Monday, March 10, 2014

RNZAF P3 Orion Joins search for Malaysia Aircraft

RNZAF Joins search for Malaysian Aircraft

A New Zealand Air Force P3 - K Orion is joining the international effort to find a missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 lost over the South China Sea.

The maritime surveillance aircraft left Auckland last night and is now heading to Butterworth near Penang in Malaysia.
Prime Minister John Key said it would work with two Australian Orions and search the sea north of Malaysia.
"Much remains unclear about what has happened to the flight," he said.
"New Zealand wants to do its part in the search and rescue effort to locate the aircraft.
"While we are aware the hope for positive news is fading, our thoughts remain with the family members of those who were on the flight, particularly the families of New Zealanders Paul Weeks and Ximin Wang."
Meanwhile Auckland International Airport said it had increased security checks around the daily Malaysian Airlines' flights.
A spokesman said the airline ordered extra security for their passengers.
It includes an additional screening of all passengers after check-in and just prior to boarding.
It is one step up on the procedures adopted for flights to the United States which involves only random screening at the boarding gate.
An airport spokesman said the new checks had not caused any delays or additional time for passengers.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has accepted the first of six upgraded P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft into service with No 5 Squadron. 
I suspect making this aircraft available is also a test of its operational capability: 
The RNZAF operates 6 Orions, upgraded to the K2 standard: 

Formal Introduction into service ceremony was conducted at Whenuapai Air Force Base in Auckland on 2 May 2011. 



Orion NZ 4204 (the prototype P-3K2) returned to New Zealand in late April 2011, after being in Texas, United States, since 2005 for the P-3 Mission Systems Upgrade Project. The project will see all six New Zealand Orions re-equipped with an airborne surveillance and Response Capability. According to the chief of the air force Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell, this capability is “up with the very best”.

The scope of this project includes the replacement of the data management system, sensors, communications and navigation systems, and the provision of associated ground systems.

According to the RNZAF, the upgraded P-3K2 Orion introduced a fundamental change to the operation of the Orions as they transition from a Maritime Patrol Force to an airborne Surveillance and Response Force. This change is significant because the focus of the operations will include overland operations as well as traditional maritime operations.

The production phase of the project saw the five remaining Orions cycle through Safe Air’s facilities at Blenheim, New Zealand, to be stripped internally, re-wired and re-equipped with new mission systems.

Orion NZ 4201 was in Blenheim at the time, and the upgrade of that aircraft was well advanced. At the rate of about one every six months, by 2014 the RNZAF will have a fleet of six P-3K2 Orions all newly equipped with 21st century surveillance and communications systems, the RNZAF says.

Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell foresees a very exciting time for the RNZAF, as operational testing and evaluation begins. “Our goal now is the delivery of the capability as rapidly as possible. I believe our P-3K2 Orions will be better equipped than ever to support Defence Force operations world-wide and other government agencies closer to home.”

The project’s origins lay with the 2001 Maritime Patrol Review. At that time the P-3s had a mix of 1960s and 1980s equipment. Built new as P-3Bs in 1966 (New Zealand was then was the first country outside of the USA to operate Orions), the fleet had already been modernised in 1982 under Project Rigel, which saw some of the mission systems replaced and upgraded.

In 2000, Project Kestrel saw the fleet structurally renewed to extend their life. But the aircrafts’ tactical capability was limited, and affected by hard-to-support older systems. As well, international air traffic control standards were changing and there was the continual need to remain interoperable with New Zealand’s partners, particularly Australia.

In October 2004 the Crown signed a contract with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems to upgrade the aircraft at a cost of NZ$373 million.

The aircraft had been due to return to New Zealand in late 2008, but the programme encountered delays due to concerns over stall performance, issues with its digital indicated airspeed display during take-offs and a periodic yaw problem. Furthermore, the prototype was not allowed to fly for six months last year after loose fasteners were discovered on its wing straps, Flight International reports.

Under the original plans, work on all six aircraft was to have been completed by September 2010. 

Following its arrival back in New Zealand the prototype aircraft underwent a period of scheduled Depot Level Maintenance (DLM) before returning to 5 Squadron at RNZAF Base Auckland in September 2011. In Blenheim, the first production airframe, NZ4201, commenced its modification with SAL in June 2009 and was delivered back to the Crown in March 2012. The second production aircraft, NZ4205, joined the programme with SAL in April 2011 and was delivered to the Crown in September 2012. The third production aircraft, NZ4203, inducted into upgrade in March 2012, was delivered to the Crown in May 2013. The four delivered upgraded aircraft (NZ4201, NZ4203, NZ4204 and NZ4205) are based at RNZAF Base Auckland on 5 Squadron. 

Initially these airframes were utilised to conduct Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) and ground and aircrew training. In the second quarter of 2012 the first of two P-3K2 transition courses commenced to train the P-3K aircrews onto the P-3K2. Transition training of all No. 5 Squadron air and ground crews is now complete and following the achievement of operational and technical airworthiness requirements, a release of an initial operational capability was declared in the first quarter of 2013. This initial capability focuses on Search and Rescue response and surveillance of New Zealand’s EEZ and territorial waters.

New Zealand industry participation was always intended for the project and Safe Air of Blenheim is the key sub-contractor in the production phase. Modifications were made to the P-3’s communications, navigation, surveillance, flight planning and data management systems while the flight deck was improved.

The RNZAF is also upgrading its five C-130 Hercules transports. A contract was signed with with L3 Communications to complete the air force's C130 life extension program. The latter includes the refurbishment of the aircrafts' centre wings, refurbishment or replacement of other structural components, a major rewire, replacement of avionics systems, flight management, autopilot and navigation and communication suites. This will ensure that the aircraft continue to comply with evolving air traffic control regulations worldwide.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force welcomed the return of the first of its modernised C-130s in 2010 last year. 

No. 40 Squadron who operates the C-130s, will be able to utilise the aircraft in the many roles undertaken for the government and New Zealand, including tactical air transport, disaster relief and civil defence support, aeromedical transport and support to the New Zealand Antarctic program.

The RNZAF also recently unveiled the first of its new Agusta Westland A109 LUH Light Utility Helicopters. 

Agusta Westland A109 LUH  - photo RNZAF

The new helicopters represent the start of a significant leap in technology for the Air Force's Rotary Wing. "The three helicopters are the first of five A109LUH to replace the Bell 47 Sioux,” he said. "The A109LUH is part of a Defence Force helicopter training system that includes computer based training, a procedural trainer and simulator. This provides a cost effective means of training aircrew prior to operational conversion onto the NH90 or SH2G helicopters.”

Five A109s were ordered in 2008 and are scheduled to be in service before the end of the year. The government announced last year it was ordering another three. The new A109s will be used for training, light utility tasks in support of the other services and government agencies.

NH90 photo - RNZAF

Number 3 Squadron operate  the A109LUH and NH90 helicopters. The RNZAF has eight NH90s on order in total.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Air Malaysia MH370 Disappears

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Disappears

Theories abound, and possible traces,possibly a door ? is found
Original Article Scott Mayerowitz, with my own comments

Having just recently been bumped off a Malysian airlines Boeing 777  flight for my daughter not having a  passport with 6 months' validity, I find it bizarre that 2 false or stolen passports were used to gain entrance onto flight MH370. Malaysia seemed so inflexible on passport issues! Was this oversight the undoing of MH370?

I today had a discussion about this with one of my patients, a retired military (A6 Skyhawk) pilot and ATC expert. His opinion is that a sudden calamity overtook the plane. Either an explosion or a massive structural failure. The other options should have triggered a mayday response, which, as he says: " Is just the flick of a thumb away."

The most dangerous parts of a flight are takeoff and landing. Rarely do incidents happen when a plane is cruising 11 kilometres above the earth.

So the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jet well into its flight on Saturday morning over the South China Sea has led aviation experts to assume that whatever happened was quick and left the pilots no time to place a distress call.

It could take investigators months, if not years, to determine what happened to the Boeing 777 flying from Malaysia's largest city of Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. (If at all)

"At this early stage, we're focusing on the facts that we don't know," said Todd Curtis, a former safety engineer with Boeing who worked on its 777 wide-body jets and is now director of the Foundation.

Military radar indicates that the missing Boeing 777 jet may have turned back before vanishing, Malaysia's air force chief said Sunday as authorities were investigating up to four passengers with suspicious identifications. The revelations add to the mystery surrounding the final minutes of the flight. Air force chief Rodzali Daud didn't say which direction the plane veered when it apparently went off course, or how long it flew in that direction, Some of the information it had was also corroborated by civilian radar, he said.

If the information about the U-turn is accurate, that lessens the probability that the plane suffered a catastrophic explosion but raises further questions about why the pilots didn't signal for help. If there was a minor mechanical failure - or even something more serious like the shutdown of both of the plane's engines - the pilots likely would have had time to radio for help. The lack of a call "suggests something very sudden and very violent happened", said William Waldock, who teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

It's possible that there was either an abrupt breakup of the plane or something that led it into a quick, steep dive. Some experts even suggested an act of terrorism or a pilot purposely crashing the jet.

"Either you had a catastrophic event that tore the airplane apart, or you had a criminal act," said Scott Hamilton, managing director of aviation consultancy Leeham Co. "It was so quick and they didn't radio."

No matter how unlikely a scenario, it's too early to rule out any possibilities, experts warn. The best clues will come with the recovery of the flight data and voice recorders and an examination of the wreckage. US investigators from the FBI, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration and experts from Boeing were heading to Asia to assist in the investigation.

A massive international sea search has so far turned up no confirmed trace of the jet, though Vietnamese authorities said late Sunday that a low-flying plane had spotted a rectangular object in waters about 90 kilometres south of Tho Chu island, in the same area where oil slicks were spotted Saturday. The state-run Thanh Nien newspaper said, citing the deputy chief of staff of Vietnam's army that searchers had spotted what appeared to be one of the plane's doors.

Airplane crashes typically occur during takeoff and the climb away from an airport, or while coming in for a landing, as in last year's fatal crash of an Asiana Airlines jet in San Francisco. Just 9 per cent of fatal accidents happen when a plane is at cruising altitude, according to a statistical summary of commercial jet airplane accidents done by Boeing.

Captain John M Cox, who spent 25 years flying for US Airways and is now chief executive of Safety Operating Systems, said that whatever happened to the Malaysia Airlines jet, it occurred quickly. The problem had to be big enough, he said, to stop the plane's transponder from broadcasting its location, although the transponder can be purposely shut off from the cockpit.

One of the first indicators of what happened will be the size of the debris field. If it is large and spread out over tens of miles, then the plane likely broke apart at a high elevation. That could signal a bomb or a massive airframe failure. If it is a smaller field, the plane probably fell from 35,000 feet (10,500 metres) intact, breaking up upon contact with the water.

"We know the airplane is down. Beyond that, we don't know a whole lot," Cox said.

The Boeing 777 has one of the best safety records in aviation history. It first carried passengers in June 1995 and went 18 years without a fatal accident. That streak came to an end with the July 2013 Asiana crash. Three of the 307 people aboard that flight died. Saturday's Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 239 passengers and crew would only be the second fatal incident for the aircraft type.

"It's one of the most reliable airplanes ever built," said John Goglia, a former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board.


An object, possibly a door is found by search aircraft

Some of the possible causes for the plane disappearing include:


Most aircraft are made of aluminium which is susceptible to corrosion over time, especially in areas of high humidity. But given the plane's long history and impressive safety record, experts suggest that a failure of the airframe, or the plane's Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines, is unlikely.

More of a threat to the plane's integrity is the constant pressurisation and depressurisation of the cabin for takeoff and landing. In April 2011, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 made an emergency landing shortly after takeoff from Phoenix after the plane's fuselage ruptured, causing a 1.5m tear. The plane, with 118 people on board, landed safely. But such a rupture is less likely in this case. Airlines fly the 777 on longer distances, with many fewer takeoffs and landings, putting less stress on the airframe.

"It's not like this was Southwest Airlines doing 10 flights a day," Hamilton said. "There's nothing to suggest there would be any fatigue issues."


Planes are designed to fly through most severe storms. However, in June 2009, an Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed during a bad storm over the Atlantic Ocean. Ice built up on the Airbus A330's airspeed indicators, giving false readings. That, and bad decisions by the pilots, led the plane into a stall causing it to plummet into the sea. All 228 passengers and crew aboard died. The pilots never radioed for help.

In the case of Saturday's Malaysia Airlines flight, all indications show that there were clear skies.


Curtis said that the pilots could have taken the plane off autopilot and somehow went off course and didn't realise it until it was too late. The plane could have flown for another five or six hours from its point of last contact, putting it up to 4800km away. This is unlikely given that the plane probably would have been picked up by radar somewhere. But it's too early to eliminate it as a possibility.


In January 2008, a British Airways 777 crashed about 300m short of the runway at London's Heathrow Airport. As the plane was coming in to land, the engines lost thrust because of ice buildup in the fuel system. There were no fatalities.

Loss of both engines is possible in this case, but Hamilton said the plane could glide for up to 20 minutes, giving pilots plenty of time to make an emergency call. When a US Airways A320 lost both of its engines in January 2009 after taking off from LaGuardia Airport in New York it was at a much lower elevation. But Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger still had plenty of communications with air traffic controllers before ending the six-minute flight in the Hudson River.


Several planes have been brought down including Pan Am Flight 103 between London and New York in December 1988. There was also an Air India flight in June 1985 between Montreal and London and a plane in September 1989 flown by French airline Union des Transports Ariens which blew up over the Sahara.


A traditional hijacking seems unlikely given that a plane's captors typically land at an airport and have some type of demand. But a 9/11-like hijacking is possible, with terrorists forcing the plane into the ocean.


There were two large jet crashes in the late 1990s - a SilkAir flight and an EgyptAir flight- that are believed to have been caused by pilots deliberately crashing the planes. Government crash investigators never formally declared the crashes suicides but both are widely acknowledged by crash experts to have been caused by deliberate pilot actions.


There have been incidents when a country's military unintentionally shot down civilian aircraft. In July 1988, the United States Navy missile cruiser USS Vincennes accidentally shot down an Iran Air flight, killing all 290 passengers and crew. In September 1983, a Korean Air Lines flight was shot down by a Russian fighter jet.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


It was thrilling this week to see The Washington Post's Home & Design section feature Capitol Hill, usually associated with the halls of power, and not the halls of family houses. WaPo reporter Jura Koncious teased out some of the best places to find great home goods in "Destination Design: Capitol Hill" (and kindly noted a few of my own favorites). Click through to read her highlights of shops in and around Eastern Market and the adjoining weekend flea, and start making your listthis is the time to dream about where you'll go and what you'll buy when spring finally breaks through!

Aside from shopping, Capitol Hill has some incredible interior design. This stunningly revamped row house was designed by architect Frederick Taylor, and makes exquisite use of the often cramped spaces of the Hill's narrow homes. It was particularly clever to cede lawn space for an addition, then add further outdoor space on the second story and roof (hat tip to blog Notting Hill for first highlighting this great place).

House Beautiful featured this very atypical, sassy Hill house designed by Barry Dixon. Once again, re-thinking the standard, narrow structure of the row house requires a creative touch.

I adore this remake of another Capitol Hill home featured in Traditional Home. Mary Douglas Drysdale pulled together a bright, playful style I'll call "Federal Fun"columns, convex mirrors, formal colonial furnitureall set against a relentlessly cheerful color palate.

/Images/magazines and firms as cited above/
To read more about shopping one of my favorite Hill spots, the flea at Eastern Market, click HERE

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Canberras: Unbroken Records: Never before seen photographs come to light

Canberra bombers in the 1950s: 

Unbroken Records and Never before seen Photos

I grew up with the Canberra bomber being a low-level subsonic bomber and photo reconnaisance aircraft in South Africa. My cousin's late husband, Nick Barkhuizen, was a navigator/photographer in these interesting aircraft during the Border War in South Africa. Some of his photographs form the first posts on my blog. I just wish I had access to more of his photos from this era.

I have long realised that many of my patients have fascinating military (and civilian) aircraft careers behind them, and often have priceless photographs of these magnificent flying machines they served in and on.

I often regret not having asked permission to share or copy many of these amazing photos I have seen or stories I have heard. In the past I have seen pictures from the Desert War in North Africa during WW2, Coastal Command's Short Sunderland's, RAF Lancasters and Mosquito's, many of which I fear are now lost. One pilot was even awarded the freedom of Paris for his squadron's work escorting B17 bombers in P51s during WW2 !

Recently I was given a gift of a calendar with A3 shots of  WW1 planes. I put this up on my surgery wall.

All of a sudden all the fellow aircraft nuts came out of the woodwork! I have now made a point of asking if I may share their stories and photos (with permission, of course)...

I will endeavour to share some of their stories and photos. So here goes with the first one:

From Warwick Avery: I have known him for 14 years, but I never new his history of being in the ground crew with RNZAF Territorial forces. Some great pics of Canberra bombers from the last great air race:
London to Christchurch 1953, and then some. (Watch my blog for more from him)

So I undertook to a bit of research about this fascinating event. This is what I dredged up:

From Wikipedia:
1953 London to Christchurch Air Race:

"The winner of the race was WE139 a Royal Air Force English Electric Canberra 
piloted by Flight Lieutenant Burton, now on display at the Royal Air Force Museum London:"

File:Canberra bomber at RAF Museum London.JPG
Wikipaedia picture of the winning aircraft

The 1953 London to Christchurch air race, the "Last Great Air Race", was 12,300 miles (19,800 km) long, from London Heathrow to Christchurch International Airport in New Zealand and took place in October 1953 after Christchurch took the decision to declare their airport as International in 1950.

The race was divided into an outright speed section and a section for commercial transport aircraft types.

The speed section was won by a Royal Air Force English Electric Canberra PR.3 flown by Flight Lieutenant Roland (Monty) Burton and navigated by Flight Lieutenant Don Gannon. The plane touched down at Christchurch Airport 41 minutes ahead of its closest rival — after 23hr 51min in the air including 83 minutes on the ground; to this day the record has never been broken.

Here is Warwick's photographs of the winning aircraft, never published before:
You can pick out the numbers. The winning aircraft, that of F.Lt Burton, no 3, is the furthest away from the camera:

The aircraft serial numbers and race numbers can clearly be seen in this photograph
Photo Copyright Warwick Avery (Click on photos for larger image)

BEA's  Vickers Viscount Aircraft, with the winning KLM DC6 in the background
Copyright Warwick Avery

There have been many films made about the commercial section of this race: a Vickers Viscount which finished first, followed by a Douglas DC-6A of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines which was declared the winner on handicap. A Royal New Zealand Air Force Handley Page Hastings also took part.

 The victory of the Canberra has been less publicised, flying at an average speed of 495 miles per hour (797 km/h). The distance, by the route followed, was 12,270 miles (19,750 km) so that the actual speed was 515 miles per hour (829 km/h) (or 546 miles per hour (879 km/h) including immediate stops).

Second in the speed section was Squadron Leader Peter Raw of No. 1 Long Range Flight RAAF in an Australian-built Canberra.

Race Number Pilot Operator Aircraft Identity no
1 Wing Commander Hodges, 540 Squadron Royal Air Force, Canberra PR7, WH773
2 Flight Lt Furze, 540 Squadron Royal Air Force, Canberra PR3, WE142, Third in race
3 Flight Lt Burton, 540 Squadron Royal Air Force, Canberra PR3, WE139, Winner: 22 h 25 minutes
4 Wing Co Cumming, No.1 Long Range Flight Royal Australian Air Force, Canberra B20, A84-202
5 Squadron Leader Raw, No.1 Long Range Flight Royal Australian Air Forc, Canberra B20, A84-201         Second in race section in 22 hours 29 minutes

Handicap Section (Commercial airliners)
Number Pilot Operator Aircraft Identity Note
21 Captain Kooper, KLM, Douglas DC-6B, PH-TGA Winner of £10,000 prize in the Handicap section with a handicap time of 44 hours 29 minutes and 31 seconds
22 Wing Commander Watson, 41 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Forc, Handley Page Hastings NZ5804 Did not finish, withdrew in Ceylon with engine problems
23 Captain Baillie, British European Airways, Vickers Viscount, G-AMAV Second in the Handicap section

File:Douglas DC-6A PH-TGA KLM LAP 10.10.53 edited-2.jpg

Wikipaedia: Douglas DC-6A PH-TGA of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines at London Heathrow wearing racing number 21 when competing in the 1953 London-Christchurch Air Race. It carried a group of Dutch emigrants. It is here displayed at London Heathrow before departure for New Zealand.

In popular culture: The film Bride Flight dramatising this last prize flight was released in 2008.


Bride Flight was a 2008 film about three women and one man from Holland, who all start new lives in New Zealand. It starts with the victory of the KLM flight in the 1953 London to Christchurch air race. It was directed by Ben Sombogaart and stars Rutger Hauer, Elise Schaap, Anna Drijver, Karina Smulders, Waldemar Torenstra and Rawiri Paratene.

The film premièred in 2008, with the first release in Belgium. The Dutch singer Ilse DeLange wrote and sang the title song for the movie: "Miracle".

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Of course I bought it. It's green. 
Actually, it's not really meant to go here on the table--I just had a terrible case of Lamp Love in the Home Goods (Lamp Love is a serious medical condition, affecting millions of decor-attuned Americans, although my doctor keeps saying he hasn't heard of it. My accountant is equally ignorant). The emerald green with the grass green is not a great match, but I'll find another spot for it soon. It was just too fascinating a piece to pass up, and of course, it was only $49, and then it was only $40, when I found a small crack in the base and negotiated with the store manager.

Later, I did some digging online, and found the same lamp available at the Lamp Store for $120. The base is just fantastic.

I love the gold lining in the shade--it has a candlelight glow in the evening.

//Images, my own, and the lamp store//

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Circumnavigation of the globe: My Airline Opinions

I have just returned from an around the worlds trip with my family. Our trip gave us reason to fly in many aircraft, including the 100th Airbus A380:

We experienced several airlines, and varying standards of service and in-flight food, and in-flight entertainment.

The main carriers we flew with were Air Malaysia and Air Tahiti Nui

We also flew regionally with Air Asia and Aer Lingus, and of course Air New Zealand
As budget and regional airlines these can not be faulted. Professional and friendly service, of course no trimmings, but who needs that on a 60 minute flight? Good pilot skills and well maintained, new aircraft.

Local flights were all on Airbus variants, mostly the 320 range, while the Air Tahiti Nui flight from LA to Tahiti was on a A340-400. The Air NZ flight was a Bombardier from Paraparaumu to Auckland

So International Airlines first: Tahiti Nui
(LAX to Papa'eete, Tahiti)

The Rangiroa, the A340-300: F-OSEA was a great aircraft with up to date passenger comforts and technology. Service was on "Island time", and though friendly and hospitable, pales when measured against airlines such as Air NZ, South African Airways, BA, Lufthansa or Qantas.

Noticeable was a paucity of drinks rounds. Drinks were only served with the meal, no separate pre-dinner drinks, no offers for more drinks, only a water round halfway through the flight. The food was good, French in origin, but on both Tahiti Nui flights the bread rolls were not heated, and appeared decidedly stale.

Other than this I could not fault Tahiti Nui. A nice touch was the distribution of frangipani flowers after take-off at LAX. (A nice island touch, which sets the scene for a tropical holiday experience. I suspect this may have replaced the initial drinks round though, and I would rather have had a beer ! Going through US customs and immigration is thirsty work. )

Flying back to NZ was another story. Think the oldest aircraft in their fleet, in-flight entertainment not working, not for anyone. Stafff shrug, sorry, it doesn't work. 9 hours of BOREDOM. This crew a bit more forthcoming with drinks, but you had to ask. Again the drinks round was absent and the cold, STALE BUNS! For goodness sake Tahiti Nui! Get your act together! 
Everyone in Tahiti eats fresh Baguette! What is up here? 
Landed safely enough, but I doubt I'd easily fly Tahiti Nui again. I think better value can be had from other airlines for the same price.

Air Malaysia can not be faulted, great service, great food- probably some of the best inflight meals I ever had was on board the A380 - On the way to London ex KL the Chicken Biryani, was as good as you'd get in a restaurant. Well done.

Kids under 12 were allowed on a behind-the-scenes tour of the aircraft. 
No amount of trying to convince the cabin crew that I was 12 would work. 
(Think the moustache and "traveller's beard" the kids had convinced me to grow was a dead give-away!)

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Flipping through a Pottery Barn catalogue recently, I was thrilled to see these interesting navy and white ikat prints--aren't they striking? They reminded me of a new set of table linens that World Market is carrying, and that, the previous week, I had sadly left behind in the store because, after considerable effort, I could not think of a justifiable reason for buying them.

When I saw these prints, I knew exactly why I "had" to have the World Market linens. Hurrah! Six different Pottery Barn prints, $156 a piece, or $929 for the set. 

Here's my version: World Market linens in IKEA frames, for $24 each (frames plus napkins), or $48 for the set. 

Unfortunately, I can't show them as a display, because I'm planning to hang them in my office, but you get the general idea. I went with white RIBBA frames from IKEA, instead of black, because I like an airer look. I'm crazy about the chevron ikat.

A view of the Pottery Barn prints in a bedroom. You could absolutely do them with black frames, too. 

World Market's ikat linens. I used the napkins, and there are at least four patterns--they run about $3.99 each (two are shown here).

This chevron ikat is my favorite by far!

And look what happened--I ended up just buying them for my table, too. They're marvelous with the Juliska Country Estate pattern. I've started collecting the set due to family pressure (it's the South. You must have dayware and china patterns chosen for family and friends to gift you with over the holidays, and this is not optional). P.S. The placemats have a different pattern on each side, which is very fun.

I chose Country Estate because it's chinoiserie/British/blue and white awesomeness/has matching ginger jars. And, because it has a special place in my heart. I first discovered Isis Ceramics, of which Juliska's pattern is the mass-market version, when I was at Oxford. The little dish in the upper left hand corner is one of Isis' hand-painted scenes of the University. The little elephants are salt and pepper shakers, another World Market find.

Juliska Country Estate.

Back to wall art. This is how I'll hang the set (propped up, as you can see). The rather crooked piece in the center is my attempt at framing a paper cut out I purchased in Shanghai. Plainly, I'm going to have to get a professional on the job, but it will play nicely with the ikat patterns.

If you wanted to exactly duplicate the Pottery Barn look, IKEA has these black frames, also for $20 each.
/Images/ Pottery Barn, IKEA, Juliska, my own/