Nigeria and Saudi Arabia
Hajj 2007 - Part II
Hajj 2007 - Part II
2º voo | 2nd flight Abuja - Minna - Jeddah
After we started the pilgrimage, my crew also did the last flight before a new airport in Nigeria was added to our network and the flights became triangular: Abuja-Kaduna-Jeddah-Abuja. But first let's have some insight on the second flight performed by my crew.
O segundo voo da minha tripulação começou com uma surpresa no aeroporto: um A330 da Lufthansa! Não fazia ideia que voavam para cá...
Abuja remained our operational base and when we arrived at the airport a Lufthansa A330 was parked. I was surprised to know that they flew to Abuja...
I also noticed a 737-200 with a red livery, leaving a dense smoke trail during a right turn after a powerful and noisy take-off.
Seguiu-se mais um voo-posição muito curto e sem grande história até Minna. Levávamos connosco a tripulação americana do 757 da Primaris que tinha tido problemas em Jeddah. Entretanto, reparei que no aeroporto de Abuja existem alguns aviões antigos abandonados sendo os mais exóticos uns BAC1-11 da Savannah Airlines. Também se vêem por lá uns 727 da Albarka Air, um deles com uma pintura especial. Ainda não tive oportunidade de os fotografar mas espero consegui-lo brevemente. Para já, fica a curiosidade para mais tarde pesquisar sobre o historial destes aviões!
Another position leg to Minna followed and this time we took with us a crew of Primaris Airlines because their 757 had some technical problems at Jeddah. While we were taxiing to the runway for take-off some exotic aircraft could be seen at Abuja: a BAC 1-11 of Savannah Airlines and some 727's of Albarka Air, one of them with a special livery. I was not able to take photos but I hope to do it soon. And it made me curious enough to search about their history later!
Em Minna recebemos novamente a bordo a nossa colega destacada pelo operador que nos fretou. Para nossa surpresa, chama-se Fatima e é Assistente de Bordo "emprestada" da Kabo Air! O catering carregado em Minna era exactamente igual ao anterior e a mesma estratégia para o serviço de bordo iria ser aplicada com sucesso. Estes peregrinos eram de certa forma mais evoluídos do que os primeiros que transportámos o que surpreendentemente até trouxe mais dificuldades. Muitos tinham telemóvel e foi necessário o outro intérprete fazer um discurso em árabe para que os desligassem.
In Minna the same female translator of the previous flight joined us with another colleague. To our surprise her name is Fatima (also a Portuguese name) and she was a Kabo Air Flight Attendant assigned by Meridian Airlines to help our crew with the pilgrims. The catering loaded was exactly the same items and food we saw in the first flight, so the same strategy of on-board service was used. The pilgrims of this flight were more "sophisticated" and surprisingly that fact brought us more difficulties. Many of them had cell phones and the male translator had to do a speech in Arabic telling the passengers to switch them off.
Talvez por serem mais evoluídos, estes peregrinos não rezaram (pelo menos em voz alta) durante a descolagem e a aterragem.
Maybe because they were more "sophisticated", these pilgrims didn't sing/pray during take-off and landing.
Desembarque normal em Jeddah e sensação de déjà-vu: pouco depois de estacionarmos, chegou novamente um DC-10 da Biman que ficou outra vez mesmo ao nosso lado. Perto estava também um A310-300 da Turkish Airlines. Mais uma vez, regressámos de seguida vazios para Abuja.
After disembark of the pilgrims in Jeddah a "déjà-vu" scene: a Biman DC-10 arrived and parked at our right side. There was also a Turkish Airlines A310-300. Once again we returned empty to Abuja.
Ao chegar a Abuja, avisto um imponente 777-200 da British Airways estacionado numa das jetways (manga telescópica) do aeroporto. Afinal, este aeroporto até costuma ter alguns movimentos de relevância!
Arriving at Abuja, I saw a stunning British Airways 777-200 parked in front of the terminal linked to it by a jetway. After all, this airport in the middle of nowhere gets some prominent airlines.
3º (e último ...) voo Abuja - Minna - Jeddah
3rd (and last...) flight Abuja - Minna - Jeddah
3rd (and last...) flight Abuja - Minna - Jeddah
We left Abuja just before sunrise. This airport has a beacon very similar to those who help maritime navigation. Speaking about the flight itself, it was more of the same... They were passengers with the same characteristics of the second flight. Some pilgrims had more than one mobile phone which seemed to be an essential piece of technology! Most of them spoke English although with a peculiar accent difficult to understand. During this flight I was startled by a pilgrim who asked me if it was possible to switch on its mobile phone because he had a prayer saved in its memory Card! I said no because we had to comply with the electronic devices policy. Later the leader of the group used our P.A. (Public Address) to read a prayer for everybody on board which lasted for some 20 minutes! Once again disembark through door 2R (operated by me) and many male pilgrims saying good bye and wanting to shake my hand.
Desta vez ficaríamos algumas horas a descansar em Jeddah e foi a primeira vez que entrei oficialmente na Arábia Saudita. As nossas colegas tiveram de se cobrir com uma espécie de capa negra. Na alfândega, o senhor responsável demonstrava alguma relutância em lhes dirigir a palavra.
This time we would have a short stopover in Jeddah - officialy my first time in Saudi Arabia. My female colleagues had to cover themselves with abayas. While passing through passport control I noticed that men officials where reluctant to speak with them.
Fomos de táxi até ao Radisson SAS em Jeddah. Esperava-nos um hotel verdadeiramente sumptuoso. Durante o caminho deu para reparar que apesar da Arábia Saudita ser um país rico, o que se vê da cidade não é nada de especial existindo alguns edifícios já bastante velhos e outros muito sujos. No hotel, o alojamento eram suites enormes com quartos individuais. A decoração não era propriamente do meu agrado mas eram indiscutivelmente instalações muito confortáveis. Os corredores do hotel eram bastante largos e ao mesmo tempo labirínticos.
We took taxis to Radisson SAS in Jeddah, a simply sumptuous hotel. During our way, I could note that despite being a rich country, the city itself seems to be rather dull with even some very old and dirty buildings. In our hotel we were lodged in a large common apartment with individual rooms. The decoration was not my cup of tea but our installations were very comfortable. The hotel also had very large and labyrinthine corridors.
O pouco tempo que estivemos em Jeddah aproveitei-o para descansar e navegar na internet. Descobri que sites como o hi5 estão bloqueados pelas autoridades locais e associados a pornografia! Na rua, ouvia-se por vezes alguém a rezar com um megafone!
During our short layover I used that time for a quality rest and also to navigate on the web. I found that sites like hi5 were blocked by the local authorities with the excuse that they promoted pornography! In the street, from time to time, we could hear prayers transmitted by megaphones placed on the top of the mosques/minarets.
De regresso ao aeroporto para levarmos o avião posicionado de regresso a Abuja, tentei observar com atenção os peregrinos que ainda desembarcavam e que eram procedentes de Kaduna. Apenas consegui detectar uma diferença de pormenor na cor da capa das mulheres que era lilás em vez de verde. De resto pareceu-me serem peregrinos muito idênticos àqueles com que temos vindo a lidar. Desta vez, o destaque na placa em frente ao terminal do Hajj foi um 747 da Hellenic Imperial Airways.
Back to the airport to take our plane back to Abuja in a position flight, I observed the pilgrims from Kaduna that were still disembarking and I noticed the different color of the women's cover which was lilac instead of green. Other than that they seemed to be identical to the previous pilgrims. In terms of spotting, the highlight was a 747 of Hellenic Imperial Airways parked in front of the Hajj terminal.
Feita a limpeza do nosso avião lá seguimos de novo para Abuja de onde escrevo esta mensagem. Apesar de tudo a cabine não tem ficado propriamente num caos. Apenas reparei que muitos peregrinos retiraram mesmo os coletes salva-vidas do seu local, deixando-os no chão ou então nas bolsas das cadeiras em frente. Provavelmente durante as demonstrações com a tripulação anterior ficaram convencidos que era mesmo para retirá-los do sítio!
As soon as the cleaning of the aircraft was finished we proceeded to Abuja from where I'm writing this post. Contrary to what I was expecting, the cabin doesn't get that messy after these Hajj flights. One thing I noticed was that many pilgrims would take the life jackets out of their pouches under the seats and left them on the floor or inside the seat pocket in front of them. Probably during the safety demonstration with the previous crew they wanted to make sure they were there or just to see them. As I wrote before, they seem to care about this safety issue seriously during the demonstrations.
Antes do pushback, o Flight Engineer convidou-me para espreitar o cockpit. Disse-lhe que era a primeira vez que via o FIDDS ligado. O FIDDS - Flight Isolation Data Display System - é um pequeno computador do L-1011 que na altura foi absolutamente inovador na aviação, detectando e registando automaticamente avarias ou malfunctionings de vários sistemas durante o voo para posterior investigação e actuação da manutenção. No fundo, a mesma táctica que usam hoje em dia os aviões Airbus.
Before the push-back, the Flight Engineer invited me to look inside the cockpit. I told him it was the first time I saw the FIDDS switched on. The FIDDS - Fault Isolation Data Display System - is a small computer of the L-1011 which was innovative in aviation, detecting faults and keeping that registry in memory for later analysis and corrective actions.
During our taxi-out I finally saw another L-1011! Even in Jeddah, during the Hajj season, the L-1011 begins to be a rare sight. The aircraft I saw was MSN 1221 (originally from TWA) which was flying for Air Charter Express, successor of StarJet. Few years before, this aircraft had visited Lisbon airport during UEFA Euro 2004 tournament.
|Cabine zona B | Cabin zone B|
I was able to sleep three hours laying over one of the middle set of four seats in the economy class, during our position flight which lasted a total of 5h05. While on approach I spent the time enjoying certain details of our fascinating aircraft.
In the picture above, if enlarged, we can see the outboard ailerons slightly deflected upwards. Despite this fact, we were in a steady wings-level flight condition - the other outboard aileron was also deflected upwards by the same amount. This is consequence of a particular system of the L-1011 called Active Control System which actuates symmetrically on both outboard ailerons to alleviate wing loading in that zone of the wings. This system actuates automatically in case of turbulence/vertical accelerations or when the demanded lift coefficient is higher - typically during take-off and approach.
In this second picture showing part of the upper surface of the wing, the landing gear pin can be seen deployed as we were already on final approach with the landing gear down. It indicates that the landing gear is locked in down position. After taking this photo, I ran to my landing station since the Flight Crew advice was already given "cabin crew, take your seats for landing".
Na seguinte fotografia podemos ver a sombra do nosso L-1011 em terra. A silhueta não engana, é mesmo um TriStar!
In the next photo, the shadow of our L-1011 can be seen on the ground. The silhouette doesn't leave space for doubts - it's really a TriStar!
And finally, some morning movements in Abuja airport.
|O 747 referido na imagem anterior (5N-MAD)...|
... e o 757 da Primaris a descolar em fundo
747 with reg 5N-MAD and Primaris 757 taking off
|Botswana Defence Force C-130|
And the final photo of this post... our aircraft, also known among us as the "Flying Sword"!