Home Miscellaneous Spotting My Favourite Flights Ever

My Favourite Flights Ever

by Matt Falcus

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

L1011 tanker

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.

[Here’s the trip report and pictures]

 

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!

[Here’s the trip report and video]

 

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!

[Here’s the Trip Report]

 

The First Flight I Remember

Orion Airways Boeing 737-200 G-BGTY, like the one flown by the author.

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.

[Here’s another link to the video]

 

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.

[Read the Trip Report]

 

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!

[Here’s the Trip Report]

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!

 

 

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33 comments

Keith Briant May 11, 2020 - 1:46 pm

My favourite flight was on an etihad A380 a flight I will never forget so comfortable.

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 6:11 pm

Amazing plane!

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Martyn Cartledge May 11, 2020 - 2:11 pm

For avgeek brownie points it has to be the BelugaST from CEG to TLS!

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 6:11 pm

Very cool!

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Gary Michel May 11, 2020 - 2:33 pm

In the early 1980’s I was flying a lot from Washington, DC to Los Angeles, mostly on American Airlines DC-10’s. On one DC-10 flight (I wish I remembered the date and flight number) the pilot announced that ATC had cleared him to do two 360 degree turns, one to the left and one to he right, while over the Grand Canyon, so as many passengers as possible could have a look. Those were the days. Another fascinating thing that I’ve only observed on DC-10s, when conditions were right, was to see (Schlierien-photography style) the shock wave dance along the top of the wing at about one-third chord while in cruise flight at altitude. Very cool.

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 6:11 pm

That must have been amazing Gary! Hope you got some good pictures!

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Simon Ward May 11, 2020 - 3:08 pm

cheers Matt, some great flights there.
I travelled the world for work so often had to juggle schedules to get where I needed to go and had two amazing flights I will never forget as a result, but both were so special I find it difficult to say which is best.
One occasion my work took me to Zurich during the week when Davos and Chateau D’Oex balloon festival where both on. I decided to take the chance to visit the balloons as i’d regularly been to Bristol and other UK events. As I approached the launch site mid morning many balloons were already flying with just five still tethered in the field covered in snow. I called on the marketing tent to ask if there was any chance of a flight and was lucky to be offered a flight immediately if I could assist ground crew when we landed. I jumped at the chance and flew in a special shape Belgian balloon depicting a children’s cartoon character. We lifted and descended through low level cloud for 45 minutes before the pilot then asked if we could fly further. Everyone agreed, he fired the burners and we climbed above the clouds, above the peaks of the mountains around us and drifted for a further two hours across the mountains until we landed on the edge of Gstaad. Flying so high over the mountains above broken cloud was simply spectacular and something i’ll never forget.

If that isn’t good enough, another work tour involved Paris, HK and New York. With the thought of being exhausted I asked my boos if I could come back on Concorde. He agreed if I could do the trips for the same budgeted price. The only way that was possible was flying AF Concorde JFK to Paris with a hop back to LHR on A321. I saved £200 on the trip allowance and got a transatlantic flight on AF Concorde which was incredible, with 40 minutes in the cockpit as well. I even have a photo of the reg plate, which tragically shows I flew on the example which crashed near Paris four months later. An amazing experience and God bless those who lost their lives soon after. Regards

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 6:13 pm

Wow, both sounds amazing Simon! Very poignant to have flown on the ill-fated Concorde, but amazing all the same.

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Keith Harbor May 11, 2020 - 3:20 pm

I too flew the An 74 in 2018 and returned to Kiev to fly the AN24 last year. Both flights were certainly memorable. This year I was fortunate to be in Florida when the EAAs Ford Trimotor was offering flights and I was able to fly from Naples in this wonderful aircraft. My favourite flight memory however was during the 70s when the dock strikes took place. I was on holiday in Christchurch, staying with my uncle who was head of refuelling at Hurn Airport. A fleet of cargo aircraft was importing flowers and tomatoes etc from the Channel Islands and my uncle persuaded the crew of the Aer Turas Argosy to take me over to Guernsey and back. Entry to the cockpit was achieved by means of a ladder through a trapdoor in the floor and the co pilot pulled up a metal box for me to sit on and popped headphones on my head. I had a great flight at quite a low level and had time to pay a visit to the main hangar while the aircraft was loaded and we then returned to Hurn. A memorable day to say the least flying in a type I couldn’t have imagined that I would ever fly in.

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 6:14 pm

Fantastic! Not many people will have flown on an Argosy!

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Jon Shaw May 11, 2020 - 3:46 pm

Hi Matt – I have a few , like you!
KLM DC-3 PH-PBA from Aberdeen to Leinster in Holland in 2011. I worked for KLM at the time and accompanied some top corporate clients.
UTA DC-8 Le Bourget-Nice-Le Bourget in 1969
MEA Boeing 720 Dakar-Paris CDG in 1988 – the aircraft was wet-leased to Air Afrique.I
Varig DC10 LHR-RIO in 1982, returning on a BCAL DC10 into THE
Cheers Jon

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 6:15 pm

Some classic early jets and props there Jon! I sadly never got to fly a DC-8 or 707/720, so I’m very envious!

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Ian Glanville May 11, 2020 - 3:58 pm

Great memories there. My favourite flights would be an Amsa Connie from San Juan to Santo Domingo, a Vampire and lastly a Jet Provost. Many others but these three and also trips on Concorde stand out.

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 6:15 pm

I’m very jealous of all of those Ian! Would have loved to fly on a Connie especially.

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Guy Clements May 11, 2020 - 4:39 pm

My favourite flight was back in December 1986 when at the end of December 1986 I flew in a BAe 748 from Pokhara down to Kathmandu at the end of a trek in the Himalayas- it was operated by Royal Nepal Airways ( Royal as it was before the Royals were dispensed with!)

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 6:16 pm

So an amazing plane in an amazing part of the world. Very cool!

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Tom Bruce May 11, 2020 - 4:52 pm

Seattle to Anchorage–right side window seat… Frankfurt to SFO– over the volcanic island and Greenland… on board EC121R over Laos 1968…

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 6:16 pm

Some amazing trips Tom! Thanks.

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Christopher Frey May 11, 2020 - 6:57 pm

My best memories CDG-JFK-CDG with Air France with Concorde F-BVPB 19.052002 and F-BTSD 09.05.2002. The speed and flying so high above other planes.

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 7:12 pm

Fantastic!

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Rob Cooze May 11, 2020 - 7:48 pm

Channel Airways Viscount from Southend to Jersey. Best flight was on a SeaBee Goose from Auckland Mechanics Bay to Waiheke Island. Take off and landing was just so memorable.

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 8:14 pm

Amazing planes to have flown on!

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JOHN WITT May 11, 2020 - 8:01 pm

My favourite flight was in November 1993. We arrived in Bangkok on a QANTAS 747 and transferred onto a QANTAS Boeing 767-338 for a flight to Hong Kong Kai Tak.. To my delight, and my wife’s slight consternation, we were invited to the flight deck and strapped into the jumpseats. The captain said we could stay with them for the whole sector, but we would miss breakfast! We took off and flew over Viet Nam before making the famous approach to Kai Tak looking out for the chequerboards. We made the right turn towards the runway where we saw the China Airlines 747 that had run off the other end of the runway in a storm a few days previously. It was described in the NOTAM as ” China Airlines floating restaurant” Some hours before we arrived the vertical stabiliser had been removed with explosives so as to increase the effective length of the available runway that had been severely restricted by the 50 foot obstacle at the end of it.

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 8:14 pm

What a trip, and perfect timing with the floating 747. Thanks for sharing!

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frazer macfadyen May 11, 2020 - 8:02 pm

Greetings matt….for me it was flying IOM to staverton
On G-YPRS C550 .. 09-05-14
My first and only time on a bizjet..
Even though this aicraft was 14 years old at the time
It was immaculate and the rate of climb , Like a race car…

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Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 8:13 pm

Sounds like a really unique experience!

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Julian Davis May 15, 2020 - 9:14 am

Mine has to be my all time favourite airliner, the ubiquitous DC10
And my goal (although never realised) was to fly the Miami- Quito route EC501 ? on Ecuatoriana HC-BKO.
Got the chance to fly on BBC 008 (Biman Bangladesh) S2-ACR S/N 48317 – last flights from BHX in Feb 24th 2014.
Spent the whole day photographing its special trips for enthusiasts and the Press.
I had the greatest pleasure in being on the very last flight that day before it returned to Dhaka.
The atmosphere was amazing, we all felt a measure of excitement yet melancholy about its demise, and the crew were so kind and positive.
We received a water canon salute on return to BHX and then was allowed to spend a good amount of time talking with crew and photographing all the nuances of this beautiful plane.
Those who had that honour I’m sure have equally fond memories.
Next goal THT 789!

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Matt Falcus May 15, 2020 - 10:03 am

Sounds like a fantastic trip Julian. Good luck with the THT 789 – it’s a good looking plane!

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Paul May 16, 2020 - 11:43 am

Without any doubt:
3 times flying onboard British Airways Concorde from LHR. ☺

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Matt Falcus May 18, 2020 - 1:44 pm

Niiiice!

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MERVYN CROWE May 18, 2020 - 10:41 am

Hi Matt, Merv Crowe from Perth, AUS.I have been very lucky in spending my whole 47 years of work, 1966-2013, ”hanging around aeroplanes”. I was with the airlines in Belfast, then New Guinea and finally Melbourne and Perth, mostly in load control, flight planning, aircraft turnround, operations and crewing and latterly as a duty airport manager.
First flight July 1956 BEA DC-3 BFS/MAN, then a second one ( tarmac transfer) MAN/LHR and last flight just seven weeks ago.
To date I have accumulated 1350 sectors and 3200 hours from Austers to A380 and many in the jump seat.
Memorable flights.
BKS Viscount G-APNF Leeds/Teesside/Leeds 3hrs 30 crew training 1967.you couldn’t do that these days !
RAAF Caribou MEB/BRIGHT 1986. RAAF Hercules ex MEL 1989. AS Squirrel glacier landing NZ 1981
R44 scenic flight 2017 Kununurra, Western AUS. C208 Caravan floatplane ex Broome in RH seat.
Turbo Otter Victoria, Canada 2010. Guinness CO Lear jet BFS/LGW. One and only (scary) Glider near Perth
Jump seat on B777 prototype 1995 demo MEL. Jump seat IPEC Argosy MEL/LST/MEL…magic !
I have flown on all the Boeing range 707-787 incl. A318-A380 incl. E120/`145/170/190,
Just about all the UK types Viscount/Vanguard/VC-10 HS748/ATP-64; Herald, Comet, Trident, Britannia
Heron; J31;Shorts Skyvan/330/360; Fokker f27/f50/F28/F100; Tristar, Electra etc
and a host of light aircraft singles and twins, .,. Auster, Pipers, Cessna, Victa, Beech, Tiger Moth,
Was very privileged to fly on a SAAB 2000 and SAAB 340, before they entered service, and the same for the A310; MD 80; DASH-8;
DASH-7; SD 330 and 360, Also lucky to be on some inaugural services with my AUS airline ANSETT, on the A320 , B767 and F 50.
The one that stands out was in 1968 when I volunteered to act as lookout on an Auster J1 ( doors off) spotting illegal eel fishing boats in Lough Neagh, near Belfast, and I completed six of those, scary as hell!
My wife and children were lucky enough to have experienced many jump seat flights as well….all gone now !!
But a Viscount or Vanguard jump seat ride, absolute magic as well !

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Matt Falcus May 18, 2020 - 1:47 pm

Wow Mervyn, that’s an amazing list of flights! I’d be hard pushed to pick a favourite among that lot!
Nice to see Teesside (my local) on the list!

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MERVYN CROWE May 18, 2020 - 10:43 am

OOOOPS last line but one…”all gone now” meaning, no more cockpit rides, NOT darling wife and children who are all still with me !!
Thought I’D CLARIFY THAT.

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