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0 takeoffs, 0 landings, but a trip nonetheless: the new 5th runway at Atlanta! (pics)

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  • 0 takeoffs, 0 landings, but a trip nonetheless: the new 5th runway at Atlanta! (pics)

    Since no one else wrote about ATL's fifth runway opening ceremony on May 20th, I'll take the pleasure. All pics were taken with a Nikon N65 with a 28-90mm lens.

    Date: SaturdayMay 20, 2006
    Time: 5.30 am
    Location: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Hartsfield, damn it!)

    My dad and I woke up at 4.30 in the morning, showered, ate some cereal, and began our 45 minute drive to the airport. The city organized a race/walk on the new runway and since registration was free, I signed my parents and me up. My mom chose not to go, so it was just my dad and me. We parked at the old Georgia World Congress Center and took a shuttle bus to the airport.

    The buses had to have an official airport escort with it at all times. We followed this orange pickup truck with amber lights flashing the entire way. The truck led us on the airport grounds, past taxiways and cargo hangers, until it stopped on the edge of a taxiway. We got off, got our race numbers and fooled around for a while. The first thing I noticed is that the place was pretty big.

    Runway Map

    red- Delta 763
    light blue- AirTran 73NG
    yellow- emergency vehicle display
    dark blue- race course
    light green- kid's carnival/food
    dark green- stage/concert area

    There were two planes in the distance: a Delta 763 and a AirTran 73NG:

    The two planes on a taxiway by the 5th runway

    Just as we decided to go see the planes, the mayor got on the loudspeaker and kicked off the race/walk. We decided to check out the runway first and then the planes. The race began on a taxiway and continued on to the runway. As I somehow expected, there were a lot more walkers than runners since the race appealed more to aviation fans than runners. There were a lot of people there, which surprised me since they told us that fewer people than expected showed up. I guess they were counting on more people willing to wake up so damn early

    Long line of runners and joggers rushing for the finish line!

    We finally got on the actual runway and the first thing I noticed is that the runway looks a lot bigger when you walk on it than it does on seat 37A of a 777. The runway is 9000 feet long and 150 feet wide.

    The runway

    Also interesting were the grooves on the runway to let the rain run off.

    Grooves on the runway. The concrete was pretty rough on all spots, but only some areas had the grooves. In the middle third or so, the runway was perfectly flat.

    My dad and I looked around and quickly realized we were dead last. In fact, some very athletic people had lapped us already. We decided to hurry it up a bit but we still stopped for photos or other things once in a while. When the Korean Air 744 landed, we stopped. I didn't take a picture because I wanted to see it without a camera. I think Korean is the only pax 747 operator into ATL, which is somewhat surprising for such a large airport. The loads don't justify such a large aircraft, so ATL is ruled by 777s and 767s. The airport will not be A380 compatible for many years according to management

    While we were walking this lady wearing a Delta t-shirt came up to us and pointed out where the first airplane landed on the runway. I believe she was referring to DL 1028 (the runway is rwy 10-2, a 767 that landed a few days before.

    Tire marks!

    The race soon ended and a carnival opened. They had basic things like tilt-a-whirls and mini-roller coasters. They were designed for people half my age and a quarter of my weight so I passed on the rides. The food there was free , so I enjoyed some cotton candy, popcorn, and water. They also had corn dogs, hot dogs, nachos, and coke. The food was actually pretty good! I've got to wonder how much the city shelled out to arrange the event! Everything from start to finish was at no upfront cost.

    The two planes on the taxiway were now open for visitors, so we ran to them and started looking around. I met this management major there and we chatted about DL's financial situation for a while. Since DL is such a big deal around Atlanta, we'd all get hit pretty hard if they went under. But for now, the wavy-gravy lives:

    A brave guy taking on a plane. Who will win?

    Yours truly in front of an engine. And they say GE90s are bigger, damn!

    Deltaflot? Wavy-gravy? Blech. Bring back the old old scheme or at least the Ron Allen colors...they were classy.

    Under the plane! Since I'm 5'10" and the fuselage was about 2" higher than me, I guess the gear is about 6' tall. Or something like that.

    Then we walked over to the AirTran plane. AirTran tried to top DL. Delta should have put a Song bird that day! AirTran let people board their plane and try out their XM Satellite Radio. There were 6 FAs managing the crowd. You could walk up the stairs, and an FA gave you headphones, find an empty seat, listen all you want, and leave. I got seat 1A and 1B all to myself and plugged in my headphones. Great quality, bad song. "I Want it that way" by the Backstreet Boys was playing. I quickly changed it to something better and enjoyed the air conditioned plane for 10 minutes before going back out. They gave me an AirTran baseball hat on the bottom of the stairs.

    Me telling my dad how to use the camera while he takes a picture. Whoops.

    By noon, it was too damn hot to stay outside without a bottle of water every thirty minutes. Arms filled with portable fans, posters, hats, raffle tickets, lip balm (I'm not joking...AirTran handed out branded chapstick), and t-shirts, we caught a shuttle bus to our car and drove home.

  • #2
    Nice and interesting report. Just too bad that DL didn't have a 777 available for flt 1028 that day, but other than that, looks like an event worthy of the importance of this new runway.


    • #3
      Nice report. I wondered why I saw pics of a 767-300 doing the first landing when it was supposed to be a 777. Now I know.