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Godspeed MD11/childhood Dreams (aurora Borealis)  
User currently offlineogre727 From Spain, joined Feb 2005, 719 posts, RR: 2
Posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 8215 times:

Background (please read)
f you asked around in the forum, you would be probably not surprised by the great variety of professions/types of work, etc. of its members. Lawyers, nurses, a pimp here and there... But how many of us, who are not working directly or indirectly in the aviation field are frustrated pilots? I am sure there is a great number of us who for whatever reason ended up doing somethng different, unrelated to what we really wanted to be.

Me? I am a chemical engineer because my father pressed me to be an engineer. But if you look at the pictures of my childhood, every time we would be at an airport, I would be the only one not looking at the camera, but rather at the airplanes. I am almost 37 now and with age there has come the realization that I will never be a pilot. Also, the airplanes I grew up with and that were part of my dreams are all dissapearing one by one: Boeing 727, L1011, A300, DC10 are all planes that I loved as a kid and that are now pretty much gone.

The MD11 was always a favorite plane of mine. It was a beautiful version of the DC10. For whatever reason I love 3-holers and although I have done almost 700 flights that I can remember, the MD11 had managed to steer clear of my list.

In February, I noticed some incredibly cheap fares across the Atlantic from Madrid where I now live. We (me an my partner) had already decided on NYC when I discovered while playing with my flightradar24 application that KLM was flying the MD11 to San Francisco, where my twin brother lives... what perfect opportunity.

Of course it was not as cheap as NYC, but a quick case presented to the ministry of finance of my household (my partner) was approved on an emotional ground that it would be, probably, my last and only chance to ride on the MD11.

As the date approached, I realized that this trip would serve in a way to say goodbye to –in my opinion- one of the most beautiful planes ever built. But also, a farewell to my childhood dream of becoming a pilot. Why the drama? Because sometimes it takes a simple thing like a special flight to realize time is relentless and you just have to learn to smile.


The adventure begins
This TR will only focus on my way to San Francisco and hence, my first ride on the MD11.

We booked a very early departure from Madrid to our connecting flight in Amsterdam. The flight is actually the first one to leave Barajas, so we had to be at the airport at 4AM. This is what Barajas´ ugly T2 looks like at 4AM on a Sunday Morning:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1103.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1106.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1107.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1104.jpg

Check in Counter:
http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1105.jpg

We had, of course, done our check in on line, so it was just a matter of dropping off our bags, which we did quickly. We then went through security, and slowly made it to our gate:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1110.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1109.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1111.jpg

Our plane already visible:
http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1108.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1112.jpg

There she is:
http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1113.jpg

Boarding started around 5:30 and it was handled quickly:
http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1117.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1118.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1119.jpg

Legroom shot. It looks small, but having flown on Iberia express so much lately, it felt I was in business class:
http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1124.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1121.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1120.jpg

I have no recollection of our take off, or most of our flight. We had slept only about 2 hours so we pretty much slept on the plane the whole way. We landed smack on time in Amsterdam.

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1123.jpg

By the time we started deplaning, I started to get anxious. If you have red my trip reports, you will remember I don´t handle sleep deprivation too well, and will remember an embarassing moment prior to boarding my first A380 ride. Today would be no different, and as we made it through the terminal on our way to the E gates, I knew I was in trouble.

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1128.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1130.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1129.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1127.jpg

And there she was.... my first MD11 ride. Amy Johnson would be taking me to San Francisco today, and in the way, would remind me why I fell in love with airplanes in the first place. Knowing this, I sighed slowly fighting my tears.

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1135.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1136.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1131.jpg

How can you not love this model? I am no airline, so I don't care if she is fuel thirsty... I just loved the sleek lines... the imposing engine on the tail...

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1134.jpg

I started to become more agitated as the boarding time approached. I feared a cancellation, an equipment change... an alien invasion. Luck was on my side that day and boarding started right on time.

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1138.jpg

How amazing:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1139.jpg

I stood there for a second and then I stepped on:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1140.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1141.jpg

Our seats:
http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1142.jpg

I was smiling even when I sat down:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1145.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1146.jpg

And then something amazing happened. I looked at the window shade. I was actually marvelling at how large the windows are. And then I realized that the shades were old DC10 shades:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1151.jpg

This was too much for me and this is when I shed a tear. I didn't mind that the guy sitting next to my partner was looking at me funny. He couldnt understand even if I explained it to him. My partner said nothing... he know.

Then a moment of horror. The pilot comes onto the PA system to say that a door is not closing properly. A sinking feeling that erased all my sapiness and emotions and turned them into fear. Here is the local maintenance personel looking at the door:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1157.jpg

Luckily the pilot came back and said we were good to go! Ground personnel doing the final baggage loading:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1152.jpg

Beautiful wing...

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1158.jpg

We taxied slowly to runway 36L, which of course took about 2 years and 2 days.
http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1161.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1163.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1165.jpg

And then... we were set to go. Long take off roll, marvelous engine sounds... A gift from me to all of you:

http://youtu.be/YhLU1kXgFF0

Long way to SFO:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1155.jpg

I am not going to bash the entertainment system, but it was quite old fashioned:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1169.jpg

KLM is one of those airlines I have a soft spot in my heart for. They just can´t do no wrong. Flight attendants are usually pretty even if old, they are happy and cheerful, and have resisted Air France culture. I am sure the service was just as good as any other flight, but to me it felt friendly, nice, charming. Right after take off we were offered drinks:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1168.jpg

And then lunch. I went for the pasta:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1176.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1177.jpg

My partner went for the beef:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1178.jpg

How was it? It was actually quite ok. They served warm bread which is something I truly love.

Bathroom was tight but well kept:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1173.jpg

After a few hours of flying we were over Greenland:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1180.jpg

They served a snack as well:
http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1181.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1182.jpg

And about an hour and a half to go, we were offered a second meal. I think that “delicious pizza” is a bit pretentious, but the cous-cous was nice:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1185.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1186.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1188.jpg

All good things must come to and end, and we started descending into SFO:
http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1189.jpg

It was a beautiful day, so the pictures I took as we overflew SFO turned out quite nice:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1193.jpg

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1196.jpg

Lining up:

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/IMG_1197.jpg

We made a beautiful approach and landing. I think this is one of my best videos so far. Dramatic, stunning... perfect:

http://youtu.be/b0kVXTYhNuQ

We slowly proceeded to the international terminal and my adventure was over. Luckily, and as opposed to my flights to SFO from europe with LH and AF, my bags made it OK.

Conclusion:
My flight on the MD11 was everything I hoped it would be. It is a beautiful plane although I do see it´s old (the bins are way too small). In the end this trip served as a bit of closure to me. Bring on the boring 2 engine planes. That´s life now... and I am ok with it. In part because I got to fly her, and fly on Pan Am, and Eastern, and when I was very young a great airline now long gone, Viasa. The world and sometimes our lives chang fast and we must adapt. But I got the memories now.

And the aurora borealis? On our flight back we caught it while flying over northern Canada. Magical, no?

http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq220/ogre727/San%20Francisco%20and%20Hawaii/uNRCaFDGvCfoFo9mLadXGUZjP0DqOx1p0Dh6LpewIVA.jpeg

I leave you with two more videos. Our take off and landing on our way back from SFO to AMS.

http://youtu.be/JI4cKQm32gk

http://youtu.be/9hDDiYfgkKE


Thank you for reading!


Sigh
13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAR385 From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 6187 posts, RR: 30
Reply 1, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 8150 times:
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Thanks for sharing.

I love the angle you gave your report. I can relate to it, since I´m 40 now and just as you, I´m seeing my airliners from an earlier age diasappear day by day.

I was able to fly on the MD-11 a few times, although only on AA. Its raw power is impressive.



MGGS
User currently offlinedc1030cf From United States of America, joined Sep 2012, 66 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 7090 times:
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Great trip report. The DC-10/MD-11 series truly is one of the most beautiful jetliners ever flown. (....the other two are Convair-990A and the VC-10) . I especially like that L2 door McDonnell Douglas shot. Once again, that you for posting all the great photos.

User currently offline797 From Venezuela, joined Aug 2005, 1894 posts, RR: 27
Reply 3, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 6799 times:

Putting on a side the hazardous levels of envy I have, I must say you are one big %&!/!!!

Amazing opportunity, and I hate you for it. The flaps during the landing video, I mean... look at those flaps! The winglet, the shadow!!!

Dude, what an amazing trip. I'm so happy for you, really. I must fly it at least once.

Did you have a chance to look at the Business Class?

I would have liked to see cabin views too.

Awesome, awesome, awesome!

797



Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous!
User currently offlineRogerbcn From Andorra, joined Sep 2006, 1209 posts, RR: 20
Reply 4, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 6715 times:

Hola Ogre727!

Very interesting report on those great flying machines!

MD-11s are a gem that need to go under some sort of protection program. I love flying them.

Coincidentally my last flight on one of those was on that very plane you flew, PH-KCA took me AMS-YUL some years ago and I still feel the great power they use for take off and the unique landing they provide, very different to the other planes.

Thanks a lot! A great experience!

Salut!

Roger

[Edited 2013-03-11 12:49:43]


"At reise er at leve" H.C. Andersen (Travelling is Living)
User currently offlineB747forever From Sweden, joined May 2007, 17065 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 6313 times:

My one and only MD11 flight was also on KCA, flying SFO-AMS. Unfortunately the days of the MD11 are numbered  


Work Hard, Fly Right
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1930 posts, RR: 24
Reply 6, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 6051 times:
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Great report, Ogre727!

Looks like you had a good flight with KLM - food looks really tasty, as it always does with KLM and how nice you got to ride on an MD-11!

Best,

Matthew


User currently offlineogre727 From Spain, joined Feb 2005, 719 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 5017 times:

Thank you all for your comments.

Yes, KLM it´s an airline I think can do no wrong. Even if the seats were not 100% comfortable, even if they sold us "special" duo seats at 30Euros each that wouldn´t recline.... they are a favorite of mine. We have more irrational behavior on this website, if not look at fellow member 797 and the love he has for... Alitalia and American!!! Now that is wacky.

Regarding the MD11, I was amazed by how powerful it felt, and how unbelievable large the windows were. Landing felt really fast on the return.

Thank you for your comments so far!

Do you guys think that never will we see a tri-jet again?



Sigh
User currently offlineavion660 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2007, 212 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 4430 times:

Like the other comments..I really enjoyed your report.
I'm (well) in my 40's now, long given up any idea of an aviation career and for me DC10's were the thing: VA and CP flights were very enjoyable.. but I've never made it onto an MD11.
I can understand your thinking for the trip: I may also have to have that discussion with the 'financial authorities'!


User currently offlineadamspotter From Netherlands, joined Feb 2011, 1161 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 4416 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi ogre727,

Great report on KLMs beautiful MD-11. I had the priviledge to fly it last November:

Off To The Windy City On A KLM MD-11!: AMS-ORD (Y) (by adamspotter Jan 20 2013 in Trip Reports)

The MD-11 is for sure my favorite aircraft out there, and I just want to book a flight on it one last time!

Quoting ogre727 (Thread starter):
And there she was.... my first MD11 ride

What a beauty, cant get enough of it!

Quoting ogre727 (Thread starter):
We taxied slowly to runway 36L, which of course took about 2 years and 2 days

wow, thats long 
Quoting ogre727 (Thread starter):
After a few hours of flying we were over Greenland

Nice shot! Everytime I fly over Greenland it gets covered by clouds!

Quoting ogre727 (Thread starter):
It was a beautiful day, so the pictures I took as we overflew SFO turned out quite nice

Great overview of SFO, lucky!

Thanks again for sharing!

cheers,

Brendan


User currently offlineEL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1306 posts, RR: 5
Reply 10, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 4203 times:

Hey, this is my dream too    

I do search KLM fares when I fly to north America in a last chance to fly my first 3 engine plane, but from some reason they are very expensive! not to mention those new luggage fares! KLM is about 1500 USD to YUL, with aeroflot or transaero (or even LOT from time to time) can cut price to under 900 USD. I love the MD-11, but I also need to pay rent.

Same really, KLM used to be pretty popular around here.

Thank you for this report, it was a very interesting read with great photos. Hope you had good time in California.

Jonathan



"In our country, those who do not believe in miracles are irrational" - David Ben Gurion.
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Reply 11, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 3652 times:

Hey ogre727

Thanks for a great report.

Quote:
If you asked around in the forum, you would be probably not surprised by the great variety of professions/types of work, etc. of its members. Lawyers, nurses, a pimp here and there... But how many of us, who are not working directly or indirectly in the aviation field are frustrated pilots? I am sure there is a great number of us who for whatever reason ended up doing somethng different, unrelated to what we really wanted to be.

Me? I am a chemical engineer because my father pressed me to be an engineer. But if you look at the pictures of my childhood, every time we would be at an airport, I would be the only one not looking at the camera, but rather at the airplanes. I am almost 37 now and with age there has come the realization that I will never be a pilot. Also, the airplanes I grew up with and that were part of my dreams are all dissapearing one by one: Boeing 727, L1011, A300, DC10 are all planes that I loved as a kid and that are now pretty much gone.

I can relate to all you say above. Likewise, I am of a similar age and have watched some of my favourite aircraft types disappear from the skies over the past two decades or so. What a great way to sample the last trijet in commercial service. I don't see there being any trijets in the future so you did well to catch the KL M11 when you did.

Thanks again - enjoyed your pics of the flight as well. KL seems to offer a solid, even if not an overwhelmingly "wow" product.

Cheers Palmjet



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineogre727 From Spain, joined Feb 2005, 719 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 3596 times:

Again, thanks to all for your kind comments.

Im surprised no one has mentioned the picture with the northern lights. It was very awe inspiring.



Sigh
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5088 posts, RR: 55
Reply 13, posted (1 year 5 months 1 week 14 hours ago) and read 2888 times:

What an awesome report. I am glad you were able to fly KL one last time. They are an airline that is consistently above average, and I am happy you could make your MD-11 dream come true on such a historic airline.

Quoting ogre727 (Thread starter):
Flight attendants are usually pretty even if old, they are happy and cheerful, and have resisted Air France culture.

= And this is across the board ... I was part of the team that advised against the purchase and it was painful to see KL having to fight for even small things ... like keeping the "Dutch houses" in JCL. Just sad overall. Of course, KL needed investment. But if it was another airline, KL would have done much better ... just look at LX's turnaround.

Saludos,
Alex



Live, and let live.
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