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My First 747 Trip (TWA JFK-MAD-JFK 1994)

Tue Feb 17, 2004 8:00 am

I have flown 10+ times (both domestically and internationally), but this one is just full of firsts and memories for me.

In March & April 1994 I flew TWA IND-JFK-MAD and back for a school trip to Spain (which was in fact a graduation gift to me as I was a high school senior). It was a 10-day trip.

This was my first transatlantic (first transoceanic, period) trip, and especially, it was my first (and only so far) Boeing 747 trip. For once, I got to realize my dream of flying on my favorite type--the 747 Classic--with a great world airline, TWA, now sadly missed.

When I got off TWA flight 792 (IND-JFK, DC-9) on 26 March 1994, I deplaned at the now-former TWA terminal 6 and was bussed directly from a T6 gate to a gate at Terminal 5 (the Saarinen building) in a special bus that could park at jetways. When I entered the huge guitar-shaped concourse at Terminal 5, I saw the beautiful TWA 747s sitting with their huge noses just mere feet from the expansive green-glass windows. When I found a 747 sitting at my gate (I believe gate 27), I was excited to finally get to fly on one! The "guitar concourse" (as I call it) at T5 was beautiful, with red carpeting and seats everywhere, and hundreds of small round lights shining out of holes in the ceiling. It was the most bizarre building I have ever been in.

It was soon time to board (6:20 PM). The flight was TWA 904, JFK-MAD, Boeing 747-131. Just before I boarded, alas, my special implantable hearing device died right there in the terminal! From then on, until I got home 10 days later, I could not hear a thing! I boarded the 747 through the front left door and saw the wide cabin for the first time. Right in front of the door, upon entering, was the graceful spiral staircase in First Class going up to the upper deck. Regrettably, I did not take the opportunity to go up and see the flight deck (because I was focused on trying to revive my dead hearing aid). Neither did I get any interior photos. It was a long, long walk back to Zone E, where I sat almost to the rear of the plane (I think row 49). Alas, our departure was delayed 2 or more hours; we sat in the plane that long while a crew was fixing the #1 PW JT9D engine (I sat on the left side in a middle seat and could see it out the window). It was really dark (about 9:30 or 10 PM) before we finally took off from rwy 31R. While waiting for departure, I saw all the other TW 747s push back one by one from T5.

For the first time I got to experience a long, overwater overnight flight, with dinner and a movie (and attempts to sleep). I only got a couple hours of "sleep"; time goes by rapidly as you go through several time zones. Sunrise was beautiful from cruise altitude over the North Atlantic. Walking to the rear lav, I was able to see straight down from the rearmost left door window (with the fuselage taper, the window in the rearmost doors looks straight down). As we made landfall over Spain and descended into MAD, I was fascinated while watching the huge triple-slatted flaps lower themselves, and I could see the rear of both left engines. Landing in the huge plane was an experience; right after the loud thud of wheels contacting the MAD runway, the wing spoilers went right up and the engines got louder as reverse thrust was applied on the PW JT9D's. We taxied to a remote hardstand ramp far from the terminal and deplaned via airstairs; we were bussed in a special articulated bus (resembling a fifth-wheel trailer in the US) to customs/immigration in the windowless concrete international terminal. Regrettably (probably due to severe jet lag) I did not take a photo of the 747 at the hardstand after deplaning.

The return trip (4 April 1994, TWA 903 MAD-JFK, 747-131) was just as adventuresome. After processing through the windowless, concrete terminal to the plane after customs, we boarded through one of two jetways projecting from a triangular finger of the terminal. A photo was taken of me in my seat on board the 747 by a classmate of mine just before departure. The flight to JFK was long; I ate lunch and dinner and watched the inflight movie (Mrs. Doubtfire, with no headphones). Landing at JFK, we deplaned via jetway at T5 and went into the basement customs/immigration area. Just after I got off the 747, I took a photo of a neighboring, identical aircraft.

All in all, it was a great 747 adventure for me! I wish I knew the reg of each plane, but no dice.
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)
Posts: 296
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RE: My First 747 Trip (TWA JFK-MAD-JFK 1994)

Tue Feb 17, 2004 8:03 am

Sounds Fun- Impressive that you could could remember all that!
Posts: 1315
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 9:38 pm

RE: My First 747 Trip (TWA JFK-MAD-JFK 1994)

Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:03 am

Very nice trip report, I wonder, did TWA ever use their L-1011's to MAD?

[Edited 2004-02-17 02:06:20]
I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
Posts: 1703
Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2001 5:19 pm

RE: My First 747 Trip (TWA JFK-MAD-JFK 1994)

Tue Feb 17, 2004 5:48 pm

A great trip report, it's great to hear reports from the past.
Airliners is the wings of my life.

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