My 2018 In The Air

2018 is surely a significant year for me, a not-so-well-devoted aviation lover. This year saw a big increase in both the number of flights and mileages accumulated, thanks to my move to the hills in the outskirt of Mbabane. Totaling 22 flights and 45946 miles, my 2018 may not seem impressive to many frequent travelers, but it’s quite a big leap to me compared to the 6 flights in 2016 and 3 (only 3?) flights in 2017.

This year has witnessed not only my first flight to my new base JNB (and also SHO when I don’t have an SA visa handy) and several new (to me) airports but also the excitement of flying on one of the last 3 An-24’s flying scheduled passenger service and the joy of getting airborne under a big balloon.

Here are all my flights in 2018, mapped with Great Circle Mapper.


All the airports but SHA, PVG, and HKG I visited this year are new to me. I’ve flown on Air China, South African (operated by SA Airlink), Emirates, China Southern, Turkish, Air Moldova, Ukraine International, Motor Sich, kulula (Comair), and Cathay Pacific for the first time. E135, A380, B735, and An-24 are also new models to me (though the latter two I have flown on are actually older than myself). Here are some of the highlights and interesting moments of this year:

An underwhelming Emirates A380 flight with no dinner. Asked for a cup noodle instead… (20 April, EK304, DXB-PVG)

Ex-CAAC Hawker Siddeley Trident (B-2207) and ex-China Eastern A310-200 (B-2301) in Civil Aviation Museum in Beijing

Spent half day spotting and listening to ATC in PEK (Beijing Capital Int’l)

One of the four remaining P-61 Black Widow’s (Beijing Aviation and Space Museum)

Turkish flight TK39 JNB-IST, best experience in economy I’ve ever had.

Ride in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia

Fly with Air Moldova from IST to KIV on this B737-500 leased from Armenian airline Atlantis European Airways with an hour-long check-in process (for some reasons they can’t find my booking with Turkish)

Yak-40 cabin and cockpit (National Museum of Aviation, Kyiv)

Il-62 cockpit

Fly on this 1973-built An-24 (UR-MSI) with Motor Sich Airlines, one of the last operating three of this rare bird (well, not so rare in the past) (M9263, IEV-LWO)

I actually saw this very aircraft days prior to the flight in IEV (Kyiv Zhuliany)!

Yeah, British Airways has B737s, in South Africa (MN121, JNB-CPT, changed to BA branded plane for operational reasons – they are just two different brandings of Comair after all)

And that’s pretty much all of it! A lovely 2018, and I’m looking forward to embracing the possibilities in 2019 😀

Attached: the details of the flights.

Operator Flight NO Origin Destination GCDist(mi) A/C REG
CA 1558 SHA PEK 667 A333
CA 867 PEK JNB 7269 B77W B-2089
SA 8085 SHO JNB 216 E135 ZS-SYT
EK 764 JNB DXB 3970 A380 A6-EEC
EK 304 DXB PVG 4013 A380 A6-EOA
CZ 6146 PEK CGQ 540 A321 B-2418
CA 1614 YNJ PEK 694 B738 B-5422
EK 305 PVG DXB 4013 A380 A6-EOI
EK 761 DXB JNB 3970 B77W A6-ECA
SA 8084 JNB SHO 216 E135 ZS-ALF
TK 39 JNB IST 4617 A333 TC-JNM
TK 2004 IST NAV 340 A320 TC-JUI
TK 2321 ADB IST 205 B738 TC-JGY
9U 746 IST KIV 411 B735 EK73797
PS 898 KIV KBP 253 B738 UR-PSV
M9 263 IEV LWO 291 AN24 UR-MSI
TK 442 LWO IST 654 A321 TC-JMI
TK 38 IST JNB 4617 A333 TC-JNO
MN 121 JNB CPT 790 B738 ZS-ZWG
MN 102 CPT JNB 790 A320 ZS-GAW
CX 748 JNB HKG 6631 B77W B-KQN
CX 368 HKG PVG 779 A333 B-LAF


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