06 April 2013


I'm on vacation in the U.S., visiting family on North Carolina coast. I'll be back in France soon.

US Airways flights, which are the ones I take most of the time when I come to the U.S., depart out of the old Aérogare 1 at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle, as we used to call the "new" airport north of Paris. I actually remember when the airport opened back in 1973. It was considered to be very futuristic at the time, with those conveyor-belt sidewalks in glass tubes to take passengers from one level to another inside the big round building.

Now the term Aérogare has been replaced by Terminal (anglicization) and number 1 exists in the shadow of the much larger Terminal 2 at Roissy, which Americans call CDG. I still call it Roissy, but I'm not sure how many people even understand what I mean. Older French people do, anyway. Air France's flights leave from Terminal 2, but US Airways and other foreign carriers fly out of Terminal 1. Since I've lived in France,
 I've become re-acquainted with the old building, often re-modeled, after years of flying Air France from San Francisco to Roissy Terminal 2.

Have I said often enough how much I enjoyed my CDG-CLT (Charlotte) flight on Tuesday afternoon? The plane appeared to be a brand new Airbus, with comfortable seats, enough legroom in coach, decent food, and a big seat-back video screen featuring a wide selection of movies and TV shows. All American — no French movies — but it is US Airways, after all.

Lifting off over the northern French landscape of compact villages set in farmland divided into neat, separate fields of varying shapes, we soon reached the coast and began to cross the Channel. I was seated by a window right over the wing, so I had only a partial view of the ground below us. Despite that,I noticed this wide sandy estuary and thought to myself: "That must be the Baie de Somme."  I've never been there and know it mostly from TV documentaries. I looked at the satellite view in Google maps and I'm pretty sure I've identified it correctly.

As we flew out over the Atlantic, we were also above a thick cloud cover, so there was nothing much to see besides the movies on my screen. At one point, I pulled up my window screen and saw another passenger jet flying along beside us. The two jets flew in tandem for quite a long time, and finally I took out my camera and snapped a few pictures like the one above.

At lunchtime in eastern North America, we were flying over the province of Québec, and as we were directly over Montréal I thought about what a good time Walt and I had there last May, including a nice lunch with The Beaver and her husband. Then we flew on down the Appalachian chain of mountains toward Virginia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. I could see some snow on the mountaintops (photos above). We arrived early in Charlotte, and I breezed through passport control, customs, and security. I was moving pretty fast for a 75-year-old (!) codger.

Temperatures here on the Carolina coast are supposed to get up to 27 or even close to 30ºC (84ºF) by the end of next week, with bright sunny conditions (eat your heart out, you who live in the Loire Valley and northern France). Maybe I'll finally get out and take some pictures here in North Carolina.


  1. I HAVE to write something, because I've never ever before been the first one to comment.

    Here's hoping you were using a telephoto to photograph that plane out the window. It seems too close for comfort otherwise.

  2. Chris, I was using a zoom lens but even so that other plane seemed pretty close to ours. I was surprised, and that's why I took the photos.

  3. i'm glad you had a pleasant trip...my last couple of trips have been on United (via Dulles) and their planes are smaller that the airbuses, which, to me, means more comfortable....quicker service, quicker loading & unloading (tho the seats are just as smooshed together)
    I am looking forward to warmer temps here in NC too, finally

  4. How I love to see those farm fields on our way in, and how I hate to say goodbye to them when we head home.

    Ken, I think you may have flown over us in the mountains of PA. I'd have to see the flight track to confirm.

    You're in the midst of all that good NC food. What have you been eating?

  5. I love that old terminal at Roissy!

  6. Did they offer you complimentary food and drinks on your flight? The pricing structure of international flights is becoming more like the domestic ones as far as inflight service is concerned. When we went to Portugal last year, the three of us sat in different areas of coach. I was charged $5 for a glass of wine, my brother $2, and my uncle got free drinks. I don't like the trend!

  7. Melinda, the forecast for N.C.looks good. I like the smaller planes too. I love the flight from Charlotte to New Bern, which on a jet takes only about 45 minutes from boarding to de-planing.

    Carolyn: barbecue from Smithfield's (not the best but pretty damn good), fresh local shrimp, and collard greens my mother cleaned, cooked, and froze. Hush puppies. Cole slaw. A goo hamburger. I've probably gained five pounds. I'm sure we flew over Pennsylvania. Walt was tracking the flight on-line. We passed over the NY Finger Lakes on the way south and then over Pa., W. Va., etc. on the way to N.C.

    Dean, I had to pay $7 for one of those miniature bottles of Chilean Chardonnay on the plane. Otherwise, food, soft drinks, juic, coffee etc. were free.

    Evelyn, Aérogare numéro 1 is in nice shape now. For a few years, it was getting kind of run-down, but now it's been refurbished. I like it too.

  8. I love your photos Ken and always learn and see something new. I am so glad you are having nice weather; it must feel so good after the long winter you had!

  9. Ken

    There is an open invitation for meals at home and in some ethnic restaurants for your next visit(s) . Y has even mastered his BBQing skills for winter cooking.

    BTW and IIRC from my days on the road and in the air:
    Terminal 1 is for Star Alliance carriers like Air Canada, UA and US air etc. They share the same lounges sometimes .

    Terminal 2 : the newest gates are for the STY Team carriers such as AF, Delta etc . You can also have some other European airlines at T2 but you have to take the bus to get to your plane.

    Other Star Alliance airlines like Singapore Airlines may use T2 also because of the A380 planes. I could be wrong but 2 yrs ago we landed from an AF A380 and there was one nearby.

  10. 84 degrees! You're getting a taste of summer! Lucky Duck. We've got steady rain here in the Northwest and at least three more days of it forecast. No shrimp on the menu here, nor other resort food. Comfort food for stay-inside projects!
    I'll be thinking of you on vacation and wishing for better weather here - eventually.
    Dean - I'm surprised that in coach three of you had different fees for drinks? I've never heard that before.

  11. Hi Mary,
    The reason there were 3 prices for us was that we each had a different flight attendant. It must have been during the transition from free drinks in coach to the pay for drinks pricing. When we last flew, the flight attendants hadn't all seen the memo, but unfortunately, they all have by now.

  12. I like how you can see the turbulence behind the Delta plane!


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