Here goes, hope you like:
We were going standby through my Dad and so had a number of airlines to choose from at that time. BY and AIH (the good old days of AIH ) were full so we all trooped over to the CAL desk. My Dad, Mum, Sister and me.
They had room but we had to be split up . The aircraft was a DC-10 !!! Then all of a sudden an announcement came through notifying the passengers (including us) of this flight that there was a small delay due to a fault with the left engine. OK then time to explore Gatwick Village then.
Well time passed (2 hours in fact ) and no announcements. Then they announced that our aircraft was sick and wasn't going anywhere!!!
Naturally in British style (If any of you watch "Airline") hundreds of us stormed the poor girl who was the Caledonian representative been sent down (god help her ) to calm us all.
I stayed with my sister being a bit young. Then it was announced that they would fly a spare aircraft in from America. We were not told airline or aircraft.
After another 5 and a half hours bringing the total delay time to 7 and a half hours an aircraft appeared on finals to 08R.
This is now my Dad’s memory not mine for this little bit, I, being a 9 year old stuck in an airport for 7 ½ hours, was running around like wild. “As the aircraft got nearer it was apparent that this was a 747. As it got nearer it looked more and more worn. It was at this point that I realised that this aircraft was an old clapped up 747-100. The aircraft touched down very late and took the entire runway to slow down. Eventually it turned off and came towards out gate”
Back to me and my memory . Everyone was now gathered at the huge windows watching this beast come towards us. It nose got nearer and nearer to the glass before stopping abruptly. The jet bridge went out to it and it was at this stage that the British holiday-makers faces fell, if only I’d had a camera . Dirt streaks covered this bare white aircraft with intrim Tower Air marks. The aircraft looked like it had been around for a LONG time!!!
Caledonian (Tower Air)
Photo © E.S. / FAP - Finnish Aviation Photography
Photo © Alastair T. Gardiner
Boarding was soon called and with that my family and I walked down the jetbridge onto this tatty thing (who cares it’s a 741, wasn’t aware of this at the time though and how special this would be!!!).
We were welcomed aboard by a very old American Tower Air crew in blue suit things (I think). It was now that I was amazed by the size of the 747. The width, length everything. Looking straight ahead to the spiral staircase, I smiled and turned to the right (damn ) and that’s when my face dropped. Again .
If you thought the outside of the aircraft was tatty then you don’t want to see inside. Window blinds were missing, fabric torn seats, broken seat back tables and writing on the walls.
The only positive thing (apart from being a 741) was that the DC-10 is a bit smaller then this aircraft and therefore everyone could stretch out, BIG TIME. Almost everyone had a row of three seats to themselves!!!
Once everyone had packed their bags into the overhead bins (which mostly were broken and didn’t stay closed) and was seated, the safety announcements were made manually. I don’t really remember this sorry though I do remember as usual no-one really paying attention. Mind you I would on THIS aircraft, wouldn’t surprise me if it just fell out of the sky !!!
We pushed back and I remember being situated on the right hand side staring at the humungous wing with the “pointy thing”, as I called it then , on the end. Because it was so late it would be a night time arrival at MCO.
The engines were started with a groan and straining noise like they were about drop off. 1 by one, another groan, another grunt as this old bird started up.
We made the long taxi to 08R, turned straight onto the runway and stopped. I remember seeing my first ever BA world tail on the tail of a 737 as it taxied past.
Everything went quiet, then, like an explosion, the four engines went to full thrust. We were all thrown to the back of our tatty seats. The aircraft shook violently and what overhead bins that could actually be shut originally now fell open onto people. Cutlery went flying around in the galley and I turned to see a Women looking horrified (another picture moment ). The aircraft seemed to never get in the air and when we were right at the end of the runway we were hauled into the air.
The chime came and the cabin crew got out of their seats. We climbed fast and I saw my house !!!
The noise was incredible and the pilot didn’t pull back on the thrust for ages. When he did the engines shook and went to a whine once more. The wing flapped round like it was made out of play dough next to me.
We broke into a small amount of cloud and turned back to head towards lands end.
I got my pad out and started drawing busses and planes and trains because I liked transport, it evolved into my love of planes .
Dinner was served (yes dinner) as the sun began to set. I don’t really remember what it was but I remember that it tasted like… well I’ll leave that to your imaginations .
The cabin lights were dimmed and me being me decided not to sleep. The flight attendants had disappeared . Everyone took a row of seats to themselves and soon gentle breathing could be heard over the whine and strain of the engines.
I took up the last row available and drew some more. Oh the boredom. Then I fell asleep for an hour. When I awoke the cabin lights were still dimmed. Everyone in my family was fast asleep in wonderful dreams and I sat there bored.
I read the writing (grafitti) all over my three seat back tables, one of which was on one hinge . I seem to remember “Keelie woz ere ‘96” for some reason LOL.
After another couple of hours the lights came on again and a snack thing was given out. No thanks, wtf was it LOL !!!
The lights of Orlando soon came into view and I remember seeing our huge wing get nearer and nearer the ground. A land rover or something like that was whizzing along the taxiway next to the runway and we touched down with a thump.
The aircraft shook violently as the reverse thrust was applied. We slowed slowly lol and turned off the runway. We taxied into the gate where the engine gave one last grunt before being shut down. I de-boarded and was welcomed to Florida .
Overall, certainly a fun flight, sorry if I didn’t remember enough but I did more than I originally thought .
Tower Air were a disaster, their aircraft a mess, cabin crew non-existent and rude and the food… well let’s not go into that .
Who cares though I got the rare opportunity to fly on a 747-100 and not many people my age can say that . The flight back was one of the best, with Caledonian on the DC-10, the cabin crew were great but I shant go into detail on that one.
Can anyone find out the reg of the aircraft that I got please
Thanks for reading, comments are welcome