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This Monday is Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer. With the close of the sunniest season comes a finish to the bulk of the year's Air Show program. There's still the Red Bull Air Race in Dallas, TX to look forward to next weekend, but we're wishing we had known about another event earlier in the year, over in Budapest, Hungary.
Red Bull's Aerobatics team was out in full force over the Danube River back in May for the capital's Air Show, but they weren't even the highlight! Budapest's air authorities allowed for some maneuvers that outshown these dare devils, beginning with a grand opening of a plane taking off from the roadway of a bridge (view it above).
Road Trips / Top Gear Travel / TV Travel / Cars / Britain Travel / Awesome Stuff / Racing / → All Tags
Fun fact: BBC's Top Gear is the most popular automotive show in history, broadcasting in about 170 different countries. Hundreds of millions of people tune in and watch the ragtag trio of presenters race, destroy cars, and chide each other in the process every week, so there is a pretty good chance you're one of those fans. If so, good news! The Top Gear Test Track is now open to the public, for a price of course.
That’s right. You can drive on the same track at Dunsfold Park (near Guildford in Surrey) where they do most of their tests and challenges, visit the Top Gear TV Studio, and catch a glimpse of that looming Boeing 747 in the process. The Top Gear Track Experience, as it's called, offers 8 different options ranging from the “Star In a Reasonably Priced Car” timed laps to off-roading in a Land Rover Defender.
Events / AvGeek / Wisconsin Travel / General Aviation / Airplanes / Awesome Stuff / Summer Travel / Midwest Travel / OSH / Festival Travel / → All Tags
For one week this summerJuly 28 - August 3the busiest control tower in the world will be the one at a small regional airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
What's so cool about Oshkosh, exactly? Well, all that week runs the "world's greatest aviation celebration," called EAA AirVenture (colloquially just "Oshkosh"), and tens of thousands of participating aircraft take to the skies and ground at OSH. The impressive numbers of flying machines and visitors (nearly half a million!) bestows upon Oshkosh's Wittman Regional Airport that superlative title and, for a brief summer week, all eyes are on the Midwest.
Although we flew in 2 years ago, last year we road-tripped up from Chicago to see if doing Oshkosh in a day would be possible. And it totally is. Three hours driving each way, $35 in gas, a pit stop to buy cheese curds, $10 in parking at Oshkosh and lots of listening to Sirius radio was all it took to spend the day amongst fields of aircraft (from brand new Honda private jets to vintage warplanes) and under loop-de-loops of the nearly constant aerobatic action.
We don’t usually talk about video games, but thanks to the release of Mario Kart 8 for Nintendo Wii U we have reason to celebrate—and to pick up a controller.
The Mario Kart franchise has some new tracks, new levels, and new characters, but the one in which we're most interested is known as "Sunshine Airport." Think cartoon jumbo jets soaring over the track and the ability to drive in and around the baggage carousel. Signage for airlines—like GalaxyAir—dot the virtual property, and there’s even the usual airport signage as scenery. Bottom line is that you’re racing through a video game version of the airport, and it’s pretty darn awesome.
FurthestCity is a simple site with the function of sharing exactly which cities, large or small, are most distant from each other. Enter a location, and view a small list of such places categorized by population size. We recommend trying it with your current location, then your hometown, and then your dream vacation destination.
Don't be shocked when Australia or New Zealand frequently show up in the results; they're far from just about everywhere but themselves.
We're currently in Reykjavik, Iceland, so we thought it'd be cool to use the site to calculate the farthest city away from our position. The results (below), which pinpoint Dunedin, NZ and Hobart, AU as most distant, are particularly funny because we were just in that region. It's not even half-way through 2014 and already here's proof that we've gone from one end of the world to the other.
What else is there to see in the sky this season? After today's first solar eclipse of 2014 (visible only in Australia and Antarctica), thirst is high for more nights spent with an eye to the sky. For a clue or two, we turn to one of our favorite Facebook pages, i fucking love science (IFLS). The page, which describes its mission as existing for "the funny side of science...quotes, jokes, memes and anything your admin finds awesome and strange," has over 13 million "likers."
Filed in among those memes and jokes is some spectacularly useful information, good enough to inspire summer travels. For example, take their quick guide to dates with celestial events (above) and meteor showers (below).
Vodafone recently began a brilliant campaign to showcase communication technology as it relates to improved quality of life. One video has members of a refugee camp making the first call home, while another details the creation of the first "color-conducted" orchestra concert. Without a doubt, however, their masterpiece is "An & Ria's #First Flight," a 9-minute short film following two elderly women as they embark on what is not only their first flight, but their first experience abroad.
Head to 4:00 for the beginning of their airport experience, where they marvel at airplanes ready to take off for exotic destinations. Rememberneither of these women (aged 78) have been more than a drive or train away from their homes for their entire life, vacationing near so as to avoid air travel.
Awesome Stuff / Legos / Toy Travel / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Social Media / Airlines / AvGeek / Pilots / → All Tags
Lindbergh. Earhart. Yeager.
Let's face itaviators are the epitome of cool. Heck, even fictitious pilots like Top Gun's Maverick get all the girls, so frankly we're shocked it's taken so long for the internet generation to devise a character as brilliant as The Lego Pilot.
Jetting around the world in his perfectly pressed uniform, The Lego Pilot spends days sharing his "office views" and favorite layover locations with fans on social media. Though his body may be made of plastic building blocks, his personality is very much alive on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. He's essentially a fully conceptualized and storified version of Lufthansa's "Pilot Diary" Instagram series from August 2013, which we heralded as "a revelation for airline social media."
Recent travels have transported The Lego Pilot to London, Hong Kong, Spain's Costa del Sol, Dubai, and Marrakech...and that's only since the beginning of March when the accounts initiated.
We won't spoil all the fun for you (follow him!), but below are a few of our favorite The Lego Pilot moments. Enjoy!
Airports / SIN / Singapore Travel / Awesome Stuff / Singapore Changi Airport / Free Stuff / → All Tags
We consider ourselves pretty darn familiar with things related to travel loyalty programs. From airlines to rental cars we know most of the ins and outs about points, miles, and free credits. However, we do need to hit the books and study up on one of the latest options, as airports getting in on the loyalty scene is certainly new to us.
It’s the airport awesomeness that is Singapore’s Changi Airport that is changing up their Changi Rewards Program. Membership is free, and you’ll earn points for every dollar you spend.
Like most other loyalty programs, the folks at Changi have set up three levels: member, gold, platinum. Travelers can reach gold status by spending $4,000 within the year, and it’s a platinum card if you throw down over $8,000 (which can be easily done if you're in the market for duty-free luxury goods). The program offers up coupons and what not during the year, and the deals and discounts get better as you climb the loyalty ladder.
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She may not be the largest cruise ship in the world any longer, but the Queen Mary 2 is by far the most photogenic.
2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the Cunard liner's christening, one blustery day in January 2004 when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II smashed champagne on the bow. It's that bow which is again the focus, as the ship posed for an anniversary portrait featuring Captain Kevin Oprey standing not on the ship's bridge, but on her bulbous bow.
The image was taken as the ship anchored 1 mile off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. The weather and sea conditions were perfect for such a risky shot, and The Daily Mail has the details:
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[Update: Your registration money goes to benefit the JFK Rotary Club, which donates to the Boy Scouts. Currently the Boy Scouts pursue a homophobic agenda, and we will not be running until this changes. Please consider this when deciding whether or not to run in 2014]
Have you ever wanted to walk on a major airport runway? Hopefully you never have to because of emergency circumstances (see an example of that here), but there is a legal (and safe) way to take a stroll one of New York-JFK's runways, and that's by registering for the JFK Runway Run 2014.
Okay, so its not so much a stroll as it is a full-fledged 5K race, but a portion of it does indeed include tramping on the longest runway at JFK, while aircraft are re-routed to land on a different runway during the race. Apparently the race has been around since the mid-1970s, which is pretty neat-o.
We did it ourselves in 2013. Why? Oh, just because it was, like, one of the coolest things we did all year (and we do some seriously cool stuff). See photos and read all about it.
It may be the boring bit of January right now, between the fun holidays and the meh ones, but International No Pants Subway Ride Day was this past weekend, but there are more than a few dates of whimsical excitement to add to your calendar for 2014:
International Pillow Fight Day: Saturday, April 5
Hundreds of people lob pillows at each other, all for fun, and the cops are aware and present at this (at least in New York City), so no putting "extras" in your pillowcase. Take a look at the details from 2013 to get an idea of what cities are participating, and where exactly the action will go down in those cities.