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That's NOT a BOEING?!

"Love Is In The Air"

by Jeremy Carlisle

It was a dreary afternoon in late 2000 and I was standing on the Cedarhurst Long Island Railroad (LIRR) platform waiting for my train back into the city.  I had just transplanted to New York and was just getting used to the incoming and outgoing traffic out of New York's John F. Kennedy Airport that encompassed the airspace above the Five Towns area of Nassau County, Long Island on a daily basis.

As a I was waiting for my train, my ears detected a faint howling sound of jet engines distantly behind me.  I took a look back and saw a white vague shape, however, as it came closer, I saw that it had four engines.  I thought to myself, "Ah, it's another 747.."  Little did I know having just arrived from a rural area in Michigan where spotting heavies was a bit foreign to the spotter's eye.  To which a DC-9 was considered to be "heavy metal."  

As this plane came closer and closer, I noticed that this transport only had one level.  But with four engines?  Then the words came out of my mouth, 

"Wait a minute!  That's NOT a BOEING?!"  

Indeed it wasn't. Not only a new plane but also a new airline. As I watched the massive single level quad-powerplant pass overhead on final for Kennedy's 31R, big navy blue letters on its side signaled to my brain:

The French Acronym For:
Société Anonyme Belge d'Exploitation de la Navigation Aérienne 
(Literally: "Belgian 'Anonymous Society' for Exploitation of Air Navigation")


I remember the name "Airbus" being mentioned by my father prior to my arrival in NY.  As far as I recall, he mentioned that we had taken an A319 or -20 out to Denver with Northwest, but wasn't for sure.  As my passions for aviation grew, this name "Airbus" would be written, typed, less alone would come out of my mouth on a daily basis.

Of course, when jetBlue came on the scene February 11th, 2000, I was well acquainted with the A320 upon my arrival here, then using that model to identify other baby buses with other carriers.  

November of 2000, I received my formal introduction to Airbus, when I picked up the December 2000 issue (no longer in print) of Airways Magazine.  Norwegian aviation journalist and photographer Kjell Oskar Granlund took me aboard the life of a pilot on the SABENA Airbus A330-200, this time it would be OO-SFP.  The flight from Brussels National (BRU/EBBR) to Atlanta-Hartsfield (ATL/KATL) was under the controls of Captain André D'Hondt and assisting him seated in the right seat was the Chief Pilot of Sabena's A330/340 fleet, Captain Louis Cornet.

Vivid photographs of the flight deck aligned the article and as my eyeballs went across each line on the page like a tennis match. I was too quickly falling in love with this amazing aircraft.  The article elaborated its readers of the Airbus fly-by-wire technology along with ETOPS (Extended Twin-Engine Operation Performance Standards) missions as this A330 flew not only across the Atlantic but also across the page before my very eyes just like that day standing on the train platform.

Another amazing thing I noticed from the article, was the photograph of the sectional chart showing the route not scraping the eastern seaboard, but venturing down the St. Lawrence Seaway, Lake Erie, over Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and down into Atlanta.

The article, like many good things, had to come to an end when a southern voice came from Atlanta center clearing the Belgian ship and its inhabitants in for a MACEY 2 STAR via WOMAC.  Being that Atlanta is one of the world's busiest, communications had to be to a "T" - but it made for an ending, a touchdown, to the article par excellence.  It took me a few minutes to read the article but for Captains D'Hondt and Cornet, it took them a total of 9 hours and 24 minutes to let those pages fly.

I must say that after reading this article, it left a special place in my soul for the Airbus - especially the A330.  Every time I am in town around JFK and see their finals and/or take offs around Kennedy I gaze up and smile.  It makes for an amusing conversation with my non-av(iation) friends who look at me identifying those buses to myself, as if I was from another planet, and say, "Whatever you say."  As much as I've heard the terms "Scarebus", "Airbust" and the like, nothing will scare me from riding in one of the Airbus fleet less alone many other aircraft.. And I certainly look forward to my first ride in the A330, or perhaps the fading A340, but most certainly the new A350.   


  1. Nice Story, Jeremy.

    The A-330 is one sweet ride. Those that don't like her, usually just don't understand her.

    1. Thank you so much, Bill. I will definitely take your word for it as I am looking forward to my first A330 ride. who will be the airline? We shall see. As for those who don't like her, they refuse to take the time IMHO. IMHO a true avgeek loves all aircraft.

  2. Jeremy, this is too funny. I actually know who the author of that article is. He is in fact still an active member of the Norwegian aviation community. Nice article! The A330 and 340 remains my favorite long haul aircrafts, from a passenger's perspective. Having flown on the 332, 333, 343 and 346 I love how nice and comfortable they are.

    1. Cecilie,

      It's great you know the author! He actually sent me the text of the article as it's out of print and I was tearing my eyes out looking for it trying to remember some points I wanted to mention.

      Even though I haven't been on the Airbus heavies yet, they look very comfortable from what I've seen in the photos even in economy.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I love this Jeremy. Not only the story, the plane, but your writing! Eyeballs bouncing like a tennis match. Beautiful! Just as the Airbus. Okay... watch for the August issue of Airways magazine. There will be a "Flight For Control" review!

    1. OMG! The book will be on Airways Magazine? How awesome!!! I must get a copy somehow. Jeremy, buy me a copy and I'll pay you later (I'm serious)!!!

      This post is great! The way you write is just so great!

      Cheers man!

    2. Thank you so much, Karlene!! OH YES! I will definitely have my eyeballs bouncing at the B & N magazine rack this July looking for the August issue - like a tennis match!

    3. Alex, I will definitely get you a copy and no need to pay me back. And thank you so much for the compliment. Means a lot!

      Cheers M8ty!


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