When you consider the large cabin corporate jets, there is one jet that has not had as much success as it deserves. The Legacy 600 from Embraer is a derivative of the E135 regional jet but transformed into a longer range and far more comfortable jet. It hasn’t done much to dent the market that Gulfstream, Dassault and Bombardier have been operating in. It doesn’t have the super long range of some of the competitor products but, given that many operators never go off the US East Coast, that range is not a big deal for many customers. Prestige is though and the Legacy has never had the same cachet given its regional jet heritage.
This one showed up at San Jose on a sunny winters day. The interesting thing was that something very similar was also flying that day. The second aircraft is not a Legacy, though. It is an E145 that is operated by Intel. They have outfitted it as a corporate shuttle. It runs their staff between their locations. I don’t know what the interior is like but externally it looks a lot like a bizjet which, I guess is what it is.
The step up in size that Embraer took when they create the E170/175 and E190/195 aircraft was important for them and it proved to be a successful move. Both types did well and have achieved a solid market presence. With a new generation of technologies coming, Embraer decided to go for a significant upgrade to the type with new engines and other systems resulting in the E2 versions. In line with that, they decided to tweak the current design to create the E1 upgrades. This turned out to be a well-timed upgrade as it came at a time when a whole bunch of airlines were looking to up-gauge their regional feeder services. Embraer picked up a ton of orders.
The speed with which these jets have entered the US fleets is impressive. Both United and American signed new deals for service with these jets and now you can regularly see their E175s feeding in to large airports. Alaska has gone a similar way (using Skywest much as United has) and their fleet of E175s is starting to grow. The E2 has now had its first flight in the larger E190 form but the 175 will follow in a few years. The E170 has been dropped from the line at this point. I imagine we will see even more of these jets as they will dominate this seating range which Bombardier seems to have ceded as they focus on larger jets.
Head south along I-680 from us for a short distance and you came to an area that includes Sunol Wilderness Park. A large expanse of land with many trails across it, this is a fun place to go hiking, particularly early in the year. The recent rains meant the hills were quite green and the temperatures have not got too high yet. The sun is always strong but the conditions were great for a hike.
The area is distinctly lacking in flatness. Every trail we took seemed to be a climb or a descent but that was part of the fun. Our initial route took us up a lot. We seemed to always be going up – sometimes rather steeply. Even as we were getting in the homeward stretch, we still seemed to be going up. I guess with hindsight, a hill called Flag Hill was always likely to be one of the highest points!
The downside to all of this is that the last section is a steep descent. I actually prefer climbing to descending. The knees have to work a lot harder on the way down and it seems harder to have a steady footing than when hauling yourself upwards but, with the end in sight and our food back at the car, we were motivated to get finished. A lot of the time we were away from any other walkers so it was a very relaxing place to be. No doubt we will be back there again before it gets too warm.
Head south from Livermore and you get into some hilly territory beyond the vineyards. Climb over one of the ridges and you drop down into a valley flooded by a reservoir. The water is surrounded by a park that has lots of options for hiking, biking, boating and just hanging out. This is Del Valle Regional Park. We were keen to try and get some hiking in before the temperatures got too high so planned out a route that would take us up around the hills and back down to the lake.
While the park is very popular and a lot of people were along the water having picnics and swimming, it didn’t take long to get well away from everyone. To be fair, it wasn’t hard to see why. The route we took involved a very steep climb to start things off. Without having warmed up much, we were both suddenly very aware of how quickly (or not) we were going up. However, once we had reached the high point, we then had a far more relaxing path to take along the ridge. The view was fantastic and we were almost totally alone for the entire route.
Finally we dropped down to the water and had a gentle stroll back to our starting point. Meanwhile, plenty of people were enjoying the water. Kayaks and powered boats were all over the water. The edge of the water had a lot of people fishing. All in all, it seemed the image of relaxed sunny day.
My buddy Paul was in town for a day so we headed off to see what we could find. It was a Sunday and the less than ideal transportation options of San Francisco on a Sunday meant we had a slightly later start than planned. We decided to check out Monterey since the airport there has quite a lot of corporate movements as well as some military at the weekends. It also has a viewing area on top of the terminal and a spot for lunch if nothing much is happening.
As it turned out, there was not too much going on. We did get a few interesting jet and turboprop movements but not too much. It really was a quiet day so we took the lunch option and wandered around the displays in the terminal before deciding to head on somewhere else.