EVA Air Boeing 747-400.

EVA Air Boeing 747-400

There is little question that the Boeing 747 is the most beautiful aircraft ever built. It’s in a class of its own. There’s a reason it’s called the Queen of the Skies.

While some modifications (just a few) have been made since the first one took to the skies in 1969, its design is timeless. From the pointed nose that rises gracefully up to the cockpit windows and that distinctive hump.

For decades, it was the undisputed leader in wide-body aircraft. With more than 1,500 ordered, airlines that flew the 747 gained instant credibility and cachet. Bigger isn’t always better, and while the Airbus A380 may be the biggest commercial airplane, it has nothing on the 747’s style and panache. The 747 is a glamorous runway model that turns heads wherever it goes – the way it struts confidently through airports around the globe. And nose on—rotating off the runway—it’s a thing of beauty.

Flight attendants welcome me onboard.

Flight attendants welcome me onboard

All good things must end, and so it is that the 747 is in its twilight years—eclipsed by the more efficient Boeing 777, bigger Airbus A380, and fuel-sipping Boeing 787/Airbus A350. With only 41 Boeing 747-8Is ordered, the writing’s on the wall. And in the coming decade, we will see fewer and fewer Boeing 747s. But there are still some airports where you can see the Queen, and take one last flight. Such is the case with my home airport in Vancouver (YVR), where EVA, China Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, and Qantas still have passenger operations with the type. Albeit, the latter three operate the aircraft only seasonally. This past year, BA began using the Airbus A380 in summer months, but reverts to the 747 in the winter months. Lufthansa is now the only carrier operating daily 747 passenger service to Vancouver.

AirlineReporter recently experienced EVA Air’s Boeing 747 service on the Vancouver-Taipei-Vancouver sector. The 747 once made up the bulk of EVA’s long-haul fleet. It was the aircraft the Taiwanese airline used on its first flight to North America, when it inaugurated service to Los Angeles in December, 1992. Like many airlines, EVA has been replacing its 747s with Boeing 777s, which now do most of the airline’s long-haul flying. In fact, the airline now only has three passenger 747s left in its fleet, and Vancouver is one of the few destinations to which EVA uses the aircraft. EVA executives recently told me that 747 will no longer fly the Vancouver route by July 2017, and will be completely retired from the airline’s fleet by September of next year.

8 hours on a Saab, am I crazy? You bet! Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Eight hours on a Saab, am I crazy? You bet! – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

On my last trip to Australia, I was fortunate enough to experience the “Centre Run” with Airnorth; a series of flights through the centre of the country. Now while this was an exciting adventure, there is an even more crazy series of flights that can be done in outback Australia. I am referring to the Regional Express (Rex) Milk Run.

This milk run serves a series of remote communities in the Australian state of Queensland.  In total, it is a series of seven flights — yes you read correctly, seven. It originates in the capital of Queensland, Brisbane, and flies all the way up to Mount Isa, a major resource town in northwestern Queensland.

Record rainfall made for an interesting flight in more ways than one Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Record rainfall made for an interesting flight in more way than one – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The flights are operated by a Saab 340 turbo-prop, and it is possible to book a ticket from Brisbane-Mount Isa. The price is approximately US$300, which is very affordable given that it includes seven flight sectors and close to nine hours of flying. So on my most recent trip “down-under” I was once again questioning my sanity when I booked this trip (something that is becoming a frequent occurrence on my trips to Australia of late).

13988050_10157405891755604_8515457125633750530_o

You might have noticed a slowdown of stories coming out of AirlineReporter HQ recently. Many of you have been around for a while, so I wanted to take a step back, catch you up, and then let’s move on forward! Do not worry, we aren’t going anywhere.

I have been running AirlineReporter for just shy of nine years now. It started as a hobby, then transitioned to a business. About a year and a half ago, I quit my job and took on part-time work in order to focus on growing AR. Then earlier this year, I quit that job and did nothing but AR. I had good, viable plans to make AR my full focus (and, somehow, source of income), but turns out it is not for me. Just because you might be good at something doesn’t mean you want to do it. I love flying, I love aviation, I love sharing my stories, I love working with my writers, I love sharing their stories — but I hate running around trying to make money off of all that.

Previously I was warned that when you take something you love and make it your source of your living, you can start resenting it. That happened. And that sucked.

ba0b7b5b-d437-4525-887a-03cbd37c6bfc

One of the things that I love most living in Washington state (especially Seattle) is all the aviation. It is hard to think of a place that has more of an aviation culture — heck Seattle is even called “The Jet City.” What better state to have a special aviation license plate? With your help, we might be able to make this a reality. If you live in Washington or you know of an AvGeek that lives here, it is time to make a difference in the aviation community (and to your car).

The State of Washington’s Department of Transportation Aviation Division (yes, that is a thing) is working with several aviation organizations, represented by the Washington State Aviation Alliance, to make a specialty license plate that celebrates aviation in Washington. The concept of the plate can be seen above and shows a Boeing-Stearman Model 75 flying in front of Mount Rainier. Very fitting if you ask me, plus I like the “AV8” vertical letters chosen.

The plate design was based on this photo. Photo: The Boeing Company

The plate design was based on this photo. Photo: The Boeing Company