Photo Tour of Apron 2 at the Edmonton International Airport

Last week I had the opportunity (with a few other local bloggers) to tour the General Aviation Services at the Edmonton International Airport (EIA). As with the ECCA tour, Traci Bednard, VP of Communications at Edmonton Airports, was our guide. We ran into some challenges getting a vehicle to take us to Apron 2, but we eventually made it. Here’s what we saw.

EIA General Aviation Tour

This is what most people think of when they think about EIA. The number of passengers has grown significantly since scheduled service was consolidated at EIA in 1996. EIA now handles roughly 6 million passengers each year, and is in the midst of major expansion, known as Expansion 2012.

EIA General Aviation Tour

Apron 2, on the north side of the airport near by runway 02/20, is where a significant amount of general aviation (GA) activity takes place. Approximately 380,000 landed seats are served through Apron 2 each year. Edmonton Airports has committed just under $20 million for GA facilities & support at EIA this year.

EIA General Aviation Tour

There are currently two Fixed Base Operators (FBO) at Apron 2 – Executive Flight Centre and Shell Aerocentre (Shell also operates at ECCA). FBOs provide a variety of services, such as aircraft maintenance, fueling, passenger services, cargo services, etc. They operate hangars, passenger lounges, executive lounges, and customer parking. Shuttle services are available to/from the main terminal, enabling passengers to connect with scheduled service.

EIA General Aviation Tour

We got to see one of the Executive Flight Centre’s facilities. The VIP lounge pictured above serves the Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton Eskimos, and many others. One of the most recent VIPs to use it was Kevin Costner. Oilers players are provided with valet service, so they can drive up and get on the plane (and when they return, their vehicles are ready to go). The Executive Flight Centre will honor almost any request, including catering, ground transportation, etc. The Executive Flight Centre also provides ample hangar space, and can even accommodate a Global Express.

EIA General Aviation Tour

A number of GA charter companies operate at Apron 2, including Alta Flights, Flight Tech Aviation, North Cariboo Air, and Sunwest Aviation. Other users include the military, and private operators such as Cathton Aviation.

EIA General Aviation Tour

EIA is the primary airport serving the north. At EIA, 70% of northern departures are scheduled service, 18% are non-scheduled, and 12% provide oil sands related crew changes. As many as 1200 CNRL Horizon workers per day pass through Apron 2. Other northern projects that rely on EIA include the Mackenzie Gas Project, Diavik Diamond Mines, and Athabasca Oil Sands.

EIA General Aviation Tour

EIA could easily accommodate the GA activity that currently takes place at ECCA. There are many large hangars sitting empty, such as the old Spar hangar, pictured above. It offers 120,000 square feet of hangar space, with an additional 35,000 square feet of office space attached. Thanks to recent investments that Edmonton Airports has made at Apron 2, there is also plenty of space available for customers who want something different to custom-build.

Thanks to Traci and Edmonton Airports for the tour. You can see the rest of my photos here.

Photo Tour of the Edmonton City Centre Airport

This week I had the opportunity (with a few other local bloggers) to tour the Edmonton City Centre Airport (ECCA). Traci Bednard, VP of Communications at Edmonton Airports, took the time to guide us around the facility, providing information relevant to the ongoing debate and answering as many of our questions as she could. Here’s what we saw.

Edmonton City Centre Airport

ECCA, built in 1929, encompasses approximately 144 acres of land just north of the City Centre. It has two runways (12/30 and 16/34) placed in an intersecting “V” configuration. The airport supports general aviation activities. Approximately 41% of all flights originate and terminate at ECCA without landing at another airport.

Edmonton City Centre Airport

Edmonton Airports has invested over $13 million in ECCA since scheduled service was consolidated at EIA in 1996. A further $35 million of capital investment will be required over the next 10 years. Though ECCA generates a small amount of operating income annually, it cannot fully cover its capital requirements.

Edmonton City Centre Airport

Edmonton’s Zoning Bylaw 12800 describes the Airport Protection Overlay (APO), which restricts the height of structures within the overlay area to 815.34 m above sea level. The maximum height of a building varies depending on the base elevation. At 146 m tall, Manulife Place is very close to the maximum, as is the soon-to-be-completed EPCOR Tower at a height of 149 m.

Edmonton City Centre Airport

Roughly 27% of all aircraft movements at ECCA are northern flights. In 2008, there were 133,000 landed seats from the north to ECCA, versus 778,000 from the north to EIA. The top 25 users at ECCA make up 75% of all aircraft movements, and of these users, 18 also commonly use EIA.

Edmonton City Centre Airport

Roughly 4000 air ambulance flights occur at ECCA each year (about 5% of total movements). Less than 10% of those (approximately 350) are time sensitive. Air ambulance, while important, is just one leg of a patient’s overall journey. Patients must be stabilized on the scene and taken to an airport via ground ambulance, loaded on a fixed wing air ambulance, flown to Edmonton, and then loaded onto another ground ambulance to be taken to a hospital.

Edmonton City Centre Airport

STARS Air Ambulance is one of the more well-known users of ECCA. Its helicopter fleet transports time sensitive/trauma patients directly to hospital, most often to the University of Alberta hospital. STARS, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Health & Wellness, and Edmonton Airports have discussed the concept of an integrated air ambulance facility at EIA, which could create efficiencies and ultimately improve patient care.

Edmonton City Centre Airport

With the phased closure of ECCA set to begin next week, Edmonton Airports has been working with tenants (such as the Government of Alberta) to help prepare for the closure of runway 16/34. That includes ensuring that all tenants have access to runway 12/30, and exploring options for moving to either EIA or Villeneuve.

Edmonton City Centre Airport

The City of Edmonton has launched an international competition seeking firms interested in redeveloping the ECCA lands. A total of 33 responses to the request for potential bidders were received. The City is working to short list the group to 5 by August 6. That group will have until the end of the year to develop their proposals.

Thanks to Traci and Edmonton Airports for the tour. You can see the rest of my photos here. You can read fellow blogger John Winslow’s post here. Stay tuned to #ecca on Twitter for updates on this ongoing issue. You get more information about ECCA from Edmonton Airports.

Miley Cyrus in Vanity Fair – so what?

Allow me to stray from my usual meanderings for a moment to the media storm du jour – Miley Cyrus’ so-called “racy” photo in the June 2008 issue Vanity Fair.

miley cyrus The photo that has everyone up-in-arms is shown to the right. First of all, let me say that I don’t really like it. There’s something weird with her make-up I think. Maybe it’s because I like blondes, or maybe it’s because Miley is only fifteen years old, but I’d rather look at Lindsay or perhaps Keira and Scarlett. Vanity Fair has definitely produced some excellent stuff over the years.

I don’t see what the big deal is with this photo, yet everyone is yammering on about how it sets a bad example. And of course, Miley and her handlers are playing the blame game. Here are some things to consider:

  • Since when do tweens read Vanity Fair? I realize the photo is splashed all over the place now, but seriously, it’s not like she posed topless on the Disney Channel or anything. Parents, do your jobs.
  • She now says she’s embarrassed? Disney says she was manipulated to sell magazines? Bullshit to both. I have to believe Whoopi – everyone knew what was going on. These sorts of things don’t just happen by mistake.
  • Vanity Fair will likely sell a ton of magazines thanks to this shoot. They’re also not hiding anything – they’ve put a behind-the-scenes section online, and a video of the shoot.

Here is what Miley originally said when asked if she was “anxious” about the photo:

No, I mean I had a big blanket on. And I thought, This looks pretty, and really natural. I think it’s really artsy.

And here’s what she said in a prepared statement:

I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.

I feel sorry for Miley – her “handlers” are now telling her to say things she doesn’t mean. They should have supported her instead.

miley cyrusAnd here’s my biggest question of all – how come no one has a problem with the second photo, of Miley and her Dad? In my opinion, that’s a much more disturbing photo. If you didn’t know any better, would you look at that and think, “oh what a lovely father-daughter photo”? I sure wouldn’t.

I wanted to post this so that I can look back on it one day when I’m a father, to see if my opinion has changed at all. At the moment, I have no issue with the photo. I think it’s up to Miley’s parents to ensure she is comfortable with the shoot, and it’s up to the parents of her fans to make sure they set a good example, talk with their kids, and not leave their copy of the magazine lying around the house. Just my two cents.

By the way, I dedicate this post to Justice, the biggest Miley fan I know! 😉

Read: Vanity Fair

More evil stuff from Apple!

Post ImageJust last week I wrote about Apple being evil by requiring iPhone users to have an iTunes account. Now they’re at it again, this time with forced perspective advertising. From BoingBoing:

Lars says: When I viewed the new iPhone site something struck me: did Apple change the dimensions of the unit?

A quick comparison of the official Apple photos revealed they’ve just changed handsize.

I copied the OLD and NEW photos below from BoingBoing. That’s pretty evil isn’t it? The two hand sizes aren’t even close!

There’s more too, all related to the iPhone. On Monday Apple was caught with some false advertising (they incorrectly stated that the Nokia N95 did not have Wi-Fi). And of course, they announced improved battery life and a more durable screen – for a device that you can’t even buy yet!

What’s next Apple?

Read: BoingBoing

Is Facebook the king of photo sites?

Post ImageI use Flickr to host my photos and I love it. I haven’t had any problems with the site, and I’ve been a happily paying customer for a couple years now. There are tons of photo sharing sites available though, and it seems Flickr is far from being the clear winner, despite having lots of positive brand recognition.

In fact, I think Facebook is probably the largest photo sharing site on the web.

Here’s what I have been able to find:

Notice how for Photobucket I said “images” – that’s because they host a lot of icons, graphics, and other kinds of items that aren’t really photos. There are a bunch of other sites that fall into that category as well. Another site that probably should be on the list is Zooomr, but I couldn’t find any stats for them. I suspect they are somewhere between SmugMug and Flickr.

Clearly, based on the number of photos stored, Facebook is the winner. They have incredible growth too (over 60 million photos added per week) as outlined in yesterday’s post. Certainly just hosting the most photos doesn’t make one site better than another, but it is still pretty interesting to compare. SmugMug’s Don MacAskill is always talking about speed and performance, and for good reason – SmugMug is the clear winner in terms of load times. There are a lot of other metrics that could be used to compare sites.

The one disadvantage Facebook has (depending on how you look at it) is that all the photos are behind their walled garden. Otherwise, you could almost consider them a photo sharing site instead of a social networking site!

For me, the most interesting thing is the total number of photos across all these sites – over three billion ignoring Photobucket, just from the sites I listed. I find it unlikely that there are many duplicates (ie, most users don’t post photos to multiple sites), so the number is particularly astounding.

Just imagine what the first photographers back in the 1800s would think of this photo sharing craziness!

UPDATE: Turns out my estimate for Zooomr was horribly off the mark. Don points out in the comments that they have 1 million photos – and that getting to the million mark is a big deal (Thanks Don for the info). I think I guessed so high because of the many TechCrunch posts covering Zooomr! Oh well.

Gummy Bears at FlickrBlog

Post ImageIf you aren’t currently subscribed to the FlickrBlog, you should be. Here’s the RSS feed. I read a lot of feeds every day, and most of them are just text followed by more text. The nice thing about the FlickrBlog is that in addition to site news for Flickr, they often share “photo posts” like yesterday’s post on The Secret Life of Gummy Bears:

Since we don’t know how many gummy bears have actually been released into the world, there’s just one immediate solution: Eat them — as many and as fast as humanly possible. It’s not too late.

I don’t know why exactly, but the post just made me smile. Some other recent “photo posts” include Dogs on Roofs, Dogs in Pools, and the paper crane project.

It’s amazing how much time you can waste just hopping from photo to photo on Flickr!

Read: FlickrBlog

Website Changes

Unless you read my blog in an aggregator of some sort, you probably noticed an updated color scheme and picture on my website today. I was getting bored with the blue so I decided to change it. I also tweaked things a bit so that it’s easier to change this sort of thing in the future. Thanks to everyone who has commented on the look already – some of you like the changes, some of you don’t. The picture is a little too formal for my tastes, so my Dad has agreed to take some new ones for me when he’s in town in a couple weeks.

I also added a find me online feature recently. Basically it’s a list of links to my various profiles around the web. I haven’t done it yet, but I am going to clean up the sidebar as well. It’s horribly out of date, and I think I could be using the space better.

Any other feedback, suggestions, or requests?

Geotagging at Flickr

Post ImageJust came across a pretty neat feature that Flickr launched on Monday! You can now geotag your pictures, meaning you can assign them to a physical, real-world location:

Adding location information on Flickr is done through the Organizr, under the Organize tab.

Users can search for photos by location in the Explore area. Set the map to a location (world down to street level) and type in a search query. Markers will appear on the map with photos that contain that query in the tags or description of the photo.

I just tried it out with a few of my pictures, and it seems to work pretty well. It’s all Ajax powered, so it feels pretty natural. You can check out my Flickr map here.

Read: TechCrunch

Signs the world is small

Post ImageYou know how people say things like “it’s such a small world”? Well, it’s true. As a few of you noticed, I was quoted in the National Post today in a story on Suresh Sriskandarajah, a University of Waterloo graduate who has been arrested and faces charges related to an FBI probe of the Tamil Tigers. Turns out he was one of the Microsoft student representatives in 2004 (as was I), and we both attended the same training weekend in Toronto. I ended up taking a group photo at the time, which reporters from the National Post found yesterday and asked permission to use. I sent the photos I had in higher quality, and they used one of them for the front page of today’s paper. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo credit, as I didn’t reply to their email asking if they should use my name or not until after the paper had gone to press. The photo will also be used in tomorrow’s Ottawa Citizen.

I can’t say that I know Suresh, other than meeting him that weekend back in September 2004. My quote is pretty spot on:

“He seemed like a normal guy,” said Mr. Male, who kept a souvenir group photo of the occasion. “We had a lot of fun together that weekend…. Nobody really stood out.”

I don’t know what is going to happen to him.

The whole experience just shows what a small world it really is, thanks in large part to the Internet. In a matter of hours, a simple photo I had posted from an event almost two years ago made it to the front page of a national newspaper. The other thing is – do I really know someone who could be a terrorist? I don’t know if the FBI are right or not about Suresh, but if they are, that’s a scary thought isn’t it?

Made me stop and think for a moment – who else do I know that might be a terrorist? I quickly caught myself, and metaphorically slapped myself in the face. If I lived my life wondering who could be a terrorist, I’d only be making Bush’s campaign of fear successful. There’s no harm in being cautious, about anyone, but I think if people become paranoid we’re going to have problems.

[Oddly enough, the story in the physical paper I picked up about an hour ago is different than the one online. In the physical paper, on page A3, the part with my quote has been replaced with more about Suresh’s work abroad.]

Read: National Post

First attempts at HDR

Post ImageI think I have the HDR bug, if there is such a thing. Since discovering HDR photos on Flickr, I have been wanting to try my hand at the effect, as I think it looks really neat! If you don’t know, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia:

HDRI provides the opportunity to shoot a scene and have total control of the final imaging from the beginning to the end of the photography project. An example of this control is that it provides the possibility to re-expose. One can capture as wide a range of information as possible on-location and choose what is wanted later.

What I did was use the auto-bracketing feature on my Canon Digital Rebel to produce three shots – one over exposed, one normal, and one under exposed. I then followed a couple of the tutorials I found on Flickr and used Photomatix and Photoshop CS2 to produce the final images.

I am not entirely satisfied with the results, but I figure the two HDR photos I made (which you can see here) are a good first attempt. I found that images with the sun directly in them (you know where you get that glare?) do not work well. Also, you really should use a tripod or at least have the camera on something solid so it doesn’t move.

I’m determined to get good at this (as I just love the final result of some of the photos out there) so I’ll follow that common refrain – practice makes perfect! Practice and experimentation. If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them.

UPDATE: What I am striving for, is a photo as good as this one.

Read: HDR First Attempts