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1 Week Before Crash: ESM-UIO Flt In Cockpit (+Pics!)  
User currently offlineBirdwatching From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 4096 posts, RR: 50
Posted (11 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 7908 times:

Scary things do happen. And it happened to me for the second time. In april 2001, I flew on HC-BLF, a 721 of the Ecuadorian military, on the route from ESM to UIO. About 10 months later this very same aircraft crashed in Colombia, killing all 92 souls aboard.

A couple of weeks ago, on March 28, 2005, I flew on the same route, ESM-UIO. This time it was on Icaro Air, on a lovely Fokker 28, in the cockpit jump seat. Exactly 10 days later, on April 7, HC-CDA touched down a couple of feet early while landing at Coca (in the Ecuadorian jungle), causing the left main landing gear to collapse, with the plane sliding down the runway for about half a kilometer and then coming to rest virtually inside the living room of a house next to the runway. All passengers and crew left the wreck without injury, but the good ol' F28 was worth nothing more than a few 'centavos'.

A scary thought has crossed my mind. While most people (in my situation) would say "thank God that I flew 10 days earlier and not on THAT day".
Maybe I'm crazy, but knowing that no one got injured, I would have liked to be right there in that accident. It might sound really weird. But imaging knowing BEFORE that you'll walk out there without a scratch on your elbow. Under these circumstances I would have loved to experience this situation. Call me nuts.

But now, back to the topic! Let me tell you about my wonderful & unforgettable flight...

Aircraft: HC-CDA Fokker 28 - 4000 Icaro Air Ecuador
Route: ESM-UIO, operating as flight X8'301
Schedule: leave 1520 / arrive 1550 / duration 0:30
Actual: wheels off 1540 / wheels on 1605 / duration 0:25
(all times local)
Ticket price US$ 45.00

I arrived very early at ESM, about 3 hours prior to the flight, because I got the chance to get dropped off by friends. The first hour of my wait, I was the ONLY person on the whole airport. (including staff). About 1h prior to flight, the airport and airline staff started to appear (about 6 people total). I bought my ticket. For some stupid reason, I HAD to pay the $45 that they had quoted me on the phone, when I made my reservation. Even though there was a special deal that day for $39! They wouldn't even let me cancel my phone reservation and buy a walk-up ticket at $39! No can do, even though there were plenty of open seats! (Whatever.)

The aircraft arrived from UIO about 20 minutes prior to departure, and they turned it around in no time at all. Beautiful purple & white Fokker 28.

They started boarding. A short walk across the apron, as usual on small airports. (in fact this airport sees ONE plane daily, so it's a very big event in Esmeraldas!)

As I was the last passenger in the line at the door, I greeted the captain who was looking out of the opened cockpit window. "Disculpe Señor", I yelled up to the window, "would there be any chance to catch a ride in the cockpit? I'm a pilot myself!" (I said this in spanish)
"Claro que si, no hay ningun problema!" he answered me, which means something like "sure, how would you dare NOT to join us in the cockpit?"

They were both around my age (I'm 23), and we had a great time. Even though we had a lot of fun talking, they did their job VERY professionally. They spoke perfect english on the radio, and they told me they had flown this route and other domestic routes in Ecuador several time each day for the last couple of years.

I took a bunch of pictures on the trip, and they had given me a headset to listen to ATC. Cool approach into UIO, great view over the city.

When I left the plane, the flight attendants were giving each passenger a rose. When I unpacked my backpack at my friends home in Quito, I realized that I had a swiss army knife in my hand luggage all the time. Go figure.

Hope you guys enjoyed reading about my unusual flight. This little beauty of a dutch jet will never fly again. It makes me very sad. Almost like somebody died. I've had a wonderful hour aboard this ship, one I will never forget. Thanks to the Capitán and his Co for this experience... and to HC-CDA! You will never be forgotten!

Me and the co-pilot

Banking into UIO final approach

Lining up for the runway

Taxiing in

After getting out

HC-CDA leaving again

Edit: Here's the link to the accident report...

[Edited 2005-04-23 23:55:22]

All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
8 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (11 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 7872 times:

Very nice short report with awesome pictures! Thanks for sharing this experience, I enjoyed reading and watching!


User currently offlineJambo From Tanzania, joined Dec 2004, 249 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (11 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 7046 times:

I enjoyed reading your trip report..


User currently offlineUAalltheway From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (11 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 6838 times:

Thanks for writing. I enjoyed it also. Nice pics also.  Smile

User currently offlineAirsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 31
Reply 4, posted (11 years 1 month 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 6269 times:

Very nice report - I too had a jumpseat landing at UIO, last September, and I agree, absolutely great experience.

What I find interesting, nearly a bit eerie about the crash thing:

After doing UIO-CUE on TAME's 727-100 HC-BLE/FAE-691, I actually wanted to fly on HC-CDA on my return flight - but that flight was fully booked, and I had to go back on the same HC-BLE. Which is, in turn, the sister ship of the crashed HC-BLF/FAE-692...


Daniel Smile

User currently offlineBirdwatching From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 4096 posts, RR: 50
Reply 5, posted (11 years 1 month 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 6073 times:

Thanks Daniel, I've checked out your report, and it is so well written that I almost felt like I was on that plane. And the Concorde one too. You are so damn lucky. Last passenger ever!

All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
User currently offlineBR715-A1-30 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (11 years 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 5567 times:

Birdwatching.... YOU ARE NUCKING FUTS!!!!

Ok, Aside from that.. Great Pics and report. I need to make another trip soon  Smile

User currently offlineFreedomtofly From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 750 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (11 years 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 5489 times:

Great report and pics. Quito is an awesome place to be!!


You are now free to move about the world.
User currently offlineTUNisia From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1850 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (11 years 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 5460 times:

great report on an airline which we seldom hear about.

Someday the sun will shine down on me in some faraway place - Mahalia Jackson
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