How the only surviving Hamilton Metalplane just happened to float by…

Mid-Summer 2013 #9 by rdonovan
Mid-Summer 2013 #9, a photo by rdonovan on Flickr.

Back in July, in between meetings, I just happened to note a rather curious site. A plane. But rather than flying past, it was sailing north on Lake Washington on barge. Luckily I had my 400m lens on the camera and was able to capture it as it floated past. I then started some research…and quite an interesting story developed!

I found the plane from its registration number NC-879H. It turns out it is a 1929 Hamilton H-47 Metalplane (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamilton_H-47). It was one of the first all metal aircraft ever made. These aircraft helped Northwest Airlines start commercial air service as well as pioneered air mail delivery within North America. This particular example is the only flyable H-47 still around. This particular aircraft was originally sold to the Ontario Provincial Air Service as a floatplane as CF-OAJ. After cycling through several owners, it was lying unused in Alaksa by 1947. In 1951, Northwest Airlines Captain Harry McKee and a band of volunteers backed by the airline itself acquired the aircraft, took it to Minneapolis, and began restoring it – a process which was never completed. Jack Lysdale bought the aircraft in 1972 and restored it to fully airworthy condition, where it flew until 1978 and was subsequently placed in storage again. The aircraft was sold at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in early 2010 to Pole Pass Airways and is flown by Seattle property developer Howard S. Wright. During recent years, it has made several airshow appearances including Oshkosh in 2010. Now, under Pole Pass’s ownership – the aircraft is being restored to its original floatplane status and being matched with a pair of vintage Edo floats at Kenmore Air (which explained its journey up Lake Washington by barge).

It will be exciting to see this aircraft back in its original form gracing the skies of the Pacific Northwest.

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Misadventures with Windows 8.1 and BootCamp on a MacBook Pro

This weekend, I put Windows 8.1 Enterprise Edition 64-bit on a 15″ mid-2011 MacBook Pro. It turned out to be much more of a (mis)adventure than I anticipated.

What I Tried and Failed

My goal was to simply burn a USB-stick installer, put Windows 8.1 on it, and then put the Bootcamp 5 software on it and install Windows. That’s where it all went wrong:

  • First, I used the Microsoft Store utility to burn the Windows 8.1 Enterprise x64 ISO to the USB stick – big mistake. It formats the USB stick using a MBR partition table. A Mac cannot be booted off of a USB stick unless it has a GPT partition table. To fix, I ended up using my 15″ Retina MacBook Pro to re-create the USB stick because you can’t create in MacOS a Windows installer stick unless you do so on a Mac without an optical drive.
  • Second, it turns out the Boot Camp Assistant won’t actually partition the drive unless you have a Windows installer disc in the optical drive. To fix, I had to actually burn a copy of the installation media and put it in the optical drive.
  • Third, it turns out there is a bug (either in Apple’s firmware or Windows 8/8.1 setup – my suspicion is its an Apple problem) that will not let you install from a USB stick. The error was totally non-obvious – it said that the hard disk was partitioned as MBR but it needed GPT. To fix, I ended up installing from the recently burned DVD. The problem is definitely isolated to Mac models with an optical drive – as I did not have this issue on my Retina MacBook Pro or MacBook Air without optical drives.
Conclusions
What I was able to conclude from this exercise is that if your Mac has an optical drive, chances are you won’t be able to install from a USB stick. So the correct sequence would have been:
  1. Burn the Windows DVD to a re-writeable optical disc using whatever means are preferred.
  2. Download the BootCamp 5 software from Apple’s site in Windows.
  3. Copy the folder structure to the just-burned optical disc.
  4. Run Boot Camp Assistant and install Windows.
  5. Install the supplementary BootCamp software afterwards.
If on a Mac without an optical drive, simply use the Boot Camp Assistant to create a USB stick with everything on it, install Windows from it, and then install the supplementary software.
Lastly, after finally getting everything working – I had to go into Power Settings / Advanced Power settings and disable Adaptive Brightness in order to get the screen brightness to function properly. Once all that was done, Windows 8.1 on a Mac has been fantastic.
Hope this helps!