After 2 hours of sleep my alarm went off. I got up and dressed and were shortly on my way to the airport again.
The temperature was still high as I walked towards the terminal at 1 am. Passed the doors to the invitingly cool air conditioned terminal.
Met up with the station manager and the senior Cabin Staff at the check-in counter. After checking me in we continued through the system again with security, passport etc.
Our aircraft was parked remote so we were bussed out to stand C13. Noted the registration of this Boeing 737-2T5 as I walked the stairs up to the cabin, a new registration in my flightlog – Nice!
The rest of the crew were already onboard and I tried to start some smalltalk. Unfortunately the crew was 80% Russian. Their English skills were not on top, so we couldn’t really make ourselves understood.
The captain didn’t know about me and the assignment so it all started off very bad. Despite the long time of preparations (1.5 years) and numerous emails and phonecalls really emphasising the importance of informing the crews, this crew didn’t know anything.
Only the Senior Cabin staff who I met at the checkin counter. But he has no say in who goes in the jumpseat, that’s all up to the captain.
So there I was in the middle of the night trying to convince a russion captain that I, who just showed up at the door with a lot of camera equipment, should be in the jumpseat for the take off.
Not an easy task these day, let me tell you.
I explained the purpose and really tried to sell myself and our project. He only said “wait, need to contact office” and dissappeared into the cockpit. With all the activity in the aircraft minutes before boearding, it was hard for me to push him any further.
I had to let him make his calls and give it a thought. Not helping a bit was the russian purser who clearly wanted to keep me out of the cockpit. Strange how they always have a need to say no, without asking the captain.
As i knew he didn’t have any say in the matter I disregarded his negative efforts and focused on the captain.
As the last passengers boarded the aircraft, i finally got my permissions…
Now it was a race against time to get ready in time for engine starts and pushback. Strapped myself in the jumpseat and setup my camera gear, adjusted the audiolevels and started working. Got the enginestarts I wanted as we pushed back from stand C13 at Dubai International Airport.
We were cleared for taxi and received our clearance to our destination before arriving at the holding position.
We took off from DXB in the early morning, but sunrise was still hours away. Turned towards our destination and reached our cruising altitude. I watched the top panel mounted GPS Navigator as we worked our ways through the waypoints of our flightplan. Not original equipment on an old B737-200 like this, but a cool feature these days.
The sun started to rise behind us and to the left, unfortunately not the best angle for me as I wanted some nice sunrise cockpit shots.
With the early departure I didn’t have time for a breakfast at the hotel, so I eagerly waited for the meal service onboard.
Very dissapointed to realise that it was the month of ramadan.
As we were late out of Dubai, the clock now had passed the morning hour and service was cancelled. Oh, Geez. And I knew I had a looong day of flying ahead of me. No food, no drinks until 7pm something. Not the best start of this trip.
I was shortly told that they would do the service anyway, and I welcomed it with open arms! Food, at last!
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Time for the approach briefing and then our descent. Lots of US military on the frequency as we turn to intercept the ILS.
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It was almost 6am when I walked out the door of the B737 and felt the African heat. Now I had to switch aircraft quick to continue. I had 4 more legs to do before my day was over, and I could already feel it was going to be a very hot day!