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Asia Pacific F3C Open
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Futaba 9Z WCII
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NZ Team Returns from Heli World Champs
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Living with the CS
TSK & the Squirrel (Part II)
Promoting the Hobby
Ergo Z230 Gasser
Millie vs CS (Part II)
Millie vs CS (Part I)
TSK & the Squirrel
TSK & the Squirrel (Part IV)
The longest taxi queue I have ever seen in my life. Doesn't look that big, but believe me, it stretches on and on and on and on....
This was the view outside my hotel window.
The Hilton, where we were staying.
Paris Hotel. There's a restaurant half way up the tower we went to which is EXCELLENT.
New York, New York. A hotel composed of mockups of real buildings in New York.
Caesar's Palace. No one finds their way out of this place by themselves the first time. It's designed so you get lost inside. It works.
American Adventure
Simon Lockington

After living in Australia for less than a month, I've just this week got back from a trip to the US to go to the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas. Four of us from work went along to see the latest and greatest developments in Broadcasting and it's associated industries.

This was my first ever trip to the US and I was very excited about experiencing the country first hand. The fact that most of our time was going to be spent in Vegas (which is hardly representative of the rest of the US) was a bonus as I really wanted to experience the extravagance of the place.

GETTING TO VEGAS
The flight to the US was also the longest flight I'd been on, as until now, I'd never been further from New Zealand than Melbourne. Across the aisle from us was a young family with two small children. Three hours into the fourteen hour journey I felt sorry for the parents as both were full time attending to the kids to stop them ranging all over the plane.
The movies are pretty good on Qantas flights, but I spent a lot of time trying to hone my reflexes on the in-flight games, Tetris being the game of choice.

Four of us from work were going, Andrew, Don, Chris and myself. However Don had to go via Hong Kong, Chris was already in the US for vacation and Andrew flew to LA with me, but stopped over a few extra hours for some shopping, so I flew on to Las Vegas to establish the beach head at the Las Vegas Hilton.

I hope the American Airlines plane from LA to Las Vegas isn't representative of the other planes in the AA fleet cause it sure wasn't up to much! Especially compared to the Air New Zealand and Qantas planes I'm used to.

As soon as you enter the Las Vegas terminal, one of the first things you'll see is row upon row of gambling machines. In the airport! It made me think of gambling starved people running off the plane to get their fix like a smoker does after a long period of going without.

Eventually, at some stage, your luggage will come out and it's time to get a taxi. Here I witnessed the longest taxi line known to man. There would have been well over 700 people waiting in line for the taxi!
After a few hours waiting in line I got a taxi driven by a woman who obviously loved to talk wayyyy too much on the radio telephone. One of my mates who is a 747 pilot has often said that American Air traffic controllers talk far too much when a few simple words are all that's required. I immediately knew what he was talking about listening to this conversation. If you've watched Top Gun or some other movie with a lot of talking via radios, substitute the word 'bogeys' for passengers and you'll have a pretty accurate representation of what I'm talking about. It was amusing.

One of my concerns about going to the States was how to handle the American custom of 'tipping'. I had no idea who you're supposed to tip and how much you're supposed to tip, so I warily asked the Air Traffic Controller in the front seat of the taxi what the deal was. The Controller immediately responded by saying 25% of the fare was appropriate for taxis. 25%! I was immediately suspicious, but tipped the 25% once I got to the hotel just to be on the safe side. However some guy at the hotel opened the taxi door for me. Do I tip him? How much? Has everyone got their hand out? What will happen if I don't tip? Will I be marked as a tightass?

For a long time I have always considered that I don't have an accent of any type, it's everyone else that talks funny. Living in Australia for a few weeks and having people pick me immediately as a New Zealander has made me think that maybe I might have just a slight accent of some type. Things were really brought home for me when I tried to check in at the hotel and tried to convey my address details three times to the guy at the counter who finally said "You know what? I'm sure we'll find you if we need you" and that was it.

Don, who is the most seasoned traveler of our group had given lessons on jet lag management using some herbal pills called Melatonin. Andrew and I had been popping these things like Tic Tacs all the way over as I was determined not to be jet lagged. I was also determined not to sleep until night time even though we'd been awake 24 hours and it was still only lunchtime. This would have worked out fine had I not sat on the bed for 'five minutes', only to wake up 5 hours later.
However by now, Andrew had arrived from LA and was keen on going out and seeing some of the sights of The Strip.

THE STRIP
Before you die, you have to experience the Las Vegas strip at night. The lights, displays, and performances that go on there are something to be believed. The Treasure Island Hotel has an amazing theatre performance for the general public walking along the footpath that includes large pirate ships doing battle on a man-made lake. We only drove past it and when we went back to see it, we always screwed up the timing.

The Bellagio has a massive man-made lake also, however they have a large water fountain that does a display to music. It's highly impressive, but once again, when we went back to see it in full, it wasn't going…

We went inside the numerous hotels on The Strip. I had thought that it would be much like any hotel you would visit anywhere else. Hell no was I wrong! These things are not so much hotels as they are small distinct towns! Infact places like Paris and the Bellagio have small villages built inside them and you go from shop to shop.

The sports centers inside these places are amazing. This is where you go to see a game, place some bets etc. In true style though, these places are extravagant. MASSIVE TV screens cover the walls with coverage of everything from Hockey to tennis to motorsports to just about anything. Ofcourse, slot machines are never far away…

Caesars Palace is widely known as a place you get lost in and for good reason. There are no exit signs are there are no clocks. The architect has deliberately designed the place so that you get lost and they've been very successful in this respect. If you follow an exit sign it leads you to a fire escape, not the actual exit doors. Infact even the staff when asked seem reluctant to tell you how to get out. You either make a concerted effort to get out, or you give up and go to a bar which is what we did on the first night there.

All the bars dress their waitresses up in the most skimpy of outfits which in most cases just looked really cheap and tacky and not in any way sexy at all. It was amusing though.

While walking down the sidewalks I often noticed guys handing out cards to passersby. Coming from the sheltered existence of New Zealand I immediately thought they were handing out discount cards or something like that so I took some. Surprised is somewhat of an understatement when I found out they were actually advertisements for $49 hookers. You would see these cards everywhere, in toilets, on the ground, in construction fences, everywhere. The 'distributor' guys were not shy in handing them out either, doing it right in front of policemen perched on horses.

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