While it’s still December 31, 2018, in Slovakia where I am right now, it’s already January 1, 2018, in Japan where I’m usually based.
So, Happy New Year!
I wish you all the best in 2019, and I’d like to thank you for reading KN Aviation in 2018. And, of course, I hope you will continue coming back throughout 2019 as well.
To start 2019, here’s a look back at five of my favorite flights of 2018 – including links to the full reports.
1. NASA SOFIA 747SP Mission Out of Christchurch
If I only had to choose one flight for this list, it would without any doubt be my flight onboard NASA’s airborne observatory, SOFIA. Back in June, I had a chance to be onboard a stargazing mission out of Christchurch in New Zealand onboard the highly-modified Boeing 747SP to cover it both for this blog as well as for AIRLINE, a Japanese aviation magazine.
Not only did the flight allow me to experience one more take-off in the cockpit of a 747 and fly on my favorite aircraft type, 747SP one more time, but it also gave me the chance to see Aurora (Australis) for the first time, and to experience NASA operations first hand.
2. Qatar Airways 777-300ER QSuites from Doha to New York
When I booked a return ticket from Hanoi to New York in Qatar Airways’ business class for less than 700 dollars, I wasn’t completely sure the fare would be honored. Luckily, it was, and so I had a chance to experience three different types of business class seats the airline offers.
Without a doubt, my favorite of the Qatar Airways flights was the one from Doha to New York which was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER featuring the airline’s latest business class product – and arguably the best business class hard product out there – QSuites.
Everything about the flight was great – the seat, the views, the a la carte dining, and the friendly crew.
3. Goldtimer Foundation Li-2 Sightseeing Flight
Goldtimer Foundation based in Hungary operates the last airworthy Lisunov Li-2, the Soviet license-built version of Douglas DC-3. While I’ve seen the aircraft, registered HA-LIX, a couple of times before, it wasn’t until October of last year that I had a chance to fly on it.
The flight I took was a sightseeing flight over the historic center of Budapest organized as part of an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Tupolev Tu-154.
Rather than it being just a simple sightseeing flight, it was a whole retro experience with the passengers being taken to the aircraft in a pair of old buses and Malev’s first Tu-154 being displayed next to the Li-2.
4. Seair Seaplanes Cessna Caravan from Richmond to Nanaimo
When we booked a trip to Vancouver together with Philippe from The Full Gull, we knew the one thing we absolutely had to do while there was fly on a seaplane since neither of us had flown on one before.
Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to log a flight on the classic de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, but we still managed to fly on two different seaplane types – Cessna Caravan and de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter.
While both of the flights were enjoyable, the Seair Seaplanes flight made it into this list as it was the first of the two.
5. Thai Airways 747-400 Business Class from Bangkok to Phuket
I flew on the 747 a total of four times – with NASA (flight no. 1 on this list), Lufthansa, Qantas, and Thai Airways. Of the three regular airline 747 flights I took, I decided to put the short hop from Bangkok to Phuket into this list.
While the other two flights were enjoyable as well – after all, flying on the 747 never gets boring, whether it’s a ten-hour intercontinental flight or a one-hour domestic flight – there were a couple of things special about the Thai Airways flight.
First of all, I was lucky enough to take it in business class. Second, while it was a business class flight (and service), I was able to enjoy a first class seat given that real first class was not available on the flight. And, third, the first class cabin was located in the nose of the 747.
Personally, I had a great year aviation-wise and I hope you had too.
I had a chance to fly on a couple of new aircraft types (Caravan, A321neo, Li-2, etc.) and to fly on the 747SP – an aircraft that I thought I wouldn’t be able to fly on again.
The new year will start with a short trip on 2nd and 3rd of January that will, if no equipment changes happen, let me start the year by logging another new aircraft type, the Sukhoi Superjet.
But, more on that later.
In the meantime, once again – Happy New Year!