Flying the oldest passenger jet and oldest DC-9 in the world
This trip report can also be seen in Youtube video format from below link. This is highly recommended as you can hear the sound of the DC-9-14 classic with good motion from the cockpit.
FLY-SAX (East African Safari Air Express Ltd) operates 2 DC-9-14 regularly on routes around East Africa. I have been wanted to fly on the baby DC-9 for a very long time since I’ve came to know their existence when my friend UAEdispatcher who flew them in 2011.
To me DC9-14 is like a first generation regional jet. The stubby look of the original DC-9 really drew my attention as I never flew one before.
The 2 DC-9-14 in FLYSAX fleet:
5Y-XXA is no. 19th built DC-9
5Y-XXB is no 4th overall built DC-9 but sadly it has been discontinued and spared for parts.
P.S. They also own a DC-9-15 in an all VIP configuration.
There is no published schedule on the FLYSAX DC-9-14. it operates on behalf of FLY540 on Kenyan domestic flight plus its own international flight to a range of destination from Nairobi to Mombassa, Kisumu, Juba, Mogadishu and Zanzibar. So it is a pure gamble without prior information to go to Kenya to buy a ticket where the DC-9-14 will operate on its next flight.
One can only find out and confirm the DC-9-14 schedule at the FLYSAX/FLY540 ticket counter. We did just that the day before. It was confirmed to fly to Kisumu on a 6:15am departure and return at 7:10am with a 10 minute turnaround! We purchased 2 one way ticket easily on FLY540.com. The fare was about 80 USD one way. Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya on the shore of Lake Victoria. It is approximately 160 miles NW of Nairobi. It is a gateway to the bordering Uganda.
We have an early start at 5am. The check in was a breeze although the flight is full. Check in crew is so nice that they work to aviation enthusiasts' favor and gave us good window seat with views to the engine. A slightly unanticipated delay from 6:15am to 6:45am has allowed us the chance to photograph the DC-9-14 on the apron in daylight. There are no aerobridges at domestic terminal so it involves a walk to your plane. They don’t mind you photo and film it around!
The DC-9-14, 5Y-XXA is 1966 built, 48 years old. (much older than me) It has an immaculate interior. To our surprise, it has 2 class with 10 seats in Business/Premium Economy and 70 seats in Economy. That is a total of 16 rows with 2-3 configuration.
My seat 13A unfortunately was taken by some other passenger, so I was re-seated in 2F, a very comfortable premium seat! A large American Church group was onboard to Kisumu with us.
Complimentary Tea/Coffee/Soft drinks and cookie were served on the short flight.
Flying time to Kisumu is only 30 minutes. Please see the video for the takeoff and landing actions.
Since we are on the same flight back to Nairobi, we did not deplane. The agent came onboard to add our name to the flight manifest but did not give us new boarding pass. So we were onboard a flight without boarding pass! With a very light load of 20 passengers joining, we were told to move anywhere you like. Our turnaround time on the ground was 15 minute.
I have a brief chat with the pilot about the DC-9-14. They’re all very proud of the plane and have no issue to invite us to the flight deck during flight. I gave my jumpseat chance to my friend Charlie, which we have “a gentleman agreement” that he will take video of the landing for me.
Another new Kenyan carrier, FlySKYAERO has a DC-9-32 on the apron in Kisumu, which became the DC-9 capital in the world that morning!
With only 26 minute of flying time at 24,000 feet. We savour every moment onboard. We were free to walk around and take as many photo as possible. The 26 minutes flight felt like just 5 minutes, it was never enough onboard a classic!
Video from landing inside the cockpit
AN AMAZING FLIGHT EXPERIENCE
I fell immensely in love with the DC-9-14 that I want to fly more and more. It is a real classic jet. During the flight, I was enjoying every seconds of it. Words can’t express how grateful I felt to be able to fly on her finally after 3 years of waiting. I knew I was extremely lucky. Watching the pilot flying from the cockpit is a real show. Everything is done manually and to perfection. It seems to me the classic plane give perfect feedback to the pilot who exert manual control over autopilot.
With confirmation with Aviation historian and data analyst, the DC-9-14 is also the oldest commercial passenger jet nowadays (48 years old!) one can buy a ticket and fly on. However, the oldest flying jet honor goes to Congo VIP B707 9Q-CLK (from 1959!)
The country of Kenya is lovely, much better than I thought. The people are really helpful, yet always relaxed and very polite. Once they’ve learned I came from a long way just to fly the DC-9, all the crew and pilot tried their best to provide us an enjoyable experience! It is a truly amazing experience! 48 years later, the DC-9-14 is still going strong. The pilots think it can fly another 5,000 cycles easily, extending life for another 1.5 years at least. I would love to bring a birthday cake to celebrate her 50th anniversary!
I would like to thank my travel companion Ian and Charlie for making the trip immensely enjoyable and a total success. The trip would not be the same without you guys around! Travelling as a group allow me appreciate the experience more than ever. Thank you!
Don’t forget to view the cockpit footage in the Youtube video.
This trip report can be BEST seen in Youtube video format from below link:
Youtube: Sam Chui
A preview of my next trip report
An African Milk Run