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)
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.