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The Magic Of Saha Air B707 - A Story Of Iran  
User currently offlineN178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1680 posts, RR: 65
Posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 28192 times:
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The Magic of Saha Air B707 – A Story of Iran




Introduction




This trip report mainly concentrates on the flying glory of Saha Air B707. I have made another attempt recently in February 2013 to fly the ever lasting B707. However, I felt it is part of the bigger story of my travel and affairs to Iran, a total of four times in nine years. The stories go on here....


My 1st visit to Iran – May 2004




When I first heard about an active B707 flying in Iran back in 2004, I instantly jumped on the bandwagon and start to make plans to visit Iran. On my log book, I missed the B707 so it seems too good to pass a ride on the plane which transformed intercontinental travel historically.

I left Beijing for Tehran on Iran Air’s famous B747-SP. I didn’t even possess an Iranian visa before hand and decide try to get a “Transit visa” good for 72 hours stay in Iran and fly the Saha Air B707 in between my transit time. Looking back, those days I was young and bold, I did not have to think twice to plan anything and fortunately things worked out so well beyond my wish.

Without knowing one single person or one single bit of history of Iran, I embarked on an “eye opening” trip to the ancient nation of Persia in May 2004 by myself.


Luckily, I met an Iran Air steward whose brother works as a load master for Saha Air onboard the Iran Air B747SP on my way to Tehran.


Photo below: Onboard Iran Air B747-SP EP-IAB “Khorosan” over Central Asia



Wing of the B747SP over the “Tian” (Sky) Mountain between China and Kazakhstan.



2 full meals were served on this 6 hour 45 minutes journey! (fillet mignon and cream fish)



Interior of the Iran Air B747-SP in 2004.



A cockpit visit is also allowed! How great is that!

After arrival in Mehrabad, I went to a “secret room”. It turned out that I have surprised the officials that I didn’t have a visa.

But I impressed them with my strong wills of flying the Saha B707 and they gave in finally by issuing me a 72 hours “non extendable” transit visa. After 3 days, I flew to Dubai and later returned to Iran again for another 72 hours!


Within hours of my arrival in Tehran, the Saha load master came to help and delivered me a ticket on Saha Air B707 to Kish Island the same very evening!

Suddenly, I am ready to fly my first ever B707 in just a few hours! Looking back, I think I was really beyond lucky that day! Here are a few pictures of my first B707 trip.

Picture below: The B707 takeoff over Military ramp.



Landing at Kish Island in dusk.



The interior of EP-SHU B707. I flew the same plane 9 years later in 2013!





After completing my first roundtrip of Saha Air B707 experience, I crave for more! It was so good and unique. I bought another ticket for a roundtrip flight from Tehran to Mashhad four days later.

It was a fabulous clear day in Tehran in spring time. Photo taken moments before I step inside the B707 again.




The B707 at Mashhad.



View of B707 engines and wing on takeoff from Mashhad.



Perhaps the most famous shot of mine, approaching the massive urban sprawl of Tehran onboard the B707.





In between my rides of Saha B707, I was also fortunate to fly the Tu-154 of Iran Air Tours, A300B2 and A310-200 of Iran Air with a visit to Shiraz, in particular Persepolis.

I didn’t plan anything before hand but luck is always on my side, there were many kind Iranians I met onboard the flight came to help me. They act as tour guide to show me around their city. The Iranian people’s hospitality made me feel so warm and at ease. My travel was so smooth without any worries.

Photo of Persepolis




Photo of famous Iranian Poet Hafez tomb and Garden in Shiraz




I also tried a little bit of spotting at Tehran Mehrabad on my first trip, it was amazing, and you can see the following A/C types on a daily frequent basis: B707, B727, B747 classics, A300, Tu-154 etc etc. Every flight is something noteworthy. Mehrabad then was also the International gateway of Iran, with Imam Khomeini International (IKA) airport not being completed till 2006.

I was told later on by Iranian spotters that I started the spotting there and others have adopted and followed my trend since.

I have received many emails from enthusiasts enquiring about spotting there. All the Iranian spotters I met later in the years are all very nice and very polite.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Sam Chui
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Sam Chui



I also visited Northern Tehran, made it to the foothills under Mount Alborz. I was invited and went to an Iranian Wedding and dine inside the B707 “Air Restaurant”. The Iranian were so kind, everywhere I go I attracted lot of attention and many came up to me asking my questions like, “How do you find my country?”



View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Sam Chui



After a week’s tour of Persia, I went back home to Sydney via Beijing and Indonesia. I became actively involve in reading the history of Persia; the days of pre and post revolution. I also started sharing with other enthusiasts about my flights with Saha.

TO BE CONTINUED


34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineN178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1680 posts, RR: 65
Reply 1, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 28335 times:
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My 2nd visit – April 2006





In 2006, when I was planning my second Middle East Trip, I have included Iran again on my itinerary along Lebanon, Jordan and UAE. This time I flew into Tehran from Dubai by Iran Aseman B727-200. We landed at the new Imam Khomeini International Airport 40 km away from the city. I have met with a few very nice Iranian spotters such as Sharham Sherifi and Mohammed Rassi. They have helped me to buy tickets on Saha Air B707 again.

A photo of Iran Aseman B727 just departed from Dubai and low over Deira:

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/1.jpg

Interior of Aseman B727(EP-ASA) in excellent condition.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/2.jpg



I flew with Saha B707 a total of 4 segments this trip. This time I flew it from Tehran in the morning to Asaloyeah, then onward to Isfahan. Returning at noon from Isfahan to Asaloyeah then return to Tehran in early afternoon. I flew 4 sectors on B707-3J9C, EP-SHV, 1976 built. (ex EP-SHG)

Photo: Cabin of EP-SHV, with original rack shelf. Later this plane has been retrofitted with overhead bins!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/3.jpg

Airborne from Mehrabad runway 29R. A Tu-154M held short below in between the runways.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/4.jpg

Landing at the Gas rich Asaloyeah. I was the only non-Iranian there.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/5.jpg

A cockpit visit is granted in between turnaround of the B707. I sat with the pilots while they start all four engines.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/6.jpg

Climbing out of Asaloyeah bound for Isfahan

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/7.jpg

Over PARS Gas facility near Persian Gulf

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/8.jpg

Approaching over massive urban area of Tehran.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/9.jpg


After 4 more sectors on the B707, I thought I have enough of the B707 (felt at that moment) and out of my wildest imagination, I could never imagine the B707 is still flying today as I am writing this trip report. The only regret was I didn’t record any sound or any video of the flight. I was concentrating taking pictures only.

On this trip, I have also visited the Tehran Aviation Expo (an open display of aircraft) near Mehrabad Airport.
Every plane in the expo is a gem itself, something we rarely seen outside of Iran.


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/10.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/11.jpg

Out of particular interest, this B727-100 is in VIP Configuration and believe to have transported the late Shah of Iran’s relatives.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/12.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/13.jpg


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/14.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/15.jpg


I also visited the ancient city of Isfahan during this trip; unfortunately I accidentally left my camera (small pocket camera) in a taxi so I couldn’t retrieve the photos. I flew Iran Air B727-200 (all retired now) both ways from Tehran to Isfahan and return. Here is the Iran Air B727 cabin during a late night flight:

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/16.jpg

Apart from sightseeing, of course I did a little bit more spotting. It is already a popular hobby since my first visit! This Iran Air Tours Tu-154 EP-MCF crashed in Mashhad one month later after photographing it.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/2/17.jpg


Overall, that was another huge successful trip; I got to know Iran and its people better. I started reading many Iranian books and stories published by Iranian author on current regime and the past. Iran remains as a very special place in my heart.

TO BE CONTINUED


User currently offlineN178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1680 posts, RR: 65
Reply 2, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 28293 times:
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My 3rd visit to Iran – April 2012




I didn’t get any chance to visit Iran for 6 years but with my recent move to the UAE in 2011, a visit to Iran is finally happening again. This time, I was chasing the Iran Air B747-100. It was doing Tehran to Dubai regularly during the Nowruz (Iranian New Year) in end of March and beginning of April.

I stayed a short night in Tehran and the next morning I flew back to Dubai on Iran Air B747-200 Classic EP-IAG. I was the only person in Business Class (nose area) and the 36+ year old Jumbo is kept almost new in condition! It was an unforgettable moment onboard the B747 classic. During this trip, I have renewed my interest in Iran and decided to fly more soon!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/1.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/2.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/3.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/4.jpg


You can see a full trip report on this flight here:


Unforgettable Iran Air 747 Classic Experience (by N178UA Apr 5 2012 in Trip Reports)

Full Youtube video highlight:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxWFy...Q41JGPqiqXmJw&index=1&feature=plcp



25 April 2012, IR800 Tehran – Beijing





Well 1 flight on the Iran Air B747 classic is certainly not enough for my enthusiasm, so I planned a few more that month! I bought ticket from Iran Air office in UAE to fly Tehran to Beijing and from Kuala Lumpur to Tehran on their famous B747-SP. It’s been 8 years since I last flew an Iran Air B747SP on the very same route (apart the fact that it was from Mehrabad airport to Beijing)

Tehran to Beijing was an overnight flight, departs Tehran around 8pm and arrives in Beijing in early morning around 7am. The flight was operated by EP-IAA “Persian Gulf” (former Kurdistan). A long haul flight in the Homa Class can guarantee you an excellent meal, a surprise Iranian gift to bring home with and endless enjoyment of the B747 classic in the nose area!

Here are some photo highlights from these flights:

The B747-SP awaits in rainy Tehran in the evening

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/5.JPG

Original Boeing manufactured label plate display on its door.



Cabin (22 Homa Class recliner seats) in the nose area. A new large LCD screen is wall mounted, replacing the old original projector screen.

Sitting right up next to the Jumbo’s nose!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/19.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/7.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/8.jpg

Iran is famous for its miniature and handicraft. Passenger not only receives one Mashhad leather amenity kit, but they also receive a special gift from Iran Air (It was saffron inside the miniature box!!)

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/9.JPG

The usual excellent meal service course by course served by cart.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/10.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/11.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/12.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/13.JPG

And the always accommodating and photo friendly crew!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/14.JPG

Our flight route map. Basically it is following the old Silk Route

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/17.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/18.JPG


EP-IAA in Beijing after landing the next morning.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3/16.JPG


TO BE CONTINUED


User currently offlineN178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1680 posts, RR: 65
Reply 3, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 28249 times:
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28 April 2012, IR841 Kuala Lumpur - Tehran




This trip is already well documented by my co-traveller, Roni

The Journey Of A Persian Princess: Iran Air B747SP (by ronerone Nov 5 2012 in Trip Reports)

However, I will include a few picture highlights here.

The great highlight of the flight was both Roni and I are not only able to visit the cockpit during the flight, but we also scored a landing inside the cockpit! This was my first on Iran Air. The Captain who operated this flight was the Iran Air B747 fleet manager, upon my request;

he pushed the speed up to Mach 0.884 to show me what a B747-SP can do! Absolutely incredible! I guess the few minutes of show have cost Iran Air a thousand dollars?



Enjoy the pictures of my joyride.


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/1.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/2.JPG


Excellent catering of Iran Air


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/3.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/17.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/18.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/19.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/5.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/21.JPG


In-flight route map


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/4.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/20.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/12b.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/6.JPG


A Grand Tour of the Iran Air B747-SP


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/7.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/8.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/9.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/10.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/16.jpg


The Cockpit


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/11.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/12.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/13.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/15.jpg


Youtube video from the cockpit visit of B747-SP




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JcER...=UUfYCRj25JJQ41JGPqiqXmJw&index=15




28 April 2012, W5 065 Tehran - Dubai





This was my first time flying with Mahan Air. It turned out to be another excellent experience. My travel companion Roni, has written an excellent trip report

More Mahan To Dubai! ~ W5: IKA-DXB-IKA (by ronerone Nov 9 2012 in Trip Reports)


I will just post a few photo highlight here:


The A300 Business Class cabin

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/22.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/24.jpg


Dining


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/23.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/25.jpg


Gorgeous Cabin Crew


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/26.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/3b/27.jpg


TO BE CONTINUED


User currently offlineN178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1680 posts, RR: 65
Reply 4, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 28250 times:
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My 4th visit to Iran – Feb 2013




This trip report now will concentrate more on my recent trip to Iran at the end of February 2013. During the last few weeks,

I have received emails from Iranian enthusiasts about the news of possibility of Saha Air B707 retirement by end of March.

Although there are no official sources to verify the news, I have decided not to take things for granted. With some creativity on my work schedule, I managed to find some time off to fly to Iran for my potentially last Saha Air B707 ride!

This time, I took Emirates from Dubai to Tehran. Overnight in Tehran then fly a roundtrip on B707 from Tehran to Mashhad and back. The next day I will fly with Mahan Air to Mashhad to join my return flight of Iran Aseman B727 to Dubai. I was in Iran a total of just under 48 hours.


At Iran Air ticket office in Mehabad Airport Terminal two.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/1.jpg

Having a great Iranian Chicken Kebab after arrival.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/2.jpg

Overnight at Mehrabad Airport Hotel. The hotel is right next to the control tower. It was very convenient.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/3.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/4.jpg



28 February 2013




Good morning Mehrabad, this is the view from my hotel room!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/5.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/6.jpg

In the morning, I joined my friend Sharham, together we rode the Tehran Metro to Engelhab Square (the Square of Revolution) and later visited Milad Tower, the 6th tallest tower in the World.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/7.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/8.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/9.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/10.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/11.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/12.jpg

In early afternoon, we returned to Mehrabad Airport for some spotting! It was probably the best spotting I’ve done for a very long time. Within one hour, we saw B707, B747-100 tanker, various MD-80, Fk100, C-130, Bae146 and various A300s!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/13.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/14.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/15.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/16.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/17.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/18.jpg



At 4pm, we went to Terminal 4, the Saha Air flight opened check-in 1 hour 35 minutes prior to departure at 5:35pm. Luckily we were able to secure some good seats in front of the wing!


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/19.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/19B.jpg

Photo of Saha Air’s Boarding pass. They use a sticker system for seat assignment. The same as my first flight with them 9 years ago. No name/ID check was conducted at check-in.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/20.jpg

The boarding started at 5pm, 35 minutes prior to our takeoff time. There are no aerobridges for domestic flight boarding in Mehrabad, so we took the bus out to the ramp and here she is, the B707 await for us! Flight registration is EP-SHU (the only one active at the moment) this is also the very first Saha B707 I flew with 9 years ago in 2004!


IRZ160
Tehran – Mashhad
EP-SHU, B707-3J9C, BUILT 1976 (Ex IRAF Reg: 5-8310)
STD: 1735
ATD: 1730
Airborne: 1743
FL: 27,000 feet
ATA: 1850



http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/21.jpg

Definitely a photo in front of an active B707 in 2013!


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/22.jpg

At 5:30pm, 5 minutes before our stated departure time, we started taxi off our stand with idle engine power! The taxi was definitely in Saha’s military fashion; the only word to describe the taxi:

Overspeed!




http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/23.jpg

Within few minutes of taxi, we were at the threshold of Runway 29R. All four engines of the B707 came alive and without holding, we immediately started rolling on the runway.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/24.jpg

Surprisingly, half of the passenger onboard the flight are not Iranian but Iraqi Pilgrims for Holy city of Mashhad.


They started chanting Arabic prayer loud in the cabin while the B707 starts takeoff roll!




We took a while to get airborne. While our B707 slowly climbing away, we were treated to the views of Military ramp. You have B707, B747, IL-62, Tu-154 and more ! Indeed, it is a heaven for plane spotters! Perhaps Tehran Mehrabad has the best mix of aircraft in any airport of the world.


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/25.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/26.jpg

Our climb continues follow a 180 degrees turn heading towards Northwest direction to our destination Mashhad. The sun has slowly faded and disappaeared off the horizon.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/27.jpg

We were also treated to see the snow covered peak of Mount Damavand enroute to Mashhad, note this is also Saha Air’s logo! (Sun with Mt Damavand)


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/29.jpg


Shortly, our in-flight service started. It consisted of a nicely packed snack box with chocolate cookies, date cookies, roasted almond and a box of pineapple juice. I really enjoyed my B707 window view while snacking around. I also chatted with some next seat passengers. An Iranian father is travelling with his beautiful daughter to Mashhad to see their relatives.


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/28.JPG

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/30.jpg


After about 45 minutes of flying, we started our descend fast, Saha’s B707 is famous for its nose dive high speed approach and I believe our flight was of no exception! We landed safely with a very smooth flare and steady touchdown on all main gears. At this point, the Iraqi Pilgrims are chanting out their prayer loud!

View of our Saha B707 on apron in Mashhad. Photo is very difficult in Mashhad but I didn’t have any problem, may be the security guard did not see me snapping around.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/31b.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/31.jpg


Shary and I quickly went to re-check in for our returned flight. This time I chose seat 29D, second row from the rear.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/32.jpg


IRZ161
Mashhad - Tehran
EP-SHU, B707-3J9C, BUILT 1976 (Ex IRAF Reg: 5-8310)
STD: 1945
ATD: 1945
Airborne: 1955
FL: 28,000 feet
ATA: 2100


During the boarding, the captain waved at me enthusiastically from the cockpit window while I stood in line to board from ground, as he recognised me and probably knew what I was doing on Saha B707 

Here I am happily standing in front of the B707, ready to re-board. Perhaps my last ride (but hopefully not!)

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/33.jpg


This picture shows the security compartment located just after Door 1. The main cabin is after this compartment.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/34.jpg


Our flight took off on-time as all Saha flight does. During the takeoff the cockpit door “popped open” and remained open during the climb. I could peek straight into the cockpit from row 29, the other end! It was really different to sit at the back, where you feel more vibrations, noise and bumps! You really need to take a few more flights to sit around different area of the B707 to experience it all! Here is a picture of main abin view all the way from the rear end.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/35.jpg


We received dinner on the return leg. The food consist of Chicken Nuggets (cold but tasty), Yogurt and bread roll. As always, I enjoyed the dining on the B707 and finished everything!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/36.jpg


Row 30 on Saha B707 is particularly interesting, not only because it is the last row (with bad leg room) but also because of this huge horizontal slided window. I was told this window is for observation of in-flight re-fuelling purpose. I believe this B707 was used as a tanker before in the Air force (ex reg. 5-8310)


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/37.jpg

I walked around the cabin after the meal service. The below photo shows a vast area of galley and crew rest; all at the very end of the B707. There are also 2 working lavatories at the back.


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/38.jpg


Afterwards, I returned to my seat, put on my Bose headset to enjoy some of my favourite music tunes while flying on the classic B707! It was the most enjoyable thing to do! Lot of good memories of travel and friendship sprung to my mind!

Of course, I let go of the music and listen to the 707 engine sound during the final approach. Tehran lit up well at night as you can imagine the views are simply splendid from the window.

I was among the last to deplane given I was seated at the very back end of the B707. To my utmost surprise while walking up to the front door; both captains and the engineer officer came outside of the cockpit, along with all Saha crew and securities they gave me a great personal farewell. Both myself and the captain recognized each other instantly; he was the very first captain I have flown with Saha, 9 years ago! He didn’t look aged at all! We exchange few words of pleasantries and I asked him how long can the B707 continue to fly and all he did is smile and said “We are ready to fly for the future!”.


FYI, The Saha Cockpit with this very same captain is featured inside on my new book .

Walking off the plane with all crew greeting you with personal hugs and handshakes, I felt like a celebrity receiving a standing ovation there! It was truly a touching moment. Iranians are so nice, their hospitality are incredible. I just wanted to convey my heartfelt, sincerest thanks to the crew members.




Well, that was my 10th B707 flight with Saha. Who knows there will be more or not, but I can say I walked away truly satisfied with the experience every time. Whenever I think about it, it brought instant happiness and excitement to my mind! I didn’t really care about too much photo video making anymore, I just want more time for personal enjoyment! Every moment onboard the B707 was a special one to me!

Please see my videofor the complete highlight of my Saha B707 flight (11 minutes)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hu_Xs...t=UUfYCRj25JJQ41JGPqiqXmJw&index=2



TO BE CONTINUED


User currently offlineN178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1680 posts, RR: 65
Reply 5, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 28194 times:
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1 March 2013




The next morning, I am ready again to fly!

This time I am flying Mahan Air to Mashhad, staying in Mashhad for a few hours then changing plane to Dubai with Iran Aseman B727.

W5 1033
Tehran – Mashhad
EP-MHF, msn 055, A300B4-103
STD: 0930
ATD: 0930
Airborne: 0940
ATA: 1050


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/39.jpg

Mahan Air’s small but very smart looking boarding pass.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/40.jpg

The flight is operated by A300-B4 variant. EP-MHF. To my surprise, I was told later this is the oldest operating A300 in the world (MSN 055). It was made in 1978, 35 years old A300!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/41.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/42.jpg

We took off on-time again. The cabin is filled about 90% but I have an empty seat next to me. The cabin is filled about 90%. I am also surprised to see Business Class seat onboard. But too late to change ticket, I settled well in row 31 in Coach. The Mahan A300B4 is maintained so well that the conditions are almost spotless!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/43.jpg

Passengers received a small snack pack for breakfast consisted of pastry, bread roll, jams, cheese and honey plus orange juice. Later we were served with great Iranian Chai (tea).

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/44.jpg

It was pretty much a non-eventful flight but I have noticed our flight time to Mashhad is a little longer then last night’s Saha flight. We landed few minutes late in Mashhad with another great smooth landing!

The A300 took even longer time to taxi when compared to Saha as Saha are always speeding on the taxiway!
Arrival view of Martyr Hashemi Nejad Mashhad International Airport.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/45.jpg

Both front and rear door are used for passengers to deplane. A first time for me uses rear stairs in Iran.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/46.jpg

EP-MHF, hard to believe it is 35 years old A300, the oldest A300 in service in the world!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/47.jpg


After landing, a friend of Shary, Sorush came to the airport and meet me. It was really nice of him doing this as we didn’t know each other before hand. We drove along the streets to visit Imam Reza Shrine. Little did I know that

almost 70 millions people visit Mashhad annually for religious holiday!

(Mainly Iranians)

Here are some street scenes I snapped while Sorush is driving me to the shrine.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/48.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/49.jpg

ahttp://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/50.jpg

No photo is allowed inside the shrine. Underneath the Shrine, it is a massive tunnel with car parking structure. This is a very clever design to alleviate the traffic around the shrine. I can see over 10,000 people visit the shrine on any average day!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/51.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/52.jpg

After visiting the huge complex of the Shrine. We picked up some tasty Iranian Chelo Kebab and drive back to the airport. Shary has informed us the Saha B707 is inbound at 1:45pm so we went for spotting before check-in my return flight.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/53.jpg

Sorush took me to the spotting site, which is also the crash site of Aria Air IL-62 in 2009.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aria_Air_Flight_1525

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/54.jpg

Within 5 minutes, we spotted the Saha B707 in its famous nose dive down approach from a much higher than normal attitude that only Saha B707 is doing it in Mashhad. No other planes do this nose down diving approach! It is beyond spectacular to see the B707 coming down to land. Please see the action on the video.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/55.jpg

After the spotting, it is time to go back to the airport to check-in for my 3:15pm flight to Dubai. Mashhad have separate domestic and international terminal which are 1 km apart. Both terminals are new, airy and plenty of room. Mashhad do receive a fair amount of international flight from Damman, Beirut, Damascus, Doha, Dubai etc.


The international terminal below:

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/56.jpg

With my friend Sorush in Mashhad.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/57.jpg

Boarding pass. I am booked in Business Class seat.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/58.jpg

Note the very comfortable lounge chair in the airside waiting area. Many airport could learn from MHD!

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/59.jpg

From the window of international terminal, it boasts a fantastic view of apron and runway. It was impossible from outside but only available at airside.

A line of Iran Air Tours MD-80s.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/60.jpg

2 classic in one click! The Saha B707 is taking off behind the Iran Aseman B727.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/61.jpg

Double B727! The one in the background is taking off to Ahwaz I believe.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/62.jpg

Iran Air Tours (Turkish reg.) A310 sitting idle in Mashhad.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/63.jpg

At 2:45pm finally boarding has commenced, via bus to the remote stand to board the B727 classic one by one.


EP6688
Mashhad - Dubai
EP-ASD, B727-228/Adv
STD: 1515
ATD: 1515
Airborne: 1525
ATA: 1800


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/64.jpg


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/65.jpg


Business Class of Iran Aseman B727. It has a total of three rows in 2 x 2 seating configuration. The seat appears to be the same as American Airlines MD80/B737 First Class seat.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/66.jpg

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/67.jpg

Moodlight and wallpaper on the B727 gives a rejuvenated feel of the cabin.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/68.jpg



We took off on-time and the flight time to Dubai was approximately 2 hours. The flight was about 70% full. There were only 2 passengers in Business Class including me.

Every single passenger is served with this full tray of meal. The tray is bigger in Business Class but I believe they all have the same main course which is Beef Kebab with Iranian rice.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/69.jpg


Very tasty main dish.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/70.jpg

After the meal service, I walked down to the main cabin to have a look. I haven’t been on a B727 since 2006, which was also to/from Iran!


http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/71.jpg

This B727 is completely refurbished with new leather seats in Economy.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/72.jpg

With the very generous cabin crew, they’re not shy for photos! As all Iranian do, they were so kind to invite you for “Chai”! (Tea)

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/73.jpg

Legroom from the exit row at the far back.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/74.jpg

At 5:30pm, our B727 started top of descend, we crossed the Persian Gulf and descended over Northern UAE/Oman peninsular.

Please see the video of takeoff, landing of the B727. Enjoy the sight and sounds. The noise from the back of the B727 is no less than a Tu-134/154 to me!

Final approach to Runway 30R of Dubai International.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/75.jpg

After a smooth landing (all landing I have been smooth on this trip!) my 4th visit to Iran came to an end. I was allowed to visit the cockpit and have photo with the friendly operating crew. Note the cockpit size was about the same as B707 from my observation.

http://www.samchuiphotos.com/Iranstory/4/76.jpg

Please see my video for the complete highlight of my Iran Aseman B727 flight (7 minutes)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhhPL...t=UUfYCRj25JJQ41JGPqiqXmJw&index=1



Thank you Iran. It was a sheer pleasure and reminded me why I love Aviation so much!

Although a short journey this time, the memories of Iran and its classic aircrafts will have a long lasting impression in me. All my flights were perfect and I enjoyed so much that I can’t describe or explain. I feel extremely privileged and thankful to the great Iranian Hospitality offers.

Iran, despite all the negative publicity and propaganda around her, is an absolutely fascinating destination. It is one of very few countries that I have visited lasted a life long impression on me. You have to go to Iran, to see the reality of the country and what has it got to offer.

Thanks for reading.





For more Aviation Photos and Trip Reports:

My Personal Website: SamChuiPhotos.com
Facebook Page: SamChuiPhotos.com
Youtube: Sam Chui


User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1201 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 27590 times:

The Boeing 707 was a great aircraft.

My first flight was with El Al in 1962 and most others were with TWA.


User currently offlineglobalflyer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 927 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 27576 times:

Hi Sam, WOW is all I can say! What a journey! Your pictures are just amazing! I still am amazed at the lifespan of the great old airliners that still fly in and around Iran. Iran seriously must have the most skilled mechanics in the world! It is such a shame that Iran has a "black eye" on it in terms of politics and such. I would love to visit one day. From every single report I have seen, the Persian people are some of, if not, THE most hospitable people around! I love seeing the Coca Cola cans everywhere. I was thinking that Iran had its on Cola but I forgot the name, Yam or something like that? I love how open the crewmembers are and also how nostalgic the planes and service are! Thanks so much for sharing this story and the lovely photos for those of us that do not yet have an opportunity to visit. Hopefully one day soon! Cheers, Will


Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
User currently offlineCcrlR From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 2236 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 27433 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

That was a nice trip report. I enjoyed the Videos also. The hospitality sounds nice. Great job with the report!


"He was right, it is a screaming metal deathtrap!"-Cosmo (from the Fairly Oddparents)
User currently onlineomidp From Canada, joined Jun 2010, 134 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 26520 times:

Absolutely amazing, makes me so proud of being Persian. Thanks for the great TR Sam. You are the best and hope someday we can meet up and spot planes together  

User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2427 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 26214 times:

Outstanding TR - I would LOVE to see a TR on the Iran Asseman A340 to IST, the oldest still active A340 (MSN 2!!!) in the world!   

User currently offlinemoby147 From UK - England, joined Mar 2013, 50 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 26127 times:

Great trip report again, we have come to expect nothing less      

Well done Sam it is a joy for those of us who can't make these trips to see them through your eyes

Regards

Moby147


User currently offlineNDiesel From United States of America, joined Mar 2011, 81 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 25936 times:

What a great report, Sam. Thank you so much for sharing!


Delta MD-11 JFK-CDG - Upon sunrise I fell in love with Aviation
User currently offlineQuokkas From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (1 year 6 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 25570 times:

Hi Sam!

What a wonderful retrospective of the several journeys that you made to Iran. You have certainly and deservedly been fortunate with all your trips there.

It really is interesting to see all the different aircraft flying in Iran - it's almost like a flying museum rather than an aviation museum.

Great pictures as always, especially of the friendly crews who looked after you so well.

Thanks for sharing,

Roy / Quokka


User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1201 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (1 year 6 months 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 25444 times:

Thanks for fixing the pictures.

I would love to go to Persopolis. Fantastic pictures.


User currently offlinesjacob From Uganda, joined Apr 2009, 44 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (1 year 6 months 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 25210 times:

I really do like reading TRs from some of the world's "Hidden" treasures like Iran (Tehran and other cities) ....It is so amazing to see such nice pictures of the food in the airplanes, airports, streets, smiling people..etc coming from such a place which the international media had painted a very bad image of. I love to see that life there is normal and enjoyable for the people.

However, my heart sinks and bleeds when I see the kind of Aircraft they are using, I dont want to get political but the sanctions imposed due to a few people's actions and yet they affect millions of other ordinary people are so sickening. They have alot of aircraft, but actually I for one would not like to fly the B707 because it is too old and I think just like most Aircraft in Iran, it is a time bomb.

I like the reports especially the food and streets and please keep them coming.

Great TR


User currently offlineN178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1680 posts, RR: 65
Reply 16, posted (1 year 6 months 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 24546 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 6):
The Boeing 707 was a great aircraft.
Quoting globalflyer (Reply 7):
Hi Sam, WOW is all I can say! What a journey! Your pictures are just amazing!
Quoting CcrlR (Reply 8):
That was a nice trip report. I enjoyed the Videos also. The hospitality sounds nice. Great job with the report!
Quoting omidp (Reply 9):
Absolutely amazing, makes me so proud of being Persian.
Quoting debonair (Reply 10):
Outstanding TR
Quoting moby147 (Reply 11):
Great trip report again, we have come to expect nothing less
Quoting NDiesel (Reply 12):
What a great report, Sam. Thank you so much for sharing!
Quoting Quokkas (Reply 13):
What a wonderful retrospective of the several journeys that you made to Iran. You have certainly and deservedly been fortunate with all your trips there.
Quoting lychemsa (Reply 14):
Thanks for fixing the pictures.
Quoting sjacob (Reply 15):
really do like reading TRs from some of the world's "Hidden" treasures like Iran (Tehran and other cities) ....


As always, thanks for all your kind comments and responses, it is with your support and kind words keep me posting TR like this!

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 7):
I love seeing the Coca Cola cans everywhere. I was thinking that Iran had its on Cola but I forgot the name, Yam or something like that?

It is called Zam Zam   The Cola picture you saw in my photo are made in Iran, from the Coca Cola company based in Mashhad, this was the US company before the revolution and I guess they're Iranian now. Interestingly, I too, asked this question to my Iranian friend.

Quoting debonair (Reply 10):
Outstanding TR - I would LOVE to see a TR on the Iran Asseman A340 to IST, the oldest still active A340 (MSN 2!!!) in the world!

Well Debonair, you should do it! As long as there are B727, B747classic to Iran, The Aseman A340 will come on a slightly lower priority to me. FYI It has 60 some J seat and 250 some Y seats , according to Aseman staff I met on my B727 flight.

Quoting sjacob (Reply 15):
However, my heart sinks and bleeds when I see the kind of Aircraft they are using, I dont want to get political but the sanctions imposed due to a few people's actions and yet they affect millions of other ordinary people are so sickening. They have alot of aircraft, but actually I for one would not like to fly the B707 because it is too old and I think just like most Aircraft in Iran, it is a time bomb.

The airlines in Iran are getting MD-80, Fokker 100, A340 and A320. Only 1 B707 is active so it is a rare gem, in every way. Don't feel sad about the B707, we should all be glad it is flying. The state of the B707 are very well maintained, I can't see why old airplanes are time bomb? New airplane also have their share of accidents which depends on many factors.


User currently offlineEL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1310 posts, RR: 5
Reply 17, posted (1 year 6 months 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 24066 times:

Hey Sam,

What a wonderful collection of rare jets!

It was a great read, really. Photos are fantastic, as usual. Thx also for the non-av pics from Iran.

Thank you for shearing, Jonathan



"In our country, those who do not believe in miracles are irrational" - David Ben Gurion.
User currently offlineamax1977 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 208 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 6 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 23933 times:

What a wonderful read and amazing pictures, Sam.

Thanks for sharing.

Alan


User currently offlineFlyingRoo82 From Australia, joined Aug 2012, 62 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (1 year 6 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 23852 times:

Great trip report Sam, especially of the 747-SP. I've flown on that aircraft a few times, on South African Airways back in the late 1980s.

User currently offlineTheAviator380 From UK - England, joined Feb 2013, 401 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 6 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 23591 times:

What a TR, just amazing...plane and the place looks so exotic. Special ride I would day for sure.    Great pictures sam..wonderful. I love one best thing the way they serve food on some flight...just like a restaurant  

I am happy to TR but personally I would think few times before having ride on that aging aircraft to be honest..looks very ancient and I am not fan of 747SP, looks very strange aircraft.

How come they allow to enter in cockpit while plane is still in air? is it not Universal kind of rule after 9/11 that cockpit visit during actual flight is prohibited??


User currently offlineKDTWflyer From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 828 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (1 year 6 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 23502 times:

Nice TR as always. I really liked that large horizontal window in the 707 cabin! I wonder that has ever been on any other jetliner? I can't imagine the loading on such a large window when taking into account the pressure differential 


NW B744 B742 B753 B752 A333 A332 A320 A319 DC10 DC9 ARJ CRJ S340
User currently offlineN178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1680 posts, RR: 65
Reply 22, posted (1 year 6 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 22467 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 17):
Hey Sam,

What a wonderful collection of rare jets!

It was a great read, really. Photos are fantastic, as usual. Thx also for the non-av pics from Iran.

Thank you for shearing, Jonathan

I am glad you (from Israel) like my Iran TR!

Quoting amax1977 (Reply 18):
What a wonderful read and amazing pictures, Sam.
Quoting FlyingRoo82 (Reply 19):
Great trip report Sam
Quoting TheAviator380 (Reply 20):
What a TR, just amazing
Quoting KDTWflyer (Reply 21):
Nice TR as always

Thanks all.

Quoting TheAviator380 (Reply 20):
I am happy to TR but personally I would think few times before having ride on that aging aircraft to be honest..looks very ancient and I am not fan of 747SP, looks very strange aircraft.

I think it is the generation gap. For me, I still don't like older props when compared to B707, B727, B747, DC-10 jets. Some of the newer generation enthusiast may like A380 and B777, but found it hard to like a B747SP. I would gladly to fly on the SP anyday and swap you the B777/A380  
Quoting TheAviator380 (Reply 20):
How come they allow to enter in cockpit while plane is still in air? is it not Universal kind of rule after 9/11 that cockpit visit during actual flight is prohibited??

I have been inside the cockpit plenty of times, if they know you and like you, you have a chance! I don't think any rules is universally applied!

Sam


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3268 posts, RR: 12
Reply 23, posted (1 year 6 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 22401 times:

Oh Sam, you've really whetted my appetite for a trip to Iran! Is there a firm date yet for the final 707 flights? How about the 747SP?

Quoting N178UA (Thread starter):
Row 30 on Saha B707 is particularly interesting, not only because it is the last row (with bad leg room) but also because of this huge horizontal slided window. I was told this window is for observation of in-flight re-fuelling purpose. I believe this B707 was used as a tanker before in the Air force (ex reg. 5-8310)

Very cool! Wish more planes did this!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlineN178UA From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1680 posts, RR: 65
Reply 24, posted (1 year 5 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 21669 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 23):
Oh Sam, you've really whetted my appetite for a trip to Iran! Is there a firm date yet for the final 707 flights? How about the 747SP?

Thanks for reading my TR. No firm date, as things are in usual unpredictable manner with Iran. I am a firm beliver that the B707 will continue for a while.

The B747SP is flying. 2 are active EP-IAC and EP-IAD, flying mainly IKA-KUL, IKA-PEK and once a week to IST I believe.

Good luck!

Sam


25 Post contains images TheAviator380 : Thanks a lot for your reply Sam ! It's great to see that...I agree it may be due to generation gap ! I have visited your website and if I am bored it'
26 TUGMASTER : HI Ya Sam... Glad you could make this trip,,, As you know, some mutual friends didnt quite get passed immagration this time... As always, a tremendous
27 adamspotter : Fantastic trip report! It must have been a great feeling flying all those classic airliners each time, I'm jealous! cheers, Brendan
28 flightsimboy : Sam, I know you have a great love for Iran and it's aviation and it all comes out beautifully in this report!! You really seem to be getting on all th
29 newbief1yer : WOW.! too many places to highlight...so cant quote all the bits from your awesome trip report. But the highlight had the be the B707.! what an amazing
30 Superfly : One of the best trip reports ever! I hope to get one of those Saha 707 flights. My last time on a 707 was on American Airlines - LAX-ORD in 1978. I ju
31 N178UA : Thanks Flightsimboy. Yes, Pakistan TR is also on the Agenda, it is quite a massive one , much bigger content than Iran. I hope I will be able to fini
32 flightsimboy : I will be very much looking forward to this blockbuster report on PIA and Pakistan Aviation!!
33 Superfly : Thanks for the heads up. Superfly in Iran? That WILL be interesting! I am long overdue for another 707 flight. It's be 35 years since my last one.
34 N178UA : At this moment I've heard Saha Air B707 is grounded since mid April, going to convert to a Iranian Air Force (IRIAF) Tanker. This has left Saha cancel
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