Here is the trip report on my Continental flights from EWR-MCO and MCO-EWR. Once again, I have packed in as much information as possible. I hope that you enjoy it.
After being home from my EWR-ORD, ORD-EWR trip less than 24 hrs, I was once again packed and ready to "Work Hard, Fly Right" rather than "Fly the Friendly Skies." with United as I had done the day before. This would be my first trip on Continental in over 5 years. I guess you could say that I was "Born and raised United". Anyways, this trip would be on board Continental and would take me to the steamy destination of Orlando, Florida.
Tuesday night and Wednesday morning were spent washing and then repacking clothes into my trusty Samsonite. By 12:30pm I was all ready to go. I sat around though waiting until the designated departure time from my house of 3:15pm. My friend Bob called at 3:10 though and asked if I could wait another 10 minutes as he still had some last minute packing he needed to accomplish. Around 3:30pm my mother and I hopped into the C230 and made the two minute hike over to Bob's house. We picked him up, and headed out of Rt 23 towards Newark International Airport.
Yet again, traffic struck on Route 3, and we were forced to find another way to Newark. It took some time, but we finally arrived at Newark around 4:50pm, with plenty of time to spare as boarding would commence at 5:45pm.
We checked in with the skycaps at Terminal C, which happens to be ALL Continental. The skycap told us that our departure gate would be Gate 70. My friend Bob and I quickly headed inside. We passed through security and made our way to Gate 70, which happened to be the first gate on our left.*
*So you can better understand how the terminal is laid out, I will describe it to you. Think of Terminal C as an upside down F. But with the top part and middle line going to the left. The top and middle part are also equal in length. Gate 70 is in between the top and middle lines, and is the last gate before the terminal heads towards the left.
We found two seats, and I quickly got out my spotting gear. I was able to see many Continental Aircraft at their gates. Continental's MD-81 (N14880), 757-200 (N12109), 737-500 (N59630), MD-82 (N83870), along with a company 737-500 (N17663), 737-800 (N18220), 737-800 (N33208), 757-200 (N19141) and a 737-300 (N69311). All of these aircraft were at various stages of loading and sat patiently at their gates.
I decided to leave gate 70 (Northern faceing) and see what other aircraft were visible. I strolled over to the Southern faceing gates across from ours and was able to photograph and watch uplifts for (N39081) and (N14062) which are two Continental DC-10-30s. For over 20 years these two have flown millions of passengers around the world, but reality seems to say that this may be there last summer together in Continental colors. I left as the DC-10s began finally preparations for their Trans-Atlantic flights, and walked further down the terminal. I got a great vantage point through several Northern windows of all the traffic that was awaiting their turn on Runways 22L and 22R. Waiting patiently in line were two Continental 757-200s (N21108) and (N12125). Alitalia made its presence felt with a 767-300ER (I-DEIF) "Christoforo Colombo" which I happened to have seen at Terminal B the day before. Maybe the plane loves Newark! A Lufthansa A340-300 (D-AIGA) "Oldenburg" sat behind the 767.
I headed back to the Southern side of the ramp, where the International Arrivals Teriminal is visible. At Terminal B at what seemed to be Gate 62 sat a British Airways 777-200ER (G-VIIY) in the British flag color scheme. (I say seemed because the BA777 sat to the left of Gate 33, but directly to the right of Gate 33 was Gate 65!) Directly in front of me at Continental's terminal was a 737-700 (N24729). Looking over at Terminal B once again, I saws that behind the BA 777 sat an El Al 747-400, and to the left of the El Al 747-400 sat a Virgin Atlantic 747-400. I squinted through the binoculars to try and read the two letters on top of the Virgin's tail, and thought I made out an "OS". I wasn't sure though. Time was running short, so I walked a few more gates down to where a Continental 757-200 was awaiting its passengers for a flight to either Brussels or Zurich. An entire red soccer team and their soccer bags sat awaiting the boarding call.
By now it was 5:30pm and I backtracked to Gate 70. Our aircraft had arrived and a Continental MD-82 (N72825) would be our ride for the evening. She sat at the gate with a flurry of activity around her. Bags were being loaded and the back starboard door opened so that the galley could be stocked.
Across from the North side of the terminal and where the two fingers extend, is an area where Continental parks some of their long haul aircraft when they are not needed at the gate. In this area sat a CO 777-200ER (N27015). 5-6 gates down to my right was a Continental 757-200 (N19117). As I photographed it, an Air France 747-400 (F-GEXB) taxied past the mouth of the terminal. A tiny Continental ATR-42 (N15823) seemed to be tagging along behind it.
Pulling into Gate 72 which is next door to Gate 70 was a Continental 737-700 (N23707). A 737-500 (N16618) also taxied in to a nearby gate as did a 757-200 (N34137) and a 737-500 (N17663). Taxing out to the runways was a CO 757-200 (N14120).
The call to board came at 5:55 (10 minutes late). We were sittinng in row 29, so were were some of the first to board.
August 1, 2001
Flt 361 EWR-MCO
Planned Departure: 6:20pm EST (Eastern Standart Time)
Planned Arrival: 9:35pm EST
Once on board I asked if I could see the cockpit. The Captain said, "yes" and stepped out of the doorway so that I could get in. I could no believe my eyes. The MD-82's cockpit was beaten and worn worse than an old DC-7s that I had seen last summer. The seats we worn thin, and the yoke was mostly stainless steel with no paint. Dials and knobs were held in place by strong adhesive tape. This old girl had been flown hard to say the least. Bob and I left the cockpit and headed back towards row 29, which just happened to be across from the gallley. We had seats 29D and E. The window seat and window was occupied by a full haired Jamaican women who looked a tad nervous. When she stared out the window, she actually blocked all incoming light! We let the stewardess know that the first officer had given us the a okay to use Bob's Garmin 295 GPS throughout the flight. She said that she would have to check. She picked up the phone and rang the cockpit. A few seconds later she said that it was okay.
The MD-82 was packed to the gills and soon enough the captain came on to say that we would be pushing back shortly. The phone next to the galley rang and the flight attendant picked it up. She then let us know that we could only use the GPS when all electronically equipment was allowed. Oh well we said. The aircraft rocked gently as the pushback tug began its tedious job. The JT-8Ds on either side of us began their slow whine to life. A few minutes later we were under our own power and taxi out towards the runway. Through the window I was able to view Continental's 777-200ER (N74007) sitting at one of the "end" gates preparing for yet another Trans-Atlantic flight.
We taxied to the left and then made an immediate right onto a taxiway that would take us by Newarks old tower. At this point we came to a stop, and the captain came on to let us know that we were number 20 in line for takeoff and that he would keep us updated. He also let us know that he was going to shut down the right engine to save fuel. The whining that my right ear had grown accustomed to slowly faded. I was able to see a Continental 767, but could not make out the registration as I had only my glasses help and no binoculars. I wasn't about to bring out the binoculars and try and see around the head of hair in 29F.
My stewardess that was sitted in the aisle jump seat that pulled out from the galley began to make small talk with us. We talked about her job, and bidding a line. She was interested to hear that we were going to Florida to look at three flight schools. It actually turned out that she had taken some flight lessons when she was younger, and that her husband was an Ex F-4 Phantom pilot who had been shot down during Vietnam. A few aircraft departed, and we pulled up in line. Thankfully, the Jamaican woman was trying to rest, and I was able to watch flight hops. To our right on an perpendicular taxiway sat a British Airways 777-200ER (G-VIIY) that was operating flight BA184 EWR-LHR along with a Virgin Atlantic 747-400 a few aircraft behind it that was operating VS18 EWR-LGW. (I happened to have flown both the flights, and know when they depart.) The BA 777 disappeared from view, and shortly there after I watched it rocket down the runway. What a sight my friends, what a sight. The setting sun seemed to hit the underside of the wings just right. The captain came on and asked the flight attendants to prepare for takeoff.
We pulled into line after the Virgin Atlantic 747-400. I was able to see the registration as she turned onto runway 22R. The 747-400 was Virgin's (G-VROS) "English Rose", which was only a few months old! She did a rolling takeoff, and just like the 777, seemed to rocket down the runway until the wings bit, and it trundle into the air. I guess those Virgin boys were going to try and "catch" that BA 777!
Our turn was next, and we glided onto Runway 22R. Both engines were now howling, and we were pushed back into our seats as the brakes were released at 7:12pm. We blew by Terminal B, where I was able to see another Virgin Atlantic 747-400 (G-VFAB) "Lady Penelope" at a gate that was preparing for flight VS2 EWR-LHR. Into the sky we lept, and the gear made its way up. Despite the full load, the MD-82 climbed nicely, while the flight attendants scurried about, and the first of the bathroom users walked to the head.
Through 10,000ft we climbed, and it was then that we fired up the Garmin 295. I pushed the antennae of it between the window and the shade of a "middle" window and strung the wire across the top of 29F and 29E. The JT-8D was helping the reception any, but we did manage to get a nice picture after a while. Beverages were served, and I choose to have a cold and refreshing Coke. Shortly there after, dinner was served, and I have to say that the chicken sandwich with ranch dressing was quite good! All the while, the GPS let us know that we were doing 480kts at 28,000ft.
The aircraft's entire was pretty new, but leg room was no where to be found. I was also ticked off that no audio or visual entertainment was available, not even a jack for a headset! My friend and I chuckled to ourselves that maybe Continental should update the cockpit and worry about the seats later. Our Garmin 295, was more complex than navigation equipment the fellas up front were using.
I read my AW&ST as we seemed to ride a silk sheet towards Orlando. My ears picked up on the pull back in power, and we shortly there after began our descent. Tray tables and seats were placed in an upright position, and after a few turns to our right we were on final approach. I didn't even know that we had landed until the front wheels touched down at 9:50pm. VERY NICE LANDING.
We began out taxi to Gate 4, and I wondered if anybody would be there. The airport seemed deserted, and I did not see one aircraft during out taxi. Once at Gate 4, a few ramp rats came out and awaited our attachment to the jetway. Finally, the JT-8Ds whined themselves out, and they began to unload our baggage. 10 minutes later we were walking up the jetway. I took a quick photo of (N72825) and then went over to where an American Trans Air L1011 (N195AT) sat basking in the glow of the ramp lights. Her cockpit was illuminated, but nobody was inside. It seemed that she was being prepared to make a midnight trek to Chicago on a charter flight full of anxious hispanics. It seemed like a free for all, and I felt sorry that she had to endure such a long flight with a less than classy group. We left the L1011 to its madness and walked towards the monorail, passing a sleeping ATA 727-200 that did not want any part of the Chicago run. We rode the monorail to the main terminal, picked up our bags, rented our Chevy Malibu from Avis and headed out into the humid night a little after 10:20pm.
On Sunday, August 5th, at 6:00am we awoke after spending 3 of the last 4 days driving all over Florida so that we could see Comair Flight Academy, Embry-Riddle and Flight Safety. Saturday had been a "free" day, and we spent it at the Kennedy Space Center. While at the Space Center, we were able to view OV-102 "Discovery" prepare itself on the launch pad for its lift of date of August 9th.
We dropped the Malibu off at Avis, and made the short walk towards the terminal. We then rode the escalator up to the departures floor. The arrivals floor was empty, but the same could not be said for the departures level. American's desk area was swamped, and Continental's was only a little better. We did what smart travelers do and bypassed the mess with a $2 tip to the right people. We were told that our departure gate would be Gate 9. We quickly picked up some orange juice headed through security and out to the monorail station. We rode the monorail out to the proper terminal and made the walk out to the end of the concourse where Gate 9 was. My watch read 8:00am which only gave me 15 minutes of spotting time.
At our gate sat a Continental 757-200, but I was unable to read the registration through the fogged up windows. At the gate across from ours (Gate 7 or 8) sat another Continental 757-200 whose passengers were waiting for the boarding call to be made so that their flight to Los Angeles could commence. I walked down a couple gates and was able to see an America West Airlines 757-200 (N905AW) in the "Ohio" Red, White and Blue color scheme. The plane looked very nice done up in the American Flag. Thankfully, I was able to take a photo of the aircraft, as these windows happened to not be steamed up. Sitting at the gate next to the AWA 757 was a Continental MD-82 (N15841) which was being pushed back for departure to what I believe to be was Newark.
Further down, and at the first gate to the right of where the monorail stops was an ATA 727-200 (N775AT) who was also preparing for the mornings work. Out a window on the other side, a TWA 757-200 (N702TW) was visible. She was being prepared to earn American some money. An American A310 was also visible, but its registration was blocked by the 57'. My watch now read 8:10am, so I jogged back to Gate 9 and sat down to await the boarding call. I took a photo threw the rainy windows of "our" 757. I again sat back down with Bob and let him know that the extremely cute blonde who we had seen while checking in was sitting a few aisles over. All I am going to say is silky white skin, blonde hair, a black tank top and khaki capris. A call went out that our flight was looking for people to sit in the exit rows. Bob jumped on that, and we were moved from row 29 to 16. I would be the "man" in charge of exit.
Unfortunately for us, the call to board came and it seemed that our blonde friend would not be heading to Newark with us. A momentary thought of getting on the Los Angeles bound 757 ran through my mind but was pushed out at Bob handed me my ticket.
August 5, 2001
Flt 174 MCO-EWR
Planned Departure Time: 9:00am EST
Planned Arrival Time: 11:34am EST
We waited a short while in the jet way as the line creeped along. Once on board, I asked if it would be okay to see the cockpit. We were told that it was okay, and we walked through the first class cabin and its few passengers towards the cockpit. The captain was drinking a cup of coffee as we introduced ourselves. The first officer was not to be seen. The captain was extremely courteous, and we chatted aobut flying and what it was like to fly the "heavy iron". The captain allowed me to sit in his chair and get a photo taken. He actually left the cockpit and went to the galley for some more milk. I was able to get the registration of the 757 by looking at the cockpit door. We chatted with the captain for 10 more minutes about flight schools and what he thought of his job. I got him to sign my boarding pass and then began my trek back towards seat 16B. Bob let me have A so that I could see out of the window. I checked over the emergency door and was prepared to "go" if the order came. At 9:00 and right on time, the gentle rock of the pushback tug doing its duties was felt.
Shortly thereafter, the RB-211's which were clearly visible from my seat came to life. I looked around and saw that the flight was about 98% full. Out of the 4 flights I was on in a two week span, all were like this so I don't know what the heck all those reports of dropping pax loads are about. We were soon away from the gate and taxiing under our own power. After a brief taxi, we held short of Runway 18L. Unlike Newark, we were 1st in line for take off. Another aircraft landed and as it taxied off, we taxied on. At 9:10am, the RR's did their magic and we blasted down the runway and lept into the air. The 757 made a spirited climb and we were soon above the cloud cover and into the suns warm embrace. Once past 10,000ft, the Garmin was fired up. We were climbing quite rapidly, but still showing between 470kts and 480kts. The drink cart came around, but I wasn't thirsty and neither was Bob. Breakfast was served shortly after that, and it consiste of Wheaties, a diminutive muffin, banana and milk. I could have swallowed the muffin whole but took two bites. The banana and milk went well together. I left the wheaties.
We were at our cruising altitude of 39,000ft and moving at 480kts for most of the trip. My garbage was taken away, and I settled in to read my latest Airways while glancing out window and at the Garmin from time to time. The passenger next to Bob wanted to know what the GPS was, so Bob showed him him what it was capable of. The RR's stopped blowing us along though, and we were making our descent into Newark. GPS off, tray table up, seat in the upright position and we were ready for our approach into Newark. I could make out traffic to our right that was also descending, but lost it when we went through the cloud cover. We made several right hand turns, and were quickly on final to Runway 22L. A little power was added late in the game and the landing was a little rough, but we were down at Newark and turning off 22L before you could blink an eye.
We taxied off 22L and then headed North, taxing between the two runways. Our destination was gate 75. We had to hold short of 22R as traffic was departing, but that was fine with me. At Terminal B (International Arrivals and Departures) sat an MAS 777-200ER. I couldn't make out the registration though. Sitting between Terminals B and C was a Singapore International Airlines 747-400 (9V-SPH) which was done unloading after the morning flight from Singapore via Amsterdam and was taxing towards "long term parking" (which runs behind Terminal B and A.) to catch some shut eye before departing for home once again via Amsterdam at 9:15pm.
Two Continental 737s departed, and we were soon "taxing across the active" towards gate 75. We pulled into our gate at 11:20am and sat next to a CO DC-10-30 (N14063). Everyone was pretty efficient about getting off the aircraft. After walking up the jetway, I shot a few pictures of (N19136) and then headed off towards the luggage carousel. I passed (N14063) which I believe was heading towards Rome. At Gate 71, Continental's 777-200ER (N78004) had just been pulled over from Continental's "Long Term Parking" and was being attached to the jetway and prepared for its non-stop flight to Hong Kong. Bob and I walked through security, picked up our bags and were greeted by my mom who took us outside to where my Ford Explorer and Father sat awaiting us. 11 days after starting my vacations, it was good to be home.
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower