The Russian, the German, the Brit & a Blues Brother

Me and Abraham’s nut.   After arriving in the US following my Frankfurt experience.  Dressed in appropriate Blues Brother attire.
I flew to the US in June which is now but a distant memory except for the security search at Frankfurt airport before clambering on board a United Airlines flight to New York.  The names of the accused were blasted over the tannoy for all to hear.

“Mr Suddick”

“Mr Abraham”

“Mr Ludwillow”

“Mr Latham”

So let me describe the process.  After clambering off an SAA plane in Frankfurt at 06h00 local time we were due to fly out to the USA at 08h00 local.  We hurried to the airport train (automated) and arrived at terminal B from whence United flies.  After the obligatory cup of coffee,  you are checked in and a coloured sticker attached to your ticket.  Which remains untorn – no stubs here.

Then various names are called as mentioned above.  and mine came up.  I heard that only Muslims or suspicious people were asked to step forward (at least that’s what my well traveled friends have alleged), so what’s this then?

A White House Secret Service Agent.  Much friendlier than the Russian, the German and the Brit at Frankfurt Airport.
Perhaps its because I’m from Africa I thought.  Clearly suspicious.   This is where the story gets a tad interesting at least in terms of process.  So after joining the short queue of the highly suspicious/possible terrorist/dangerous/uncouth etc etc,  a man with a Russian accent asks me if I’m indeed “Dazemoond Lat-ham”


‘Please wait there” he motions to a seat in full view of the 300 passengers about to board United Airlines.   Most are trying not to look in my direction unless the security guards haul them in too.   My nearest and dearest is sitting near the wifi/power charging desks charging her phone and laptop and also not appearing to stare.  She carries a passport with her maiden name so we’re not easily coupled,  if you excuse the phrase.

Welcome to the USA, Mr Dazemoond Lat-ham
The Russian appeared just bored enough to be both careless and malignant.  You know those languid security people who have one ear-hole larger than the other from a lifetime of wearing a hands free VIP bodyguard kit.  In a small cubicle I could see a man removing his shoes and being subjected to some kind of body search with a strip of plaster.

Then it was my turn after a few minutes.    The Russian waved at me and said “your turn” which felt a little like being asked to join the bungee jump line without a safety harness.

Inside the cubicle there were three men.  They all scrutinised me as I entered their little chamber,  watching I thought, for any sign of weakness then they’d pounce. One of the three was  dressed in browns and fawn clothing with a black belt and he turned to me.

I tensed,  waiting for the usual aggro bodyguard VIP security man fusillade.

“Hey, you look like one of the Blues Brothers”  he said, and smiled.

I dress in a black suit when traveling and wear a black hat bought in Boston in 2000.  It’s real wool and with the black tie, I usually am left alone on flights because people think I’m either a businessman or a rabbi.   It’s the first time in years of traveling in this mode that someone has said anything about the Blues Brothers who are indelibly etched in all our minds – us 80’s people.

The Harlem Blues Project live at BB’s Bar and Grill in Manhattan.  I was in awe and sat right at the front where you sit when you want to learn stuff.
“Well I do play the blues” I said.

“You look like you do” he answered in a German accent.  He took my shoes and waved his sticky plaster over it.  Then he pulled the plaster down my clothes.  I guessed he was looking for signs of explosives.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

Then he suddenly turned back into the cold VIP bodyguard and ignored me,  his friend said:

“You can go”

In a British accent.

My ticket now had an extra sticker on the back which the air crew peered at with great interest when I clambered on board the A380.  My nearest had taken up a seat as far away as possible (well she was on the other side of the aisle) so I asked the lovely person next to me if she’d swap seats with Nearest/Dearest.

Somewhere over America.  United Airlines.
She would.

Nearest wasn’t so happy,  she’d swapped an aisle seat for a middle seat.

“Never mind dear” I said

“At least you’re sitting next to a world famous blues musician.”

She ignored that and went to sleep.









The Hack with A Drone

Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 2.56.35 PM
A quick shot from the DJI Mavic as it takes off – not the most fetching shot but this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship
Aviation combines check rides, tests,  knowledge updates and the bugbear,  exams, in order to ensure that flying around the place is as safe as a Boeing.   My retired instructor Russell, however,  scoffed at the intellectual pilot saying there’s too much time spent on books and too little time spent flying as modern aviators go about their business.

Being older than 50 and deciding to consider commercial flying at my age means that I partially agree with Russell.   The older you get, the longer it takes to embed technical knowledge unless of course you have the luxury of not working at all,  which makes study a little easier.  The 20-somethings who are subsidized by state or mom and pop have all day to pick up those tomes of aviation in order to prepare for the exam.   I, on the other hand,  am a parent of said 20-somethings and spend most of my time  funding health coverage or education.  That leaves a few hours a night or early morning in order to flip open Flight Planning ATPL study notes.

Ok,  that’s my massively self-serving excuse.

Recently I signed up with RPAS Training Academy in Wonderboom to do drone training.  Part of the course is theory,  and of course when you have theory you have exams.  They were multiple choice and not too onerous and I managed to pass the three which certified pilots write.  These included Batteries,   drone technical and air law.  But the process itself is stressful at any age.

Last year I attempted the Air Law for Commercial pilots exam in February and failed with a miserable 56% where the pass mark is 75%.  That set back my plan to become a commercial pilot and instructor as a latter life plan somewhat.  But its not over yet,  I’m still going ahead with the master plan and as long as my health holds out,  I could be an instructor until well into my 70’s based on my medical certification.

That was the other test I managed to pass this last Monday,  the infamous Aviation Medical Class I,  the highest you can get,  but as the years go by,  it will become more and more difficult to maintain that level.   My doctor is also a pilot and has his own Lancair,  which makes me an envious patient.  While he was testing my blood pressure,  he mentioned that he’d flown back from Stellenbosch the day before at a heady 314 knots and it took him 2 and a half hours to Vanderbijl Park.

Impressive.    In my next life I also plan to return as an aviation doctor with my own aeroplane.  Right now the big life test is passing flying exams while maintaining a job and keeping my wife and kids happy.

Here’s a little video of my significant other marching around a local sports ground.

As a balancing act its more difficult combining work, love and life than recovering from an unusual attitude at night while flying on instruments.   But I’m not complaining,  at least I’m not living in Venezuela.




Space Shuttling, President Orange & the ATC Caveat


The Space Shuttle in real life is huge.  It looms over you like a brutishly beautiful tiled dart,  all burned and blackened, silver grey and steam punked.  I wasn’t ready for just how large it was as we walked through the hangar which itself is so vast its quite hard to photograph.   A friend had kindly agreed to take me to the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia which is part of the Smithsonian and companion to the more famous Aviation and Aerospace Museum on the National Mall.  The Udvar-Hazy Center is located alongside Washington’s Dulles Airport where the Shuttle was flown in bolted to the roof of a Boeing 747 in 2012.   The Center features both the Boeing Aviation Hangar and the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar where hundreds  -nay – thousands of aviation and space goods are stored.

The list is jaw dropping but the pride of place goes to both the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird,  a UFO for many years it emerged like an alien craft from the sixties, and the Space Shuttle.



As you’ll see from the image above,  it faces you as you walk into the Centre,  and also facing you is the Space Shuttle Discovery,  the last to glide back to earth. By its last mission in 2011 it had flown 39 missions into space spending a full year in total orbiting the globe 5,830 times.  The first Discovery mission was in 1984 when I was studying to become a journalist,  its 30 year history tracked by my life in various ways.  How incredible in these throwaway days to stand below the much loved Shuttle and touch its hallowed tiles.

This may sound a tad weird,  however take a moment to think about the project.    To build a machine capable of returning to earth under its own steam (albeit gliding) and landing on its huge undercarriage.  In the years I tried to land the Shuttle using the X-Plane simulator,  not once did I manage.  The skill in hitting the exact angle to facilitate a re-entry is akin to surfing on a mini-board in 4 dimensions while wearing boots with roller bearings on their soles.

Imagine the difference too in forethought and science between the 1984 generation and this generation of leaders particularly in the USA.   Now private enterprise is driving the need to travel to Mars and beyond.

Back to the Exhibition, where the curators have grouped planes into areas such as transport, military and even aerobatics which made for some interesting viewing.  I’ve added a few vehicles here in an attempt to show just how extensive this centre is and to convince those powers who hold the purse strings (like my partner) that a return journey is necessary to complete this blog update successfully.

The America by Air exhibition follows the growth of the federal government’s role in shaping the airline industry and features aircraft in the US.  Some of these are below, take a look at how aviation in America affected all of us – across the world.  And continues to do so.  But there’s a caveat,  so please read to the end after some eyewatering beauties here.

The caveat involves a confused moment in aviation which is being made more so by the President of the United States who has just announced a major overhaul of how Air Traffic Control is going to be managed in the future.  He’s suggesting that the Federal control will be replaced by a private partnership which sounds fine,  except for one major problem.  The ATC network needs an overhaul but not a rebuild.  Trumps plan is to completely and utterly change how its funded which is a very bad idea.  Professional ATC folks I’ve spoken to who do this for a living are warning that if his plan is fulfilled,  costs will be slashed and by that,  read people.

And people who are paid a fortune to keep aeroplanes from flying may move elsewhere, accountancy for instance.  This means Trump may save airliners a bit of money initially but when safety leads to accidents,  airliners go broke.   So watch this space people.

Privatising the system sounds all very Keynsian and forward thinking.  Cutting it loose from the Federal system means less red tape,  quicker upgrades,  more technology.  Sounding good?    Trump is selling this now to passengers in the US as a way to reduce those odious queues, and improve scheduling.  But that’s smoke and mirrors.  All that will happen is that ATC costs will be trimmed and that’s a real danger for safety.

The reality is the opposite.  More control to airliners that have already begun pimping passengers,  increasing costs,  reducing the 30 000 Federal ATC workers, increasing queues and unsafe flying.    Initially most in the industry have welcomed the new idea owing to the fact that the new system would eliminate taxpayer funding.  But there’s no clarity on where the user fee will come from.  As with other change,  Trump is confusing privatisation with modernisation.  Next generation systems such as automation and GPS or GNSS systems are long overdue.

As with other baby and bathwater Trumpisms,  this one may have a severe repercussions for the average Joe,  including this one who takes off and flies.




British Air-oops & Making Plans for Willie


BA Twitter Feed 

British Airways (BA) is led, it appears,  by a man who could be accused of being both delusional and irrational.  This subjective comment follows BAs server crash and subsequent shutdown which stranded more than 75 000 people across the globe on Saturday May 27th 2017.   I say delusional because Willie Walsh is quoted as saying the criticism of the airline is, believe it or not, unfair.   He’s CEO of the International Airlines Group of AIG.  More about this lot later.

The evidence against BA is incriminating to say the least.  It’s own customer research from December 2016 showed the airline had slunk to a new low of 67% satisfaction from over 80% in two years.  That was before Walsh’s Woe-begones symbolically slashed and burned its customers in the recent long weekend disaster.   Walsh had overseen that fundamental of operational strategies under profit duress,  the cost cut.  That means jobs lost, including IT, where BA suffered a meltdown earlier this month.

But to understand what’s happened in Aviation,  we need to probe this British Airways PR disaster from various directions.   Direction one is BA’s parent company, IAG or International Airlines Group.  The other is cost-cutting Tzar,  Alex Cruz who has overseen a host of what’s being called “slash-and-burn” projects which start at cancelling meals on short-haul journeys to reducing by the hundred its IT engineers and outsourcing operational components.

Courtesy Twitter  – for the interview and a bit of a laugh, click here

BA’s cost-cutting could actually turn into a small bonanza for passengers,  with the airline facing around £150 million in claims caused, apparently,  by a technician unplugging a power cable.   The major question is this :



For a sector that relies on redundancy in all aspects,  how come BA didn’t have backup or redundancy in crucial booking systems? 

Aviation 101 planning comprises the following.  Build a system,  then back it up with something else in case the premium system fails.   Artificial Horizon?  Use secondary source power to allow for limited panel operations when power fails.  Sparkplugs?  Put two in each cylinder in case one magneto fails.  Engines?  At least two,  one of which must be powerful enough to allow the plane to continue flying when the other fails.

But Mr Walsh is now saying that its unfair to point out that BA didn’t have a proper backup system in place in case of power failure?


And he’s the CEO of an airline holding company which ferries millions around the world?  Note to self.  Don’t fly BA into the UK or anywhere until Mr Walsh is fired/resigned/or-wonders-off-this-mortal-coil.   As an ex-pilot of Aer Lingus he should be ashamed of himself.   What other operators could possibly be tainted with this careless CRM brush?  Go check IAG for answers.

Other interesting things to mention.  Qatar Airlines owns 20% of BA,  along with a significant shareholding by Capital Research and Management Company at 10%.  Deutsche Bank,  that rock of ethical financial management (sic) holds just under 3%  and Landsdowne Partners which holds nearly 6%.    Always watch the hedge funds linked companies and Lansdowne are two examples.

The amazing thing about modern incorporated companies is that BA holding company IAG is actually incorporated and listed in Spain.  For tax reasons.  To reduce tax,  which the shareholders love to hear.  Along with cost-cutting.  Are we starting to get a clearer picture of just how British Airways operates?

If I was an IAG or BA shareholder at this point,  the word “sell” may escape my lips.   Yes,  the share price recovered after its bad weekend, but this is not the end of the story.  As this aviation company moves further away from customer service towards financial windfall,  its threatening to eat itself alive.  The hungry shareholder mob orders the CEO and others to increase profits annually which leads eventually to the Amadeus software system failing due to cut back in IT support and planning as some lightweight with an access card to the crucial server room reaches out and cuts 48 hours of operations.  World Airlines spend an average of around 2.7% of their REVENUES on IT – and many regard this expenditure as an burden on their resources and to be managed “creatively”. Shareholders love corner-cutting, it makes the brackets disappear from spreadsheets.

BA customers waiting for IT to sort itself.

Then along comes Brexit.  What happens to BA’s Spanish Fly connection?  You can bet your bottom dollar that AIG is making plans and planning makes as we speak.  One option is that it reincorporates in the UK… actually no.  Tax cuts there are unlikely even with the Brexit Bandits considering various options in order to lure big business back.

Qatar is in it’s own dark place with the national Airline forced to fly longer routes in the Middle East around a bunch of countries like Saudi Arabia, thus driving up operational costs.   The Saudi Arabian dopeslap means a lot more cash to cover extra costs in operations until that operator finds some kind of negotiated solution after the costly embargo.

BA is still in a good place, despite the initial shock over its bank holiday long weekend fracas.  It holds over 50% of the prime spots at UK airports for example,  meaning passengers (if they really do take off on their allotted flights) walking a shorter distance from plane to baggage and so on.  While IAG, Cruz, Walsh and the other one percenters  walk away from the customer relations crash,  there are voices being raised warning the company that its entire culture is warped.

Mr Willie Walsh

Paying passengers back their money when some had their honeymoon’s cancelled is just not good enough.  Cost effective,  but hardly customer based.   Virgin Airlines owner Richard Branson probably cracked up when he heard about the server shenanigans.  His plan has always been to steal BA’s lunch at some point which may not be far away.   It’s no surprise that in the early 90’s BA paid him half a million pounds as part of an out of court settlement when it became clear just how far the legacy airline had gone in order to demonise the startup.   False stories,  hacking emails.  I mean,  what were the executives of BA thinking ?

Probably that they could get away with it.

So BA’s culture of operations has hardly changed then.

But there’s a bigger picture here which has to be analysed.   As the interesting change in politics sweeps Europe starting with Emmanuel Macron’s emergence in France,  the culture of the shareholder 1% versus the rest of us is going to be scrutinised by more citizens who’re voters.  That’s the moment the very culture underpinning BA and its cohorts will appear both anachronistic and antagonistic to Jo and Jill Soap.

Branson, who’s own Virgin Records IPO  was marred by London investor miscalculations, will attest to the blindness of the elites echo chamber and is ‘making plans for Nigel‘.*  But is IAG making  plans for Willie?


*”Making plans for Nigel” by XTC, a British band which released this song in 1979 and was signed by Virgin Records.









Hot Mauritius Air – Beware The Pressure

So I spent last week in Mauritius filming for a SADC assignment called “SADC Success Stories Volume II”.    Folks,  no anger and vituperation asseblief,  just be nice.  It was hard work,  promise.    Staying in a small apartment in Blue Bay, near the second city of Mahebourg was interesting to say the least, partly because it was almost directly under the final approach of Mauritius’ International Airport so I could watch the planes approaching and taking off at close range.

The airport is also fantastic for aviators or those who like plane spotting because the main road is right alongside the runway, literally a hundred feet away.   Everything is close by on Mauritius which is 60km x 30km in size,  so for us South Africans,   even a drive across from north to south takes less time than from Johannesburg CBD to Rosebank during rush hour.

Mahebourg to Port Louis is a 40 minute drive.

Flying Air Mauritius was also a really interesting experience.  The food is great, far better than SAA or Kenya Air.  I’m surprised they haven’t won the award for best African airline more often.   The planes were also above average,  although on the return journey in an Airbus 319 the seats were small and uncomfortable.   Being on an island nation at the start of the Southern Hemisphere winter was a boon,  a 4 hour flight later and you’re no longer waking up to the 3˙ in Johannesburg but a balmy 25˙.

As you can see from the pictures above,  shot on a GoPro,  I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit it was so warm,  while the turquoise water made for excellent footage we were filming for our client.

There  is a rule for pilots which I assiduously followed on this trip.  In aviation law and medicine there is a golden rule about diving following a flight.  You should avoid diving within 24 hours of flying at high altitude and vice versa, although some try and push this to a few hours.  I’m afraid that a good friend died some time ago precisely because she failed to wait the requisite period and died of an embolism after diving within the 24 hour window after a long haul flight.

Diving and  flying are not great bed fellows.  They’re like Donald Trump and the Pope.  Never likely to get along.  The reason is all about the pressure.  At 39000 feet your body is pressurised to between 6000 and 8000 feet depending on the airline.   Then after landing you head off and dive 20m on pressurised gas.  This is a major killer and not to be trifled with.   The body needs more time to settle gases – luckily we were snorkelling which is safer, although I did get down to around 12 meters.

Diving and Flying are not great bed fellows.  They’re like Donald Trump and the Pope.

Air Mauritius is about to take possession of two Airbus A350s of four ordered, with two more to be leased in case of demand,  the latest in a list of European planes they’ve purchased.  I had the opportunity to meet an Air Mauritius Board member during my filming in Port Louis this last week who was excited about the prospect.

The flight to Mauritius a week ago was mostly empty on board the A340 (above left),  while the flight back on a Friday morning was packed to the rafters (in an A319 above right).   Those flying back were larger going to take collecting flights, had business or were commuting.  There were only a handful of tourists,  including two women dentists from Argentina who loved our equipment.  No no, you filthy minded swines,  they were eyeing our photographic equipment.

Note to self :  No more cheesy selfies.  Second note to self : Return to Mauritius ASAP.



Droning On & ICAO 50% Special Gold

FlySafair maintenance Hangar, Lanseria
Yay! South Africa has just scored first in Africa following a two week ICAO Safety Inspection.  While Afro-pessimists may giggle into their mug of Eurospite and bitters, that puts us in 33rd place globally.  Not too shabby.   A big plus is the drop according to ICAO and the Transport Minister,  in the number of non-commercial accidents.  They’re down 50% with the stark numbers really a thumbs up to our training institutions – down to 72 deaths in the last year from 144 in 2012/13.   The audit was conducted between the 8th and 18th of May according to information just released by the Transport Ministry and was covered in a previous blog post (see below).

So another training opportunity has arisen and boy! (or girl!) I’m excited.  I’ve signed up to do CAA certified drone pilot training but its not for the faint hearted.  Because its pretty expensive.   To give you an idea just how expensive – its about a fifth of the price of a full pilot’s license.   If you’re quick enough,  a PPL could cost between R250 000 and R350 000 depending on how many hours you fly and how you compress the training.   Drone training costs R50 000 and that’s before you buy the little thing.   Which costs at least another R10k for the basic piece of kit and around R35-40k for a good aerial vehicle with camera/s.

DJI Mavic
Luckily in my case its about half that price because I have a PPL.  Had I walked into this course without any theory in aviation,  the cost would be significantly higher.   But that doesn’t mean its easy.   The CAA along with civil aviation authorities everywhere has now ordered pilots to be certified when your Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ( UAV) or drone is of a certain size.   Being a videographer come aviator,  the idea is obviously most attractive.  I’ve already filmed quite a bit from the cockpit and even in a Cirrus with its low-slung wing,  so that’s feasible.  And we’ve also shot a few videos from a borrowed drone for a series I’m filming for SADC.

DJI Mavic folded away
But the idea of having our own drone and using it to garner great footage within the law is a real attraction.   News organisations are falling over themselves to use these inconspicuous UAV’s over protests and police action.    This is a quick update ‘cos there’s a need to attend a special safety evening at the hangar and I can’t dilly dally.    Look out for updates on the UAV training on this site in the next few weeks.

DJI Mavic not folded away




ICAO Inspectorate Stages First Visit To SA Since 2013

Yes, boring title but muo importante.  The United Nations body that makes aviation suggestions that are hard to ignore,  a bit like Scarface,  is in the South African house.  ICAO which stands for ‘International Civil Aviation Organisation’ has its safety inspection team prodding South African systems over the next two weeks.  It comes at an opportune time.  SAA Chairperson Dudu “Sleepy” Myeni hasn’t said a word for a few months, which is good news if you value intelligence reports,  and incidents/crashes are down generally over the past two years.   The team in SA are operating under ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP).  Or Use Soap. To keep a clean safety record.  (Groan)


ICAO also stands for ‘Improvements and Collision Avoidance’  and ‘Instructions for Continued Airworthiness’.  But I digress.  So what’s going to happen?  Well ICAO checks to see if our Civil Aviation Authority is up to scratch,  that Air Traffic Controllers are alert and bushy-tailed, that fuel is available, safety records are kept, maintenance logs are filed, pilots are doing proper training and the hangar ping-pong table has enough green paint along with a long list of other check and balances. Apart from the ping-pong table bit (which is thumb suck) this is a good thing.  ICAO doesn’t make rules,  it has suggested regulations that each nation follows – or doesn’t.  The problem for those who ignore ICAO is their airlines crash and burn.   Or they’re banned.  Or both.

They’re a bit like the inspectors who used to be allowed to check on teachers before SADTU went out of its mind and decided that their so-called maths experts with english as a major shouldn’t be monitored.  Therefore technical education is in a pit,  but not aviation.

ICAO specifications aren’t to be sniffed at.  As a signatory, South Africa has Aeronautical Information Publications that if you search online long enough you’ll find these missives.  These used to be posted to pilots but since the Post office decided it would rather deliver its lower middle class staff easy holidays,  the CAA no longer sends these missives.  Neither does it send NOTAMS to pilots.  Which is a bit of a contradiction because NOTAM means Notice to Airmen (and women).   I loved receiving the NOTAMs in the post,  pages of warnings about airport closing,  runways being resurfaced,  hangars being moved,  tests being conducted.  Now I read it on the hangar notice board when awaiting my flight from CDC Aviation at Lanseria.

Countries are supposed to update AIP’s every 28 days,  which continues to happen in South Africa so I’ve not doubt that the ICAO inspectorate will tick that box.  But that’s not all folks.  ICAO standardises various items in aviation such how to define atmosphere which is at the heart of flying.  Gauges and instruments need to be calibrated according to pressures, temperatures,  density, viscosity and altitude (and a few others we won’t mention here).  Wrong calibration can be terminal.   It also codes airports.  For example Lanseria is FALA and King Shaka in Durban is FALE.   Just to slightly confuse the reader,  there’s another bunch called IATA which has a separate code for FALE which is DUR.  For Durban.  Which is actually iThekweni.

ICAO is also responsible for Aircraft registration.  So tonight, for example,  I’m flying ZS-CTP which is the “tail number” of a Cirrus SR20 aircraft.  Next time you’re bounding onto a plane between A and B,  jot down the code on the tail and search online for its date of purchase, general maintenance issues, and use FlightRadar24 to check its flights over the last week for free.   I look forward to ICAO stamping South Africa free and fair to fly, then having a couple of free margaritas courtesy of South African Civil Aviation Authority Director, Poppy Khoza before jetting back to ICAO-land satisfied with our systems.

If not,  it could mean more than a slap on the wrist.  Out of interest,  the last time the USA had a safety audit was in 2008,  which seems a bit odd as its one of the busiest zones in the world.

SA_USA_icaoAs you can see from the audit results,  while South Africa lags the USA in planning specifically with regard to accidents,  we’re not that far off the world’s empire state.  Long may we remain of high standards as you and I clamber aboard our trusty composite steeds and are whisked hither and thither.