Flying Thai Sky Tristar L-1011
Flying Thai Sky Tristar L-1011

Classic Trip: Flying on Thai Sky Airlines Tristar L-1011

Since most international flights are grounded during COVID-19 pandemic, I am using the free time to bring back some of my classic flight reports. This one was never published before, but the memory has surely become golden now. It was my last ever L-1011 Tristar flight.

Thai Sky Airlines was a charter passenger and cargo airline based in Thailand, they operated a small fleet of two L1011-1s and one L1011-385-1F.

The first flight to Hong Kong was launched on May 19th 2005. Flights to Kuala Lumpur were launched on May 21st 2005. It was a joint venture with Thai, Hong Kong and Taiwan interests and was set up primarily to operate charter flights for tour groups travelling from Hong Kong to Thailand. The airline ceased operations in 2006.

L-1011's in operation have become increasingly rare since the early 2000s. Once I found out about the new Thai airline flying the L-1011 I immediately called their Bangkok office. I wanted to book on the next available flight, for a same day round-trip between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

The Thai Sky Airlines L-1011-1 came in all Economy Class configuration with 343 seats. The forward cabin had a 2-4-2 configuration, while the aft cabin had 2-5-2 abreast configuration. The cabin felt extra spacious without the middle overhead bins.

an airplane with blue seats and a large screen
an airplane with blue seats
a room with doors and a door open

L1011 boasted one of the roomiest cockpits in the sky. Allowing 5 persons to be inside at a time. The registration of the L1011 was HS-AXE.

inside the cockpit of an airplane
the cockpit of an airplane
men sitting in the cockpit of an airplane

We took off from Don Muang Airport (Survanabhumi Airport was not ready yet in 2005) runway 21R. Passing over the Chao Praya River and Bangkok city.

an airplane wing and wing of an airplane
Thai Sky L1011 with Rolls Royce RB211 engine
an airplane wing with a city and water below
Thai Sky L1011 with Rolls Royce RB211 engine over Chao Praya River

The captain in charge was extremely kind, he offered the observer seat to me for both sectors. Both pilots came from the USA (sadly he passed away after a sudden illness shortly afterwards). There was a requirement for a Flight Engineer to be present in order to operate the L-1011.

a group of pilots in a cockpit
a group of pilots in the cockpit

Flight time to Kuala Lumpur took just 1 hour and 40 minutes. Flying at 35,000 ft, Mach 0.85. We had just 62 passengers on-board, according to my information kept in my log book.

a city with tall buildings
The Petronas (Twin) Towers of Kuala Lumpur can be seen during descend into KLIA.
a man in the cockpit of a plane
a man in uniform flying a plane
Final approach to Runway 14L of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
a group of pilots in a cockpit

It was an excellent landing on runway 14L of Kuala Lumpur Int'l Airport (KLIA).

I spent an hour turning around at KLIA before boarding the same L1011 HS-AXE back to Bangkok. This time we had a full load of 342 passengers. Most of them were tourists heading to Thailand.

a large airplane on the tarmac
a runway with a crosswalk and grass

The return flight was event less and it was smooth flight at Flight Level 36,000 ft. There was a meal served in the 2 hour flight time, but I didn't take any pictures of it.

After two hours, we landed back in Bangkok Don Muang Airport runway 21L.

a group of pilots in a cockpit
a group of pilots in a cockpit
an aerial view of a runway and a city
Note the famous golf course in between the 2 runways at Bangkok Don Muang
a group of pilots in the cockpit of an airplane
a group of pilots in a cockpit
a group of pilots in a cockpit

The golf course, between the two runways, can be clearly seen on the right hand side during approach to Runway 21L of Don Muang Airport. I was truly privileged not only to fly on an L1011, but also to sit behind the pilots. It was one of those great flying memories that I will always treasure. Hope you too enjoy the experience.

The last remaining L-1011 TriStar in service as of now is the Stargazer air-launch mothership, operated by Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK).