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8 Aug 2020

Hopefully no regrets


Friend Justin has sold his beautiful 911 pictured above after 22 years of ownership to buy a more recent 911. I was surprised to learn that he had sold it. Hopefully he has no regrets.

Photos taken on the wet and cold 2019 NSW Matesgrüppe Classic Porsche Road trip.

Justin says he is looking to forward coming on a future Matesgrüppe road trip with his new car-which he has not found yet. Not so fast my friend-early cars only in Matesgrüppe. There will have to be a committee meeting on that one.

7 Aug 2020

Minimal



Minimal. What else do you need apart from maybe a better padded seat and perhaps some brakes worth speaking of?

3 Aug 2020

More 747 stuff

The second Qantas Boeing 747SP-VH EAB

My earlier story on the retirement of the last Qantas 747 has created a lot of interest.

Friend, David Nicholls, Porsche 356 guru and retired Qantas pilot wrote to me on the subject of the Qantas 747SP as follows:-

Now that you've mentioned the Boeing SP that was operated by QANTAS, you've made me pull my old Log Book from the top shelf.
I flew the SP from November 1994 till January 2001
The two QANTAS SPs had registrations VH-EAA and VH-EAB
Destinations that I flew them to included, 
Sydney, Bali, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Jakarta,  Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Manila, Nagoya, Narita (Tokyo), Seoul, Singapore, Tahiti, and Taipei.
The best cold beer was in Japan.
Total time on type 755.6 hours.

From my cloudy memory, some details that I recall include,
It had the same engines and thrust as the longer fuselage 747s, so it performed much better. The word "sports car" comes to mind.
Idle thrust at landing touchdown meant a higher power to weight ratio, compared to the heavier 747s. Something to remember if you hadn't flown it for a while, otherwise you'd touch down, further down the runway. 
The shorter length fuselage was the reason for the larger Vertical Stabiliser, to give it equal directional stability.
It had the same brakes as the longer, heavier 747s, and associated noticeably shorter stopping performance.
The wings and flaps were different because of the lighter weight, so the speed limitations were different, usually faster.
Being superseded by the 747-400, QANTAS relegated its SPs to much shorter sectors than it was capable of, and where passenger loads were less in number.

David tells me that he logged over 13,000 hours total, on the Boeing 747-SP, 747-200, 747-300 & 747-400. That's equivalent to 1.5 years just flying 747s and in addition David flew military aircraft for the RAAF as well as other commercial aircraft. That's one experienced pilot.

Now he stays on the ground with his 356 Porsches and his great 550 replica. Sadly not even retired Qantas pilots can afford a genuine 550.

Photos below shows him in his workshop fettling some 356 motor parts and his New Old Stock 550.



If you are interested to read more about the first Qantas 747 SP and to
see some interesting period photos go to http://www.aussieairliners.org/b-747/vh-eaa/vheaa.html

31 Jul 2020

Fantastic flowers


A good friend, David, gave this wonderful bouquet of flowers to Val who is 'proper poorly'.
I found it very difficult to take an original photo of the display of flowers in a vase even with the display as good as this. My first efforts were pathetic. A quick click of the mouse on 'delete' fixed them.
I'm happier, but not totally satisfied, with this effort above. I put the vase on our white table and took the photo from above.

26 Jul 2020

Farewell old friend.


Last Wednesday Qantas retired their last Boeing 747. Originally the retirement had been planned for the end of the year but with the collapse of international flights Qantas brought the retirement forward.
The plane -with a full load of passengers -had a grand send off from Sydney Airport for its flight to Los Angeles. The really clever part is that off the coast of northern New South Wales the 747 tracked a flying kangaroo flight path and this was caught on flight tracking radar.


I travelled hundreds of thousands of kilometres on Qantas 747s and 747s of other airlines.
My first sight of a 747 was in 1970 when Pan Am started the first 747 flights to London. At the time I was living in Wandsworth, South London, close to the River Thames and the flight path into Heathrow Airport followed the river and one of the first Pan Am 747 flights passed directly over me.

My first 747 flight was in 1974 when I flew on a British Airways 747 to Hong Kong. A few weeks later I flew on my first Qantas 747 London to Singapore and then onto Sydney. I can still vividly remember the scruffy non-airconditioned Paya Lebar airport in Singapore, the forerunner to the superb Changi.

 Up until the 1990s the so called "Kangaroo" route, London to Sydney was the domain of Qantas and British Airways and for many years they codeshared the route. I flew this route many dozens of times-in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Up until 1991 Qantas 747 flights had to stop in Singapore and then Bahrain for fuel and a crew change on the flight to London. The flight took close to 26 hours.The transit stop in Singapore was not so bad as Changi Airport was opened in 1981 but the Bahrain stop was awful . You had to disembark in a zombie like state in the middle of the night and try and find an empty seat in a very tired lounge surrounded by transit passengers fast asleep all over the floor.

In those distant days there was only one in-flight entertainment option-a video film projected onto a pulldown screen from an overhead video projector. There was, if you were lucky, a film for each leg and it was shown after the meal had been served. Often I had already seen the film at the cinema. You tried to listen to the audio through very primitive air tube headphones. No individual video screens, no hundreds of channels of video options and no fall-back position of using your iPad.

In 1979 Qantas introduced Business Class which made the long flight more bearable-if you were a Business Class passenger-but the really big improvement came on 1990 when the Boeing 747 400 with a stretched upper deck and longer range was introduced on the route, initially by Singapore Airlines. The 747 400 could fly Sydney to London with just one stop so the Bahrain sleep walking days were over and the flight time was cut by nearly three hours.
Qantas added more London flights in the 1990s and you had a choice of a stop in Singapore, Bangkok and for a few years Hong Kong en route to London.
However the Middle Eastern airlines-Emirates, Ethiad and Qatar- moved in on the route en masse in the 1990s but that is another story.

 After a frantic week of meetings in the UK, and later Germany, there was something  special about boarding a Qantas 747 in London or Frankfurt and being welcomed by friendly Australian cabin crew although Singapore compensated for their lack of friendly Australian voices with exceptional service.

From 2001 to 2008 I was flying Sydney to Chicago very frequently and initially my American employer had a contract with United for their travel worldwide. Even in Business Class, or whatever they called it, flying United was not a good experience and I was so relieved when we switched to American in 2002 as American did not fly to Australia and their partner for the 15 hour trans-Pacific leg was Qantas.

In addition to Qantas 747s, British Airways and Singapore Airlines 747s I have flown on 747s of Japan Airlines, Malaysia, Pan Am, United, American Airlines, Air France, China Air, South African Airways, Cathay Pacific, Thai and Alitalia.


Two unusual derivatives of the 747 were the 747 SP-the special performance version, with extended range. This was a stubby 747 carrying many less passengers. Qantas had two and I seem to remember that I flew on one to Los Angeles or maybe it was San Francisco once. The SP could fly higher and faster than the standard 747's and it could cross the Pacfic without refuelling whereas the pre 400 747s had to refuel in Hawaii on the way out and Fiji on the return leg. However the SP was uneconomic to operate and Qantas eventually managed to sell their two examples.
.
South African Airways had quite a fleet of SPs which they operated on the London to J'Burg route and elsewhere during the apartheid era when they were limited in where they could stop to refuel. I flew on one from London to J'Burg in 1974.

The other odd 747 was the Combi-half passenger and half cargo. The back of the plane was all cargo space and the front was passengers. I flew on a Singapore Airlines Combi from Singapore to Athens way back and it was an odd sensation.

It's really sad to see the 747s go. It was such a superb aircraft. Qantas kept their 747s longer than most other airlines but the last time I flew on a 747 was a Qantas flight from Sydney to Hong Kong in 2016. Even at the time that the interior of the aircraft was looking very tired. My return flight was on a very new Qantas A380 airbus and the contrast was marked.
The last Qantas 747 flew on from Los Angeles to the plane graveyard in the Mojave Desert on Friday where it will be scrapped. There is no demand for high mileage 747s even those once owned by Qantas.

10 Jul 2020

Le Mans Classic days


In normal times I'd be heading back from Paris after having been to the 2020 Le Mans Classic last weekend. But, of course, these are not normal times. The Classic was postponed until next year and anyway I'm grounded in Australia.
A few of my photos as reminder of the good times -wet and dry-of Classics past from 2010 to 2016. I missed 2018.
















8 Jul 2020

A penny for your thoughts


It's winter. A wet winter after the drought and the bushfires. It's been a very bleak few days after a bleak nine months. Personal drama. Covid-19 raging across the world and now reappearing in Australia, in Victoria, just when we thought that we might be safe. No foreign travel. No exotic places to visit. World leaders behaving like moronic thugs. It's difficult to be upbeat but, as usual, as I sat reading this evening my loyal old friend, Phoebe, came and snuggled upto me and when I picked up my camera she just stood still apparently thinking. What do old cats think about? Food, probably, although she had just finished off her dinner. Maybe her mind was just in neutral. She always brings a smile to my face. Unconditional love.

Photo taken with my new toy-a Leica Q2. Photoco in Adelaide had a mint-as new Q2 for sale at an excellent price so I have moved my 4 year old Q on and I purchased the Q2. It's just like the Q except better although in the 5 days since I acquired it I have had very little opportunity to use it except to photograph Phoebe.


6 Jul 2020

Volvo love

If 20 years ago you had told me that in 2020 I'd be writing a story in praise of my Volvo I would have laughed at you but now here it is.

After years of driving Range Rovers as my company cars back in 2007 I decided to switch to something smaller -a Volvo wagon- for a change. Fortunately I chose a V50 T5 AWD-the top spec-although this particular car was a misbuild and did not have a sunroof-nor the nav system-neither a great loss.

When I retired in 2008 I was offered the car at an excellent price and as I knew it had one careful driver I purchased it. I was not expecting to own it for the next 12 years but that's what's happened.
It's a great car. It's quick-yes, really. The 5 cylinder 2.4 litre turbo petrol motor has plenty of torque although around town it is thirsty. It's relaxing to drive. It does not have silly large wheels and low profile tyres so my fillings are safe on Australian roads and I can drive down dirt roads whilst not worrying much about punctures.

It's very comfortable. It handles well. The AWD (All Wheel Drive) is a plus. It is big enough to take my bike or other large items with the rear seats down. The aircon is excellent. It looks reasonably stylish-still-and above all else it is reliable and cheap to maintain. In over 125,000kms only two things have gone wrong. The rear hatch lock failed. That is a Ford item, and I'm told by the local Volvo specialist that they all fail, and the fuel pressure regulator failed. That's also an item which apparently fails on most of them despite it being made by Bosch-do they have a Chinese factory? That's it. I have it serviced regularly and I try to clean it from time to time but otherwise it is a workhorse.

From time to time I think about changing it, maybe for a C-Class Mercedes wagon or similar, but the sums do not add up and I know that the Merc would be slower and as for the depreciation....
So here's one happy Volvo owner. I have decided to keep driving it for as long as possible.

30 Jun 2020

Screen time

Screen time. A photo I took back in 2018 but it could be today. Granddaughters Poppy and Scarlett engrossed on their iPads. I am sure we are all sick of screentime but perhaps we should all be grateful that in the time of Covid-19 we had the internet for without it lockdowns would have been even more difficult to take. A Leica Q photo.

18 Jun 2020

Classic road trip


Back this afternoon from a 3 day matesgrüppe Porsche road 1200km trip up the coast and into New England. Fifth year of the trip-same route and accommodation as past years-if it ain't broke don't fix it. Unlike last year the weather was kind to us -cold but brilliant sunshine. Old Porsches love cold, dense air and the heater works well.
Superb driving and a great time was had by all. We flogged the cars and they all performed superbly. Mine gathered a few more stone chips including two on the windscreen. No worries-it's not a garage queen, it's a driver.
The 240kms of the Oxley Highway from Walcha to Wauchope is one of the great driving roads of Australia and there was almost no other traffic. For very long stretches we were totally on our own. The 48km continuous winding section through the gumtree forest down the mountain to Long Flat is truly awesome with bend after bend and sheer drops off the edge into the forest with long stretches without a guard rail. Best not to think about it.
Photo above of my car taken off Uralla -Walcha road in New England high country. The country still looks brown but plenty of water in the dams and creeks and sheep and cattle are back on the pastures.
Photo below the three cars somewhere between Clarence and the Bucketts Way on our way up north on the first day.