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I Have Flown for Miles and Miles and Miles

Aviator C

If you are a longtime reader of Nuts About Southwest, you are aware that I am a certifiable airplane geek, like fellow Blogger Bill Owen and a lot of you.  Having grown up in an airline family and having worked in the industry since 1976, I crave the sights, sounds, and smells of an airport.

Because I have been a part of the industry for so long, I have been flying as a nonrevenue passenger for over a half century.  Thanks to my baby book, I know that I took my first airplane trip onboard a Pioneer Air Lines DC-3 from Clovis, New Mexico to Abilene, Texas on April 17, 1954.  I was only 18-months-old, but a lifelong love affair with wings was born that day.  That same year, Dad was transferred to Amarillo, and Continental purchased Pioneer that next year.  Flying during the 1950s and 1960s was an exclusive club thanks to high airfares, and my family could have never afforded airplane trips if Dad hadn’t worked for an airline.  I was the only kid in my classes who had ever flown until we moved to the Los Angeles area in 1962.

Unfortunately, all I have from those early trips is just memories.  It wasn’t until 1973 that I discovered that some publishers printed passenger log books.  That’s when I religiously started recording the registrations, flight numbers, and city pairs of my flights.  Luckily, I was able to go back to the previous 11 or so years and recreate some flights through my timetable collection and the passenger “receipts” of all the passes I had collected from those trips.  (I had no way to “recover” those earlier flights from Amarillo.)

I still log every flight today, and I keep them in a logbook.  However, I did find an interesting site on the web called Flight Memory, which allows you to post this information into your own account.  (I still keep my logbook as a permanent record because any proprietary web site could close, taking all your data with it.)  What makes Flight Memory so much fun is the way it tabulates your flights.  You can display them by registration, origins, destinations, time periods, and so much more.

It also compiles all your accumulated data.  For example, since 1954, I have flown 3.3 times the distance to the moon, flown enough to circumnavigate the earth 32 times, and I have spent the equivalent of 2.63 months in the air.  According to their mileage estimates, I am about 220,000 miles short of being a million-miler.  That seems impressive, but most Crew Members my age who have been flying as long as I would make me look like a “stay at home Blog Boy.”  Some of our most active Rapid Rewards Members could probably leave me in the dust too.  But (insert brag warning), I would wager that not many of you have a list of flown aircraft that include propeller airlines like the deHavilland Rapide bi-plane, the DC-3, Vickers Viscounts, DC-6B, all of the Convairliner production models (including the turbo prop versions), FH-227, and Martin 404; early jets like the 707-100, 707-100B, 720, 720B, Convair 880, the 737-100, Trident 2 and Trident 3, 727-200, and DC-9-10; and oddities like the Goodyear Blimp and an S-61 helicopter.  If you do, please share with us.

Some other cool features are the route maps it compiles based on your flights (you can pay to have the map made into a T-shirt or a poster—or both).  I found out that my top three most-used airports are Dallas/Fort Worth, Portland (Oregon), and Dallas Love Field.  Love has almost caught up with the first two.  Not surprisingly, the three airlines with which I have been associated are the top three in my list of airlines flown.  Dad worked for Continental, it is third; I spent over 18 years at Delta (at the end commuting by air on a weekly basis so it is number one; but by the time I have been with SWA for the same amount of time, Southwest will be way out in front.

A funny thing happened while I was transcribing the flights from my logbook to the computer.  I began thinking about the purpose of each of the almost 1,000 flights.  My wife, Tina and I, flew to St. Croix for our honeymoon, and before that, there was our flight on Air California Electras to Lake Tahoe to get married.  My first trip to London was on Braniff’s 747—my first 747 flight was on that same aircraft from Love Field to Honolulu a few years earlier.  There was my trip with Mom to Maine during one of my vacations.  And, how can I forget two flights on Concorde?  There were sad flights too.  In 1963, we flew on a Delta Convair 880 from Los Angeles to Love Field for my grandfather’s funeral.  In Dallas, we connected to a Continental DC-3 for the final leg to Abilene, Texas.  During Easter Week of 1987, I flew a Delta 727 from Portland to Dallas/Ft. Worth for Dad’s funeral.

Thankfully, my Southwest flights have been fun occasions, even during the many business trips.  There are flights to out of town Messages to the Field, two trips to Seattle to pick up brand spanking new 737-700s from Boeing, and our trip to Blog World last year.  The personal side began when Dad got us passes on Southwest so we could fly N21SW from Dallas to Houston on July 13, 1971, only a couple of weeks after Southwest began operating.  There have been vacations to the Bay Area, Orlando, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Ohio.  But the highlight may have been the last flight of a Southwest 737-200 (N95SW) on January 17, 2005.  (Oh, and everyone onboard was wearing special pajamas.)

If you use Flight Memory, let’s compare our flying background, or if you log your flights some other way, please share with us.