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Too late for the era of the inter-continental, piston-engined planes like the Lockheed Constellation, I flew many miles on the narrow-bodied, single-aisle

Boeing 707s and Douglas DC8s. As a basic biomedical scientist who was in no way involved with the pharmaceutical industry, and who had no access to the ‘private practice funds’ available to many MD researchers, my flying experience was always in economy class – back of the bus. Scientists tend to live relatively modest lives. That remained the case as the Free San Diego Map routes were taken over by the two-aisle wide bodies (Boeing 747, McDonnell Douglas DC10, Lockheed L1011) – with a capacity to seat so many more people, tourist air travel then took off in a big way.

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The jumbos had dominated the scene by the mid 1980s when I became a board member for an international research institute in Africa. At least for those trips, I was promoted to first or business class – international bureaucrats don’t fly economy, so they could hardly demand that of senior scientist board members. This was before the lying-flat bed era, San Diego Map but the bigger business-class seats did recline more and more as time went on and, as a friend discovered, if there was no one next door it was possible to lift out the central armrest in a KLM DC10 (a preferred carrier from Nairobi to Europe) and dump it on the floor to gain more space. Otherwise, the majority of my flight time was still back in steerage. Planes were less likely to be full than they are today and, especially midweek across the Pacific, you’d occasionally get lucky and be able to stretch out across the five economy class seats in the centre section of a Boeing 747. What a delight, especially on the long haul after the plane left Hawaii.

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