A “Life List” of Planes

Page spread from “World Airline Fleets, 1980.”   Author’s photo.


UPDATE: November 13, 2019

AIRLINER ENTHUSIASTS are like birdwatchers in a lot of ways. We dress funny and we tend to own expensive binoculars. And, we’re into lists.

As I kid I was a planespotter. I’d spend entire weekends holed up in the 16th-floor observation deck at Logan Airport, logging the registration numbers of arriving and departing jets. There were books you could buy — annual global fleet directories with the registrations and specs of every commercial plane in the world, arranged alphabetically by country and airline. There were little boxes where you could check off each plane once it was “spotted,” or, you could just line through the listing with a highlighter. World Airline Fleets, I remember, was one of these books. It came from the U.K. and was edited by a fellow named Gunter Endres (who, the Interweb tells us, is still writing aviation books). An even bigger volume, published in Switzerland, was called J.P. Airline Fleets. The idea was to mark off as many planes as you could.

Up there on the 16th floor, things could get competitive. I’ll never forget the jealousy I felt toward a legendary Boston spotter named Barry Sobel, because he’d seen and recorded a Pakistan International 707 freighter that landed unexpectedly one weekday while I was in school.

At one point, way back when, I could have told you the model and airline of every commercial plane I’d ever seen. Birders have tallies like this, too. They call them “life lists.” Braniff DC-8, El Al 707, Aeroflot IL-62… check, check, check. There were hundreds. Somewhere along the way I stopped keeping track, and all these years later I couldn’t begin to reconstruct such a catalog.

What I can do, however, easily and accurately, is present a slightly different life list: a record of each airplane type, and each airline, that I have flown aboard. It appears below. I’ve also included which classes I’ve sat in, using the traditional industry codes:

F = First
C = Business
Y = Economy

The accompanying photograph is from April, 1974. That’s my sister and me walking up the stairs to an American Airlines Boeing 727, on our way to Washington, D.C. This was the first airplane, large or small, that I ever set foot in. I’m fortunate to have the moment preserved like this.

Even then, at eight years-old, I knew it was a 727.


American   F,Y
Northwest   F,Y
Eastern   Y
Delta   F,Y
Pan Am   Y
USAir/US Airways  Y
Trump Shuttle   Y
Fawcett (Peru) Y
Aeroamericana (Peru)  Y
DHL (cargo)






Piedmont  Y
USAir   Y
United  Y
Delta  Y
Aloha Y
Rutaca (Venezuela)  Y
Cayman Airways Y
Sky Airline (Chile)  Y
PLUNA (Uruguay) Y


BOEING 737 (Next Generation)

American Y
United  Y
Delta   F,Y
Southwest   Y
Malaysia Airlines  Y
South African Airways  Y
Jet Airways (India) C
Turkish Airlines  Y


BOEING 747 (All series)

Pan Am Y
Northwest F,C,Y
El Al  Y
United  C
British Airways  C,Y
Air France  Y
Qantas  Y
Singapore Airlines  Y
Thai  C
Delta  C,Y
Korean Air  F,C,Y
Royal Air Maroc Y
South African Airways  Y


Rara Avis. Fawcett (AeroSanta) 727 at Cuzco, 1994.   Author’s photo.


Northwest  Y
American  F,Y
United  F,Y
Delta  F,C,Y
British Airways  Y
Icelandair  Y



United F,C,Y
Delta  F,C,Y
All Nippon  Y
Kenya Airways  C



United  Y
American C
Delta  C,Y
Emirates  F,C,Y
Malaysia Airlines  Y
Thai  C,Y
Eva Air  Y
Korean Air Y
Royal Brunei  Y
Cathay Pacific  C
Qatar Airways C
Singapore Airlines  C
Jet Airways (India) F
China Eastern C



Japan Airlines  Y
Qatar Airways C



Air Canada  Y
DHL (cargo)



Northwest Y
USAir  Y
Delta  F,Y
Air Canada  Y
Finnair  Y
Aeropostal (Venezuela)  Y
ValuJet  Y


McDONNELL DOUGLAS MD-80 Series (DC-9 Super 80, MD-88/83/88, etc.)

Delta  F,Y
American F,Y
New York Air  Y
Continental  F
Austral (Argentina)  Y


McDONNELL DOUGLAS MD-90 Series (MD-90, Boeing 717)

Delta  F,Y
Bangkok Airways  Y
Uni Air (Eva Air)  Y



American   F,Y
Northwest   F,C,Y
Aeromexico   Y
Finnair  Y
British Airways   C
Continental   Y



Delta  C,Y



Eastern F,Y
Pan Am  Y
Delta  Y



USAir  Y


China Airlines A350.   Author’s photo.


Eastern  Y
American  Y
Thai  Y
DHL (cargo)



Lufthansa  Y


AIRBUS A320 Series (A319, A320, A321)

United F,Y
Delta  F,Y
America West F
US Airways Y
British Airways  Y
Air France  Y
Lufthansa Y
Royal Brunei Y
Air Malta   C
SAETA (Ecuador) Y
LanPeru  Y
AirAsia  Y
JetBlue  Y, C
China Eastern F
Drukair (Royal Bhutan Airlines) C
Avianca C
Qatar Airways C
South African Airways Y



Air France  Y
Sabena  Y
Delta  C,Y
Cathay Pacific  C,Y
Thai  Y
Asiana  C
Singapore Airlines  C
Turkish Airlines C
China Airlines  C
Philippine Airlines C
Qatar Airways C
South African Airways C



Air France  C,Y
EgyptAir  Y
SriLankan  Y
Cathay Pacific Y
China Airlines Y
Qatar Airways C



Qatar Airways  C
China Airlines   C
Cathay Pacific C
Delta C
Thai Airways C
Qatar Airways C



Emirates  F,C
Qatar Airways   C
Asiana  C



JetBlue   Y
American   Y
US Airways   Y
Aerorepublica (Colombia)   Y



Aeroflot  Y



Aeroflot Y

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve left out regional jets and turboprops. Partly because they’re boring, and partly because, for that same reason, I can’t remember them all. Highlights would include a Pan Am Express Dash-7, an Air New England FH-227, an Aeroperlas (Panama) Shorts 360, and a cargo-carrying Twin Otter in which I sat on the floor during a hop from St. Croix to San Juan.

The winners, if we can call them that, are the 737 and A320, predictably enough. That’s not very exciting, which makes it pleasing to see the 747 coming in third place. Somehow I’ve managed to fly aboard 747s from 13 different carriers.

Northwest Airlines, some of you might recall, was the launch customer for the 747-400, back in 1989. That spring, they had been using the jet on domestic “proving runs” mainly between Minneapolis and Phoenix. Finally on June 1st, they inaugurated international service. The first departure was flight NW 47, from JFK to Narita. My friend Ben and I were passengers on that flight. It was the day after my 23rd birthday. I still have one of the commemorative sake cups that they handed out.


Of all the planes that ought to be on the list, but aren’t, the most painful example is the Concorde. Years ago, when I was a regional airline pilot, British Airways used to offer a special “interline” Concorde fare to London, available only to industry employees. It cost $400, and it was what we call “positive-space” — as opposed to standby. A remarkable bargain, looking back on it. But when you’re a young pilot making twenty grand a year, $400 is a lot of money, and so I kept putting it off, putting it off. I’ll do it later, I promised myself. Next year.

And then it was gone.


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69 Responses to “A “Life List” of Planes”
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  1. Rafael Augusto Reca Saumell says:

    Dear Captain Smith,

    Most probably, arriving late to the party, but nevertheless, there’s a smarter way to keep track of all my flights…

    These are my Cabin Crew flights so far:


    And my leisure travel… https://my.flightradar24.com/ClipperVoyager

    including some little Pearls.. More remarkable:

    Boeing 737-990 N302AS – being one of the Prototypes involved in Flight Certification.

    Tower Air – flying in the nose of the 747 – just below the flight deck.

    United 747SP – I was amazed at how short it looked like, didn’t know of the SP existence, and later on, I realized it must have been a SP. (I was just 12 years old at the time)

    Alaska 734 Combi / KLM 744 Combi – both before retirement.

    Austral MD-81 LV-WFN – the MD-81 with most flight hours in the world, still wearing its original cabin.

    Warm regards from Buenos Aires!

  2. Don says:

    My shortest jetliner flight was on a United Express BA 146 from Denver to Colorado Springs the week JFK Jr. went missing. 11 minutes from liftoff to touchdown.

  3. kevin thomas says:

    Flying is great and planes are super cool, but I can never match more than a small fraction of your enthusiasm, and none of your record-keeping. So the list I can’t enumerate contains most of the common domestic-service planes from 1980 to today, including some wide-bodies. I wish I knew if any were 747s.

    The list that matters and is unforgettable has no airliners. Just two planes: my friend’s Cessna Skylane and a B-17. I do hope to add to this list.

  4. Ann Baker says:

    Old timer here, loving this blog! I flew in TWA Connies when traveling in the USA (they had employee reciprocity with PAA) and 707s overseas – as that’s the plane my dad piloted. Later on, of course, 747s – even getting the upper deck all to myself on one enchanting flight. Then came the usual lineup we’re all pretty familiar with today. I do clearly remember my first time in an MD-11. I knew the sounds of a Boeing inside and out. So it was alarming to hear the high pitched whine of the MD-11s. I side-eyed the crew but they were unconcerned. The MD-11 also had an unsettling sensation upon reaching altitude. It would go eerily quiet, and seem to power down so much that you felt momentarily suspended, at a standstill. I don’t have the knowledge to know why – oxygen intake perhaps? But a flight attendant buddy said “Yeah, they do that”.

    Our house sat under the flight path for JFK and I’d sit on the driveway spotting planes. Sometimes my dad would fly over and see me out there. One time he said he tipped his wings, but I didn’t notice haha. Those observation decks were the best. Do any still exist? I guess if they did the general public wouldn’t have access anymore anyway.

    I could go on and on. Lots of memories of the early, glorious days. Love reading everyone else’s too!

  5. Richard Wilson says:

    How about an A318? I flew on a Mexicana A318 Mexico City to Veracruz in 2006. I was sitting at the back and entered via the rear door from the tarmac. I still remember being struck by how short the A318 is.

    • Kenny Davies says:

      I have always wanted to fly the A318. I remember boarding from the back on a WIZZ air flight from EIN-BEG. Hopefully there will be more US airports/airlines Boarding from the back.

  6. PeterS says:

    You’ve got me on the Tupolevs (not sure I would be brave enough), but I flew on a Frontier Convair 580 from RKS to DEN in the late 70s, early 80s
    A very pleasant experience. And Cape Air’s puddlejumpers to the Vineyard from Boston occasionally.

    When I was younger (in 1962) I flew across the Pacific from California to Sydney via Hawaii and Fiji. And back in 1965. Some of it was QANTAS, and I still have the logo’d QANTAS bags I forced my parents to buy; they are true quality vinyl and have not dried out, in spite of all the mistreatment they’ve received over 50 years.

  7. Capt. Smith,
    I could not locate whether you’d ever had the opportunity to fly on a Caravelle? United, my employer(SANMM)had them long ago. My favorite tale is of flying from Nouasseur ( Casablanca) via Sabena. The two of us were standby, and the route began to the south somewhere; we noticed we were alone and expected to have to go look for a taxi back to town. Miraculously, they landed, but the air-stair down and the flight attendant waved at us frantically to run. We had just got in the cabin when they began to roll and as we fastened our belts they soared. To this day, I don’t know why they bothered, but I will always have a soft spot for Belgium!

    • Patrick says:

      I was fortunate enough to have SEEN a handful of Caravelles (two or three), but I never had the chance to fly on one.

      The same for one or two Convair jets (both the 880 and 990), as well as a Trident, BAC One-Eleven and the VC-10.

      I never saw a Comet.

  8. mitch says:

    Back in my Boeing days, overseas travel was in Business Class. During April 1998, British Airways had a promo “tell us how we can improve our BC and we will give you a space available upgrade to first or CONCORDE.
    Afew months later, I had a trip to a Dutch galley supplier. Instead of SEA-AMS direct my manager and our travel office authorized SEA-JFK (visit my son in NY) then JFK-LHR on Concorde plus LHR-AMS on a BA 757.

    Here are my Concorde flight notes:

    G-BOAG, JFK-LHR, June 22nd 1998
    0830 in NY; 1330 in London:
    Preflight announcement: “usual blissfully smooth crossing, cruising altitude 58,000 ft at Mach 2 which is 1450 mph”

    Time Mach Altitude Notes
    1345 UK 0 0 Engine start. 0845 in NY
    Seat 16A. Small windows, DC-6 size cabin, small , no video (but who cares) verbal briefing. Takeoff will be 244 mph VR, runway 31L; 64 sec after will be thrust reduction for noise abatement. 10-12 min after takeoff will use reheat (afterburner)for transonic acceleration past M1
    14:08 0 0 Brake release;
    15 sec to VR. Very quick smooth accel; L turn after takeoff for noise abatement; saw leading edge vortices in the clouds. Noisy; muted thunder
    14:10 0.46 5,000 Out of clouds; climbing
    14:12 0.54 6,500 420 mph ground speed;
    14:13 0.68 9,000
    14:15 0.70 10,000
    14:30 0.76 13,500
    14:20 1.00 26,000 SUPERSONIC. Serving champagne and caviar
    14:22 1.02 30,000
    14:30 1.64 42,500 Reheat off
    14:35 1.86 46,000
    14:39 1.90 47,500

  9. Jonathan says:

    You missed out another great Filton aircraft… the Bristol Britannia. And no VC-10? Or Trident? Or BAC 111? Or Comet? You missed a lot!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I wonder what was your experience flying on the soviet-designed Tupolev jets. (Un)fortunately, most of them have been retired, so I’ve missed the chance to get that experience myself.

  11. DCH says:

    Shorter list as I’d guess I’m one of the younger people on here, but here goes.

    A319-100: American
    A320-200: American, JetBlue, US Airways
    A321-200: American, US Airways
    A330-200: Air France (later this year)
    A350-900: Qatar

    B737-700: United
    B737-800: American, Delta, United
    B737-900ER: United
    B747-400: British Airways, Lufthansa
    B757-200: American
    B757-300: United
    B767-300ER: American (Delta later this year)
    B777-200: British Airways
    B777-200ER: British Airways, Emirates
    B777-200LR: Emirates
    B777-300: Emirates
    B777-300ER: Emirates, Qatar
    B787-8: United

    CRJ-200: American Eagle
    CRJ-900: American Eagle

    E175: American Eagle
    E190: JetBlue, US Airways

    MD-90: Delta

    In 2014 I flew DXB-BLR on the Emirates B777-300 airframe (A6-EMW) that crashed in Dubai in 2016.

    With regards to what I’ve spotted (with varying degrees of potato quality) I have a longer list. About 60 airframes since 2014 when I started.

  12. Thomas says:

    In the 1950s my mother (who is German) lived in Canada for a few years. She got there via Schiphol on a KLM prop-liner. In 1960, when she decided she didn’t want to stay in Canada, and needed a flight home, they had jets on the North Atlantic. But you had to fly to New York on a prop-plane first. Only BOAC had a jet directly out of Montreal, to London. My mother doesn’t remember what kind of a plane it was. However she insists that there were only four seats abreast (in economy). It must have been a Comet.
    The first time I can remember being on a plane, was transatlantic on a TWA 707. A stewardess gave my brother and me metal ‘pilot’ pins. Wish I still had mine.

  13. Richard, Michigan says:

    Wow. It’s hard to believe I’m the only poster so far who’s flown on the VC-10. It was December, 1971, a BOAC redeye from Philadelphia to London. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more had it not been a completely full flight and had I not been in a middle seat in one of the last few rows and had there not been two intermittently screaming babies within easy earshot.

    On the same trip, I flew a student charter Comet from London to Paris (worrying the entire way about metal fatigue) and another small charter jet, possibly a Caravelle, on the reverse trip. The best flight was the return trip in January from London to the US, when I had an entire row of a 747 to myself.

    • Patrick says:

      I can’t imagine having flown on a Comet, a Caravelle, and a VC-10 all in the same trip. All you’re missing is a Trident.

      I’m old enough to have at least seen one VC-10 (British Airways in 1979) and a handful of Caravelles. Never a Comet though.

  14. Planely Obsessed says:

    I’ve never managed to fly in anything of particular interest, although I got to ride Air Rarotonga’s flagship aircraft in my bathers. I’d been snorkelling in Aitutaki Atoll in the Cook Islands. Accomodation is limited at best there, so my family and I’d flown down from Rarotonga in an enormous Saab 340A. Our boat had come back from the lagoon a little late, so we were cutting it fine getting back to the airport. Nobody had time to change back into dry clothes, so we spent the ride home on our towels in wet bathers. The airline staff seemed to be ok with it though.

  15. Randy Lumpp says:

    I just found your site. Lots of fun!
    Your plane watcher-birder analogy is right on. I started airplane watching planes, especially airliners and bombers in the early 1950s. My dad took me with him on a business trip from ABQ to DEN on a Continental Air Lines Convair 340. I was hooked. We lived near the approach to the North-South runway at ABQ-Kirtland AFB (a SAC base then). Continental, Pioneer, Frontier DC-3s, Continental Convair 340s, Pioneer and TWA Martin 404s, TWA Connies and Super Connies. USAF B-36s were a special thrill. They shook the daylights out of everything as they lumbered toward the ground. I spent my Sundays at the airport from dawn to dusk. I knew all the pilots and counter and ground crews.Had the airline schedules memorized so I could recite airline and flight numbers when they flew past my back yard. I still have a Convair 340 picture on my desk. It was a great time!

  16. Bruce says:

    Thanks for this article. The planespotter in me very much enjoyed it.

    It’s also given me a very pleasant hour thinking about past trips and trying to remember what I’ve been on. I don’t think I’ve got everything here, but I should at least have most of it. It really was fun remembering.

    So, sorry I’m a bit late to the party, but here’s my list.

    I seem to have to split it into two, because it won’t take the whole thing.

    PART 1

    Boeing 737
    Air China
    Virgin Australia
    Xiamen Airlines
    Air Europe
    Dan-Air (UK)
    China United

    Boeing 747
    Cathay Pacific
    Singapore Airlines
    China Airlines
    Orient Thai
    Korean Air (Y,C)
    British Airways
    Malaysia Airlines

    Boeing 757
    Air Europe / Air Europa
    Shanghai Airlines

    Boeing 767
    Shanghai Airlines
    China Eastern

    Boeing 777
    All Nippon Airways
    Cathay Pacific (Y,C)
    Korean Air
    Malaysia Airlines
    Singapore Airlines

    Boeing 787
    Jetstar Australia
    LAN Chile
    Xiamen Airlines

    Airbus A310
    Silk Air

    Airbus A319/320/321
    Jetstar Australia
    Tiger Australia
    China Southern
    China Eastern
    Juneyao Airlines
    Philippine Airlines
    Shenzhen Airlines

    Airbus A330
    Philippine Airlines
    Cathay Pacific
    China Southern
    China Eastern
    Singapore Airlines
    Air Asia X / Air Asia X Indonesia (Y,C)
    Qatar Airways
    Korean Air

    Airbus A340
    Virgin Atlantic
    Philippine Airlines

    • Bruce says:

      PART 2

      Airbus A380
      Qatar Airways
      China Southern
      Singapore Airlines

      McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 / MD-11

      EVA Air (Taiwan)
      British Caledonian

      McDonnell-Douglas MD-80 / MD-90
      Bangkok Airways
      Iran Air

      British Aerospace 146
      Makung Airlines / UNI Air (Taiwan)
      Qeshm Air (Iran)

      British Aerospace One Eleven
      British Midland Airways

      De Havilland Comet

      Hawker-Siddeley Trident
      British European Airways

      Bangkok Airways

      Dash 8 / Q400

      SAAB 340

  17. Laurie Cummins says:

    I used to fly Mohawk Airways, 727 I think, from Boston to Augusta Maine. Circa 1969

  18. John DuBois says:

    My list is much shorter then yours (I’m jealous) but I do have one very cool entry that you don’t. I was young, about 12 years old. I was crazy about planes. I had saved my paper route money. This was my first commercial flight. And the flight, from ORD to Baltimore was on a TWA Convair 880. I only wish I remembered it better.

  19. Ricardo Pentex says:

    I guess you never few in that wacky contraption, the Beechcraft SNB-25!

  20. Martha Aarons says:

    I grew up hearing my father talk about flying the Pan Am Clipper before and during WWII when he was working for the US Treasury on foreign funds control, which involved freezing enemy assets in Asia. He island-hopped from Honolulu to Wake, Guam, and Midway on his way to Manila and Shanghai.

  21. Ad absurdum per aspera says:

    Great list of planes you’ve flown in, and a reminder that, despite quite a bit of business travel during their heyday, I’ve never stepped foot in a DC-10 or MD-11. (Not sure where I could even get this experience now; I still hear them grinding their way through climbout both morning and evening, but those examples are all in cargo service these days.)

    Now for a future installment, with apologies if you’ve written this up already: what’s in your logbook as a student and then working pilot? And which of those did you like best and why?

  22. Chris says:


    I enjoy your blog and since I am much older, I go back to Mohawk Airlines in 1965 plus. They had a fly anywhere on weekends for very little so a friend and I did it more than once and worked on schemes to see how many places we could land and take off from in two days. One of them left and returned to Albany landing in DC, Pittsburgh, Ithaca and Binghamton. Another was a wider range including Mexico City, St. Lucia and Atlanta. Ah yes, to young and in college!

    Keep up the blog – in enjoy it!

  23. roberto blanc says:

    I have in a MS Works database the lsit of every flight I’ve taken since 1952 to present time. (almost 500) with planes such as the Stratocruiser, Constellation, Viscount, Trident, Tupolev 124, Ilyuschin 18, every DC except 2 and 7, Handley Page Herald, HS 748, BAC 111, Caravelle, Concorde, all Airbus models, all Boeing jets and a few more I now can’t remember. Every time I look at the list it brings back old memories. Unfortunately, I never flew on a Comet.

  24. Rod says:

    Geekery tends to be a Guy Thing, as for that matter — and not coincidentally seems to me — does autism. (I say this as a full-fledged geek myself.)
    Culture must also have something to do with it. Britain I’ve always found admirably tolerant of eccentrics. I’ll never forget the day I landed in Liverpool in driving rain, and there they were, at the airport fence, with their notebooks out.

  25. Ben says:

    My list is so tiny compared to yours, but I did fly on an airline that wasn’t on yours.

    Alaska on its MD80s, 737 Classics, and 737 NGs at least once in first and economy.

    I have flown on Alaska so often that I can say that the 737 NGs are noisier then the 737 classics when the engines are throttled to the max at takeoff. The 737 classics had a hushed grind to them while the 737 NGs sound like a grinding buzzsaw at take off. I also have encountered that grinding buzzsaw at takeoff on the few times I flew 737 NGs on airlines outside of Alaska including Southwest, Delta, American, and United. All four of those 737s though were more Spartan compared to Alaska’s and especially Southwest. Here’s to hope Alaska, American, Southwest, and United’s 737 MAXs on order are quieter then their NGs.

  26. Lucy Sowell says:

    My first flight was on a Delta Airlines DC-7 from CVG to MIA. I was 2 years old. Back in those days you got a trip up front to the cockpit in flight! I loved then and I still do.

  27. cornbear says:

    Are you too young to have flown on a DC-3? That was my first flight, North Central DC-3 in 1962.

    • cornbear says:

      Most memorable: Once again, a DC-3, 1970. Boston to Provincetown on Boston-Provincetown Airlines. (In winter they called themselves Miami-Naples Airlines). Guy sold me a ticket at a roll-away ticket booth, took my checked bag, herded us out to the plane, stood by the stairs to make sure we didn’t fall, loaded the luggage into the back of the plane, boarded, pulled the door/stairway closed, walked up to the cockpit and piloted the plane to P-town.

      • Patrick says:

        PBA kept those DC-3s in service into the 1980s. I remember them flying over my house on the departures out of Logan. Those old radial engines were LOUD. My parents, I remember, took a ride on one at one point, but I never did, regretfully.

        • Arthur Zerbey says:

          I remember taking those PBA DC-3s from Logan to P-town. You climbed uphill from the back of the plane to your seat, and I remember watching the cowling fasteneres bounce up and down in flight with little streaks of oil trailing behind them. We would fly along the shore instead of out over the Bay, I suppose because there were no life vests on board. Kapok shortage I guess! I still have some PBA promotional materials tucked away somewhere, and I have a really nice print over my desk of one of their planes. I got it at the Martha’s Vienyard FBO about ten years ago and really treasure it.

  28. Sherman says:

    What a wave of nostalgia. I was 5 when we flew on a TWA Super-G Constellation from New York to London in 1958. I remember DC3s and Fokker Friendships from my childhood in East Africa. And DC6B, DC7, and Caravelles from return trips to the US in the early to mid-60s. Of course, the 707s, 720Bs, DC8s, and that first generation of passenger jets.

    I’ll never forget returning from England on a Freddy Laker L1011 on a Friday afternoon in August 1980. I had broken my foot and spent the month in England on crutches. They had stowed my crutches in the below-decks galley, and at some point crossing the Atlantic, the elevator had guillotined one of them in two. At Kennedy the crew presented me with one whole crutch and one splintered crutch, with a we’re-really-sorry look. They sent a woman with a clipboard from the terminal, who offered to write me a check. I looked at her, and said slowly and firmly, “Look. You have deprived me of the ability to ambulate. Fix that, and we’re good. So they called the Nassau County Medical Center and they sent one crutch in an ambulance, whereupon I was whisked through customs and immigration, and on my plane home to Pittsburgh.

  29. Art Knight says:

    I kept waiting to read “Concorde.” Damn, Patrick had a lot of hair in the 70’s. Ha! We all did. My Dad nick-named me “Fuzzball.”

  30. Alex says:

    Oh man, let’s see if I can even remember them all…


    AA/US: Y
    BA: Y
    DL: Y
    UA – F, Y

    AA/US: F, Y
    BA: Y
    B6: Y
    DL: Y
    LX: Y
    SK: Y
    SN: Y
    UA: F, Y

    AA/US: F, Y

    SK: C


    UA – Y

    UA – F, Y

    CO – Y
    SN – Y
    UA – F, Y
    WN – Y

    US – Y

    CO – Y
    UA – F, Y

    CO/UA – F, Y
    KL – Y
    WN – Y

    CO/UA – F, Y
    KL – Y

    CO/UA – F, Y

    UA – Y

    CO – F, Y
    NW – Y
    UA – F, Y
    US – Y

    CO – F

    CO – C, Y

    UA – F, C

    CO – C

    CO – C, Y
    UA – C

    McDonnell Douglas

    CO: Y
    YX: C

    UA: Y

    AA: Y
    CO: Y


    US: Y

    UA: F
    US: Y


    CO: Y
    UA: Y

    AA/US: Y
    BA: Y

    KL: Y
    AA/US: Y

    DeHavilland DHC8:

    US – Y

    CO – Y

    Would’ve been able to add a LX A333 ride in C to this list but thanks to a schedule change I got switched over to a (legacy) UA 772 in C instead. Definitely not an equitable trade.

  31. Avron Boretz says:

    Great list. This is not my complete list (I’m busy and no one else would care), but here are a few of the more unusual items:

    Saturn (or was it Jupiter? Charter out of JFK late ’60s early ’70s)

    Laker Airways
    (lots of others including TWA)

    Hawker Siddeley Trident

    Pan Am


    Cathay Pacific

    Classic 737
    Far Eastern Transport (FAT) (so classic they were using duct tape to hold things together)
    CAAC (watched oil leaking out of the starboard engine the entire way on a flight from Guangzhou to Beijing in 1984)

    Saab 340
    Formosa Airlines

    Atonov 24

  32. Stephen Stapleton says:

    None of my regular commercial flights were particularly interesting. I used to love flying Tower Air (which, to the best of my knowledge, has nothing to do with our current President) as they only used 747s and one could upgrade to the upstairs cabin for only $50 extra at the gate if seats were available. I’d get to the airport four hours early to do that. I could fly SF to NY for only $99 and the extra $50. Loved it.

    I have flown in a DC-3 once. My brother is an internationally known sky diver. You can see him hit the dirt at 30-40 mph when his parachutes failed here:


    His team regularly practiced using a DC-3 for a time. I was, frankly, shocked it was still in service, but some are still in use by small operates for regular flights I understand. My brother wanted me to see how fun sky diving was. I road up and back, never leaving the plane until it was safely on the ground. All the ride did was to convince me I never wanted to sky dive, my brother’s sanity was highly questionable, and to carry a significant amount of insurance on him.

    The plane was loud and looked like what the Millennium Falcon would look like if were a plane instead of a starship. You could see bare bolts, seams in the hull, and cables. It creaked and flexed (yes, I know that is a good thing, up to a limit, but it is still very spooky). It may have been a technical wonder in its day, but it felt like Archie’s 1920s jalopy to me.

  33. Dave Nixon says:

    Well I thought I was the only person who kept a “flight Log” in the bottom drawer of my desk. First flight logged was a Piper Tri-pacer when I was 14 years old. Last flight was an Airbus A380 From San Francisco to London two weeks ago as part of a 60th Birthday celebration. Only airliner I can find that Patrick has not flown on was a British Airways Trident in 1980 !

  34. Mitch says:

    [Just aircraft, not airlines. Circa 1949 to date]

    – First airline flight Colonial Airlines DC-3 circa 1949
    – Most memorable TLV-IDL four stops TWA 749 Constellation, July 1954
    – First jet flight SAS DC-8, IDL-CPH 1961
    – Best-ever BA Concorde JFK-LHR, 22 June 1998
    – Latest type Delta 767-400, July 2015
    Airbus A319, A320, A321; A330-200, A330-300, A340
    Antonov AN-24 [1993]
    Boeing B-307 Stratoliner [1950], B-377 Stratocruiser [1959]
    707-100, 300, -458; 720, 727-100, -200; 737-200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900
    747SP, -100, -200, -300, -400
    757 = 757-200; -300
    767-200, -300, -400
    777-200ER, -300
    BAC-Aerospatiale Concorde! JFK-LHR 22 June 1998
    Bristol Britannia [1959]
    Convair CV-240, -340, -440, CV-880
    Dehavilland Comet 4B [1961]
    DeHavilland Canada DHC-7, DHC-8
    Douglas DC-3, DC-4, DC-6, DC-7, -7B;
    DC-8, DC-8-63, DC-8-71; DC-9-50; DC-10-10, DC-10-30, DC-10-40
    Ilyushin IL-14, IL-18 [both 1961]
    Lockheed Constellation: L-049, L-749, Super Constellation L-1049, Starliner L-1649; Electra L-188; Tristar L-1011-1, -50, -200, L-1011-500
    McDonnell-Douglas MD-80, MD-88, MD-95 (Boeing 717) MD-11
    Sud Caravelle [1961]
    Vickers Viscount
    Tupolev TU-104 [1961] TU-154

  35. AD says:

    Why do you do it to us (i.e. on the OCD/Aspie spectrum…)!!!??? Of course, I got restless, and had to go to my records and checked how I compare. And I am quite pleased: 43 types, including few you do not seem to have (Trident, some Soviet planes). First flight as a kid in 1971, and kept a detailed record ever since.

    All but three Economy.

    No B-787 or A-350 (yet, I hope). And no MD-11 (or Concorde…, sigh). Of the “mainstream” Soviet planes, no Il-62. Don’t count gliders or helicopters.

    The weirdest plane ever on which I set foot must be Shorts-330.

    A-300 AA,LH
    A-310 KL,LH
    A-330 CA,LH,LX,SR
    A-340 IB,LA,LH,VS
    A-380 BA
    ATR-42 AA,TW
    ATR-72 AA,EN,LO
    An-24 LO,SU
    B-707 WT
    B-717 HA
    B-727 AA,AL,DL,UA,WT
    B-747 BA,LH,UA
    B-767 AA,LA,LO,UA
    B-777 AC,JJ,NH,UA
    CR9 LH,SK
    DC-10 AA,HA,NW,WT
    DC-9 HA,NW,US
    Dash-8 AC,BE
    E-145 AA,LO,US
    E-170 AF,LO,UA
    E-190 EN,LH,LO
    F-100 AA,JI,OS,SR,US
    F-28 WT
    F-50 LH
    Il-14 LO
    Il-18 LO
    Il-86 SU
    J-32 JI
    L-1011 DL
    MD-80 AA,AL,AZ,DL,US
    R100 LX,SR
    R85 LH,LX,SR
    Saab-340 AA,DL
    Shorts-330 AA
    Shorts-360 AA
    Trident BA
    Tu-134 LO,SU
    Tu-154 LO,MA,SU
    TwinOtter GC

  36. Bobby Smiley says:

    I only I wish I could have flown on a Convair 880, VC-10, Comet IV, or a Caravelle! (My first flight was in 1978.) All the same, herewith my “life list,” which I’ve been keeping since I was eight (retrospective & eight years after my inaugural trip!) All travel Y unless otherwise noted, and RJs & regional props excluded.

    707: Egyptair
    727: NW, AA, Braniff 1 & 2, Aviogenex, Pan Am, TWA, Olympic, DL, CO
    737 Classic: Saudia, Southwest, CO, LH (my namesake!), Western Pacific
    737NG: UA [F], AA, DL [F], CO, Air Miami Int., Alaska
    747: Pan Am [C], Olympic, Cathay Pacific, NW, Saudia [F], Swissair, Braniff 1, KLM, TWA
    757: AA [F], DL [F], UA
    767: AA, DL
    777: UA, DL
    787: AA [C]
    A300: Olympic, Thai [C], LH
    A310: Swissair [C], Pan Am [F,C]
    A320 Series: UA, DL [F], AA [F], US Airways [F], JetBlue, Virgin America, LH, Air France, Avianca
    A340: LH
    C-5: USAF
    DC-9: NW, CO, Midwest Express
    DC-10: AA, KLM, Thai [F], NW
    E190: AA, US Airways
    Fokker 100: Swissair
    L1011: Saudia, BA, DL, TWA, Cathay Pacific
    MD-11: Swissair
    MD-80 Series: AA [F], Alitalia, DL [F]
    MD-90 Series: DL [F]

  37. Randy S. says:

    Can’t come close to your list but I can claim Douglas DC-3, and the Concorde. Both of course have associated stories.

    As a 25 year old woman, taking flying lessons and traveling for work, I would use downtime to visit small airports at my destination. In Charleston S.C. the crew of a DC3 converted to spray for mosquitoes​ invited me to join them on a twilight flight criss-crossing the city at low altitude. There was no jump seat so I hung out in the doorway of the cockpit for part of the flight, and for takeoff and landing I sat in the two rows of passenger seats left in the cabin. (The rest was tank).

    For our 15th wedding anniversary my husband bought us one way tickets from Dulles to Orly on the Concorde. (How’s that for love?♥). We flew something cheaper on the return. I’ll never forget the mach meter on the forward bulkhead if the cabin. We cheered when it hit 1.0, and later when we hit 2.0. Passengers were invited into the cockpit to visit, and the view at 50,000 ft cruising altitude is extraordinary because you’re high enough to see the curvature of the earth (!!)

    I’ve flown several dozen aircraft in my 40 years as a private pilot, and of course many more as a passenger, but those two experiences are among my most cherished memories.

  38. Jeffrey Latten says:

    Not sure what year this was….probably 1960 or so, but I flew a DC-4 from Miami back to NY (probably Idlewild). I think it was Eastern, and I remember it had 4 engines, and flew way under the cloud layer. Either the cabin pressure didn’t work or it didn’t have any!

  39. Carlos Si says:

    Phew that’s a lot. I didn’t fly until I was 12 and didn’t fly again until I was 17 (after which I flew every year at least, which isn’t even that much to some people), so I lost a lot of opportunities to fly on stuff like MD80s, 757s (my two favorites), or even larger stuff like Northwest’s DC-10 fleet or Delta’s 727s. Sure the two former are still around and I’ve gotten a chance to board on them, but not like they used to be, so most flights nowadays say 737 or a320…

  40. Dick Waitt says:

    Allow me to add a couple that you didn’t include (From memory, don’t know the specific models):
    Caravelle – Cruzeiro do Sul and Thai International
    Comet IV – Aerolineas Argentinas
    DC-7 (Possibly DC-6) – Varig
    L-19 – US Army (My first plane ride)
    727 – United (My first airline ride)
    C-133 – US Air Force

  41. David Wright says:

    Not a plane spotter but memorable trips were on an Eastern “Connie” LGA to BOS in 1964, a Northeast Airlines DC 3 from Boston to Burlington, VT in 1965, two trips on Air Canada Vickers Viscounts, Sydney, NS to Halifax, then to Saint John, NB (followed by a train ride to Greenville, Maine) in 1967. Also remember LAX to BOS on a American DC 10, with a piano in the lounge ,1972, and Pan Am 707 to Bermuda from Boston and return in 1969.

  42. MW says:

    I’m not quite as airliner obsessed as Patrick, so I haven’t recorded my life list, and certainly can’t remember all the airlines. I’m about Patrick’s age (born 1965.) Going to university in the USA was a good move for my life list, because I got to pick up older planes like 707, DC8, DC9, 727 which I’d otherwise have missed in my part of the world. However the pick of my life list is DC3, c1972, New Zealand’s National Airways Corporation (NAC), flown as a last-moment replacement for a larger plane which had mechanical problems (would have been a Fokker F27 Friendship or Vickers Viscount), shortly before NAC finally withdrew them from service.

    My only jet not on Patrick’s list is BAe 146, which flew in New Zealand for a few years in the 1990s. I’ve flown in a 747-SP (SFO-AKL) which is also a little unusual. The cabin is startlingly shorter than you expect.

    I still haven’t flown any class except economy.

    • Patrick says:

      I’ve flown on the BAe-146 (Business Express). I consider it a regional jet and left it off the list. I suppose you could make the same argument for the F-28, which I did include, but the Fokker pre-dates RJs, at least as we know them today.

  43. Ramon says:

    Nice. My only special planes were an IL86 from Aeroflot on their SVO-SNN-HAV-PTY-MGA “local bus” route, and a tour (but no flight) in an Awacs E3A B707 on the tarmac in GKE as part of an NATO “family day”…

  44. Mark Maslowski says:

    What, no Caravelle, Trident or VC-10?

  45. JamesP says:

    Wow, First Class on an Eastern L-1011 must have been pretty cool. I liked the L-1011. I remember flying them on Eastern to Miami when I was a kid and my Dad was doing some consulting work for the city there.

    • Alan Dahl says:

      Always disliked the L-1011 but that’s mostly because the ones I flew (Delta and British) were configured for high-density which made competition for the few overhead bins the L-1011 came with intense.

  46. James Wattengel says:

    I am including only some of my early flights on older aircraft….

    Lockheed Electra – Pacific Southwest Airways – LAX / SFO shuttle 1960’s
    – Various Brazilian airlines on the Sao Paulo / Rio pooled
    early 1980’s

    Douglas DC-3 Southern Airways 1965

    Comet 4 – Mexicana – 1967

  47. Geoff Braybrooke says:

    Never kept a lifetime list. First was a Vickers Vanguard (lifetime favorite) then an Electra II, then a Viscount…

  48. Mike Richards says:

    The one I always wanted to fly – apart from Concorde which is a given – has to be the VC-10. Astonishingly fast, astonishingly smooth in flight and astonishingly beautiful. It’s the plane that BOAC didn’t want but that the passengers loved. Also, the last big plane entirely built entirely in Britain.

  49. Alan Dahl says:

    This is hard because I’ve not really kept a list of what I’ve flown over the last 50-some years. Here’s a guess but some airlines are missing and sometimes I may get mixed up on what the exact aircraft was. If I think of any other aircraft/airlines I’ll follow up with another post.

    707: Avianca
    717/MD-95: Delta
    720: United
    727: United, American, Delta, Austrian, others
    737: Too many to list including United, Alaska, Aloha, Pan Am, KLM, Lufthansa, Eastern, SAS, Southwest and others.
    747: United, British Airways, American, others
    747-SP: United (ex-Pan Am)
    757: United, American, Icelandair, British Airways, others
    767: United, Delta, American, SAS
    777: Delta
    DC-6: United, Olympic
    DC-8: United, KLM
    DC-9: Delta, Hawaiian, others
    DC-10: United
    MD-80: Alaska
    L-1011: Delta, British Airways (LHR to CDG!)
    Convair CV-340: Hawaiian, ALM Antillian Airlines
    A320 series: Air France, Alitaia, United, British Airways, others
    A330: Delta
    Fokker F70: Austrian

  50. Earl Boebert says:

    Hoo boy. OK, here goes, from memory and all coach:

    707: BOAC, Lufthansa, Continental, Braniff

    727: Eastern, Western, Northwest, United, American, Northeast, Piedmont

    737: Southwest

    747: Pan Am, Northwest, Japan Air Lines, Sabena, Lufthansa, British Airways

    DC8: United, Air Canada

    DC9 (all variants): Ozark, Southern, Swissair, TWA, American, North Central, Hughes Air West, Allengheny, Republic

    DC10: Northwest, Western, American, Lufthansa (I think) National

    Convair 880: TWA

    Lockheed 1011: TWA, Eastern

    BAC 111: Mohawk, Allengheny

    DH Trident: British European Airways

    Turboprops: North Central, Western, Braniff, Trans Texas, Air Training Command

  51. Dan says:

    In 1978 I rented a Cessna 182 at Dulles Airport that I would get to using Page Aviation’s shuttle to the mid-field parking area. They had the contract to clean the Concorde when it was there, and several times I walked under its wings top get to the shuttle to go out to the plane. There was a plastic chain at the foot of the Concorde’s stairs with a sign that said, “Don’t even ask.”

    I also remember a Flight International quip about a little old lady who saved up enough money to fly on the British Airways Concorde. When she entered the cabin, the captain was there to greet boarding passengers. She looked around and said, disappointed, “It looks like a regular plane.” The captain puffed up and replied, “*That*, madam, was the difficult bit!”

  52. Dan says:

    I have *enormous* empathy for your but-for-$400 story. In 1972 I was working on my Instrument rating at Houston Hobby airport. My instructor was Scott Grissom, son of the Mercury astronaut Gus Grissom. He called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to fly with him to watch the last Apollo launch from the VIP section, and he’d introduce me to the other astronauts. We would take a Cessna twin and he’d give free multi-engine instruction on the way there and back. All I had to come up with was $400 for my share of the gas. But at the time I was six months into my first job and my first marriage, making a whopping $14,000 a year, with no vacation time earned and a wife who didn’t want me to be gone for a week. I just couldn’t do it. I’ve kicked myself ever since.

  53. Another Josh says:

    Wow, that was a great deal for Concorde tickets. I’m also disappointed that I didn’t get to fly on a Concorde. When they announced the retirement, I looked and found there were round trips that were Concorde one way, and then a conventional airliner the other. Even that cost more than I could justify at the time.

    • Steven Hill says:

      I flew Concorde. I was in NYC with a first class ticket back to LHR on British Airways. I went to their ticketing office and they were offering Concorde class upgrades for US$75. Included was a helicopter transfer to JFK from East 34th Street heliport sitting next to the pilot. My mother had the Concorde cabin luggage tag lying around in her living room for quite a while.

      Never kept a list of all the equipment I have flown, but it would be extensive. But I remember a mid-1970s flight from Moscow to London on a JAL stretched DC8 which, seated in the back of the plane, could be seen to be flexing during taxiing!

  54. Larry says:

    If it is an consolation, the Museum of Flight in Seattle has a Concorde that you can walk through.

  55. John K says:

    Never flown on a Beech 1900 (Colgan) or Cessna 402 (Cape Air)?