2016 in Review: Looking Back at My Highlights of Last Year

Highlights: 2016 in Review

At the end of last year, I returned a decade ago, and looked at what 2006 was like for me aviation-wise.

Now that we are in 2017, I would like to take a peek back into last year, and look at what 2016 was like, and also at what 2017 will bring.

Before I start, I’d like to thank everyone for taking your time to look at my photos, to read my articles, and to participate in my tours in 2016!

Now, let’s dive right into the notable things of last year!

Miles, Types, Airlines

Having flown 91 segments totalling over 130,000 miles, 2016 was by far my best year in terms of the amount of flying. Among the flights, I was able to add 15 new aircraft types and sub-types and 20 new airlines to my logbook.


Map of my 2016 flights. (Map generate using Great Circle Mapper.)
New Airlines

Airlines I flew for the first time in 2016.
Aircraft Types

Aircraft types I flew for the first time in 2016.

Iranian Skies & Cities Tours

By far the highlight of the year for me were the two Iranian Skies & Cities tours I organized together with Yukihiro. I was grateful for the trust you put in us by signing up for the tour, and it was extremely rewarding to see the 20+ enthusiasts enjoying the classic aircraft in Iran as well as the beauty of the country.

On both of the tours we were able to fly rare aircraft such as the Boeing 727, Boeing 747 Classic and Antonov An-74. We also had a chance to see the historic cities of Shiraz, Isfahan and Mashad.

Report of the second tour is in the makings, but to read about our adventures during the first tour, click here.

Iranian Skies & Cities

Participants of the first tour with Iran Air crew after landing in Tehran.
Iranian Skies & Cities

Participants of the second tour during a dinner with Iran Air crew.
Iranian Skies & Cities

Flying the Mahan Air 747-300 was one of the highlights of the second tour.
Iranian Skies & Cities

During the second tour, we had the chance to see a 707 fly-by at Kish Airshow.
Iranian Skies & Cities

Landing after an An-74 joyride.
Iranian Skies & Cities

Beautiful Imam Square in Isfahan.
Iranian Skies & Cities

Colorful Pink Mosque in Shiraz.

Wonsan Air Festival 2016

The second highlight of the year for me was Wonsan Air Festival 2016 – the first North Korean airshow. Once again joining forces with Yukihiro, we put together a group of 16 enthusiasts to join this great event.

If Iran is the flying museum of the Western types, then North Korea is the flying museum of the Eastern types – we had a chance to not only see and photograph, but also fly on aircraft types such as Tupolev Tu-134 and Tu-154, Ilyushin Il-18, Il-62 and Il-76, and Antonov An-24 among others.

Due to the success of the event, the organizers are planning to hold another Wonsan Air Festival in 2017, and I will once again be putting together a group. If you are interested to join the airshow, please take a look here.

Wonsan Air Festival 2016

The Wonsan Air Festival offered unbelievable photo opportunities.
Wonsan Air Festival 2016

During the tour, we also had a chance to see a bit of the city.
Wonsan Air Festival 2016

A sight that can only be had in North Korea nowadays.
Wonsan Air Festival 2016

One of the highlights of the tour was flying on an Ilyushin Il-18.

Hellos and Good Byes

In 2016, I had the chance to be on a number of (in one way or another) inaugural and (in one way or another) final flights.

On the inaugural side, the most noteworthy one is perhaps a flight from Naha to Kumejima – an Okinawan interisland flight – that was the world’s first Bombardier Q400CC (Cargo Combi) revenue flight.


Before the first Q400CC flight, a small celebration was held at the gate.

Posing in front of the Bombardier Q400CC prior to its first revenue flight.

The other two inaugurals I have taken were the first flights of new special colors of Japanese airlines. The first one was the first revenue flight of the third Star Wars color scheme – the BB-8 Jet. The second one was supposed to be the first flight of Air Do’s Beardo Hokkaido Jet. That one, unfortunately, didn’t go as planned.

BB-8 Jet

Roll-out of the third Star Wars Jet – the BB-8 Jet – a day before its first flight.
Beardo Hokkaido Jet

The first flight of Air Do’s Beardo Hokkaido Jet didn’t go as planned – more in an upcoming report.

On the “good bye” side, I was on the last regularly scheduled flight operated by the famous ANA Pokemon Jets, and also on the last revenue flight of Cathay Pacific’s 747.

ANA Pokemon Jet

The Pokemon Peace Jet after landing at Haneda for the last time.
Cathay 747

Posing in front of the Cathay 747 with friends before its last flight.

“Unusual” Situations

After flying more than 350 flights without any “unusual” situations, in 2016, I experienced my first diversion, go-around as well as ground turn-back.


Landing in Tianjin onboard a Pakistan International A310 after a diversion from Beijing.

Second attempt to land in Kansai after a go-around on a flight from Frankfurt.

Ground turn-back on what was supposed to be the first Air Do Beardo Hokkaido Jet flight.

Flying to Funerals

Unfortunately, 2016 was not only about happy flying. With two of my grandparents passing away – one in Japan and one in Slovakia – while I was in the “other country,” almost 30,000 miles out of the 130,000 miles flown was me getting to and from funerals.

These events have made me appreciate aviation even more – buying a ticket to the other end of the world within hours of learning about a family member’s passing, and being on the other end of the planet with family in less than a day… Only possible thanks to aircraft!

What’s Coming Up in 2017?

While I certainly got to do a lot of flying in 2016, unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit airports for “spotting” nowhere near as much as I had hoped to. As such, this year I plan to increase time spent on that part of the hobby.

I also plan to continue writing reports and other posts for this website – on a more frequent and regular basis. I still have to see what the rest of the year will look like, but I already have the first special flight of the year coming up in a couple of days – the very first revenue flight of Air France’s Boeing 787-9.

On the tours front, I besides the Iran and DPRK tours, I am currently looking into the possibility of flying a couple of interesting types in Europe that I would like to combine into a short weekend tour, so stay tuned.

Finally, besides continuing to contribute to aviation magazines, I would love to publish my first book – Aozora: Skies of Japan – in 2017. Work on the book is currently underway, and you can learn more about it here.

That’s it from my side.

What were your highlights in 2016? What new aircraft types did you get to fly? What are your flying goals for 2017?

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