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Best flight - Worst flight

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Best flight - Worst flight

Old 24th Oct 2014, 09:03
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Best flight - Worst flight

Best - SAS from Bergen to Oslo some years ago. Smooth night flight over moonlit mountains, clouds, fjords and glittering lights. Impeccable flight, terminals, loading, cabin service and refreshments. A clear still night, after a fabulous day-trip to Bergen by train through snow and mountains, and very pleasant time wandering around the delightful town sipping hot apple juice and eating delicious marinated pickled herrings.

Worst - many years before. Airwork Hermes trooping flight to Nairobi. Cramped, uncomfortable, shaky, turbulent, smelly, noisy, sweaty, low and just long, long, long. Dreary stops at Malta, El Adem, Khartoum and Entebbe. In-flights confined to tired old boxed refreshments issued on the ground, or cold and greasy offerings in the terminal. Not a good introduction to flying but at least we eventually got there in one piece.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 09:24
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Well personally, despite the endurance test your flight on the Hermes obviously was, I wish I'd been around to fly on the pistonliners "back in the day," but I wasn't (born late 1950s). Though I have read that the Hermes was apparently definitely not one of the best of those aircraft.


Best flight: Super DC-3 in 2008 from Cochabamba to Uyuni and back, both in Bolivia. Click on this link for shot of the aircraft, then search my photostream using "Uyuni:" https://www.flickr.com/photos/489750...-9xPdqD-knubkQ Wonderful aircraft and incredible scenery.


Worst flight: how about last Saturday, 18th October, from Manchester to London: fifteen minute wait for ATC clearance at the gate in M/C; 25 minutes in the stack at Heathrow; ten minutes waiting for a gate at LHR. Total time, gate to gate, one and a half hours! I think the Vanguards used to do it in about forty minutes back in the 1960s-tho of course airspace was much less crowded in those-halcyon-days.


I've deliberately not named the airline concerned in my "Worst flight," as all the circumstances that gave rise to it were clearly beyond their control.

Last edited by Proplinerman; 24th Oct 2014 at 09:27. Reason: Decided to add a sentence.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 11:11
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Mr OS,

Is the multi-leg journey that you describe, to be considered 'a flight'?

If so, I'll trump your UK to Nairobi in a civy Hermes, with Marham to Karachi, and return in a Hastings. 3 days in the air, each way, with night stops at El Adem and Khormakser and refueling stops at Luqa and Khartoum.

Now waiting for somebody that experienced a Valletta ride to the Far east!

The worst civilian trip as a fare paying pax, Air Zimbabwe, Johannesburg to Vic Falls in a rather antique B-707. Everything rattled, or was shabby and worn.

The best, for inter-continental, Business Class on Varig, Johannesburg - Rio - Los Angele's. Miami - Rio - Johannesburg and Johannesburg - Rio - Miami. The best service ever, gorgeous wines That was why they went bust

The best cattle class, when I paid , Air Austral, Johannesburg - Gillot, Reunion. My 1st trip with them in 1992. Since then they have deteriorated to just another airline, but in the early days they really did try. The change of name of the airport to Rolland Garros shouldn't have affected things.

After all, he did far more for aviation than O R Tambo ever did.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 11:15
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Best flight: Flying a Tiger Moth
Equal best flight: every time I went in a BOAC Super VC 10 (about 10 times)

Worst flight: every time I went in a Lockheed Electra Flame-thrower (about 10 times)
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 11:22
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Best : In the cockpit of a Lufthansa 747 from Santiago de Chile to Buenos Aires on a crystal clear day with every detail of the cordillera seeming almost within touching distance. The flight seemed to take about 15 minutes!

Worst : probably a flight on the old CSA from Prague to Poprad Tatry on an old Russian twin prop banger which was filthy dirty and falling to pieces, vibrated worse than a Vanguard, broken seat belts, not that they'd have been any help anyway, and the pine forests seemed to be brushing the wingtips. The only time I've been scared on a commercial flight, to the extent that I disembarked at the intermediate stop, Bratislava, and took a train to Poprad.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 11:56
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Proplinerman...

Strangely enough later I was to become a Handley Page apprentice until their demise and, amongst many other things, worked on RAF Hastings main spar renovations. Hastings wings were very similar to the Hermes, and I well remember the sad state of corrosion and stress cracking on those spars, and the smelly bird remains we had to scrape out of crevices and air-intakes. Later, in the Customs at LHR I remember an occasional DC3 (was it South West Airlines?) and other rare types - the Curtiss Commander, Carvair, and Bregeut Deux Ponts come to mind, together with some very odd Russian types. I would have liked to have flown in a DC3 but an arranged flight at Coventry had to be called off for technical reasons and another planned flight, on Concorde, had to be abandoned due to domestic constraints. I went on Concorde many times (on the ground and on behalf of Her Majesty) and my dream was to fly out to New York on it and return on the old QE2 but it never happened. I shall enjoy looking at the Bolivian stuff. Many thanks.
PS: Another strange old thing - the one and only Fairey Rotodyne was parked in a corner at White Waltham for a long time quite close to the main railway line, but I never got up close to it.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 12:07
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Ian16th...

Any one of those Hermes flight legs would have qualified as awful. But on the positive side I remember the great pleasure later of a 747 Alitalia upgrade to first-class Bangkok to Sydney. Oh, yes, indeed!
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 12:20
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Capetonian...

Never flew in a Vanguard but knew it had a bad reputation for vibration. As a Handley Page apprentice I remember we were shown round BEA engineering at Heathrow and being mighty impressed by the Vanguard and its size, spaciousness and big windows. Then they took us down Weybridge to see the VC10 being made - I well remember the huge piles of silver swarf from the computer-controlled milling machines carving out the fuselage panels. It was state-of-the-art stuff in the early 60s.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 14:14
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Best- early crisp moring with my dad in California, flew in a 177 to Mojave and kicked the always interesting tires on the ramp, grabbed the $100 burger and return.

Worst- hot summer day agian over southern California- put in the rear jump seat of a friends Bonanza to help with CoG. Teeth rattling turbulance over the mountains, up and down 100's of feet without warning.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 15:28
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How about a 10 minute flight in Concorde from Glasgow to Edinburgh.
It was obviously light and only had staff on board so the captain treated us to the most spectacular take off.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 15:39
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.
The worst would have been an 'Indonesian airline' 747-200, Jakarta to Sydney.
Even the cabin crew were rattled. I wanted kiss the ground after the eventual (VERY firm) landing.

The best, ah yes, a Tiger Moth one beautiful morning!
Every Viscount flight (ca. '59 - '61).
I also liked the Diesel-9.

BTW, joy ride, what was the problem with the Electra flights? I never got to fly on one.


p.s. Herc flights were generally a PITA even though I knew our safe arrival was guaranteed.

Last edited by Stanwell; 24th Oct 2014 at 15:59. Reason: add ps
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 15:51
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Worst pax Lyneham to Akrotiri C130. Yes I know pretty tame by some accounts but it was sh1t. Worst at pointy end Moscow to LHR. Long story but the ground heating unit had run out of fuel in the middle of the night. The aircraft had frozen up when my ground crew arrived. We took off on 3 and one at idle. Closed one down after take off and another one idled back in the cruise. Landed on three. There were also all sorts of bits which I never understood not working. The Flt Eng should have had a commendation but then questions would have been asked They couldn't move it from LHR for three days.

Best: all EK 1st class flights and any bush flying here
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 16:33
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Worst first, then I can finish on a high note.

XL B767 Grenada - LGW A flying public convenience/creche

I have joint contenders for best:
Shackleton on a gin clear winter's morning over Caithness, heading out to the Faroes gap. I was enjoying a cuppa in the nose turret as we formated with a Loganair BN2, All this plus the smell of warm pies being wafted forward on the fuel rich breeze in the cabin.
DH Devon running the low level route southwards from Lossiemouth to Turnhouse. Each twist and turn created more carnage in the cabin with ashtrays gravitating and sweetie wrappers floating it gave me an indication of what the previous passenger had been up to. I was a rigger, he was the AOC
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 16:49
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Worst: BOAC VC-10 KLAX to Sydney ... full to the brim with Aussie families going home. Screaming kids, etc. We stopped every few hours. By the time we reached Sydney, I wasn't sure what day it was. It had seemed as though the sun kept going up and down.

Best: Hard to choose between many good flights. Maybe the best was when TWA was disorganized at Paris and upgraded me to 1st class. PAR - JFK. Transatlantic first class was very impressive for a person used to being in steerage.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 18:29
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Stanwell: there were several things I hated about Electras:

Myself and 2 years older brother flew unaccompanied regularly London and Washington DC and/or New York, from when I was 8 - 12, so my feelings and memories may not be completely reliable!

1) We flew in Electras between Dulles and NY any time when there was no direct flight, so going from a Super VC 10, 707 or DC8 into an Electra was a huge disappointment, as well as a longer and more scary journey. Once we got stranded at NY for 24 hours, heading to Washington for HOLIDAY! Some cock-up with the Elektra shuttle flight and we were sat on a round seat in the brand new TWA Terminal and left without food or drinks for 24 hours. When the Elektra finally did arrive there were still delays, then a really bumpy flight.

2) Landing at National Airport, Washington (we were usually right at the back) was very unnerving because it really felt we were going into the Potomac river, the big airports we were more used to had long enough runways!

3) No films, drinks or food, apart from one sweet for take off.

4) Always seemed to be bad, turbulent weather. I regularly got coated in my brother's digesti, er, well it was nasty!

1) to 4) could be forgiven but...

5) When those 4 flame throwers, sorry, "turbo-prop engines" started up, huge jets of flame spewed out over the top rear surfaces of each wing, and sometimes recurred during flight. There were special metal flame-guard sheets at the rear of each engine (clearly a different colour and alloy), but even at 8 I knew what the wings contained!

I don't know much about them, perhaps they were good reliable planes, I don't know, but to fly in they were truly terrifying to me and my brother. After a VC10 they looked and felt dirty, primitive and thrown together. Just my impression!
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 21:02
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After they fixed the vibration problem, the Electra wings no longer fell off. DC <-> New York isn't very far, so the flights were probably at lower altitudes and thus bumpy.

KDCA (Washington National) is certainly a very busy airport. Most of the time they only use the 6870-ft "long" runway and do 40+ operations per hour for many hours per day. It has been very many decades (1940s) since a plane went in the drink and that was due to a collision.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 21:16
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Exactly, seacue, my impression of the Elektras themselves quite likely WAS skewed by my flight experiences, but those engine flames blasting over the wings just looked so wrong!
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 22:58
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Seacue-Are we not forgetting the Air Florida crash ??
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 23:06
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Joy Ride.

Are you sure they were Electras with flames over the wings? I think you might be thinking about Big piston engined aircraft. DC-6, Constellation or similar.

The L188 Electra had exhausts that ended at the trailing edge of the wing and in my 2700 hours on them as Flight Engineer I don't recall any reports of flames from the exhaust.
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Old 24th Oct 2014, 23:42
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I posted an answer, which seems to have been eaten. I try to forget Air Florida ... but they certainly crashed on take-off from KDCA - too much snow.
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