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Nok Cessna 208, 737-400, TG A300 Motorcyle Trip  
User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39887 posts, RR: 74
Posted (3 years 7 months 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 10598 times:

Nok Air 737-400 Don Muang to Chiang Mai
Nok Mini Cessna 208 Caravan Chiang Mai to Pai
Nok Mini Cessna 208 Caravan Pai to Chiang Mai
Thai Airways A300 Chiang Mai to Suvarnabhumi

HS-GAB


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Photo © Moke Promma
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Photo © Nitinut-Chiangmai Aero Photos

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A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip up to the mountains of northern Thailand to escape the heat of Bangkok. The months of December & January are the coolest months in Thailand and I finally had a weekend to myself where I didn’t have entertain out of town guest visiting for the holidays.
Night time and morning temperatures can get down to the low single digits (Celsius).



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737-400 that would take us to Chiang Mai

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Very empty Don Muang with a few abandoned 747s and Thai Sky L1011s.



I chose to fly Nok Air since I’ve never flown them before and they fly out of Don Muang – my favorite airport in Asia.
I was having difficulty purchasing my ticket online so I attempted doing it the old fashion way by calling customer service. I was only able to make my reservation over the phone and instructed to buy my ticket at the nearest 7-Eleven.
Went to the nearest 7-Eleven and bought my ticket. Kind of odd buying an airline ticket, 2 bottles of beer, a hot dog and soap in the same transaction.



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1990s fashion new old stock for sale at the Don Muang terminal

Check in at Don Muang went very smooth. I enjoyed being inside of Don Muang again for the first time since my first trip to Thailand back in 2006.
Check in went very smooth at Don Muang and flight left right on time. This was also my first time on a 737-400 series.
The flight was 100% full.


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This did not taste good.


Brown paper bags were served shortly after takeoff. Inside was some sort of pretzel with chocolate inside but I didn’t finish eating it. Chocolate filled pretzel is not a good combo.   
Landed in Chiang Mai on time. I only stayed over night at a friend’s hotel to catch the early morning flight to Pai.


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on my way to the airport


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Traditional Thai folklore band performing at the gate as passengers board a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok.

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Traditional Thai folklore band performing at the gate as passengers board a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok.


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Traditional Thai folklore band performing at the gate as passengers board a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok.



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About to board my flight to Pai.



For the flight to Pai, I was expecting a Saab 340 for this flight but ended up getting a better treat – a Cessna 208 Caravan.

There was a group of 8 people which include 6 girls of which a few were kind of cute.
Since it’s just a 12 seater aircraft including the pilots, no in-flight flight attendant service. However there was a flight attendant handing off lunch boxes as we boarded our flight.


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Pilot gives safety announcement.

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We taxi out to the runway and begin our takeoff roll and off we go.

I must say the seats on the Cessna Caravan is very comfortable and the interior reminded me of an early 80s Oldsmobile. Very soft seats and the door handle straps and air vents looked exactly the same as the ones in a 1982 Cutlass Supreme Brougham. Anyone know if Cessna and General Motors share the same suppliers?

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Leaving Chiang Mai


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In flight meal that was handed to us before the flight.





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The flight was very bumpy, lots of thermal turbulence but the other passengers on the plane seemed to enjoy it. Like with all high-wing aircraft, it allows great views from every seat to take photos.


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Me

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Kind of odd seeing a gun advertisement on an airplane.



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Down below is the road to the city of Pai which has 762 curves and takes 5 hours long. The flight is only 25 minutes.


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This cloud ahead would shake up our plane like a little toy. Wasn’t expecting it to be that turbulent.




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Final approach to Pai.


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I exit from the captain’s door.


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Ground staff for Nok Mini.

The airport was tiny. Just a one room building.


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I got a ride in a taxi in to town to rent a motorcycle. Rather than booking a hotel online, I like to rent a motorcycle or moped and ride around and pick out a hotel. Hotels always look nice on the internet and I don’t like to rely on other people’s experience on Trip Advisor when picking out a hotel. I like to make sure that the hotel isn’t next to a loud disco or construction site.
I rode around town and looked at a few before I decided on the hotel. I picked out the Pai River Curve Hotel/Resort. This is a very nice & quite resort right on the Pai River that also had campsites.

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Spend a day riding around the mountains above Pai and through Pai canyon and took lots of photos.


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At this point, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to India or to the toilet.




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The following morning was cold (for Thailand). It was about 7 degrees and foggy. It felt a lot like San Francisco. This was a pleasant surprise and enjoyed the chill.

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Enjoying hot chocolate with breakfast in the morning fog.

Went for another ride through the countryside before my flight back to Chiang Mai.

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The fog lifted by the time I got back to Pai. I had an opportunity to get a photo of this private jet depart PYY.


Check in was very quick and again it was a full flight. Had the same exact crew and aircraft.

We board the flight and left on time.


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Take off roll

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View of Pai Valley shortly after takeoff.


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Shortly after takeoff, we make a sharp bank to the left.

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Flight back to Chiang Mai wasn’t as turbulent.

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Final approach to Chiang Mai.

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Interior of the Cessna 208 Caravan after everyone departed.

I had spoken to the pilot after the flight. He was a former Thai Airways 747 pilot but had retired. Works part-time for Siam General Aviation (SGA) just for the fun of flying.


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Checked in at the Royal Shilton Hotel in Chiang Mai. It was a very nice & quite resort at very reasonable rate.

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Rented a moped to get around Chiang Mai.

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Found a nice restaurant along the river and had my favorite Thai dish. Sai Ua which is Northern Thai Sausage. It’s a very spicy sausage it came with deep fried sticky rice. Never had it prepared this way but it was delicious.
Rode around Chiang Mai more and did some more site-seeking.

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The flight back was on Thai Airways A300.
Phaya Thai HS-TAK


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The flight was 100% full and left on time.
I love their multi-colored interior.

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Crew was very professional as always and served meals on a full A300 on a 1 hour flight.
Flight was smooth as silk and we landed on time at BKK.

[Edited 2011-02-20 20:59:26]


Bring back the Concorde
14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinefridgmus From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 1442 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (3 years 7 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 10190 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Great Trip Report Larry!

Good to see you on two wheels! Pai seems like a laid back place. I never got past Udon Thani. One of these days when I get the chance, we'll link up in BKK and do something like this. I'm starting to miss Thailand a lot.

Would like to hear more about Chiang Mai. Heard there are a lot of US expats living there.

I'm also a big fan of the Cessna 208 Caravan. Skydived out of them a few times before hanging up my parachute. Really a great aircraft for what it does. Met a guy once who flew them for FedEx and he just loved the plane.

  

Take care my Brother!

F



The Lockheed Super Constellation, the REAL Queen of the Skies!
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 952 posts, RR: 26
Reply 2, posted (3 years 7 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 10016 times:

Great report and some fantastic pictures! Thanks for sharing them with us Superfly. Pai is a real nice place and it looks like you enjoyed it too - if you get the chance, you should travel slightly further north to Mae Hong Son, the surrounding countryside there is a great place to explore by bike too. Cool empty roads, wild countryside - just don't accidentally wander into Burma!

Glad to see Nok Mini finding its niche. I'd been on HS-GAB about 3 years ago and enjoyed the bumpy Grand Caravan flights enormously (CNX-CEI and CNX-HGN) - it was just called SGA Airlines then, which I believe still operates the planes. Interesting too that on the mainline Nok flight they now serve snacks - I presume this is free and not buy-on-board? That's certainly a change from how I remember them before.

Thanks again for this report.

Cheers
airpearl


User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2430 posts, RR: 4
Reply 3, posted (3 years 7 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 9801 times:

Hi,

great TR, great pictures.

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
For the flight to Pai, I was expecting a Saab 340 for this flight but ended up getting a better treat – a Cessna 208 Caravan.

Yeap- very, very strange. Maybe someone can explain what was happening- I have still no clue.  

According to the media:
"Rex cited Thailand's political turmoil ... as the reason for not extending the lease to Nok Mini, formerly known SGA Airlines."
http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/...-lease-means-fewer-nok-mini-routes

But the SAAB's are still flying in Thailand- but now for HAPPY AIR. Why?! Whats the reason?

Anyway, Thailand is offering great little unknown exotic airlines like Nok Mini or http://www.solarair.co.th or http://www.happyair.co.th - hopefully I will read more TR soon.

chris


User currently offlineBMIFlyer From UK - England, joined Feb 2004, 8810 posts, RR: 58
Reply 4, posted (3 years 7 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 9375 times:

Nice write up Larry. Seems I may have to do this part of Thailand on my next trip. Going off the beaten path sure beats staying in BKK all the time.


Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39887 posts, RR: 74
Reply 5, posted (3 years 7 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 9223 times:

Quoting fridgmus (Reply 1):
Good to see you on two wheels! Pai seems like a laid back place.

It's a very quite and relaxing place. It's the total opposite of Bangkok.
You can hear a pin drop in Pai. The flowing waters of the Pai river was the loudest thing I heard near my hotel.

Quoting fridgmus (Reply 1):
Would like to hear more about Chiang Mai. Heard there are a lot of US expats living there.

I'd like to spend more time up in Chiang Mai. I did meet a few expats living up there.

Quoting fridgmus (Reply 1):
Skydived out of them a few times before hanging up my parachute.

Wow, that's awesome!

Quoting fridgmus (Reply 1):
Met a guy once who flew them for FedEx and he just loved the plane.

I saw one land in Las Vegas at the Airliners.net meet back in 2007.
Looks like a very easy airplane to fly.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
if you get the chance, you should travel slightly further north to Mae Hong Son, the surrounding countryside there is a great place to explore by bike too. Cool empty roads, wild countryside -

Mae Hong Son is south west of Pai.
I was considering Mae Hong Son but I chose Pai because of the higher elevation. I wanted to visit the coldest possible place in Thailand. There is a colder province just to the north of Pai only accessible by car or motorcycle. I didn't have time to go that far on this trip.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
just don't accidentally wander into Burma!

Thanks for the heads up.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
Interesting too that on the mainline Nok flight they now serve snacks - I presume this is free and not buy-on-board? That's certainly a change from how I remember them before.

Those meals were free and handed to us prior to boarding our flight.

Quoting debonair (Reply 3):
Yeap- very, very strange. Maybe someone can explain what was happening- I have still no clue.

I have no idea.

Quoting debonair (Reply 3):
But the SAAB's are still flying in Thailand- but now for HAPPY AIR. Why?! Whats the reason?

The Saabs are flying for Nok and Happy Air.
I see the Nok Air Saab-340s fly out of Don Muang often. I know they fly to Phitsanulok and a few other small towns.
Perhaps someone with more knowledge of Thai aviation can answer your questions.

I did see a Happy Air Saab-340 spotting with Sam Chui down in Phuket last month.

Quoting BMIFlyer (Reply 4):
Seems I may have to do this part of Thailand on my next trip. Going off the beaten path sure beats staying in BKK all the time.

Yes, there is so much to see here in Amazing Thailand.
You did manage to see some neat places on your train trip here in Thailand.



Bring back the Concorde
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6808 posts, RR: 77
Reply 6, posted (3 years 7 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 9059 times:

Hi Larry,

another enjoyable report with nice pictures, you always show us something new from Thailand.

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
I was having difficulty purchasing my ticket online so I attempted doing it the old fashion way by calling customer service. I was only able to make my reservation over the phone and instructed to buy my ticket at the nearest 7-Eleven.
Went to the nearest 7-Eleven and bought my ticket. Kind of odd buying an airline ticket, 2 bottles of beer, a hot dog and soap in the same transaction.

Thats quite odd - how can you purchase a ticket from abroad? I'd love try Nok Air one day.

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
Chocolate filled pretzel is not a good combo.

No, definitely not.

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
However there was a flight attendant handing off lunch boxes as we boarded our flight.

That's very impressive!

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
Sai Ua which is Northern Thai Sausage. It’s a very spicy sausage it came with deep fried sticky rice.

That looks very good, I have to try this.

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
I love their multi-colored interior.

  


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineL410Turbolet From Czech Republic, joined May 2004, 5712 posts, RR: 18
Reply 7, posted (3 years 7 months 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 8886 times:

Great trip report. I always wondered how a realtively small city like Chiang Mai can sustain so many flights by so many airlines... TG, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, Thai Air Asia... TG sending such an overkill of a seat capacity like 747s or 777s.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 6):
how can you purchase a ticket from abroad? I'd love try Nok Air one day.

I've done it via their website several times with no problems. And I love them, they are probably my favorite low-cost airline and definitely worth the trip to Don Muang.


User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5517 posts, RR: 17
Reply 8, posted (3 years 7 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 8761 times:

What a cool and unique trip report. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Those resorts look absolutely amazing. I must visit Thailand at some point. Are the resorts expensive there?


User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39887 posts, RR: 74
Reply 9, posted (3 years 7 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 8679 times:

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 6):
another enjoyable report with nice pictures, you always show us something new from Thailand.

Thanks and I enjoy going off the beaten path to see something different. When you live in a place frequented by tourist, you tend to want to go to places far away from where the tourist go. Pai seems to be a popular getaway for local Thais. I only saw a small handful of Farangs (non-Thais).

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 6):
Thats quite odd - how can you purchase a ticket from abroad? I'd love try Nok Air one day.

You can as L410Turbolet has. There was a glitch in the system at the time I was making my purchase. Not sure if it was on Nok Air's end or on my bank's end. There is 7-Eleven on every corner here so that was no problem.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 6):
That's very impressive!

Thai hospitality is amazing and they take care of their passengers on airplanes, buses and trains. I have another trip report that I haven't had the time to put together that shows more of this. Maybe next week I'll post it.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 6):
That looks very good, I have to try this.

Man it is awesome!   
A girl I dated a few years ago from Laos turned me on to this. She made it herself. It's from northern Thailand and Laos.
Very hard to find outside of Thailand and even rare here in Bangkok.
Seeing that you're in Germany which also has great sausages, I'm sure you'd enjoy the taste of these.
I'm sure it will get more popular over time. Locals are often amused when I request it because it's not known to many foreigners. This is what the rural mountain folks eat.

True story:
There is a Thai restaurant in San Francisco that makes it but was not on the menu. I always requested it and turned my friends on to it and they kept requesting it. Then more & more people requested it and now the restaurant is famous for it. Initially they only made it for themselves and didn't realize Americans would like it. Now it's on their menu and now people from all over town go to eat there for it.

Quoting L410Turbolet (Reply 7):
I always wondered how a relatively small city like Chiang Mai can sustain so many flights by so many airlines... TG, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, Thai Air Asia... TG sending such an overkill of a seat capacity like 747s or 777s.

....and the flights are almost always 100% full.
I wish things were like that in the US. I prefer fewer flights on 747s and A340s instead of multiple CRJs.

Quoting L410Turbolet (Reply 7):
I love them, they are probably my favorite low-cost airline and definitely worth the trip to Don Muang.

Yes they are a very simple and friendly airline. I like Don Muang a lot as well. The airport has a soul and I like the fact that they have street style vendors in the terminal. Glazed ducks fully intact hanging above an open flame is something you don't find at most airports.
I also like the long string of buildings constructed over different eras in aviation. Every building seems to tell a story. Don Muang is very much a Bangkok style facility where as Suvarnabhumi could be in any city.
It's also closer to where I live.

Quoting Continental (Reply 8):
Those resorts look absolutely amazing. I must visit Thailand at some point. Are the resorts expensive there?

The hotels and motorcycle rental is amazingly cheap. The whole trip including airfare cost less than a monthly BART ticket back in San Francisco.



Bring back the Concorde
User currently offlineeastafspot From France, joined Jan 2008, 779 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (3 years 7 months 3 hours ago) and read 8344 times:

Hi SuperFly,

that was a great journey, i've really enjoyed reading it, thanks you!

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
Went to the nearest 7-Eleven and bought my ticket. Kind of odd buying an airline ticket, 2 bottles of beer, a hot dog and soap in the same transaction.

Not usual cool!

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
I was expecting a Saab 340 for this flight but ended up getting a better treat – a Cessna 208 Caravan.

definitely, this bush aircraft gives more thrillings!

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
Since it’s just a 12 seater aircraft including the pilots

it is not 14 including pilots on your pictures?

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
The flight is only 25 minutes.
Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
However there was a flight attendant handing off lunch boxes as we boarded our flight.

lucky you, what a good service

Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
it allows great views from every seat to take photos.
[/quote
and they are all very nice...well done

[quote=Superfly,reply=0]I don’t like to rely on other people’s experience on Trip Advisor when picking out a hotel

I do agree with you comments are often faked by the owners or from angry competitors?  
Quoting Superfly (Thread starter):
I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to India or to the toilet.

This is the same direction!

Once again many thanks for reporting off-beaten tracks, and this lovely bird.


East African Spotter



Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 11, posted (3 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 8040 times:

Nice trip report, Love the pics from the motorcyle trip.


Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39887 posts, RR: 74
Reply 12, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 7925 times:

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 10):
it is not 14 including pilots on your pictures?

Ooops. 
Yes it's 14 seat including the 2 pilots seats.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 10):
I do agree with you comments are often faked by the owners or from angry competitors?

Combination of owners, competitors as well as customers that complain over things the establishment has no control over. People complain about some of the most trivial things such as seat colors.
I do give lots of reviews at Yelp.com but I don't give any at Trip Advisor.
Yelp is just for the US and Canada but Trip Advisor is world-wide. My taste and style of travel may differ from many others that read trip advisor.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 10):
This is the same direction!

That sign is wrong. India is actually in the opposite direction. Laos is to the east. Not the south as the sign indicates.



Bring back the Concorde
User currently offlinechristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 941 posts, RR: 8
Reply 13, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 7882 times:

Quite interesting that the SGA captain was retired from TG. Surely there is an age limit for commercial pilots in Thailand? Well, on the other hand, perhaps there isn't! Nice report.


Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39887 posts, RR: 74
Reply 14, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 7864 times:

Quoting christao17 (Reply 13):
Surely there is an age limit for commercial pilots in Thailand?

The young guy in the left seat was doing most of the flying.

Glad you liked the report. You should make it up to Pai someday.



Bring back the Concorde
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