memories, especially fishing holes.”

Cargo in the front, passengers in the back

reindeer 400 The end of an era: Alaska retires unique cargo passenger ‘combi’ planesA combi is the mullet of airplanes — it’s half cargo in the front and 72 passengers in the back. For decades, it’s served as a lifeline for communities in Alaska that aren’t well connected to the outside world.

Eventually, our five combis will be replaced by a fleet of three dedicated 737-700 freighters, one of which is already in service.

Each combi flight holds four cargo containers called “igloos” — weighing anywhere from 12,000 to 14,000 pounds. The combi can carry just about anything, including boxes of groceries, bouquets of flowers, brand-new cars or even reindeer.

Wayne Coleman, Alaska Airlines lead ramp service agent in Juneau, said “If it fits, it can fly.”

wayne The end of an era: Alaska retires unique cargo passenger ‘combi’ planes

The combi is also used as a way for people get from point A to point B in the nation’s largest state.

“Here, you can’t just hop in a car and drive to where you need to go like you can in the Lower 48,” Coleman said. “If you want to get somewhere, you have to hop on a boat or a plane.”

Getting goods from one city to another in Alaska can be challenging due to its sheer size and rugged terrain.

Recently, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska spoke on the U.S. Senate floor about the important role the combi has played for those who live in her home state.

“It’s really the end of an era,” she said. “They were specifically designed for the special challenges of a very large state, and over their lifespan they have delivered every imaginable thing via airplane in Alaska.”

201 The end of an era: Alaska retires unique cargo passenger ‘combi’ planes

The Milk Run

milk run poster1 The end of an era: Alaska retires unique cargo passenger ‘combi’ planesOn a special route coined “The Milk Run” (it’s literally how people get their milk), Flight 66 flew from Anchorage to Cordova to Yakutat to Juneau earlier this month.

Olson’s coolers of freshly caught silver salmon were stored in the front of the plane, and arrived to Seattle in time for them to still have that straight-off-the-boat taste, like they have every time, he said.

“The best part about these combis is they get sensitive cargo like fish to where it needs to go in plenty of time,” he said. “It’s how a lot of communities in Alaska thrive and how the Lower 48 gets most of its seafood.”

The Milk Run is a daily circuit of Alaska Airlines flights that leave Anchorage and stop about every 45 minutes to deliver goods to towns in Southeast Alaska. From those locations, smaller airplanes usually deliver the cargo and passengers to dozens of nearby villages.

Alaska Airlines is the only major airline in the U.S. to have combi planes, so any flight crews that have had the opportunity to work on this plane are now a part of aviation history.

Out with the old, in with the new

freighter The end of an era: Alaska retires unique cargo passenger ‘combi’ planesAfter a decade of demanding treks, the five 737-400 combis will be replaced by three dedicated 737-700 freighters. One freighter is already actively in service up in Anchorage and two additional cargo planes are still undergoing the conversion process.

All the new freighters are expected to be in service by the end of the year. The combis will likely live out their remaining years as converted freighters with outside parties.

“It’s bittersweet to see their run come to an end, but they were due to retire,” said Jason Berry, Alaska Air Cargo managing director. “As we modernize our fleet we have to make those tough decisions and knew it was time to find new solutions.”

The new 737-700 freighters are the first ever to be converted from passenger jet to cargo plane. They will have 20 percent more cargo capacity, and passengers will now fly separately in new Boeing 737s.

“Although we are sad to see them go we are excited to bring these new freighters to the state of Alaska,” Berry said. “We will be able to continue to serve all of the communities we have served previously and we will be able to offer more lift, more capacity and run on a schedule that is ideal for our cargo customers.”

The evolution of the combi

Before Boeing combis joined our fleet in 1966, Alaska had a long history of carrying a mix of people and cargo – from cows to cars, and anything else they could fit through the doors of our aircraft.

In 1981, Alaska Airlines acquired the first of what would eventually become a fleet of nine Boeing 737-200QC combis – the QC stands for “quick change” because it featured a movable partition, which allowed it to add or remove seats based on how much cargo and how many passengers were onboard.

Pilots said they were especially fond of the -200 combi for its sports car-like handling, powerful engines and ability to get in and out of airports with short runways.

In the all-freight configuration, the 737-200 combis carried up to six cargo containers. The palletized floor allowed for passenger seating to range from 26 with five cargo pallets to 111 in the all-passenger configuration.

Eventually high fuel prices, and increasing maintenance costs and its declining reliability led to its phase-out between 2005 and 2007. The last retired 737-200QC is now at the Alaska Aviation Museum in Anchorage.

Alaska replaced its fleet of nine -200 combis with five 737-400 combis and one -400 freighter. After a lengthy retrofitting and certification process, the first -400 combi began service in 2007.

Even as the aircraft have changed over the years, Alaska remains dedicated to carrying people and cargo throughout the state of Alaska and beyond.

Photos : 2017 Milk Run

JetBlue and Atlas Air send more than 110 tons of supplies to assist in the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico

"Fewer Delays. Faster Flights." sub-titles

JetBlue Airways (New York), the largest airline in Puerto Rico, in partnership with Atlas Air Worldwide, has transported more than 110 tons of much needed supplies to Puerto Rico to aid in relief and recovery efforts. JetBlue previously outlined its 100x35JetBlue commitment to launch 35 initiatives over 100 days – and beyond to support the immediate needs of crewmembers, customers, and communities in Puerto Rico.

As part of this initiative, JetBlue has collected generous donations from a variety of like-minded organizations including Food Bank For New York City, American Red Cross and the Afya Foundation. Atlas Air graciously donated and operated a 747 cargo aircraft to get supplies from New York to San Juan. JetBlue is supporting with the logistics and the intake and hand off of donated supplies in Puerto Rico.

JetBlue and Atlas Air crewmembers load a 747 aircraft with more than 110 tons of supplies to assist ...

Photo Above: JetBlue. JetBlue and Atlas Air crewmembers load a Boeing 747 aircraft with more than 110 tons of supplies to assist in recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.


“We’ve been sending relief supplies to Puerto Rico since the first day flights were allowed onto the island following Hurricane Maria,” said Icema Gibbs, director corporate social responsibility, JetBlue. “The amount of donated supplies has far exceeded our expectations and has surpassed the capacities of our commercial Airbus A320 fleet. Atlas Air, a fellow New York airline, sharing our commitment to assist the people of Puerto Rico, immediately stepped up to support, offering the use of one of their 747 cargo aircraft. We thank them for their incredible assistance and care for these communities.”

“Atlas Air Worldwide is pleased to have partnered with JetBlue in this humanitarian effort,” said Bill Flynn, president and CEO, Atlas Air Worldwide. “By joining with JetBlue and donating our aircraft and crew, the supplies that have been gathered and donated by Governor Cuomo and the generous people and organizations in New York will be delivered to Puerto Rico in the quickest and most efficient way possible.”

More than 220,000 lbs. (110 tons) of donations were collected through several organizations that have the ability to distribute the supplies throughout Puerto Rico. JetBlue, Atlas Air and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo rallied their networks to provide support. This 747 aircraft was loaded with:

  • A variety of supplies from the Governor’s Office including food and other crucial supplies.
  • Supplies from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to assist as San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin Airport rebuilds its infrastructure, which will allow for more airlift and capacity into Puerto Rico’s capital.
  • Non-perishable food and critical supplies from the Food Bank For New York City to its sister food bank, Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico. Packages include bottled water, shelf stable food, and other needed supplies, like diapers and feminine hygiene products.
  • JetBlue and its crewmembers sending relief supplies to crewmembers and family in Puerto Rico.
  • Medical supplies from the Afya Foundation and American Red Cross

100X35 JetBlue – Honoring the popular reference to Puerto Rico’s 100×35 mile size, the effort will continue to roll out programs across the island providing airlift support, relief pricing, awareness and fundraising, people deployment, unmet needs, and rebuilding efforts.

How you can get involved – For a 100-day span, JetBlue will invite customers onboard every JetBlue flight to donate to JetBlue’s campaign at GlobalGiving benefitting hurricane impacted areas throughout the U.S. and Caribbean, with a $1 million goal. Additionally customers can also contribute at JetBlue has committed to match donations to its GlobalGiving campaign dollar-for-dollar up to $500,000 through Nov. 15.

GlobalGiving will distribute the funds to non-profits making an impact in hurricane-affected areas. As JetBlue continues to serve these areas, the airline expects to adapt funding initiatives to ensure they are meeting the needs as are communicated from partners on the ground.

Top Copyright Photo: JetBlue has added “Fewer Delays. Faster Flights.” sub-titles to this Airbus A320.

JetBlue Airways: JetBlue Airways Airbus A320-232 N595JB (msn 2286) (Barcode) SFO (Mark Durbin). Image: 939445.

UPS adds the Boeing 747-8F freighter

The new Boeing 747-8F Intercontinental Freighter

UPS Airlines is adding the newer and larger Boeing 747-8F Intercontinental Freighter to its Boeing 747-400F freighter fleet.

The first to be delivered was N605UP which was handed over on September 29, 2017.

The pictured N607UP completed its first flight on October 6, 2017. The new freighter became airborne in about 3,500 feet at Paine Field near Everett, WA.

In October 2016 Boeing announced an order for 14 747-8 Freighters for UPS. The agreement also includes an option to purchase an additional 14 of the cargo airplanes.

The 747-8s will enable UPS to begin a cascade of aircraft route reassignments that will add significant air capacity to the company’s busiest lanes, thereby optimizing global air network capacity well beyond the impact of adding new cargo jets.

The 14 aircraft are to be delivered between 2017 and 2020.

In addition, the 747-8 offers training and operating efficiencies to UPS. Pilots of the company’s existing 747-400 fleet will enjoy a common equipment rating, allowing them to fly both aircraft types. Further, UPS will realize greater economies of scale in maintenance and ground handling by operating the -8 aircraft.

The 747-8 freighters carry 34 shipping containers on its main deck and 14 in its lower compartments.  The -8 has a cargo capacity of 307,600 pounds, or approximately 30,000 packages and a range of 4,340 nautical miles.

N605UP arrived at the Louisville (SDF) base and is currently operating crew proving flights around SDF. It will enter revenue service later this month.

The 747 fleet usually operate from SDF to Anchorage, Alaska for refueling, and then on to its hubs in Asia.

Copyright Photo: UPS Airlines (UPS-Worldwide Services) Boeing 747-8F N607UP (msn 64265) PAE (Nick Dean). Image: 939437.

UPS Airlines:

A first look at the New England Patriots new Boeing 767-300

The New England Patriots have acquired two ex-American Airlines Boeing 767-323 ER wide-body airliners for team travel. Two aircraft will afford the team the option of a back-up aircraft.

The Patriots become the first NFL team to have a fully-dedicated fleet.

Both aircraft will have only first class seats.

The tail fin sports five Lombardi championship trophies.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing. Boeing 767-323 ER N36NE (msn 25193) is the former N366AA with American Airlines. It is being prepared at San Bernardino, CA.