First up, a confession: in my youth I was a bit of an aircraft fan. Well, fan... more of a fanatic really. I used to be able to distinguish 500+ different aircraft types, plus for many of them different sub-types, with design details, history, usage around the world, different capabilities and payloads, weapons types (of military aircraft)... You get the gist.
It's a hobby that I've put to rest, because as a young dad with two kids, a wife and a giant DIY project on your hand, you really don't have the time for hobbies. But because I have to travel a lot, I do have the occasional interesting encounter.
A couple of weeks ago for instance, I was in between flights at Frankfurt airport having a meal, when I spotted this beauty.
My first face-to-face encounter with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. And then I noticed something special was going on. Ground personnel was gathering on the tarmac, right in front of the airport terminal.
Notice those two fire truck standing on either side on the access to the runway? This is how they baptise new airplanes.
Congratulations ANA 787, many happy landings!
Look at her go!
Meanwhile, I got a glimpse of another airplane I hadn't spotted in real life before: the Airbus A-380.
On the right you can see the tail fin of a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, for more than four decades the biggest passenger jet in the world until this European upstart took her place. Humph, she'll have nothing to do with that snotty A-380 and she turned her back on him.
I'm doing regular long-haul flights now, but on the routes to and from Africa, the Airbus A-330 and its four-engined brother the A-340 rule the skies. I've flown in a 747 before, when I went to Central America, but the A-380 is still on my wish list.
And now I'll put the aircraft geek in me to rest once more...