November 13, 2013 at 6:21 PM
Nov. 14 UPDATE: Machinists voted a resounding no to Boeing’s contract offer.
Sketched Nov. 13, 2013
This morning I took my sketchpad to the aerospace worker’s union hall in Everett, where thousands of Boeing machinists stood in line throughout the day to vote on a company contract. For the most part, the atmosphere was pretty somber, which is understandable when you consider what’s at stake. Boeing is threatening to build the 777X airliner somewhere else if the union doesn’t approve the contract. That could mean the region would lose more than 50,000 jobs in the next few years. (Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates has all the details on that.)
Still, a few machinists had not lost their sense of humor. James White, a 17-year Boeing employee who works on the 777, was dressed as Captain America. “Sometimes someone has to stand up and lead the charge,” he said. Nearby, another machinist held a cardboard sign with a picture of Yoda and this slogan: “Vote No You Must.”
According to some machinists I talked to, the union, which has more than 30,000 members, is split about 60-40, with the majority rejecting the contract because it will cut benefits they have fought very hard to get over the years. Of the more than twenty machinists I talked to, only two said they voted to approve the contract and they did not wish to be identified.
For many, the issue means more than just working at Boeing. The contract represents “another nail in the coffin for middle class America,” said Mark Braun, a 27-year Boeing veteran encouraging others to vote against it.
This group of Boeing buddies includes Brian Duff, 53; Charles Kauffman, 51; Matt McEwen, 30; and Chelsea Kauffman, 20, who is Charles’ daughter. “If we let Boeing take our benefits away, other companies will follow,” said Duff.
Amanda Ferrara, a 27-year-old mechanic, expressed her view with these words: “We need to fight for what we have. Keep the benefits going for the people coming after us — our children and grandchildren.”
Robert Mahan expressed disappointment at the way the company presented the contract terms. “We didn’t have enough time to chew on this.” He wished there had been a little bit more give and take, more time for negotiation.
June 7, 2013 at 8:09 PM
Sketched May 30, 2013
The volunteer pilot is so eager to fly humanitarian missions that last year he broke a record for all 13 states served by the organization based in Santa Monica, Calif. He completed 210 missions — an average of four round-trip flights per week — flying patients to doctor appointments across the Northwest and delivering donated blood to a Puget Sound Blood Center collection point at Boeing Field.
For Sierra Lorenzo, of Albany, Ore., Angel Flight West has been a part of life since she received a liver transplant in Seattle nine years ago. Every time she must see her doctors at Children’s Hospital, the 18-year-old relies on the pilots for transportation. They are “so sweet,” she said. “They don’t treat you like you are a patient, they treat you like you are a person.”
The service is arranged through the hospitals and provided only to patients with severe medical conditions — cancer, in many cases — who can’t afford the flights, said Christian Holtz, who coordinates about 90 volunteer pilots in Western Washington. “The idea is to reduce the stress for the patients and get them to their appointments on time.”
Schaper, who is 73 and lives on Lower Queen Anne, isn’t only donating his time for the missions. He also picks up the tab, as all the pilots are expected to do. This particular mission, to take Lorenzo back to Albany, cost him $580 for rental of the airplane and fuel.
Despite his modest income as a retired social worker, Schaper said his money is well spent. “It is expensive, but it’s a positive thing as far as I’m concerned.” After almost 5 decades piloting single-engine aircraft, he said, these missions are “the most satisfying flying I’ve ever done.”
Following a long day of tests at Children’s, Lorenzo was tired and looking forward to getting back home in less than two hours. She couldn’t begin to imagine making the 500-mile round trip by car and having to spend a night in a hotel. The flights are a “huge service to the patients and their families,” said Lorenzo. “I don’t know what I would do if I could not use them.”
Schaper keeps meticulous track of his flying experience in logbooks going back to 1961. His count the day I met him: 5,136 flights.
During the trip to Albany Schaper was accompanied by his pilot friend Ed Bryce, 60, a retired software tester who has also been flying recreationally for decades. I made this sketch while they were getting the rented Cessna 172 Skyhawk ready at Boeing Field.
On the flight back to Seattle, Schaper veered from his planned itinerary to avoid some patches of rain pouring from clouds lingering over us. Sunlight filtered down intermittently, creating rainbows over the mountains. It was a beautiful scene to end a beautiful mission.
May 18, 2013 at 2:24 AM
Sketched May 8, 2013
“Are you thinking of flying today?”
When Marc Chirico asked the question, I mumbled: “Er… I wasn’t planning to.”
Chirico, who runs a paragliding school at the foot of Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, has a long resume in the sport. He has participated in international competitions and once flew 65 miles between Chelan and Odessa in Eastern Washington — a state record.
He also has a knack for making people feel at ease. He welcomed me atop his “eagle’s nest” with a fresh cup of coffee and an extra jacket in case I was cold.
The 4-story high platform overlooks a grassy field where pilots land next to the Issaquah-Hobart road. It is the latest addition to Seattle Paragliding, the training center Chirico has operated from this converted farm for more than a decade.
The grounds also include a sloping hill where I watched pilots practice take-off and landing. Tom Keefer was one of them. He said the more you practice here, the better prepared you are when you fly.
Meeting Keefer and Chirico’s other students helped me realize this may not be the sport for daredevils I imagined.
Keefer, 61, is a retired Metro bus driver who has flown solo 57 times. Nancy Colton, a 50-year-old massage therapist, was excited about completing her fourth solo flight and looking forward to her fifth the following day. She said she still gets scared, but the desire to fly is stronger.
If they could do it, why not me?
By the time Chirico mentioned the 4:45 p.m. shuttle service to the launchpads at Poo Poo Point, the idea of a tandem flight was sounding less intimidating.
The shuttle driver is someone very dear to Chirico, a man named Mike Miller who was born with celebral palsy. Chirico called him up and he joined us atop the eagle’s nest long enough for me to do a quick sketch of him.
While many take the shuttle up to the Poo Poo Point launchpads, others prefer to hike. That was the case of Michael Peña, a sporty-looking fellow I sketched moments after he landed. Peña, who has practiced the sport in Costa Rica and Mexico as well, said Tiger Mountain is one of the most scenic places for paragliding he knows.
With permission from the Department of Natural Resources, Chirico built the trail that goes up to Poo Poo Point and the launchpads that paragliders use to jump. The process of building the launchpads started in 1990, he said. It required bringing excavators to level the terrain and installing runways of Astro Turf. Today, Poo Poo Point has become a community treasure, said Chirico. It is the “country club of paragliding.”
After watching about a dozen pilots take off, I took up Chirico’s offer to fly a tandem with him. Talk about gaining a new perspective!
He strapped my harness to his and I followed the steps: “Three, two, one, run …. and torpedo!”
A burst of wind lifted the featherweight wing and we soared into the sky.
A few minutes later, as the warm air of a thermal propelled us, I pulled out my sketchbook and drew Mount Rainier with my feet dangling in the sky.
“Can you feel the heat,” Chirico asked.
September 23, 2011 at 8:31 PM
Sketched Sept. 21, 12:50 p.m.
As Boeing prepares to deliver the first 787 on Sunday, the workers must feel a great sense of accomplishment.
Velva Maye, 87, shares a similar feeling about B-17 bombers. During World War II, she was one of a four-woman team in charge of ordering the rivets, clamps, nuts and bolts that kept the “Flying Fortresses” together. And, after retiring with 40 years of service, she and other volunteers helped restore one that is parked outside the Museum of Flight.
“This plane came out of the assembly line on Feb. 13, 1943,” Maye said. “I started buying parts in Boeing in 1942; therefore, I feel it has my parts on it.”
As proud as Maye is of “her” plane, she’s also worried that leaving it outdoors may ruin the years of restoration work, and she’d like to find a hangar for it. “It needs a warm, dry home,” said Maye.
The bomber’s nose, engines, cockpit and gunner turret were just covered up a few days ago to protect the aircraft from the rain. Maye said it’s the only B17-F in flying condition in the world. “It was restored to the original blueprint.”
More than 7,000 B17 bombers were built at Boeing’s Plant 2 just across Boeing Field. Demolition of the plant, which was camouflaged during the war to hide it from Japanese aircraft attack, started in 2010 and seems well underway. From the South Park Marina across the Duwamish River I could only see one piece of the building still standing. The demolition of the huge hangar buildings has completely transformed the landscape.
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
July 17, 2009 at 10:50 AM
July 15, 10:39 a.m. Click on sketches to view larger.
If a weekend of fishing salmon is not on your schedule, airplanes may be the way to go. A couple of World War II fighter planes from the Flying Heritage Collection will return to the sky for a ‘Fly Day‘ at Paine Field in Everett on Saturday.
On Wednesday I visited the collection and sketched one of them while mechanics were doing checks. Retired Col. Ralph Jenkins, 90, of Seattle, will be at Paine Field to watch the flight of this plane, which is painted like the six “Tallahassee Lassie” Thunderbolts he flew during the war. Named for his wife, the Tallahassee Lassie planes featured her image painted on the nose. It was common for fighter airplanes to display pictures of the pilots wives or girlfriends, explained Jenkins, who flew 129 combat missions, including on D-Day. “There were a lot of girl pictures on P-47s,” he said on a phone interview, adding that his wife was a good sport about the art. They met in Tallahassee 67 years ago and married in just four months. “She was a very pretty bride and is here with me today.”
I didn’t get to meet Col. Jenkins, but while at the collection I got to talk to another veteran pilot, James B. Thoren (above), 87, who flew B-25s. He is a docent at the collection and explained that the Thunderbolt was the largest single-engine fighter of WWII. He also said that every time they painted nose art on a Thunderbolt for Jenkins to fly the picture of his wife seemed to appear with less clothes on.
The free air show starts at noon and lasts about an hour. Watch from the west end of 109th Street Southwest at Paine Field, near the museum hangar.
May 20, 2009 at 4:12 PM
May 18, 3:48 p.m. [View large]
I made a stop by Seattle Seaplanes on South Lane Union, where the docked floatplanes are screaming to be drawn. I’ve had my eye on them for a while and blog reader Bob Messina of Seattle recently sent me an email suggesting this location.
While I was sketching the blue vintage plane parked at the entrance of the business (top left corner,) a pilot/mechanic who works here showed interest in my drawing.
May 18, 4:14 p.m. [View large]
Later, I stopped by the dock where he was fixing a plane. His name is Kyle Walker and he just moved to Seattle from Michigan two years ago. He’s 24 and has been fixing and flying planes for about eight years. He loves what he does. “It’s awesome,” he said.
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