Even more so than the Concorde, the one plane I most regret not flying is the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. But it may not be too late…
I’ve written before about the five aircraft I most regret not flying. The L-1011 is on the list not only for its sleek three-engine design, but because my uncle was on the design and engineering team that helped created Lockheed’s final commercial aircraft.
> Read More: 5 Planes I Wish I Had Flown
The sad thing, at least in my own story, is that I had the chance to fly the L-1011 and did not take it. That’s what makes missing the L-1011 harder than missing the Concorde. I still regret that so much. You remember ATA Airlines? It was a former U.S. charter and commercial operator that ceased operations in 2008.
In 2006, for the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the company ran L-1011s (normally reserved for charters) on its scheduled Los Angeles to Honolulu service. I would not have even had to re-position to take this flight! Why did I turn it down? Looking back, I really don’t know. But it remains one of my biggest travel regrets.
And then I had another chance which I skipped. For many years, the British Royal Air Force operated charters from England to the Falkland Islands aboard L-1011s. I could have easily taken one of these flights, but never took the time.
But while I will never get to travel commercially on an L1011, there is still one in operation in the USA. It’s called the Stargazer, which is used to launch Pegasus rockets (containing satellites).
It is owned by Northrop Grumman and was manufactured in 1974. It was part of the Air Canada fleet until 1992.
I’ve reached out to Northrop Grumman to see if they will help me write a story about this aircraft. At worst, hopefully I can see it up close in California’s Mojave Desert. At best, maybe I can be a passenger on a launch flight.
Even the thought of potentially flying the L-1011 makes me smile. Such a beautiful aircraft. There’s one left. It’s still operating. I’ve got to find a way on it!
image: Orbital ATK / Northrup Grumman