The Red Bull Air Race Is Coming to North Texas

Red Bull/Peter Besenyei
As insanely dangerous as the event sounds -- it consists of flimsy-looking stunt planes weaving through a series of large pylons at 200-plus miles per hour -- there has been only one crash in eight years of Red Bull Air Races. It happened in 2010 in Perth, Australia, during a practice run when 36-year-old Adilson Kindleman of Brazil lost control of his craft, flipping it into the Swan River. He walked away with minor injuries.

That was enough, it seems, for organizers to put the event on indefinite hiatus, canceling the races scheduled for 2011, 2012 and 2013 to reorganize and address potential safety concerns.

All that has now been taken care of. The announcement came down yesterday that the Red Bull Air Races are coming back for 2014, and will make one of two U.S. stops in North Texas, flying into the Texas Motor Speedway in September.

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A Solar-Powered Plane Landed at DFW Airport Last Night After a Record-Breaking Trip

Solar Impulse
At sunrise on Wednesday, an airplane took off from Phoenix International Airport, eventually landing 1,000 miles to the east in Dallas. That in itself is hardly remarkable. Commercial jets travel the same path dozens of times each day. What was different about this journey was that the aircraft, the Solar Impulse, is powered by sunlight. When it touched down at DFW Airport just after 1 a.m., running off battery power for the trip's final hours, it had just completed the world's longest-ever solar powered flight.

Piloting the vessel was Andre Borschberg, a Swiss entrepreneur who helped launch the Solar Impulse project a decade ago. Three years ago, he piloted the plane for a record 26 hours though, with an average speed of 26 miles per hour, he covered significantly less ground than he did on the Dallas trip.

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Man Found Scrapping for Copper at Love Field Now Faces Federal Charges

Robert Schneider
When Dallas police found Robert Schneider on the wrong side of a six-foot barbed-wire fence at Love Field in March, the 55-year-old at least had the wherewithal not to yell "jihad," or "Jesus" for that matter.

"I'm in there scrapping," he explained according to police records.

See also
Turns Out, Guy Caught in Love Field Hangar Was Guided by God, Yelled "Jesus," Not "Jihad"

That much was clear from the lengths of copper pipe and plumbing fixtures piled in a shopping cart next to Schneider's car, and from the wire cutters he was carrying, and from the fact that, when the cops showed up, he was laying on an interior roof in the Dalfort Hanger building some 20 feet from a spot in the hangar ceiling from which the copper piping was noticeably missing.

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American Airlines Grounds All Flights, Will Offer Refunds as Soon as the Computers Work

American Airlines broke the news a while ago that it's in the midst of a massive, system-wide computer failure. Perhaps it was a glitch? Hiccups from the U.S. Airways merger? Hackers? Former CEO Tom Horton landing on the servers after having his golden parachute snipped?

It's too early to tell why, but the computer problems have caused the airline to ground all flights to be grounded until 4 p.m. (Update at 3:12 p.m.: Make that 7 p.m.) AA has promised refunds to impacted travelers once the computers are back up, but the delay has left thousands of travelers stranded at airports across the country with little to do but tweet impotently.

AA's announcement sparked surprisingly little outrage, at least on Twitter. Snark's probably a better description for it.

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DFW Airport is Getting Nap Rooms Next Month

Soon, travelers stranded at DFW Airport be forced to pretzel themselves on uncomfortable seats or sneak away to an isolated corner of carpet for a few minutes of shuteye. That's because the airport is getting nap rooms.

The rooms -- more accurately, a nap hotel -- are planned by Minute Suites, a company which, according to a report yesterday on NPR's All Things Considered "is building tiny airport retreats across the country."

The company already has locations in Atlanta and Philadelphia. "Next up," NPR reports, "are Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport."

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American Airlines and US Airways Are Officially Merging. Here's What it Means.

Last month's unveiling of American Airlines' new logo and livery (er, paint job) was a prelude to this: the long-awaited, full-blown merger with US Airways.

The airlines are making it official this morning after their respective boards approved the $11 billion deal yesterday.

US Airways CEO Doug Parker will head the combined carrier, with AA chief Tom Horton relegated to the somewhat ceremonial position chairing the board of directors. For a year.

So, what does this all mean? A few quick points:

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The Designer of the Old American Airlines Logo Really Doesn't Like the New Design

On the left, an example of powerful yet understated elegance. On the right, pure and undiluted crap, at least according to the designer of the one on the left.
In 1967, back when Helvetica was still brand new, American Airlines recruited Italian designer Massimo Vignelli to develop what would become the carrier's logo for the next 46 years. It was simple, straightforward, and instantly recognizable: a pair of A's, one red, one blue, separated by a stylized blue eagle.

Bloomberg Businessweek caught up with Vignelli last week in the wake of American's announcement that it would be jettisoning his creation in favor of a newer, more modern look.

Suffice to say, Vignelli is not impressed.

"It has no sense of permanence," he told Bloomberg. "The American flag is great. ... But the American flag has 13 stripes, right? Not 11. Did American add only 11 stripes [to the flag on the tail] because they are in Chapter 11? I don't think two more stripes would have been a disaster. And there are only two colors shown instead of all three. So is it a different flag?"

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Meet the New American Airlines, Which is About Like the Old One but with a New Logo

American Airlines has had a rough go of it in recent years, what with its ongoing bankruptcy, a knock-down fight with its unions, and the general hatred of the flying public.

Today, on the heels of its first quarterly profit in a while, American announced that it is turning over a new leaf. This is being done primarily, it seems, through a massive rebranding effort.

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Southwest Airlines Owes Passengers 5.8 Million Free Drinks

Thumbnail image for southwestairlinesflightattendent.jpg
The settlement, alas, does not require the drinks to be served by flight attendants dressed like this.
Two years ago, Southwest Airlines abruptly changed the rules of its Business Select program, which allows travelers to breeze through security, get to the front of the boarding line, earn extra reward points, and, most importantly, get free booze.

Before August 1, 2010, could use their free drink vouchers whenever. After August 1, the airline decided they could only be used on the day of travel that was printed on them.

This apparently enraged Chicago attorney Adam Levitt, who, according to the Chicago Tribune, filed a class action lawsuit claiming that Southwest had screwed him and untold other Business Select passengers out of their free drinks.

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American Airlines Is in Shambles, Says Pretty Much Everyone

Scott McCartney, the Wall Street Journal's veteran (and Dallas-based) travel reporter, recently offered a word of advice to the literate public: If you or a loved one is considering stepping onto an aircraft in the foreseeable future, make sure it's not one operated by American Airlines.

"American's operation is in shambles," McCartney writes. On Sunday fewer than half of American flights arrived on-time, a quarter were at least 45 minutes late, and 92 flights were canceled. Monday was even worse. It's competitors had no such trouble. United, Southwest and US Airways all got the vast majority of their flights to the gate on time.

The reason for American's abysmal track record of late is, of course, the ongoing bankruptcy of AMR, its parent company. Pilots are not taking kindly to pay and benefit cuts recently imposed and are calling in sick, grounding flights for minor problems and just generally doing things slowly, all the while denying any coordinated effort to do so.

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