The real killer with AC
was a 5 hour stop-over in Toronto on the outbound, and a stop in SCL
on the return coupled with a tight connection for London. Ultimately, IB
is 16 hours each way compared to 24 on AC
, and I've taken enough long flights these last 2 years...
This was the last photo I saw of "Calderón de la Barca". As you can see, it was taken less than a month after retirement, but from South America I couldn't follow it's fate, which as you clarified, was an ugly one.
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Photo © Ivan Rodriguez - IBERIAN SPOTTERS
No one's given me a straight answer as to LV
-MLO's retirement either, that that AR
still claim it is "aguardando su inspección" (sure!). She was built in late 1978 and joined AR
in early 1979 as their 2nd 747, but with the arrival of the -SP in 1981, -MLO was leased to Flying Tigers from about 1983-90 where it flew charter flights for MAC
(Military Airlift Command) in the US:
From 1990 onwards, once the -SP was returned, it stayed with AR
, until that seemingly abrupt decision on October 25, 2002, to retire the aircraft, at the tender age of 23. Maybe its years in the US put an added stress on the airframe (I have no idea what it was made to do), or it accumulated more hours and cycles than would have been the case had it remained in Argentina. It could also have been related to the crisis (the 747 fleet suffered poor load factors throughout 2002). Either way, I'm sure -MLO could still be flying were it not so expensive to return her to service.
A curious detail is this:
The aircraft used to be GE