The 747’s victory lap
The last passenger Boeing 747 to land at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport took a farewell lap on Wednesday afternoon. Delta Air Lines, airport and federal aviation authorities had arranged for the plane, charter Flight 9771 from Atlanta, to fly a circle around the airport at just 2,000 feet above the ground. The plane then pulled up to Terminal 1 to unload its passengers, mainly frequent fliers and airline employees and retirees. Delta acquired its 747 fleet through its 2008 purchase of Minnesota-based Northwest Airlines, which used them since 1970 on international flights, including those flown to and from MSP. Delta is now replacing the jumbo jet, known for its huge size and iconic hump, with newer aircraft that are more fuel-efficient. The last 747s will be used to charter pro and college football teams to games through Jan. 3, then flown to an Arizona desert “boneyard” where they will be stripped for parts and recycled.
Sun Country adds Honolulu, Myrtle Beach
On the heels of last week’s news that the airline will be sold to a New York firm, Eagan-based Sun Country is adding new routes to Hawaii’s capital as well as South Carolina’s resort city of Myrtle Beach. The Minneapolis-to-Honolulu service will run May 19 to Aug. 19, 2018, connecting in Los Angeles, with fares starting at $399 one-way. Delta Air Lines already offers nonstop service to Honolulu nearly year-round. Meanwhile, Sun Country’s nonstop flights to Myrtle Beach will operate April 6 to June 4, starting at $129 one-way. Spirit Airlines also offers some summer dates for the MSP-Myrtle Beach route.
Simon Peter Groebner
Escape from Orlando
Orlando and its surroundings aren’t only about princesses and wizards. Central Florida offers a wide variety of kayaking opportunities from the St. Johns River in the north to Cape Canaveral on the east coast, and on Shingle Creek in Kissimmee. Leave behind the cartoon critters and see wildlife in its natural setting — manatees at Blue Spring State Park in winter, tiny bioluminescent creatures in the waters of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in the summer, and dolphins, alligators and wading birds year-round. Many outfitters offer guided tours as well as equipment rental. A daylight tour of one to two hours on slow-moving water is a good introduction. Expect to get wet, wear a hat and sunscreen, and apply bug repellent liberally.
A tourist pledge for Palau
The tiny Pacific island nation of Palau has unveiled a new pledge for all incoming visitors and become the first country to incorporate environmental practices into its immigration laws. Before guests receive the stamp in their passport, they will watch an in-flight video inspired by a Palauan legend. In the film, a giant lands on the archipelago and inadvertently stomps on its natural resources. Realizing the damage he has wrought, he pursues a more sustainable, gentle-giant approach. The agreement, dedicated to the children of Palau, opens with this promise: “I take this pledge as your guest, to preserve and protect your beautiful and unique island home.” The statement urges visitors to “tread lightly, act kindly and explore mindfully.” It closes with a poetic flourish: “The only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away.”