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December 18, 2016

Another flight to Luanda just before Christmas

It's amazing the way time flies together with you. I really don't care about it. While in my twenties one year felt like an eternity, today 10 years look like it was yesterday. Maybe it's an age thing or it is just the consequence that I'm having a great life. When things are good the sense of time contraction contradicts the Lorentz transformation which says for a fast moving object you experience length contraction (true, because in aviation we shorten distances for those who travel) and time dilation (not true at all!). And this also means that after so many years since I left university I still know how to be a nerd!... and yes, I know I fly too slow compared to the speed of light to experience any of those phenomena :) And because I'm getting younger in spirit, I really want to return to university in the medium term.

But it is amazing to realize that it was 9 years ago that I first flew on a A340 to Luanda, although in very different circumstances. And the funny fact that I finally had the opportunity to know one of the crew members of that flight that I clearly remember. And the airplane... the  same tail number, CS-TOA. Coincidences...


When flying on the good old A340, I feel like flying on the wings of my own history. In 1987 or 1988, I was a little boy when I first heard my dad telling me that TAP would buy a new four engined aircraft from Airbus. Since I always loved airplanes (I don't recall any period of my lifetime when that didn't happen) it was important news for me. Despite the L-1011 being my favorite (and it still remains!), as an airline brat I wanted my airline to have the biggest and most modern airplanes of the market. It was a pride thing, common to every airline brat.
TAP took delivery of its first pair of A340s in 1994 (they're going to complete 22 years of service within the next few days) and the first time I was near one was in 1996 inside our main hangar at Lisbon Airport. With my father's retirement that year it was difficult for me to get on board the brand new acquisition and it was only in 2007 that I managed to fly on a A340. I was only 5 years old when TAP announced their order for the new long haul flagship. I was far from imagining that they would become four of my flying offices. They're old now and many of my colleagues hate them (mostly because they don't have bunks). I love them... I love vintage aircraft! I really can't repel my aviation enthusiast side.

Our flight to Luanda, despite some turbulence over the African continent, had nothing special to tell about. It was a night flight arriving at Luanda early in the morning. Some photos I took already at "4 de Fevereiro" International Aiport:

Boeing 777-200ER D2-TED

Tarmac view

I spent the whole day sleeping because I didn't have opportunity for a decent rest in the previous afternoon just before the flight.

Dinner at Luanda

I took the opportunity of this layover to have dinner with a good old friend now living in Luanda. The restaurant Zen It Esplanada Lounge in Talatona was the chosen venue for our dinner. Very good food although expensive... like almost everything in Luanda!

One very strange thing for us born and leaving in the Northen Hemisphere is to see Christmas decorations set in a warm summer environment. It just doesn't make sense! But of course everybody deserves the opportunity to celebrate the Holy Season and the hotel where I stayed was no exception.

After dinner I had the very difficult task to fall asleep again considering I woke up around 5 pm, local time... Fortunately our pick up time was a decent one, at 7:55 am.


Soon it was time to return home. There's no better feeling, believe me! Again, CS-TOA was the airplane for our flight. Just before boarding I witnessed the engine start-up and taxi-out of a beautiful and also veteran MD-11F flying for Western Global Airlines.

Western Global MD-11

MD11 vs A340

TAP Portugal A340


This MD-11 was previously owned by Nordic Global Airlines, the cargo branch of Finnair that ceased operations in 2015.

About our flight, not a single seat was left when boarding was complete. It would be a demanding flight but we are there for that! No significant turbulence this time but we had to help a little kid that was feeling sick and fevering. His mother was worried about the inherited sickle-cell disease and the fact that we were inside an airplane pressurized to a level well bellow the atmospheric pressure at sea level. Fortunately everything went fine until the end of the flight and he got proper assistence from a paramedical team upon arrival.

Cabin photo after everybody got out!

Time for a deserved rest at home.

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