On the week that one of the world’s newest and most advanced airliners was delivered to enter service, how could I not feature the Boeing 787 as this week’s Friday Favourite?
The 787 ‘Dreamliner’ has admittedly hit some snags along the way. It was originally scheduled to enter service in 2008 and suffered a number of delays. But let’s face it, this is one attractive airliner and it’s going to bring more comfort and technology to air travel, not to mention better economics for airlines.
And for us enthusiasts, the 787 is going to change the scene at the airports we visit. Already airlines from every continent have the type on order, and we’ll likely see it at most major airports on a daily basis within a year or two.
This week it enters service with ANA in Japan, but soon it will be flying with United, Kenya Airways, Air India, China Southern, Norwegian, Japan Airlines…. the list goes on. Over 820 have been ordered at the time of writing.
Gatwick is the long-suffering London airport in the shadow of the busier and more prestigious Heathrow. Yet I want to highlight it as a unique and fantastic place in its own right, and is this week’s Friday Favourite.
Gatwick has grown to become the world’s busiest single runway airport. At peak times, you can often see aircraft touching down just as another get airborne.
In terms of traffic, it is the second busiest British Airways hub, with flights to Europe, the Caribbean and North America. It is also a busy hub for Virgin Atlantic.
Gatwick has always been London’s “charter airport”, and today you can still see a lot of UK and European charter airlines flying in, such as Thomson Airways, Monarch and Thomas Cook. It is also a base for easyJet and Ryanair flights, amongst many other airlines that you don’t see at Heathrow.
Viewing at Gatwick has been a problem since the observation deck closed down in 2002. But there are a few spots around the perimeter and from the car parks to watch aircraft come and go. Perhaps the best place is at the end of runway 08 where there is a crash gate that gives views of aircraft on final approach and lining up for takeoff – but don’t park your car here!
I’m sure many of you remember the classic days of Gatwick from the 60s to 80s when old propliner and first generation jet airliners were the norm. There’s a great DVD you can buy showing these glory days – see here: http://www.avionvideo.com/programDetails.asp?pid=42
Mojave Airport is now known as Mojave Air and Space Port since it’s reinvented itself as a base for launching private space flights – most notably Virgin Galactic flights. This makes it very unique, as only NASA seemed to have airports dedicated to space flights previously, and it’s not like they saw much action.
But Mojave is probably most known for being a desert storage base for retired airliners, and indeed a place where many classics were scrapped. I first visited in 1995 as a teenager and was amazed at the rows of L1011s, 707s, 727s and 747s sat out there. I didn’t take a tour, but I could read off many of them from the fence.
Today, airfields such as Marana and Victorville seem to take more airliners for storage than Mojave, but there are still some out there. You can even read about the spotting locations in our book if you’re interested (click here).
Star of their own TV show, and firm believers in the longevity of ancient transport types from the 1940s and 50s, Buffalo Airways are our Friday favourite. The airline, based in the North West Territories of Canada, has been running as a family business since the 1970s.
There are very few places that you can still fly as a passenger on a scheduled DC-3 service, but Buffalo operate their daily ‘sked’ between Hay River and Yellowknife.
In addition, they operate DC-4′s, C-46′s and L-188 Electras on cargo runs, CL-215s on firefighting duties, and a variety of smaller types on training and charter flights. For the spotter, making a pilgrimage up to the area the airline flies in is a must, just to experience the sights and sounds of a bygone age. If you can’t visit, then catch Ice Pilots NWT on TV, as it centres around the airline.
Thanks to a suggestion on Twitter by Vinay Bhaskara TheGateVinay, we’ve decided to feature that most classic of Boeing jets as our Friday Favourite – the Boeing 727!
With two main variants, the shorter -100 and longer, more popular -200, the 727 was one of the best selling airliners of all time. Some say Boeing stole the concept from Hawker Siddeley’s new Trident design after visiting the company. Whatever the truth, they built a truly classic airliner that has stood the test of time.
The sleek tri-jet is only in use with a few passenger operators now, but remains in service with a number of cargo operators. Long may it live, and here’s hoping a few carry on in museums!
This week’s Friday favourite is my favourite new aircraft of recent years (although I’m liking the look of the Boeing 787!) – the Airbus A380. The Blue Whale of the skies, so big it seems impossible that it could get aloft. Yet it does, and it looks graceful, and it’s already sporting some fantastic colour schemes (see this picture of Korean Air as an example!). We salute you Airbus!
With the recent crash of the Rusair example at Petrozavodsk in Russia, the Tupolev TU-134 has become the latest type to face the axe, so I wanted to give it the praise it deserves as one of the classic airliners of all time.
Built as Russia’s response to the DC-9, HS Trident and BAC 1-11, the TU-134 first flew in 1963 and was proposed as a short-medium range airliner.
In total 850 examples were built, mainly for the domestic market operated by Aeroflot. Other examples found service with airlines in Eastern Europe and Asia.
Today, very few examples remain in service, and the recent crash has led Russian authorities to demand its retirement.
If you still wish to fly on the type, why not check out our book Last Chance to Fly, which lists current operators and where they fly.
In ‘N’ Out Burger is a national chain in America, but mention it to spotters and most will instantly know you’re talking about the joint at Los Angeles LAX Airport. This week, it’s our Friday Favourite!
Spotters love to visit this fast food restaurant, situated just off the end of runway 24R at 9149 Sepulveda Blvd, where heavy jets pass just overhead. If you visit sites like Airliners.net, you’ll often see sunny pics of airliners taken from the restaurant. In fact, many consider this to be one of the best spotting locations at LAX – just remember to buy something if you’re going to spend time there!
Here are some amazing pictures of the place from airliners.net:
Every Friday we’ll try to bring you a favourite – be it an airliner, airport or airline.
Your job is to tell us your stories or personal opinions on the topic of choice by commenting below.
Today’s Friday Favourite is: the Fokker 100
This fantastic regional airliner has been around since the late 1980s and is starting to see its twilight years as many are stored, scrapped or sent off to far flung corners of Africa to fly for small carriers.
I’ve personally flown on many KLM Cityhopper and British Midland examples, and I love the type (along with its stumpier Fokker 70 brother). What are your memories of the type?
Airlines of the USA A new colour title charting the history of the most important airlines to come from the USA. From early mail carriers to household names such as TWA and Pan Am. A great read and with lots of detail on aircraft types operated.