Do you remember your first flight?

I do and it was quite an event. We are so used to flying that it has become part of our lives. Hopping on and off planes like they're buses, but everyone has a first flight.
First time up there
We had been in the London area for about a year and flew from Heathrow to Ronaldsway in the Isle of Man, I was only nine years old. The aircraft was a DC3 (Dakota) operated by British European Airways. Everything was great. I loved it. Then the plane suddenly dropped around 500 feet or so. We were weightless. The stewardess had just served everyone cups of tea (what else). I watched the contents of the cup rise up, perfectly formed, then settle back down, in the cup and not a drop was spilled. It all took place in a few seconds.

My Great Aunt (her first time too) was sitting next to me talking, when that happened. She had her mouth open, I did not. So not only did I see my tea rise, I also noticed the contents of her stomach do the same. The only thing was, she moved. Everything, the tea, the cup and her vomit all landed in various places on her. Then I smelled it, grabbed the paper bag and promptly heaved my guts out. Yet I wasn't scared, just thought it all interesting and a bit funny.

I remarked to my Aunt about how the tea floated up and down (with hand movements)—she threw up again. Then, the stewardesses (that's what they called them back then) brought wet flannels and towels around for every one. I asked her a question, "That was really fun, can we do it again?" My Aunt vomited a third time—then told me to shut-up.

The wildest one
I was on my IBM contract in the Netherlands, years ago, and flew back from London after a weekend home. it was a Polish Airlnes, DC-6. He was flying high, too high, I could hear the engines straining and the plane would rise then drop a little. That means he was at 26,000 feet, the altitude where propellers stop working. The plane had about 5 passengers, it was cold and all we were served was some sugary orange drink in strange plastic glasses.

The Pilot announced that Schipol was directly below. Without warning, he banked the plane all the way over to the left and nose dived. Airline personnel, orange drink, blankets and a few seats started flying about, all over the aircraft, not to mention those passengers who had undone their seat belts (I had not) grabbing anything they could get hold of, in sheer panic.

The plane pulled up and I experienced: the number one, all time best, 3 point landing—ever! It was perfect, you hardly felt the tyres hit the runway. I just laughed.

The rest
After flying back from Madrid the other week, I got to thinking about all the planes I've flown in over the decades. Over 300,000 air miles have been covered in a wide variety of aircraft. At first there were no jets, just the propeller driven ones. Slow, noisy and about 100 or so people per flight (when full).

So here they are and the airlines (those I remember). No doubt many of you have flown a lot more than I have. This is just my account.
  • Douglas DC3 Dakota, BEA (my first). After that I flew in more of these than I can remember. Including USAF C-47's. The last time was in the 1990's on a short hop flight in the States, trouble is I can't recall where it was.
  • Douglas DC6's and DC7's—Pan Am, Military Air Transport Service, Polish Airlines and others.
  • Boeing 707's. Lost count. Not only the civilian ones, but the KC-135 and C-135 military ones as well. Pan Am, TWA, Lufthansa, KLM, and more.
  • C-123 USAF—a cargo plane to Nome, Alaska in the middle of an Arctic winter.
  • Boeing 747—all kindsa versions and airlines—lost track, including The Big Orange to Dallas.
  • BAC 111—Just about the noisiest jet I have ever been in. British Midlands, I think.
  • Beechcraft 99—Into and from Fayetteville, Arkansas (a very wild place to land and take off from). Only held 16 passengers.
  • Douglas DC10—Delta's comfortable default one (as well as their L-1011).
  • 727's, 757's—various airlines.
  • Embraer 170—British Airways (the latest flight from Madrid).
Then, course the airports. Some, several times.

Amarillo, Texas—Barajas, Madrid, Spain—Bermuda—Boston, Massachusetts—Charles de Gaulle, Paris—Cincinnati, Ohio—Dallas-Fort Worth—Denver, Colorado—Detroit, Michigan—Eielson AFB, Alaska—Fairchild AFB, Washington—Fairbanks, Alaska—Fayetteville, Arkansas—Gibraltar—JFK New York—La Guardia, New York—Lajes, Azores—Las Vegas- London City Airport- London Gatwick—London Heathrow—Los Angles Int'l.—McGuire AFB, New Jersey—Mildenhall AFB, UK—Newark, New Jersey—Nome, Alaska—Orly,Paris—Rhein-Main AFB, Frankfurt—Ronaldsway, Isle of Man—San Antonio, Texas—San Francisco—Schiphol, Amsterdam—Seattle-Tacoma—Spokane, Washington—Stuttgart, Germany—Tangiers, Morocco—Toledo, Ohio—Travis AFB, California

Who knows what I will be on in the future and where. What about you?
Mar 07, 2014

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Thanks Frank. That's an amazing collection of planes you have there.
Great story Ted! You're a bit older than me - I have never flown in a DC3. But flew in a whole bunch of 707s including in the cockpit of Zambia Airways flying London-Lusaka (the pilot was a friend of my dad's - in those days kids would often get invited up to the cockpit anyway..). I've always been a bit of a plane geek as well and some of my best memories are of the more exotic airlines I've flown. UTA brings back some great memories. Flew Alitalia into Rome once on a 747, wheels touched the ground only to have the engines suddenly come on full blast and shoot right back up - seems there had been another plane on the runway.

Thought you might like this post:

Happy to have discovered your blog!
Frank (bbqboy)

Don't think I'd remember anything at 2 years old.

Faro is blinkin' expensive to fly out of - looked at that last month when I was down there. Gave it a miss.
Jonny Blair
Hi Ted,
I was 2 years old so I certainly dont remember my first flight. In fact I dont even know what the two airports were, but it was Northern Ireland to Portugal, so probably Belfast Aldergrove to Faro, Lisbon or Porto.
The first flight I remember I was 11 (it was 1991) I was travelling without my Mum and Dad for the first time and I headed Belfast Aldergrove to Schipol Amsterdam and I loved it. Little did I know that that first trip would be the start of many jaunts around the globe. Safe travels. Jonny
Wow...impressed you could recall all those planes and airports. I couldn't make a list now if I had to do so. C123s...? Remember the C130 Hercules flights.
C123 was a 2 engined flying box. In pic, top right 3rd one down. Tough, uncomfortable, but worked.