Longest flight experiences

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George Harris

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finally! Back in Mississippi
Over a period of 17 years, I made, either 19 or 20 trips between the US, usually Memphis TN, and either Taipei or Hong Kong, with a couple to Singapore thrown in for variety.

My first overseas jaunt was earlier in the form of two round trips to Saigon (I refuse to say Ho Chi Minh city) from Travis AFB CA in 1971. These were in many senses the most memorable, first because they were my first long flights and second because the military used the cheapest charters they could find and on airlines you never heard of and hoped to never see again and were set up with sardine can seating density. Then as you board, they ask everybody their weight. Two round trips because at that time you could take a mid-tour trip back to the states on your own dime, which was more around $1,500 as best I recall. These flights all had an intermediate fueling stop at Anchorage between Japan and the US. To shorten the story, my final flight out of Vietnam was delayed over 24 hours after its arrival to pick us up due to mechanical difficulties, and then there was an additional long delay in Japan for mechanical work. All in all really inspiring and comforting. Then we go down the runway accelerating like a freight train. Finally, we get off the ground before we run out of runway, and as we are climbing the pilot came on the intercom an announces, "We will attempt a non-stop flight to Travis AFB California." At that point I'm thinking, can we take a boat? If you are the pilot and stating the flight plan in the form of "attempt" what happens if we don't? There is not much else between here and there but water. We made it. I finished my trip home by train.

Back to doing it commercial while working in Asia: We generally figured on 24 hours door to door Memphis to Taipei. These were all on Northwest. All except one out of Taipei was via Tokyo. The other was via Soeul. Then there was the 12 +/- from Tokyo to either Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle or Detroit. Our contracts with Taipei Rapid Transit System stated that home leave travel was to be by lowest cost economy class air fare.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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The Longest flight of WWII. Yes, it was a modified B-29, and lasted 23 hours, with no refueling.

Most interesting, thanks for the find!

My dad was a B-29 Crew Member based on Tinian on 2 different Planes, "Man 'O War" ( Crashed with another Crew aboard) and "The Spearhead",, and flew 12 Missions to Japan, all Fire Bombing Runs.They would take off in the Middle of the night and be gone for 15-16 Hours on these Missions.

His Squadron included The Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the First Atom Bomb on Japan.

But it was Ultra Top Secret, and the Plane and Crew had a Seperate Hanger that was heavily Guarded.

All of the other Air Corps Members on Tinian weren't told about this Mission till after the Enola Gay returned to Tinian.
 
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Most interesting, thanks for the find!

My dad was a B-29 Crew Member based on Tinian on 2 different Planes, "Man 'O War" ( Crashed with another Crew aboard) and "The Spearhead",, and flew 12 Missions to Japan, all Fire Bombing Runs.They would take off in the Middle of the night and be gone for 15-16 Hours on these Missions.

His Squadron included The Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the First Atom Bomb on Japan.

But it was Ultra Top Secret, and the Plane and Crew had a Seperate Hanger that was heavily Guarded.

All of the other Air Corps Members on Tinian weren't told about this Mission till after the Enola Gay returned to Tinian.

Thanks for that fascinating information!!

During WWII my father flew a USMC Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive-Bomber on sub patrol on a remote island in the Pacific, Funafuti, Tuvalu. So no really long distances there.

But, after being called back into active duty for the Korean Conflict, he was stationed in Honolulu, and flew 4 engines with mail to Japan. They would island hop to take their load there. But, on the way back from Japan, with a much lighter load, they would dead head back to Honolulu.

I may be missing some parts of the story. He died at 84 in 2006, so I can't ask him all of the questions I'd like to now... He flew for Texas International, the DC-9, so, I grew up with flight benefits. I made a lot of short trips from Dallas to Austin and back when I was attending UT in the mid-70's.
 

JRR

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On August 23, 1969, I boarded a TWA stretch 707 charter and we took off from Ton Son Hut Airbase in Saigon headed for Travis AFB at 5:35 pm. with fueling stops in Guam and Honolulu. When we arrived in Honolulu, we were advised that there would be a 4 hour layover for a mandatory crew rest (turned into a 6 hr delay). I used the time to arrange for a flight to Dulles from San Francisco and to call my wife and advise her when I would arrive (she had been manning the phone for 3 days 24/7 since we had no idea when I might actually get a flight to Travis)! In any event, when we finally took off from Honolulu, by the weirdest coincidence, it was exactly 5:35 pm wheels up, and because of crossing the International Date Line. It was August 23, 2969! I took off from two different airports at the same date and time on the same airplane!

The other event of note was that shortly after the pilot announced that we had passed the point of no return, there was a bump as if we hit some turbulence, and as those of us in my row looked out the window, we saw the outboard engine on the starboard side burst into flames! It flared for only a short time before it was extinguished. A member of the crew rushed back and leaned across me ( the setup was rows of 4 on each side and I had an aisle seat) to peer out the window. I told him, “Dint worry the fire is out”). He quickly hushed me and said ti keep quiet. A 707 has no trouble flying on 3 engines but every time we hit a little turbulence the rest of the way, all of us in my row quickly looked out the windows! There was no sleeping in our row!

The rest of the flight was uneventful but when we passed over the Golden Gate Bridge all lit up around 5am, it was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen!

On landing at Travis, we were quarantined in the plane for another 21/2 hours as they took two off because of some unknown illness.

Never did the calculations, but that’s the longest flight, time wise I have ever had or want to have!
 

Ziv

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It's not really possible to get to or from Oz by air without a long journey. I prefer to enter an leave via Melbourne which is located in the SE of the country even for a north-west destination - Singapore (about eight hours) or Doha (about fourteen). Both those flightpaths take about five hours just to get out of Oz.

I combined two fourteen-hour longies on my last OS trip by flying to Philadelphia from Melbourne via Doha. I took a one-day stopover on my way there, but not on my return. Qatar Air is my airline of choice. Their Doha- Auckland run of about 17 hours for our Kiwi friends is a super-longie.

When we came to Oz as migrants in the mid-1960s from Scotland, it was by plane rather than the boat journey which was the more common way the Oz government used at the time for we assisted-passage migrants. After a BEA Vickers Viscount prop-jet flight from Edinburgh to London and a couple of days in the English capital, it was a Qantas 707 which took the following path: London, New York, San Francisco, Hawaii, Fiji, Sydney. It was absolutely the same plane for the full journey, and we left our gear on it and de-planed for the 45 minute stops each landing - including at about 0300h onto the tarmac in Fiji while being watched by a white-skirt clad policeman.

We were in economy-class seats for the duration, which took about 24+ hours airtime, but less on the calendar because we were chasing the sun. That's definitely the longest flight I've been on. It was probably muuuuch longer for my oldies who had to wrangle we four kids throughout.

After arrival in Sydney we were taken the one hour last leg to Melbourne on a TAA 727.
I am going to be flying Billings-Quito-Lima then Santiago-Auckland-Fiji-Sydney starting in September, (knock on wood). Then taking the Indian Pacific Railroad to Perth and flying up to Denpasar from there. And then up to Thailand for a month or two. Every other route to Australia had some huge 16 hour flight involved. I have wanted to travel the "Trans-Australian" railroad for years!
The Santiago to Auckland flight is still 12 hours, but that is better than 16!
 

jebr

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So far my longest has only been MSP - ANC - about six hours long. I have planned an AMS - MSP flight for next year which will become my longest, although even that's only clocked in around 9 hours. All in economy currently - and the MSP - ANC six hour flight was in a 737-900ER! No special service either; it was treated the same as any other standard domestic hop.
 

BCL

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Nov 16, 2012
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San Francisco Bay Area
I've flown from California to Asia several times, as well as once to New Zealand. Trying to remember......

It's typically slower going west because of the prevailing winds. 13 hours going west can be 10-11 hours in the reverse direction. It's nice having a good tailwind.

SFO-PVG (13+ hours).
SFO-TPE (13+ hours)
SFO-GMP (13+ hours)
SFO-PEK (13+ hours)
LAX-AUK (14+ hours)
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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On August 23, 1969, I boarded a TWA stretch 707 charter and we took off from Ton Son Hut Airbase in Saigon headed for Travis AFB at 5:35 pm. with fueling stops in Guam and Honolulu. When we arrived in Honolulu, we were advised that there would be a 4 hour layover for a mandatory crew rest (turned into a 6 hr delay). I used the time to arrange for a flight to Dulles from San Francisco and to call my wife and advise her when I would arrive (she had been manning the phone for 3 days 24/7 since we had no idea when I might actually get a flight to Travis)! In any event, when we finally took off from Honolulu, by the weirdest coincidence, it was exactly 5:35 pm wheels up, and because of crossing the International Date Line. It was August 23, 2969! I took off from two different airports at the same date and time on the same airplane!

The other event of note was that shortly after the pilot announced that we had passed the point of no return, there was a bump as if we hit some turbulence, and as those of us in my row looked out the window, we saw the outboard engine on the starboard side burst into flames! It flared for only a short time before it was extinguished. A member of the crew rushed back and leaned across me ( the setup was rows of 4 on each side and I had an aisle seat) to peer out the window. I told him, “Dint worry the fire is out”). He quickly hushed me and said ti keep quiet. A 707 has no trouble flying on 3 engines but every time we hit a little turbulence the rest of the way, all of us in my row quickly looked out the windows! There was no sleeping in our row!

The rest of the flight was uneventful but when we passed over the Golden Gate Bridge all lit up around 5am, it was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen!

On landing at Travis, we were quarantined in the plane for another 21/2 hours as they took two off because of some unknown illness.

Never did the calculations, but that’s the longest flight, time wise I have ever had or want to have!
Very interesting, thanks for sharing and thanks for your service!

Your flight home from Nam was similar to my Brother's(, except they stopped in the Phillipines and Hawaii on one flight) who served there twice as a Marine!
 

BCL

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Your flight home from Nam was similar to my Brother's(, except they stopped in the Phillipines and Hawaii on one flight) who served there twice as a Marine!

I've been to Hawaii on a partial leg of a longer flight. It was (the then) Malaysian Airline Systems where the flight was LAX-HNL-KUL, where my parents and I flew on a buddy pass that a (travel agent) relative secured for us after selling a lot of tickets for that airline. We flew on 747-400 and I got to sit in business class on the way there, but on the way back they didn't allow me in business class (my parents were) saying that I was under 21 and I sat in coach. On the return flight I sat next to an English guy and we were looking at the planes at Hickham while taxing to the runway. I think he was a small plane pilot although I clearly remember seeing C-5s and an F-15.
 

mcropod

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I am going to be flying Billings-Quito-Lima then Santiago-Auckland-Fiji-Sydney starting in September, (knock on wood). Then taking the Indian Pacific Railroad to Perth and flying up to Denpasar from there. And then up to Thailand for a month or two. Every other route to Australia had some huge 16 hour flight involved. I have wanted to travel the "Trans-Australian" railroad for years!
The Santiago to Auckland flight is still 12 hours, but that is better than 16!
That's a decent bit of globe-coverage, eh? But you are right, there's few places as far away from everywhere else as here. And then even for we residents, it's a bloody long journey to anywhere else in the country.

You'll have fun on the Indian-Pacific right enough, and I hope you post about it along the way. Sydney's not my town, but I reckon a fab way to spend an inexpensive day there is to get a day-ticket on public transport including the ferries from Circular Quay (there's a nearby city railway station), and take a trip over the harbour to Manly. On your return, go for a walk across the bridge for some great harbour and Opera House views - you can take a train back on the bridge to the city.
 
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Our worst flight was a 26 hour ordeal flying from Palm Springs, CA to Chicago O'Hare. We were to arrive in Chicago, stay over night and have a leisurely walk to Chicago Union Station for a private car excursion. We were attached to the end of the CA Zephyr.

Starting at 6 am on American Airlines, we were two hours on the tarmac at PSP due to incomplete maintenance records. We missed our DFW connection and were re-booked for ORD. We couldn't land in Chicago due to bad weather. They diverted us to Indianapolis. At Midnight, they cancelled the flight for the evening, as the crew ran out of time and no replacements were available. No hotels were available, so we camped out at the airport. We got on a flight the next morning to ORD, where our baggage was, took a Lyft to Chicago Union Station and had an hour and a half to spare.
 

Cal

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My longest flight was 15 hours, Los Angeles to Taipei. I think the winds slowed us down as it’s usually 14 hours. I was in economy and I enjoy long haul flights, I enjoyed it.
 

west point

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Was there several attempts to fly around the world in a B-36? cannot remember if US air force ever succeeded. Know there was a B-52 non stop around the world. Sslower B-36 would definitely be longer than B-52.
 

TWA904

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My longest flight was a C5A flight from Kadena AB, Okinawa to Travis AFB in California. Flight was about 12 hours. No movie, only two cold boxed meals to eat and no windows
 

Ziv

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That's a decent bit of globe-coverage, eh? But you are right, there's few places as far away from everywhere else as here. And then even for we residents, it's a bloody long journey to anywhere else in the country.

You'll have fun on the Indian-Pacific right enough, and I hope you post about it along the way. Sydney's not my town, but I reckon a fab way to spend an inexpensive day there is to get a day-ticket on public transport including the ferries from Circular Quay (there's a nearby city railway station), and take a trip over the harbour to Manly. On your return, go for a walk across the bridge for some great harbour and Opera House views - you can take a train back on the bridge to the city.
Thanks for the tips, I will save them in my notes for Sydney! Using public transport is how I get to know a city. After I started to understand two bus routes in Bangkok I finally started to feel like it was "my" city. (Somehow using the SkyTrain didn't have the same impact.) Hopefully something similar will happen to me in Sydney. Nearly everyone I have talked to who has been there has loved the place. A big part of that is the people, but the city itself is a great character.
 

JRR

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Very interesting, thanks for sharing and thanks for your service!

Your flight home from Nam was similar to my Brother's(, except they stopped in the Phillipines and Hawaii on one flight) who served there twice as a Marine!
Thanks!
 

saxman

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Longest non-stop as a passenger was on the Qantas DFW-SYD flight on the A380 in coach, about 17 hours. Even longer was SIN to IAH with a stopover in Manchester on Singapore Airlines A350. We had to get off in MAN and clear security again. Luckily that was in business class.

As crew, the longest flight I worked was from Guam to Fort Worth, blocked at 13.4 hours and 7,216 miles.
 
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My longest flight was San Francisco to Seoul South Korea which was the 2nd leg of a trip that started in Philadelphia. It was a business trip for a process control company I worked for, our partner in Korea was Hyundai which is a huge outfit in Korea not just cars - think General Motors, General Electric and General Dynamics combined. Since our company policy was business class for all trips over 8 hours, they had to put me in first class PHL - SFO as that flight had no BC which was nice. At SFO I had about a 4 hour wait for the Seoul leg which was a United 747. We left around 6 pm and arrived about 5 pm Seoul time which was I think around 6 am Eastern. So maybe about a 10 hour flight? The BC was pretty comfortable and we were well fed. This was in 1996 before the downgrading of meals on most airlines. Return trip was similar, that plane originated in Manila. I remember the captain making an announcement "the sooner you folks are settled down back there, the sooner we can get outa Dodge". Made me feel I was back on American soil already 🙂
 

jis

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On United, upon boarding in a far away land, what I enjoy the most is the Rhapsody in Blue. Yes, it feels a bit like already home partway. I did enjoy the so called Connoisseur Class on United upstairs on the 747-400s, right behind the cockpit. Many many NY Tokyo and NY Hong Kong flights.
 
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I guess for me that would be Yokota Air Base (Tokyo) to McChord AFB (Tacoma) in Jan 1972 when I got out of the Navy.
It was a Flying Tiger DC-8 charter originating in Danang. Due to crossing the International Date Line, we arrived "before" we left!tickethome1.jpg
 

bonzoesc

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Longest flight was nearly 11 1/2 hours from Istanbul to Chicago, in daylight. It screwed up my biological time for nearly a week!
This happened with mine, the 12h from Beijing to Detroit. Left PEK at 5pm Monday, greyish brown skies, got to Detroit at 5pm Monday, crispy clear blue skies. Skipped work Tuesday, but made it in Wednesday!

And then Thursday I woke up at 4pm to a bunch of panicked messages and calls from coworkers because they couldn't reach me all day.
 

Anderson

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Virginia
My longest individual flight was LAX-BNE on Virgin Australia.

My longest string of flights without an intervening overnight would have been SIN-HKG-LHR-IAD (and it becomes BNE-SIN-HKG-LHR-IAD if you set the Singapore overnight aside). HKG-LHR was the longest leg of that.

Edit: And this all sets aside times I've found myself riding a string of bumps/IRROPS fun. Those are a story for another day.
 
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