Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tour de France '14(5) : Things seen

Zach’s friend Chance journeyed through Japan with his father at the same time as Zach and I began our 'Tour de France'.
Zach and Chance keep in touch through ‘Clash of Clans’ (an online game), Instagram (a social media network), and occasionally even resorting to old-fashioned technology like email to talk to one another.
During his travels through Japan, Chance updated us on features of his travels like his purchase of blurple shoes (blue-purple in colour), seeing life-size Lego figures, and listing all the fancy cars he saw. 
Chance's list of cars includes five Ferraris, four Corvettes, three Lamborghinis[1], two Aston-Martins (V12 Vantages) and one Maserati !
He also noted that he had seen 20 Skylines ! We weren't sure why they were listed. Perhaps they were all pimped out. Or that was the number he counted from the bullet train in a 10 second interval – which would be pretty cool.

Chance even sent us a movie that featured a Lamborghini accelerating past. 
Yeah, it’s more noise than vision, but it inspired us to create our own list of things seen & heard! Zach had four biggies:
We have seen lots of Fiats, Alfa-Romeos, Renaults, Citroëns, Toyotas, Nissans, Opels – oh, and a few Ferraris, a modicum of Maseratis, a lone Lamborghini (orange!)
Our host in France, Marc (whose house faces the Pyrenées) works with Airbus and worked on both the A380 and the A400-M. The house is in an area that is used by Airbus for flight trials for brand new planes and planes recently built but pre-delivery so we see lots here.
So we have seen up close and personal (at the house or at Toulouse airport which serves as Airbus' base) a plethora of planes: 
-        a number of A380s - the striking double-decker plane with the largest passenger capacity of any plane. Zach is excited because we will be flying in one on our way home in July. That means he and I will travelling at the height of Mt Everest along with about 800+ complete strangers in an area 50m x 6.5m wide - that is half the length of a rugby field, one tenth the width, and smellier than the post-game locker rooms combined! Woohoo, I can hardly wait.
-        the A350 on a number of occasions - this is Airbus’s latest new model, not yet in commercial operation, designed to compete with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. It is a long range, two-turbine, extra-wide body plane with lots of carbon fibre and some seriously cool wing tips (see picture). We have seen Airbus' version (#1) and the one which is destined for Qatar Airways and is half painted in their livery.
-        the Beluga - the weird shaped plane from Airbus used to transport airplane components and other over-sized items (see diagram). The photo at the beginning of this post is a picture of one of the three that Zach saw.
-        A400-M - a four turbo-prop plane with substantially increased payload, volume and range over previous military transporters.
Zach's went to Germany with his Mum to visit the LegoLand near to Munich. They had a wonderful adventure. They slept in tent accommodation - without sleeping bags - as a cold spell swept across the region ! The accommodation managers were impressed.
At LegoLand, Zach got to ride rides and saw the biggest Lego figures ever. There's a wonderful one of him standing next to a larger-than-life Yoda - but we have not yet been able to compare it with the photos Chance sent us of the Lego figures he saw in Japan. Zach thinks its bigger, but we need to get the image from his Zach's Mum's phone to this blog. Somewhere somehow we'll make this happen !
When Zach and his Mum flew back into Toulouse airport from Germany, as they landed, Zach took the opportunity to regale his Mum about all the planes that were parked around the airport including three of the only five Belugas (the plane featured at the beginning of this post).
A man sitting in front of Zach and his Mum turned around and told them he was impressed at Zach’s knowledge. Turns out he was a pilot and fleet manager with American Airlines and was in France test-flying the A350. We waved at him a couple days later when the A350 passed close over our heads.
It was a BIG deal for Zach to see snow. So we mention that again, but we have already covered that here!

[1] Two Mucilagos and one Aventador

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