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Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:40 pm

So I was wondering something, and wondering is happening a lot in these COVID times... we're a large community with a lot of aviation lovers. A lot of you (almost all) have flown (and have flown a great amount). Everyone has had their moments of triumph, or memorable happenings in-flight, or at airports. So what I was wondering is what do you, as a person, consider your "Golden Age" of aviation? Be it memories, be it events that happened on board or whatever, nothing is off the tables, so shoot!

Mine personally was between 2001 and 2008. I was an expat child, and I flew with KL almost year-round (AF, KQ, WB, and SA included). I remember my first flight with a KL 763 to ACC, with their old livery and the young kid excitement of boarding my first long haul to another continent, starting a new, but short life there. Being at AMS as a little kid, seeing all the bowling shoes and other tri- holers/ 747s just brings me back to those careless times. Standing on that terrace at AMS and smelling/ hearing the whole scene was one of my first and best encounters with aviation. I saw KL and other airlines evolving from 2001 on, and maybe it's memories or nostalgia but the service and care were something more back then. African airports back then were also something else, and ACC, KGL, or JNB had some great movements going on.

I'm curious about your own moments, so let me know!


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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:59 pm

Mine was in the late-90s/early-2000s internet go-go days. I was travelling almost every week on one to two day trips from BOS to SFO, LAX or LHR. First class domestically, business class internationally. Remember the AA 767 transcons with sheepskin-covered recliner seats up front?! In the other direction, I'd usually go over to LHR on a Wednesday night, shower when I landed, and work all day Thursday and Friday. I'd give myself a personal day in London on Saturday and fly back in the evening. Those westbound Saturday night flights would have three or four people in Biz. I'd drink wine, eat and watch movies for six or seven hours without phone or internet. It was an oasis!
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:02 pm

Our personal golden age’s align with when we were young with our whole lives ahead of us and wanted to shag anything with a pulse.
Take a step back and note the correlation, the aircraft are a side issue to your lifestage.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:25 pm

What a cool idea for a topic.

I have kind of 2 golden phases.

The first was 2007-2011, in that time I finished my masters degree in aero engineering, did a lot of aircraft photography, numerous air shows ( I felt like I lived in a tent most weekends) would think nothing of an 8hr round trip to sit at the end of the runway at conningsby and I got my PPL. Like you say, the smell of the jet fumes really got me, when I was at university I would put my camera in my rucksack, get on my bike at 05:30 to get to Bristol airport to catch the CO 752 arriving and I remember the giddiness I would feel as the smell of the airport grew.

In 2011 I bought a house and in 2012 I got married and my spare time was spent on a combined love of both my wife and I in the form of horses and my aviation life petered out. In 2016 my house was invaded by a small life form and when I spent my 30th birthday feeling lucky that I was able to push a pram round the Yorkshire air museum to get my aviation fix.

In 2017 I figured the aviation thing was behind me and I made a conscious effort to put my foot on the career pedal.

Because of this in 2018 my second golden age of aviation began. I live in the UK and travelled to the US 6 times, twice to India, twice to Holland 3times to Germany once to Italy and twice to Spain all with work.

In 2019 I went to Canada twice Australia twice, Germany once and the US twice.

In 2020 I have been to India twice (pre covid) and was due to go back to Australia at the end of April but that never came off.

I’m curious to see the world after covid-19. How aviation changes. I imagine after a few years it might not feel like a golden age anymore.

I’m looking for a third golden age in another 10years. I’d like to build my own aircraft.

We never know where life will take us and whilst I think I’m in a pretty recession proof industry things might change but I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to stay sat down when jet flies over at 200ft...


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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:38 pm

skipness1E wrote:
Our personal golden age’s align with when we were young with our whole lives ahead of us and wanted to shag anything with a pulse.
Take a step back and note the correlation, the aircraft are a side issue to your lifestage.

I appreciate the whole, "you're still young so you're going to experience a lot".. that being said, this was a simple question to your favorite personal time in aviation, not a call to being lectured about personal life or 'shagging', please stay on topic, otherwise, don't respond.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:42 pm

For me, probably 2009-2011. I was still in high school, and I was allowed to study for my A&P certificate at a technical school that had a transition program for high schoolers. There was little oversight in this, I was just allowed to leavemy high school at 11am and be at the A&P school by 12. Again, very little oversight of this and my A&P school was a 4 day a week program, but my high school assumed it was all 5 days. So I am 16 and about twice a month I would book day trips on Fridays returning several hours later, usually in the late afternoon before my parents would get home. I would leave my high school at 11am, and usually have a fare booked that departed around 12:30 pm. Most of these were just down to DFW and back, a short 45-minute flight from OKC. Occasionally I would book round trip connections that could get me a few more legs for not a lot of extra money. Such as OKC-DFW-LBB or OKC-DFW-AUS. Sometimes I would take Frontier or Southwest OKC-DEN and back depending on what fares were available at what times. The standard R/T fare OKC-DFW-OKC was usually right at $98.90 or so after taxes. I would save up my money and buy disposable Visa giftcards at Walgreens for $100 and use them to purchase my tickets as I did not have a credit or debit card, and most of my income came in the form of cash tips at the restaurant I worked at.

It was a very risky maneuver, I never told anyone about it. I would just go and do it. The thrill was awesome, but looking back now it could have gone wrong in many ways. Such as a cancellation leaving me stranded overnight in Dallas or Denver. But thankfully nothing ever happened to that degree. I accumulated AAdvantage Gold two years in a row doing this. And I still have a stack of Visa giftcards in a box somewhere that I never completely used as usually the left over balance was just a dollar and some change. They probably don't work anymore. Most of the legs were on AA MD80's, so that airplane has a very special place in my heart from these "run away" trips. The furthest trip I took during that time was OKC-DFW-PSP-DFW-OKC. It took all day, I think there was an administrative day at my high school so I was able to catch an early flight, while I may have played hooky at A&P school that day. I didn't miss anything as any time you miss has to be made up for by staying late and getting that instruction anyway. I very rarely ever missed days at A&P school, unless I was sick. That was likely the one and only exception.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:39 pm

Great topic.

For me it was the 70's through the late 80's. I grew up an airline brat, Mom worked for Ozark reservations. She started in 1967, when I was 2 y/o. I don't remember much flying until around 1972 or so, our first trip to Europe was around that time. In those days flying was still for the more well-healed people and most of my classmates and teachers were openly jealous of me taking off to London or Hawaii in the middle of the school year. Mom's seniority based vacation bids at OZ didn't really kick in for several years so she chose our birthdays for her vacations, usually May (me) and October (her), So I got pulled out of school, given some homework to do to keep up, and off we went.

I used to run through the airports collecting all the timetables I could find (wish I had saved some) to read on the flights and at home. Was (and still am) fascinated by route maps and schedules and strange, exotic airlines. Started creating my own route maps and terminals, had a big wooden board I painted white with two runways on it, used Jello boxes and other sorts of food containers for my "terminal" and usually had at least a dozen die-cast metal planes parked around the "terminal". I would announce departures, taxi the plane to the runway and take off, then announce the arrival of the same plane from another destination. Killed many hours doing that.

Mom of course noticed and when I was about 10 she brought home an expired OAG from work. As big as a big city phone book back then. She taught me how to read all the codes and the formats and that kept me quiet for weeks. They weren't much different from month to month until Deregulation. WOW! New airlines popping up, mergers, new aircraft types, the whole nine yards.

Of course we were travelling the whole time and I got to some pretty cool places but then something "horrible" happened. UA bought PA's Pacific Division and the next thing you know, half the airlines in the US were merging with each other. So much for variety. Even worse now. new airlines pop up from time to time but it seems the go-go 80's tuned into the meh 90's. (Musically as well but that's another topic). New start ups had a brief comeback in the 90's of course but again, they fell prey to buyouts and shutdowns.

So here we are, and really this COVID mess is as exciting a time (in a bad way) as the early 80's were for me.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:59 pm

For me it was the late 70's early 80's getting my first job and just flying around on the weekends testing every airline that I could. So many options and some many airlines each with their different business approached. You attracted customers then by your level of service and it really was a customer service industry back then. The only plus from today vs the golden age of air travel is IFE. I miss the timetables as well it was amazing to go through the terminal and be able to collect those. I used to take two always on to read and wear out and the other to keep in mint condition. Another plus back then was not only the vast array of air carriers but all the different equipment that was flying around as well. The late 70's and early 80's was also a time of transition you still had 40'and 50's turboprops and prop aircraft flying around with first generation jets and modern jets like the 767 and 757. I was a magical time indeed and those of you who didn't have the opportunity to life in that time frame my heart truly aches for you because you have no idea how magical that time in civil aviation was.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Sat Jul 04, 2020 8:36 am

Mine was about 2008 - 2014. I started traveling internationally, (and my budget allowed me to fly in business class) I was able to go through some of the big airports outside the US and see a lot of different airlines, take spotting trips often, and sometimes go on domestic day trips (fly out and back home the same day), and other "oddball" flights (such as AS milk-run flights in Alaska
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Sat Jul 04, 2020 11:34 am

must be early/mid 1990s for me.

Lots of variation in terms of types and airlines.
There were still many 707s 727s DC8/9/10s, BAC111 etc. in service.
Also there were lots of Tupolevs and Ilyushins from many different airlines.

My first visit to Miami in 1997 yielded over 60 different DC8 frames in a week.

those were the days.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:12 pm

For me it was the mid 1980´s until late 1990´s when I was able to fly a lot of regional flights here in Europe.
At the time I primarily looked to experience as many different aircraft types and airlines as I could (afford).
I booked quite a few flights on props and also jets and many of those types are not flying anymore - not even as a freighter ...

Swearingen Metroliner
Beech 1900 C / D
HS 748
Shorts 330 / 360
SAAB 340 / 2000
Do 228
Dash-8 (-100 / -300)
Fokker 50
BN2A Trislander
Jetstream 31 / 41
DHC-6 (Twin Otter)

SE210 Caravelle
Lockheed L1011-500
BAC 1-11-500
Dassault Mercure
A 300
A 310
B 727-100 (-200)
B 737-200 (-300 / -400 / -500)
DC-9-15 (-30 / -40 / -50)
MD-81 (-82 / -83 / -87)
Fokker F-28-1000/4000 (F70 / F100)

... and then I had a second albeit admittedly much less intense "Golden Age" in the mid 2000´s when I was able to add a few more rare types to my list:

But unfortunately I missed a few types I could have flown but didn´t due to circumstances (equipment change / too much time consuming to go to where aircraft operate / too expensive tickets ...)
Especially come to mind:

Vickers Viscount:
Virgin operated a once daily feeder route LGW-MST with a leased Vickers Viscount for some time but fares for MST-LGW-MST only were relatively steep ...

Tried to go to SE Asia via Iran to fly the SAHA Air 707 but had to change my routing and skip Iran.

Airline cancelled the flight/destination at short notice and no other options to book a flight on the type were availlable ...
Flying is not inherently dangerous but it is very unforgiving in case of carelessness, incapacity or neglect.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:03 pm

For me has to be the late 70's to early 80's. My father worked for Northwest and prior to Republic merger. Probably half the the flights were wide body and as non rev before the FF days, always ended up in first class.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Sun Jul 05, 2020 10:18 pm

While I remember flying on a 727 on Delta MIA-JFK with a sky bistro bag, or a Bahamasair 737-200 and Chalks Mallard 73-T when I was a kid, 2000-2005 and this was also a time of "real" planes being around 747 classics, 727s, even the DC-8 was a normal sight in Miami. For my personal flying it would have to be while I was in college, 2007-2011 flying back and forth between Miami and D.C. very often, even flew enough to get status on AA for a year and got some upgrades. In the same time I spent a semester in BCN and flew around Europe a bit as well. I regret not trying to get some random cheap flights in there and missing my chance to get on a BAE-146 and Fokker 100/70

But it was the amount of flying for me that did it, I had a flight or two booked almost every month.. Mostly out of DCA which was a fantastic airport. Loved being in the air so often. For a while I stilled traveled a lot for leisure, including many of my longest and favorite flights. But have yet to need to fly that often again.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:00 am

2006-08. I was working for a company in an industry that was just making truckloads of cash. Every trip was on J class, even really short ones. I was flying SQ almost exclusively, so that was a real treat. And there were trips that today would be unjustified but still happened ("I can't figure out this Excel sheet, can you please fly to South Africa to explain it to me? Thanks!").
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:12 pm

2009-2011. Those are the three years in my life I have flown the most (in total miles), making combined 38% of total miles flown during my life (12%, 12% and 13% each year). In 2009 I got a job that paid very well so I just spurgled a bit. Many long-haul flights.

2017 comes as a close fourth (also 12%). Mostly short/medium haul. While not record mileage, 2017 marked my record number of flights (62) and new visited airports for the first time (31).

I have flown in 2009+2010+2011+2017 49.88% of the total mileage. So literally half of the time on the air in my life have been on those 4 years.

Last year I got another interesting job (which I keep; I am starting to think that I am very counter-crisis job-wise) so I wanted to spurgle again this 2020... but then COVID came.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:21 am

My personal Golden Age was the late 60s and the 70s. The variety of airplanes were amazing. DC-6s and 7s were phasing out, and Electra’s. DC-9s, 1-11s and 727s brought jet service to smaller cities. The 747 was truly amazing plane. I remember being in one for the first time about 1970.
Being a Braniff brat, I took many trips on 707s, DC-8s (including Calder), 747s, VC-10, DC-10, L1011
Many of these trips were in First, when service was special and security was non-existant. Load factors were about 65% on average, so it was easy to get in a flight.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:49 pm

In my case it was 1970 (my first flight) to ~1984. There was less rigamarole at the airport, complimentary meals of fair to good quality were served in coach, generous free baggage allowance, no change fees, and you could even exchange a ticket from one airline to another -- even a rival/competing carrier -- for no charge other than any difference in fare -- as I did on four different occasions. It was easy to book another flight and re-ticket (if necessary) in the event, for whatever reason, you missed the flight on which you held a reservation.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:51 pm

For me it was the most recent years, starting in late 2017 and ending pretty much right before COVID hit.

Those roughly two years saw me take significantly more flight legs than I had in the 20 years I had been alive before that, including four long haul round trips over the course of 20 months compared to only one in my entire life before.

It started with my first trip ever to Central America in the 2017/2018 winter allowing me to log airlines like Copa that are entirely nonexistent in the European market.

Most importantly though, between the summers of 2018 and 2019 German me studied abroad in North Carolina for a full academic year and savored the aviation aspect of it as best as I could, both by flying back home over Christmas and by taking domestic trips over my breaks. I managed to get rides on rather rare planes like the 747-8, the 767-400 and luckily managed to snatch flights on an MD-88 or the special retro liveried Southwest 737-700.

What I believe makes this truly my personal "golden age", aside from all the good memories about studying abroad that it is intrinsically connected to, is the fact that all those flights took place at the edge of the passenger peak, right before everything collapsed this spring.
Everywhere I went, airports were alive and bustling with action. Even a mid-sized airport like RDU, which was my "homebase" while studying abroad, consecutively broke passenger records in 2018 and 2019, adding destinations left and right. The flights to ATL usually took a departure route over my house and there were 12 of them, every day!

I also vividly remember the day I returned from winter break in Germany to my spring term classes, where I had a layover at ATL before my final leg to RDU: After a long day of traveling already behind me, all I did was sit down in a gate and watch the sunset outside, basking in the action of planes being pushed back literally within minutes of each other at the concourses across from me, it was a true marvel.

And what makes me nostalgic and a bit sad is the fact that even if travel slowly starts rebounding and once I step onto a plane again, we're collectively still years away from getting to those levels again, if ever.
And who knows whether, when and if that happens, I'll still have 20/21/22-year old me's excitement about all of this inside of me.

Great idea for a topic by the way, I enjoyed reflecting on and writing down my thoughts about that.
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Re: Personal "Golden Age" of aviation

Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:31 pm

My golden age was probably 2013-2019. I was by then an adult and able to take many trips overseas solo. aA lot of this traveling was facilitated by the fact that I had family in Dubai and would fly a lot to visit. Usually a return ticket on Emirates was something like $450 and sometimes higher. But amazingly I could get tickets to places like PEK, SIN, or KUL for only a marginal increase, sometimes $550 a return ticket. A lot of cheap offers to upgrade to J as well. I once found a $300 return ticket to Delhi on Gulf Air which was amazing. Once, I needed to fly from Dubai to Istanbul and Turkish wanted something crazy like $800. I found a ticket DXB-IST-LHR return for less than $400 which I took. I was simply able to travel more because everything seemed so cheap and available. On board, the experience was certainly better than had been the case in the 90s/2000s. Y+ was a godsend that my family and I made good use of during that period.
Airports also came a long way. Sure there are a few smaller and cosier terminals that I miss from my childhood/teens and a few “innovations” that I haven’t come to terms with (like self check I’m and baggage tagging) but in general change has been for the better.
Sadly my entire family has now left Dubai and so my days of flying out every month or so are gone. It felt weird to no longer have a trip in the cards, to frequently book plane tickets, and to keep my bags in storage for so long. Then the pandemic and I guess I was no longer alone.

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