The Aircraft of MDT: Cessna 208

Welcome to the eighth regular installment of The Aircraft of MDT. In this series we are taking a look at some of the aircraft that you may spot flying to and from Harrisburg International Airport.

A FedEx 208B Super Cargomaster seen through the
heat haze of the cargo apron.
The Cessna 208 is a single engine turboprop aircraft used for short-haul passenger and cargo flights. The original 208, the 208A Caravan, entered production in 1985. Shortly thereafter, in collaboration with Federal Express (now FedEx Express), Cessna developed the 208A Cargomaster and the 208B Super Cargomaster. The Super Cargomaster, 4 feet longer and using a more powerful engine than its smaller sibling, first flew in 1986. The passenger derivative of the Super Cargomaster, the 208B Grand Caravan, made its maiden flight in 1990.

There have been more than 1,000 208s built, across all of the variants. Of those, FedEx operates some 250, more than any other carrier. They, and other freight carriers, use the 208 primarily on feeder routes, carrying packages from small airports to hubs where they are transferred to large jet freighters like the Airbus A300. The Cargomaster can carry roughly 3,000 pounds of freight, and the Super Cargomaster, 3,500.

A Super Cargomaster operated by AirNet Express
is loaded with cargo.
The Caravan and Grand Caravan variants have standard passenger capacities of 9 and 14, respectively. They are commonly used as short-haul regional airliners. The 208, though, is an extremely versatile aircraft, and can be configured to a variety of specialized situations. The standard landing gear, for instance, can be replaced with skis or pontoons to enable landing on snow or water. The 208 is also popular as a skydiving plane; in this case, the cargo hatch can be replaced with a roll-up door.

At Harrisburg International Airport, Super Cargomasters can be spotted on the cargo apron, supporting the freight operations of both FedEx and UPS.


Wondrous Wanders: Santorini, Greece

Today we feature the fourth post in our guest blog travel series.  This series highlights the favorite travel destinations that inspired wonder in each guest blogger as they wandered there.  Today's post is from Dan Gellert on his wondrous wanderings in Santorini, Greece.  Dan is the CEO and Co-Founder of GateGuru, the leading in-airport mobile application for travelers.  In addition to his love of traveling and technology (hence GateGuru!), Dan enjoys outdoor activities, playing music and family. 

A little over a year ago, I visited Santorini with my wife as part of our honeymoon.  While this wasn’t my first time in Greece, this was my first time to the island of Santorini.  However, that trip will not be my last trip to Santorini.   In short, the island is the most perfect place I have ever been, and through that experience it has been elevated to my favorite travel destination.  Given that I have been to 6 continents and all 50 US states this is a big claim – so what specifically made Santorini my favorite travel destination?  In my mind, what made Santorini such a special place is the following:
Kirini Hotel

  • Our hotel was right out of a dream.  Within Santorini, we stayed in the town of Oia, which is probably the most beautiful of the towns in Santorini (it is on the northwest coast of the island).  For those that don’t know anything about Santorini, the island was formed as a result of a volcanic explosion.  Many of the hotels, are basically carved right into the island, and as a result, they look like they are sitting on the edge of a cliff, creating amazing panoramic views of nothing but rock and blue seas.  Within Oia, we stayed at the Kirini Hotel.  We had the type of room where the doors opened up to a view of nothing but the deep blue Agean Sea – not a bad way to open your eyes in the morning!  Apart from the room, the hotel (along with many hotels in Oia) made sure our every desire was met and on our final night we had “The Experience Dinner”.  This aptly named dinner involves a 5-course meal where the diners are sitting on a jutted out part of the main balcony, creating a paradigm where it feels like you are the only two people in the world.  Simply amazing. 
  • Lots of fun outdoor activities.  While I enjoy some beach time, I am not the type of person who can spend a week on a beach.  Luckily, on the island of Santorini there are so many fun and exciting activities.  One day we rented an ATV and went beach hoping to explore the island.  Another day we took a hike from Oia to Fira (the main town in Santorini) and another day we did a wine tour (there are lots of great Greek wines!).  Finally, we had one day to do nothing but sit by the infinity pool by the hotel (have I mentioned how much we liked the hotel J).  Overall, Santorini was a great mix of relaxation and activities, something that I would consider a requirement for my favorite travel destination.
  • Infinity Pool
  • Worlds Best Sunset.  The sunset on Santorini is simply unlike anything I have ever seen before.  In short, it is the world’s best sunset.  Every night the people on Santorini go to the northern most tip of the island and everyone watches the sunset together.  The beauty of the Santorini sunset was one of those amazing moments that I will never forget in my lifetime.  

World's Best Sunse
The 4 days and 3 nights we spent on the island of Santorini were some of the most memorable of my life.  Despite my preference to constantly travel to new places, Santorini is one place that I will return to  in the coming years and I hope you have the chance to visit the island as well!

Have you been to Greece, specifically Santorini?   What have been your favorite aspects of traveling to this exotic destination? 


Wondrous Wanders: San Francisco & Paris

Today we feature the third post in our latest guest blog travel series.  The series highlights favorite travel destinations that inspired wonder in the guest blogger as they wandered there.  Today's post is from Benet Wilson about her wondrous wanderings in San Francisco and Paris.  Benet self-describes as a Mother; Multimedia journalist; aviation geek; excessive traveler; NABJ & ONA member; social media goddess; quilter; and your 'Aunt Benet!'  Find out more about Auntie Benet online!

I’ve been traveling since I took my first trip on an airplane – Pan Am, JFK Airport to London Heathrow – when I was six years old.  And truth be told, I haven’t slowed down since.
I’ve traveled the world, including Brazil, spots across Europe, Israel, Singapore, Seoul and even to Greenland (that’s for another post). When I was asked to pick my favorite place to visit, it proved to be a daunting task. So I’m not going to choose – I’m picking two.
First, is the city of my heart – and my birth – San Francisco.  Tony Bennett sums it up best:
I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me.
To be where little cable cars
Climb halfway to the stars!
The morning fog may chill the air
I don't care!
It has everything you want in a city – arts, culture, tourism, shopping, world-class dining, sports and funky neighborhoods, including the largest Chinatown in the United States.  The city makes a fortune selling sweatshirts, because, to (allegedly) quote Mark Twain “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.”
Three things you MUST do in the city by the Bay: eat a meal at Hang Ah Tea Room, which serves fantastic dim sum, tea and Chinese desserts; visit The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which has a world-class collection; and ride on the cable cars. Yes, it’s tourist and hokey, but it’s also a great ride and a wonderful way to see the city.
I told you I was doing two, and my second choice is Paris.  I vaguely remember going when I was in elementary school, but I went back as an adult in 1995 to cover my first Paris Air Show.  I was over there for almost 2 weeks for other work-related things, so I got a small taste of what it was like to be a Parisian.  I ate breakfast at a patisserie every morning, and spent time in the ubiquitous French cafes and bistros. 
I am an art museum fanatic and my favorite, by far, was the Musée d'Orsay, home to a wonderful collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.  I also took a half day of cooking lessons at Le Cordon Bleu, visited the Rodin Museum, shopped at the many flea markets, took mass at Notre Dame Cathedral and ate a superb meal at Guy Savoy’s little bistro – great food at a fraction of the price of his three-Michelin-starred restaurant.

So you can’t go wrong at either of these world-class cities.  Enjoy your travels! 

Have you traveled to either of these fantastic cities?  What are some of your favorite spots to get lost in wonder in San Francisco and Paris?


The Aircraft of MDT: Airbus A300/A310

Welcome to the seventh regular installment of The Aircraft of MDT. In this series we are taking a look at some of the aircraft that you may spot flying to and from Harrisburg International Airport.

A UPS A300 freighter with its cargo doors open.
In 1967, the British, French, and German governments signed an agreement and began designing a new aircraft that would serve as an alternative for airlines interested in replacing their Boeing 727s. The company that resulted from that initial agreement was Airbus Industrie, and the aircraft would become the A300.

The first A300s entered commercial service in 1974. Four years later, Airbus began designing a shorter variant, then known as the A300B10. The ultimate designation of the new variant, which entered service in 1983, was A310. The A310 carries about 25 fewer passengers than the A300 and improves upon the range, able to travel 6,800 kilometers to the original A300’s 6,600. Also entering service in 1983 was the A300-600 variant that borrowed several of the A310’s advances, including a glass cockpit and new tail section design. The last A310 was delivered in 1998, and the last A300 in 2007.
UPS and FedEx A300s wait on the cargo apron.

Both the A300 and A310 were available in passenger and freight configurations. It is the freighter versions of the two airliners that you will see at Harrisburg International Airport. FedEx Express and UPS Airlines both maintain operations at MDT, and both airlines typically have at least one A300/310 parked on the cargo apron.

Finally, though it would be an unlikely sight in Harrisburg, no discussion of the A300-600 would be complete without noting that it serves as the basis for one of the world’s oddest looking airplanes.
A FedEx A310 touches down.
Airbus has manufacturing plants all over Europe, so to bring the pieces of their planes together for final assembly, they employ five Super Transporters. Known as the Beluga, for its oversized white body, the A300-600ST has the second largest cargo capacity by volume of any aircraft in the world.


Wondrous Wanders: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Today is the 2nd post in a guest blog series featuring some of our social media aviation community members. The series highlights the favorite travel destinations that inspired wonder in the guest blogger as they wandered there. Today's post is from Kristin Vanderhey Shaw.  She works for SITA and self-describes as loving her baby boy, airplanes, airports, classic cars, sports, Italy, and dessert; not necessarily in that order.

There’s something special about Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was my third trip to Halifax, and I count it as one of my favorite places in the world. As I wandered the streets recently for a few precious hours before my meetings began, I tried to put my finger on what it was. It’s not just the quiet elegance of the city, nestled in a now-popular cruise ship port. It’s not just the abundance of lobster, which is exported on 747s around the world. It’s not just the Halifax-Stanfield airport, which has clearly established a sense of place through natural décor, gift shops, and restaurants that reflect its personality. It’s not just the people, who are as friendly as you would expect from a Scottish-heritage town. It’s all of these things and then some.

Traveling to Halifax is not going to include a hopping night life and 5-star hotels and restaurants. The Westin is a little worn, but the rooms are clean and comfortable, the room service is well above par in terms of service and food (the crab cake and spinach-strawberry-goat cheese salad are excellent), and the chef called me personally to ensure that he understood my food allergies before proceeding.
Go to Halifax in the fall and wonder at the jewel tones of autumn in crimson, amber, and gold. Drive along the shores, and walk among the locals in town. You’ll find that you can learn how to navigate very quickly… up to the Citadel, and down to the boardwalk. Grab a lobster roll from Murphy’s on the water, and don’t forget to stop at the stand outside for a Beaver Tail (a delicious whole-wheat pastry fried and topped with various treats; I prefer the simplicity of cinnamon-sugar and lemon). In the evenings, seek out a local bar where you can hear lilting Celtic music and dance along, or watch the Halifax Mooseheads hockey team, a Quebec Junior Major League team with 16- and 17-year-olds training for the NHL.

If you have time, there are some fantastic quick trips you can take from Halifax, including Peggys Cove, the Swissair memorial site, and Lunenburg. If you’re an aviation buff, don’t miss the Swissair 111 site, a gorgeous piece of landscape just around the corner from Peggys Cove. Swissair 111 was lost in 1998 roughly five miles from the spot where the memorial site sits today. The site itself is not remarkable; it’s the serenity and natural beauty of the area that gives it an ethereal quality. For more information on the memorial site, click here.
From the Swissair site, follow the road around to the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, which is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. A photographer’s paradise, if you’re lucky enough to catch it on a foggy day, you’ll find enough material here to fill a coffee table book.
Lunenburg is a picturesque village on the shores of southwest Nova Scotia, about 80 km from Halifax. Deeply mired in Maritime culture, the heritage of the town is easy to spot in the “widow’s peaks” (also called “Lunenburg bumps”) the fishermen’s wives used to look out from the tops of their houses to watch for their husbands’ return from the sea.

The Bluenose II is being completely refurbished in a warehouse in Lunenburg. You can tour the site and see how the restoration is coming along and see a piece of history in progress: the original Bluenose is featured on the Canadian dime.

Also famous is this seaside town is Iron Works micro-distillery, offering tasting tours and bottles for sale of their molasses-finished rum with a warm, smooth finish. They also sell silky-smooth blueberry, cranberry, and raspberry liqueur. In case you can’t make it to Lunenburg from Halifax, you can purchase these potables at the Bishop Cellar, just off the boardwalk in Halifax, and they will package them up properly for checking your bag or shipping.

You may not find the connection to Halifax that I have, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t. If you get the chance, visit this corner of North America and let yourself be carried along by the song of Atlantic Canada.

Have you been to Nova Scotia, specifically Halifax?  What did you enjoy most about your visit to this city?  If you've not been there, do this post inspire you to a future visit?


Wondrous Wanders: Bali

Today we're starting a new guest blog series featuring some of our social media community members.  The new series will highlight the favorite travel destinations that inspired wonder in the guest blogger as they wandered there.  We begin the series with a post from Max Graham about his wonderous wandering in Bali.  Max is a full time international touring DJ and Record producer who has visited over 65 countries in his career.  As a “Million Miler” with Air Canada his Twitter bio says “Either in the studio or on a plane."  More info about Max can be found at www.maxgraham.com.

In 2002, I was introduced to Bali, and more specifically the “Gili Islands”. A trio of islands off the coast of Lombok. A small trek by plane, car and boat from Bali; these islands are a heaven for divers and people looking to relax. I’ve spent a lot of time on GIli Trawangan (the largest and the main tourist destination), including learning to dive there.

What catches you about this island, other than the clear blue water and relaxed vibe, is that there are no cars. To get around the island you either rent a bike for your time there or take the donkey taxi carts which are plentiful. On the main strip of the island you can find plenty of food options including the famous “Irish Bar,” where you’ll find the ex-pats hanging around talking about the good old days. Diving is amazing and there are enough spots to keep you going for a few weeks without getting bored. Weather is perfect and the locals were very helpful and nice, as it has that small community feel.
It’s a bit of extra work to get there but very worth it if you envision yourself spending your days diving and your nights eating and drinking under the stars.

Have you been to Bali, specifically the Gili Islands?  What diving spots do you recommend there?  If you've not been to Bali, when will you be planning your island vacation?

Want to fly to Bali from MDT?  A few of our air carrier partners can get you there with a couple of connections.  Save Money, Distance and Time choosing to fly to Bali from Harrisburg!