Having recently taken an amazing trip to Ukraine where I got to fly on an Antonov An-74 unexpectedly (see the video report here), I started thinking about some of the best flights I’d ever taken.
I decided to put them down on here for you to enjoy.
What were your favourite flights ever? Let’s get some discussion going – leave a comment below with the best flights you ever took.
Here are mine…
Royal Air Force TriStar
Having got to 2014 without ever flying on a Lockheed L1011 TriStar (I love old jetliners in case you didn’t know), I figured I would never have a chance again.
Then, out of the blue, the Royal Air Force press department sent me an invite to a press flight which would see the conclusion of TriStar tanker operations in their fleet. The type would be retired the next day, leaving all but one or two L1011s in the world now grounded. I couldn’t believe my luck – I got to fly on this rare type on its last day of service!
We actually flew in formation with another TriStar – one that was doing air-to-air refuelling while we flew alongside in formation. It meant we got some amazing shots and views of the process. I’ll never forget that one.
Barra Beach Landing
A flight that I’m sure many of you have done. The airport at Barra in the Outer Hebrides is the only one in the world to have scheduled airline service onto a beach runway. Taking the opportunity to fly this flight got me on a Twin Otter (albeit the later Viking DHC-6-400 model) for the first time, and my first beach landing.
What made it more fun was the bad weather on the day which nearly stranded us on Barra. Plus the great fun being among the passengers who were all enjoying it as much as an avgeek like me!
British Airways Delivery Flight
Another one that came by surprise was an invitation by British Airways to join them on the delivery flight of a brand new Boeing 777-300ER as they brought it from the Everett Paine Field production facility to the British Airways Maintenance Cardiff (BAMC) base.
BA flew a bunch of us out there in Club World business class for a couple of days in Seattle, visiting the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field and having a tour of the Everett production halls.
Then we boarded this brand new aircraft and flew through the night, witnessing the Northern Lights outside and exploring the cabin, which had not yet been fully fitted out. The crew served us Boeing on-board catering, and even did a quiz for us with special prizes.
Once on the ground in Cardiff we had a tour of BAMC. An amazing trip!
The First Flight I Remember
OK, this one is a little out there, and I don’t have any pictures of the flight to show. So the one above is only representative of it. But I remember many details of this flight, despite being so young.
I was 4 years old. We were going on a family holiday to Gran Canaria, flying from Manchester to Las Palmas. The trip was on an Orion Airways Boeing 737-200, and I remember the brown and orange interior, the nice couple sitting behind us, and the fact it was turbulent all the way. Presumably for this reason, or for the 737-200’s shorter range, we made a refuelling stop in Faro, Portugal, and I remember that we had to get off the plane and I watched the aircraft from a distance. I wish I knew the aircraft’s registration!
I’m sure this was a formative day in my interest in aircraft, so it’s definitely worthy of inclusion in this list.
Surprise Antonov An-74
Many of you will have heard of the Motor Sich lottery. Since this Ukrainian airline is the only one flying many rare Soviet aircraft types on scheduled service in Europe (and really cheap!), it’s a great way to add these to your ‘flown list’. So I booked to fly from Lviv to Kiev, expecting the Antonov An-24. When I turned up and the bus took us out to the aircraft on a remote stand, there was an An-74 waiting for us, with its huge overwing-mounted engines.
It was a real surprise and I relished every moment of the short flight in this beast of an aircraft.
Last Scheduled Tu-154 Flight
Sticking with the Soviet theme, I had the chance in 2015 to join a tour taking place to Belarus which included flying on the last scheduled service of the Tupolev Tu-154 in Europe. Flown by Belavia, I made my way to Geneva for the flight, and this magnificent aircraft took us across Europe.
It was my first time on a Soviet airliner and the sights, sounds and smells were incredible. Since the plane was mostly full of people like me, we spent the whole time wandering around taking photographs and videos. Plus, at either end we had a water cannon salute from the airport fire services. Very memorable.
The BAe ATP in Sweden
Growing up in the UK in the 80s and 90s, British Aerospace ATPs were everywhere. They were a turboprop regional airliner used by many British Airlines on domestic routes, and I could have flown on one so many times. But when they’d disappeared from British (and pretty much all other) skies in passenger form, the challenge was on. Only Next Jet in Sweden were flying passenger versions, so in 2011 I set off for Stockholm and took four flights on this now ageing type.
It was a whole day flying the same aircraft, SE-MEE, from Stockholm Arlanda to Lycksele and then Arvidsjaur up in Swedish Lapland. I returned on the same route later. I think I enjoyed the remote setting as much as the flight!
Now all BAe ATPs are cargo carriers, so it was good to catch a flight on one before it was too late.
So, what are your favourite flights? It doesn’t have to be something vintage or rare, just memorable. Leave a comment below!