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Friday, October 12, 2012

Farnborough Airshow 2012

July 2012

Everything started with this flyer I found in Airliner World magazine:

Airliner World

I had never attended an international airshow and I was waiting for this opportunity for several years. After seeing that flyer I checked my roster for the weekend in which the airshow was opened to the general public. Saturday morning I was arriving from Munich and then I had a couple of days off. Almost perfect!
Next step was defying an old friend of mine to come with me. I called him and as I thought, he still continues crazy enough to accept these kind of chanllenges :) Eventually another 2nd friend would join this adventure and the same three guys who spent a weekend in New York in 2006 "just to buy a digital camera" were together again!


Saturday the 14th - London

This day started very early for me at Freising (Munich). Wake up call at 3:50 am (2:50 am, Lisbon time...) and then a flight to Lisbon. The flight departed with some delay and as I had a short connection time to get the first available flight to London, I was a little bit worried. But guess what, flight to London was also delayed and I even had time to change clothes and leave my uniform in my car!

The flight to London was full and since we were flying with staff tickets we were the last ones to have assigned seats which were obviously separated seats. So I just used the flight time to sleep and regain energy for the day. I didn't even eat the usual sandwich served on these flights.

We landed at Heathrow Airport and then went to our hotel (Crowne Plaza Heathrow) to leave there our things and go immediately to the center of London. Even if this flight wasn't delayed we had already decided that in the first day we would be visiting London and not going to the airshow. Arriving at 13h00, leaving the airport, waiting for the bus to the hotel, then 1 hour of trip until Waterloo train station plus the train until Farnborough, wouldn't leave much time to see anything that day... So we just enjoyed London, caught some rain, bought some aviation books and had a great dinner at a Thai restaurant.

Sunday the 15th - The Airshow

We had bought our tickets online in advance so we were benefited with discount and would avoid a waiting queue at the venue of the Airshow. We also rented a car and the most experienced driver of us took it until Farnborough with the help of a GPS. I think I wouldn't dare to drive in London any day. It's easy to understand that everything is opposite: the steering wheel on the right side and taking the left side of a road. But having to fight against my automatic skills in a strange and unknown place would be too much for me!

Everything just went fine and we got in the airfield without getting lost. Also everything was so well organized that made things easier for the visitors. When we arrived, the weather was great: sunny with some scattered clouds although they would become broken clouds later that day.

We had to pass through security check control (just like in the airports) and we were ready for the airshow!

-o0o-
Omega Tanker KDC-10-40I

This aircraft was on static display near the entrance so it was the first airplane I saw. Being a L-1011 lover,  of course this modified DC-10 caught my station. The DC-10 was the main competitor of the L-1011 in the 70s and it is a similar aircraft in having a 3-engine configuration. One could see that this particular aircraft was a former -40 series by observing the shape of the #2 engine intake which is rounded instead of being straight.

Engine #2

N974VV

Refueling pod

Omega Tanker titles

Such a  beautiful classic!

Omega offers commercial in-flight refueling services and you can learn more about them here.

-o0o-
A400M & A318

Now it's time to go for Airbus!
I didn't lose much time with the A400M but it seemed to be at least a beautiful aircraft.

A400M & A380

Its rival, the Lockheed C130J was also present at the static display.

The tiniest member of the Airbus aircraft family - the A318 - was brought to the airshow by British Airways.



G-EUNA

In fact, this is an 'A318 CJ Elite' fitted only with business class seats and used on the LCY-JFK run.

-o0o-
Some landing planes during the Airshow...

Qatar Airways' A320

Irkut-Avia's An-12, RA-11309, what a treat!

-o0o-
C-17A Globemaster III

Wow! This big airplane really caught our attention. And it was worth the wait in the queue to get inside.

Globemaster

Tail Number 07-7170

Huge inside!

Wing view from a tiny window

This can be opened in flight!

Funny seatbelt/no-smoking sign


Beautiful glass cockpit

Throttle Quadrant

As we were leaving the C-17, the A380 was just starting its airborne display.

-o0o-
A<380 "Love at first flight"

After the tiny A318, let's go see the biggest in action! Although I have already flown the A380, I had never saw it doing extreme maneuvers. It's always an impressive sight and it handles very easily in the air despite its gigantic dimensions.

Descending while in roll to the left...




Low speed pass...




Climbing with a steep angle...


And finally landing in the middle of the crowd.


After the display, again in its static position.

F-WWDD


-o0o-
Other aircraft...

ATR 72-600

Catalina

An-2 cockpit

 And one aircraft of our Portuguese Air Force:

FAP CASA C-295

During the last hours of the airshow we would enjoy the displays of the beautiful Avro Lancaster bomber aircraft and of the Red Arrows, the proud of the UK.

We also paid a visit to the Airbus shop and to the Virgin Galactic stand.

Unfortunately we couldn't wait for the Avro Vulcan display, the last one flying in the world. We had to return to Heathrow to catch the last flight of the day to Lisbon.

As we boarded we were kindly invited to Business Class. So we had nice food and wonderful wine on our return flight. A great way to end a fantastic weekend.

With love from the Red Arrows...


... see you next time Farnborough Airshow!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Greek Islands Tour

October 2007

I was more than a month without flying. Our L-1011 went to maintenance and among other works, an important and mandatory modification in the engines was due. This process took a little bit longer than it was expected.
When the aircraft finally arrived from maintenance, I was immediately assigned for a short notice ACMI flight for Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium. We would be replacing an A320 on the triangular route to the Greek islands Rhodes and Heraklion.

This was also the first flight of one colleague as a purser and was being examined, so it was a special flight for all of us who wanted things to go just fine and without problems, making it easier for her. For this long journey we had an augmented crew of 8 flight crew members and 11 cabin crew! I didn't even have my own jumpseat since they were all occupied (CS-TMP had 10 jumpseats for cabin crew).

We departed empty to Brussels with TCW 424F callsign in a 2h30min run.

Initial cruise...


Another airplane crossing...


Empty cabin...


These dirty windows were really in need for an urgent cleaning...


No passengers means time for some fun in the cabin... Still waiting for the reverse photo :)


Looking afterwards...


Looking forward...


Someone said that after the modifications, the engine noise sounded better. For me, a RB211-524B engine always plays music all the time!


Start of our descent towards Brussels... Speedbrakes!


Final approach, flaps!


And finally at Zaventem (Brussels) Airport!


Then we boarded catering and passengers. During boarding, I recall one passenger noticing the different aircraft and telling "Je n'aime pas cet avion. C'est trop grand!". Well, definitely passengers can't decide whether the L-1011-500 is a big or a small aircraft. If you remember, on another flight, someone was worried if such a "small" plane could cross the Atlantic Ocean... For me it was just the right size... not too big, not too small.
But we also had some elderly passengers (don't know if it was their first time flying) completely amazed with the airplane and fascinated with the experience of flying.

So we took the passengers to the Greek islands all night long. Flight time was 3h20 from Brussels to Rhodes, 1h00 from Rhodes to Heraklion and 3h15 in the return flight to Brussels.

We arrived in Brussels when the sun started rising. It was a very, very foggy morning! As I didn't have a jumpseat, I landed in the cabin together with the passengers and I couldn't see anything outside. The aircraft was already on its final approach and it didn't move one millimeter away from its steady descending path. If I didn't know I was inside an airborne plane, I could swear I was in terra firma! More, I couldn't even notice the landing gear touching down and visibility was still nil! Only when the aircraft started braking and decelerating I knew we were on ground.

After landing I talked with a cabin crew colleague telling him that almost for sure an autoland was performed. He said I was crazy and that an old aircraft like the L-1011 probably didn't have such capability. I stood quiet and smiled to myself. When the last passenger got out, I went to the cockpit and told the Captain "Great landing!". He replied... «it was not me, it was "George"». And I smiled again, proud of my aircraft :)

Again at Brussels with fog starting to dissipate

Then we returned to Lisbon with TCW 599F callsign.

After arrival in Lisbon

Maintenance already preparing the L-1011 for the next flight


I was tired but happy to be back in service!