A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 - Photo: Jason Rabinowitz

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz

Every month, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) releases a load of airline statistics ranging from on-time performance rankings to lost bag rates and simple info requests. Within the monthly data dump sits the number of complaints the DOT received about airlines for that particular month. You’ve probably seen the new headlines like “airline complaints spike in 2014,” or something like that. That data comes from the DOT releases.

Buried in the 47 page monthly DOT report, the word "compliment" is mentioned twice

Buried in the 47-page monthly DOT report, the word “compliment” is mentioned twice

Buried in a recent release, I noticed that the DOT also reported airline compliments in addition to complaints. While complaints sometimes tally over 2,000 per month (2,205 in August 2015), the number of compliments ranges anywhere from none at all to maybe one or two. In the August 2015 release, a whopping three airline compliments were received, and I couldn’t help but wonder what they said. I simply had to know more.

ZS-VIP, a 1984-vintage Gulfstream III- Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

ZS-VIP, a 1984-vintage Gulfstream III – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Why does Rolls Royce name their jet engines after rivers? Because a river always runs. The Rolls Royce Spey engine is what made the Gulfstream II special, and it carried on to the much more popular variant: the Gulfstream III.

The Gulfstream III, in North America, has been ruined by noise regulations. It can still fly, but it is not loud — and I love loud. The Speys are hushed and neutered with heavy and awkward looking hushkits. So, if one wants to have the real (loud) Gulfstream III experience in 2015, you are going to have to go a long way.

To have this experience, I found myself in Lanseria, South Africa. Home of Medair, as well as being a more efficient way for citizens living in Pretoria and the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg to depart than making the long drive to O.R. Tambo International. Lanseria is not just a domestic airport, it has a full customs and immigration set up. A good thing, as I was going to take the Gulfstream up to Maun, Botswana — the heart of the Okavango Delta. Why there? Because October is the major elephant migration and it was time for me to fly VIP, 1984-style!

The first Boeing 727 rolls out - Photo: The Boeing Company

The first Boeing 727 rolls out – Photo: The Boeing Company

Introduction by David: We have been excitedly following the progress of preparing the first Boeing 727 for its final flight. We took a look at it being painted, got an update with the JT8D engines, and even did a tour of the cabin. I have been very impressed with how many other people are also excited about the aircraft. More people have emailed me directly to share their own personal stories of the 727, which I have loved.

Captain Powell doing a few circuits & bumps in the Tigermoth on a visit to Duxford - Photo: Tim Powell

Captain Powell doing a few circuits & bumps in the Tigermoth on a visit to Duxford – Photo: Tim Powell

One person that reached out was Captain Tim Powell. Not only does he currently fly the 727 (you read that right), but he also is set to be one of the pilots who will fly the final flight of the 727. I welcomed him to share some of his thoughts about his experience and being an AvGeek in the left seat…

Our ride: Q400 Dash 8 (c) Alastair Long

Our ride: Q400 Dash 8 – Photo: Alastair Long

My 10-year-old son and I recently treated ourselves to an alternative from the usual routes over to Paris and Continental Europe. We’d done enough easyJet or British Airways hops on A319s and A320s, out of the various London airports, to merit trying something new. We therefore headed to the south coast to check out Flybe’s Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 that the airline deploys from Bournemouth (BOH) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG). This was a day of firsts for us: the aircraft type, the airline, and the airport – kind of a “perfect storm” for an AvGeek.

Getting into mood: croissant at BOH - Photo: Alastair Long

Getting into mood: croissant at BOH – Photo: Alastair Long

Part of the Manchester Airport Group of airports and with annual passenger volumes of approximately 662,000, BOH is a delightfully quiet place to jet (or, prop) off from for a few days. “Easy (Like Sunday Morning)” as the Commodores’ song goes, I don’t think I’ve ever been the only one in the security queue before or even the only one in duty free shop, much less the only one buying breakfast at BOH’s Olive Tree restaurant. Admittedly, we’d gotten to the airport that Sunday morning earlier than usual, but even when other passengers began to arrive the airport never lost its charm. It’s one of the few airports through which I’ve traveled without succumbing to any bouts of “airport brain.” So far, so good.