Saying goodbye to any 747 is hard, but one that is unique, is harder.
Thanks to COVID, the majority of airlines have grounded their four-engine widebody planes. Most A380s, A340s, and 747-8s will see the skies again. But a return to flight isn’t as certain for many 747-400s, which were already long in the tooth.
The same KLM Boeing 747-200 now with a Stretched Upper Deck. Taken in August 2003.
The Dutch airline KLM was already working towards a 2021 retirement for its 747-400s, but thanks to COVID the fleet was retired a few weeks ago. And the AvGeek nostalgists that we are, we felt it was a departure worth commemorating. Especially because KLM operated the oddball passenger/freighter hybrid called the Combi, which included a cargo bay in the rear part of the main deck.
Read on for a quick farewell to the KLM Combi and the rest of its proud 747 fleet.
Update 4/18: It looks like KLM has brought back a small number of 747 Combi flights connecting Amsterdam and a few Asian industrial centers. Not sure how long that will last, but we’re happy the Combi has one final job to do with KLM.
The first Copper River salmon of the season arrives to Seattle on N764AS
As I headed to the eighth annual Alaska Airlines Copper River Cook Off I was excited, but a little nervous about my story angle. For six years I shared a pretty similar story about the first Copper River salmon of the season being flown down from Alaska. How the huge (and delicious) fish is walked off the plane, cut up, cooked by a few fancy restaurants, and one dish is chosen as the winner. Do not get me wrong, I have loved every year participating, but I didn’t want to be that guy, telling the same story over and over again.
- Kiss the fish!
- Unloading delicious cargo
Last year I was pretty darn lucky to get a chance to fly up to Cordova, Alaska, watch all the boats go out to get the fish, and follow the fish back to Seattle and into my belly. Even with all my airline adventures, I have to say flying with the fishies has been one of my favorites (flying with fishies good, sleeping with fishies bad).
Last Friday, I was still very sleepy when I got to the Alaska Air Cargo parking lot at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport waiting for this year’s plane to land. I started chatting with Halley Knigge, Alaska Airlines Media + Content Editor, and she mentioned that Alaska was retiring their first 737-400 Combi (half cargo, half passengers, all 737) out of their fleet the following week (aka this week). Oh thank you once again AvGeek Writing Gods… I had my angle.