Airnorth operate a fleet of Embraer E-170 jets as well as E-120 Brasilia's and Fairchild Metroliners Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Airnorth operates a fleet of Embraer E-170 jets on the longer regional routes – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

In a country as vast as Australia, it is no surprise that the population relies heavily on air transport, particularly in the more remote regions of the country. For the residents in these regions, these air services provide a vital lifeline. In many regions of Australia, these remote air routes are subsidised by the government. While the local residents view these services as an essential link to the outside world,  for the AvGeek, it is a unique opportunity to experience some interesting aircraft types, airlines, and routes.

My Airnorth flight route - Image: Great Circle Mapper

My Airnorth flight route – Cairns to Darwin via Gove – Image: Great Circle Mapper

One such flight route that I was fortunate enough to experience recently was from Cairns to Darwin, via Gove. While there are at least three direct flights per day from Cairns to Darwin on the other carriers, I was very interested to try out the service offered by Airnorth.

Airnorth was established in 1978 and has always had a strong focus on providing air services within the remote regions of Australia’s top-end. In recent years, the company has been focusing in particular on the contract charter market, as well as FIFO operations.

OE-LVN, an Austrian Airlines Fokker 100 parked at VIE.

OE-LVN, an Austrian Airlines Fokker 100 parked at VIE

Previously: Flying Economy on a Turkish Airlines Airbus A321

The second leg of our honeymoon tour around Europe took us from Vienna to Budapest on board a plane that brought back lots of childhood memories, the Fokker 100. I flew in F100s extensively when they were part of American’s fleet, always looking forward to being able to say “Fokker” without getting in trouble. Little did I know that I might have taken my last flight ever on any Fokker (*snicker*)…

A United 737-800 flying the friendly skies. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

A United 737-900ER flying the friendly skies – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

“Thanks, United” – it’s not a phrase you hear very often these days, but I want to give some credit where credit is due. Just a few weeks ago, after finding a great fare, my wife and I decided to take a long weekend trip to Cancun at the end of February. We were looking forward to sitting on the beach, soaking up some winter sun, and enjoying drinks at one of Cancun’s many all-inclusive resorts.  Well, a lot has happened since then.

Areas affected by Zika virus - Photo: CDC

Areas affected by Zika virus – Image: CDC

First, the Zika virus became big news. In case you’ve been living in a cave for the last few weeks, Zika has been spreading like wildfire throughout South America and has recently been making inroads into Mexico and the Caribbean. On the surface, Zika doesn’t sound so bad – it typically has mild flu-like symptoms and tends to clear up pretty quickly. However, doctors have recently noticed a scary trend, wherein babies born to women who contracted Zika during pregnancy exhibit alarmingly high rates of  birth defects. This led the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to issue an unprecedented travel warning, recommending that pregnant women avoid travel to all affected areas. Concerning, but still not worth canceling a trip over, given that neither of us were pregnant.

The first 737 MAX takes off from Renton - Photo: Chu-Yi Chuang

The first 737 MAX takes off from Renton – Photo: Chu-Yi Chuang

Yesterday, the Boeing 737 MAX successfully completed its first flight — and landing. It took off at 9:46 am (PST) to the cheers of several thousand Boeing employees and media. Wait… wasn’t that earlier than planned — it sure was!

I often poke fun of “Boeing time,” which refers to them often being late for test flights. I might not be able to use the term anymore. We will see. Either way, I was quite impressed that they took off early, but they also had some motivation — the weather.

The first Boeing 737 MAX after landing at Boeing Field

The first Boeing 737 MAX after landing at Boeing Field

The weather reports for the day did not look great. In the morning, it was overcast and raining. Boeing wanted to complete its almost three-hour test flight, and land at Boeing Field (BFI) before things got worse. It all worked out. It doesn’t mean I kept dry, but it was well worth it!