This is a report of my adventures to Manchester and back for the ‘Mini MAN meet’ in March. Enjoy….
With some spare money in my account and my increasing boredom of all things Orange at EZY I decided to take a browse of the BA website. I had always wanted to go to Manchester, and the BA fare was showing as £65 rtn. I put the fare up against the competitor, Jet2 who were only £2 cheaper. Time to book BA!
I asked a mate (Chris L), who’s Dad’s a BA engineer and he seemed pretty keen and booked up. As it was a Bank Holiday, the last LGW flight was not available and so I took the earlier one leaving at around 1630, giving me a minimal time of just over 2 hours in MAN. Kaz (pilot kaz) booked too, but going back to LHR again instead.
I was disappointed about this, but hey, I planned on going back in the summer anyhow. I started a thread about it which turned out to be surprisingly successful and quite a few members agreed to meet us. Flying never stops, and I was off on two more 757’s to Austria with FCA.
Half way down a mountain concentrating hard , my phone went off. Declan (Shamrock_747) text me to say he’d be joining in on MAN. Cool!
As it always does, time soon passed and it was soon the eve of 25th march. The weather forecast had gone from Rain to Sun, woo! Arranged final meeting times and had my first experience of BA’s online check-in, which is simply fantastic! I was assigned 7F on the way out, bonus being it is in the Club Europe cabin meaning 34 inch legroom and leather seat.
Myself and Chris L arrived into the Terminal 1 Check in area shattered after the tedious underground journey with what seems like hundreds of stops. Kaz was meeting us in half hour, Declan and Chris arriving later.
We wondered the entire terminal and I found there was not one single bin anywhere, rhaa! Phone buzzed and it was Kaz, she had arrived! Now I had to find her, in the middle of the Terminal 1 check-in hall. Of course this was pretty easy when she was wearing a top with MUSE plastered all over it .
We all headed through security, Chris L getting searched , and into the departure lounge. It was straight to gate 8, BMI land and a nice view of arrivals on 27R. Kaz bought us all hot chocolates (Cheers for that   and we sat watching the aircraft touch down with flutes of smoke.
Here are some shots:
We discussed the possibility of getting the Messed up tail, G-CPEL, which arrived, and even better, the Blue Peter plane, out of the paint shop a week. Kaz managed to see just about every plane she had ever been on with BMI within about 10 minutes!
Declan and Chris (N754AN) arrived, first time I’d seen Dec in over a year and never met Chris before so was nice to see them. Chris was like a kid in a candy store as he had flown very few times before and was extremely excited (Understatement of the year   .
The Blue Peter bird arrived and taxied into the gate, all 5 of us glued to the windows in awe! To get some better shots, Kaz and me decided to run off to the BA area to get some better shots of her.
Photo © Sam Lambert
She was beautiful close-up and it lovely to see the aircraft this close. Meanwhile G-BUSH was getting ready to push back next door :
Desperate to know which aircraft we were getting we headed towards the BA desk. Kaz asked the guy sat there, “Brian”, and he seemed really nice, checking straight away. We had fingers crossed for G-CPEM (Blue Peter). “EL”. G-CPEL, the messed up tail, oh well, at least that’s another rare one to get!
We asked which rotation CPEM was doing and we were told, the next MAN flight! Seeing that we were disappointed, he offered to transfer us to that flight for free! I looked at Kaz and we both said we couldn’t be bothered to stay around longer.
We started to walk away when a great idea came to Kaz. Could he transfer me from the LGW flight to her flight giving me the time I wanted in MAN and another 757! We asked and he said it was fine. Woa! We jumped around in excitement and asked if we could come back in a minute after getting Chris and the others.
After dragging them back we arrived back and our good friend Brian greeted us . He happily issued both me and Chris L new Boarding passes for Kaz’s flight home, expected to be operated by G-BPEC. By this time Dec was getting all adult and agitated as our flight was just staring to board .
London Heathrow (LHR)- Manchester (MAN)
25th March 2005
Departure time: (Sch/Act) 1155/1154
Arrival time: (Sch/Act) 1255/1242
Photo © Matias / Mendonça
Photo © Lee Archer
We were welcomed onboard by Gina, who, unawares to us, would turn out to be our friend ! The crew were smiley and welcomed us onboard. We asked for a cockpit visit but they said that they were busy at the moment and to do it after the flight, sure !
I soon found my seat and sunk into the leather and stretched my legs out! After experiencing 29” legroom at over 6ft, a saga I like to call a yoga class , 34” was a very welcome change . I scanned the newspaper I had picked up on the way down to the aircraft and then looked out of my window. There was no sign of age on the eldest 75 in the BA fleet. The front cabin was nice, with only 9 rows in total and there were some nice pictures on the front bulkhead. Declan was sat up ahead in 2F, Kaz in 13A, Chris L in 16F and Chris way back.
The flow of passengers finally came to an end, 99% load factor today! The pilots came over the P/A saying that today’s expected flight time was 35 minutes and telling us about the new BA uniform and how some of the cabin crew were wearing it. The doors were closed, as was the cockpit door and there was a small jolt as we were pushed back at 1154, 1 minute early, nice work BA!
The famous RB-211’s whined into life as we came to a halt. The flaps were set and we gently rolled over the tarmac on our way to 27L. The taxiway was quite bumpy and I enjoyed looking at the wing bouncing up and down softly.
We soon came to a halt behind two other aircraft in the queue for departure. A UA 772ER roared off into the distance, followed by a BA 319 from the other side of the runway.
An AF A320 lined up and with a rumble sped down the runway, we followed it closely and soon swung onto 27L, coming to a halt. Almost immediately the RB-211’s roared into life and I was thrown to the back of my seat.
The wig flexed and very quickly we were in the air enjoying a steep climb. Giving us an awesome view of T5 coming along nicely.
Photo © Sam Lambert
The gear was raised and we caught the wake of the AF before us which meant we dipped steeply and swayed from side to side!
We soon hit the clouds and smoothly flew through them and above into the deep blue skies. The cabin crew were released and soon bustling around. One thing I love about BA is the amount of cabin crew, makes the service that bit better.
I decided to take a trip to the loo, which was the hardest door to shut to a toilet I have ever experienced! I came out and was immediately met by a trolley and two cabin crew blocking my path. Dec looked up and laughed as I was stuck in the loo for a bit .
Luckily the staff had just started and were happy to take the trolley back so that I could get back to the comfort of my seat. Phew!
Food came around as we had just about reached our cruising altitude. Today it was ‘Something Sweet’, which consisted of a small box containing a shortbread biscuit, muffin, flapjack and KitKat.
At 1229 the engines calmed slightly and I knew our descent had started. The seat belt signs soon came on confirming this and the Captain came over the P/A explaining the weather in MAN was pretty much the same as at LHR, cloudy, but it would brighten up later with the temp reaching 14C.
The speed brakes kicked into action and you could feel the plane slowing as hit the thin cloud layer. With a few bumps the ground soon came into view and the flaps were set.
The speed brakes were softly released as the flaps were set into their final stages and I continued my tradition of making an approach over a famous store :
We flew over many houses and fields before car parks came into view. We swung to the left and to the right a few times as we neared the ground, the thrust increasing in small bursts.
Cheers for the photo Lee!:
We floated above 24R before the RB211’s quietened and we smoothly made contact with the runway. We only used Speed Brakes, no thrust reverse, but even so, the breaking was very powerful!
We exited the runway opposite the Aviation Viewing Park and made a swift taxi to our gate. An Anet photographer, blissfully unaware that 5 Anetters were onboard took this photo of us
Photo © Estelle Calleja
We rolled forward with one final burst of thrust from the engines and came to a halt, the engines cutting out and the familiar sound of hundreds of unbuckling seatbelts.
Declan left the plane immediately but I waited for the others. Kaz and Chris L came together and Chris shortly followed. We headed for the cockpit and were allowed in, but not to take photos . Still, we got to talk to the pilots and look around the cockpit of the graceful Boeing 757. The F/O flew the 757/767 but preferred the 767 “because of its size”.
Myself and Kaz left to give the two Chris’s a chance in there and I decided to go exploring the cabin. I asked the cabin crew if I could take photos and she said sure, so I took lots of the cabin.
She also handed us some safety cards on request which was very nice of her . We spoke briefly before we had to leave as they had to clean the plane.
Once into the terminal we came through into arrivals and were greeted by many Anetters. We all greeted and decided to head off to the AVP for the day, here are some pics:
After a long 45 minute walk (damn bus service! ), we reached the lit bridge that interlinks all of MAN’s terminals. We parted with Lee (BMIFlyer) and headed along towards T3.
We then headed for the BA ticket sales. We were told that our aircraft home would be G-CPEM! An aircraft change, we were to ride Blue Peter! Jumping around cazily, the sales man looked at kaz and me as though we were completely insane .Dec and Alex met us as Chris L had been carrying Alex’s bag around all day !
We headed through security where Chris L was searched (again ). Our flight was already boarding, so after a brief food stop for the other two we were soon going down the jet bridge.
I looked behind me and recognised the guys face. I kept looking and eventually stopped and asked him is he was who I thought he was. Indeed, it was Keith Duffy. Picture time!
Manchester (MAN)- London Heathrow (LHR)
25th March 2005
Departure time: (Sch/Act) 1930/1927
Arrival time: (Sch/Act) 2030/2003
Photo © Bjorn van der Velpen
Photo © Mark McEwan
We boarded ‘EM’ and were greeted by half the cabin crew we had before, half new. It turned out there was no row 10, where we were allocated , so we all stayed in the galley and had a gossip with the cabin crew (mainly Gina) about our onboard celebrity.
With a load factor of only 50 tonight, our new mate Gina, said we could just sit where we liked when boarding was completed. Whilst waiting we asked the cabin crew lots of questions about their work.
Eventually, a grumpy man looking at us strangely came onboard and confirmed that was it.
We all settled in the front cabin, Kaz in 6F, Chris L in 7A and I in 5F. The comfy leather seat was inviting (not a patch on those on concorde ), and I had a whole row to myself! Looking out of the window as pushback commenced I started talking to Kaz behind.
The safety demo was brief and the engines soon wound into life, a Ryanair 737-200 pushing back in sync.
The engines hushed as we slowly rolled forward and across the taxiway towards 24L. As the plane bumped over the tarmac we broke into the chorus of “Butterflies and Hurricanes”, wonder who started that one .
The runway lights shone brightly, contrasting with the dark night sky. The pilot gave a final burst of power as we swung onto the centreline and stopped.
The noise grew as we started to slowly move and then a sudden RR roar filled my ears as I was pushed to the back of my seat. Light loads and 757’s go well and we soon rotated, roaring into the night sky. The flaps were retracted as the thrust was reduced and we banked left for London.
Seat belt signs flickered off and the cabin crew came round with small boxes containing a sandwich and a Kit Kat mini. I was starved, having not eaten properly all day and the cabin crew immediately said they would sort me out another sandwich after a brief mention on the subject .
I decided to take a wonder around the aircraft. The only difference from the rest of the 757 fleet on the inside was that, framed competition winner’s entries took the place of the photos of London or landmarks.
I sat myself, and my food in the front row just behind the toilet, Kaz joined me. She had about 3 different drinks and I had 2 sandwiches .
Gina came for another chat and then went into the cockpit. We asked her to ask the pilots our cruising altitude etc. She returned with “19000ft and arriving on 27L at Heathrow”.
We moved back to our seats as the captain came over the P/A, announcing descent into London. It was a wonderfully clear night so approach would be good!
Surely enough, we got a from the air tour of London, flying over the eye, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Earls court and many more landmarks, all lit beautifully.
With my face glued to the window, the gear was brought down and the flaps set for landing. The engines moaned as the 27R threshold came into view and soon enough LHR itself.
We floated above the runway before the guys up front brought us down softly. Sharp breaking, still no reverse ensured a quick exit. Kaz reminded me to lift my feet off the floor which made it good fun .
We had a rather scenic tour of LHR during a 10 minute taxi! Hundreds of aircraft, from a range of airlines, dimly lit by the airports lights were on their stands.
We soon came to T1 and turned onto our stand, stopping shortly after. The engines wound down and after the passenger’s had disembarked we once again took to exploring the ins and outs of the plane.
The pilots recognised us and said that if they had realised we were onboard they would have given us a full power takeoff, damn! Ahh well, I left Kaziee and Chris L in the cockpit and took to exploring the cabin:
We arrived into the terminal building where we would part . What a truly fantastic day, both 757’s we wanted, 4 cockpits and great people. Oh and let’s not forget that place called Manchester ,
Thanks for reading,