Some of the Best Things in Life Really Are Free

1:35 PM

We've all seen them, those cutesy flash e-cards that your granny sends you on Groundhog's Day. After a fun little animation of a puppy tap dancing on a Hippo's back, Granny's message appears urging you to stop being an ass, eat your peas and visit her once in a while.

There are a boatload of sites out there offering these fun little frolics through fantasy land, most of which are pretty far outside of the envelope most pilots I know live within. We aviators are an easy-to-figure bunch...give us an airport picnic table, some lukewarm coffee and a couple of Piper Cubs in the pattern and we're good. When we want to send each other greetings, we stroll over to the neighbor's hangar and help take some surplus beer off their hands.

But we pilots are also as much into the Internets as anyone these days. So it was with great delight that I recently stumbled upon the following: is offering site visitors the opportunity to send any of their 1,225,790 photos as an electronic postcard! The front shows the chosen photo, while the back will display a very cool "Par Avion" imprint, along with your personalized message written in a very cool handwritten font. The recipient gets a link in his/her inbox aiming them at their card on the server. And best of all, this is a totally free service. No strings, no registration, no spamware, no harm, no foul. Just free.
The photo above shows a card I sent myself for the purpose of showing off the service. It shows a PA-28 – my regular readers will know why that particular airframe caught my eye – but there are plenty of other choices, so says the site:
Find a photo you like by browsing our database though our search engine that you will find on our frontpage. Some interesting categories include: Great Shots! • Classic Airliners • Military Aircraft • Warbirds • Seaplanes • Colorful Paint schemes • Cockpits • Cabins • Air to air photos • Helicopters • Night photos • Blimps, balloons and airships • or a random photo from our database.
I continue to me amazed at the quality and sheer volume of unbelievably great aviation photography found on As I have said before, this is easily the finest example of what happens when camera meets airplane. I have a collection of maybe 500 of these images that I use as a rotating slideshow on my laptop desktop. And when I am in the office running the Macbook next to my 22" LCD display in dual display mode, each screen changes to a new and even more swesome shot every minute. On the left can be a DC-3 on final over Stuttgart and on the right, a shot of a C-17 Globemaster III low and slow over Airventure Oshkosh. I'm in Heaven, baby!

You too can enjoy these wonderful photos, as long as you stay strictly within the scope of their copyright release:
"All photos on are protected by international copyright laws. You have limited rights to personally view the images with your web browser and to use them as your personal computer wallpaper (or background image) on your own computer. These photos may not otherwise be reproduced, distributed, cropped, resized, or otherwise altered without the written permission of the photographer. No commercial use of these photos may be made in any way. All rights are reserved."
That is very, very clear. So please, go here and send everyone you know an electronic aviation postcard. They will love you for not sending them that stupid animated cartoon of a elephant balancing a birthday cake on his head while dancing to the tune of "Baby's Got Back."

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