THE airside bus pulled up to our plane and he gave me one of those looks that screamed out, “here’s another thing you’ve forgotten to tell me about our holiday”.
To be fair, it hadn’t even crossed my mind that our short flight from Malaga to Lisbon would be in a 19-seater propellor plane. As the immensely proud daughter of an ex-Fleet Air Arm fighter pilot, I’m not usually phased by aircraft size or type. But my beloved’s face was a picture; a complete melange of fleeting panic crossed with little boy excitement! Thankfully it was the excitement that won over!
Quite by chance our seats were in the front row. Actually it was a row in the smallest sense of the word; basically two seats with a foot wide aisle between them. There was certainly no room for an air steward, instead the pilot welcomed us on to the plane and then hoisted up the door to close it himself.
The cockpit was less than two metres in front of us so we had a great view of all the switches, buttons and dials. In fact, if I’d had my specs on, I would have been able to read the airspeed, altitude and heading indicators perfectly! My Dad would have been in his element!
There were 16 passengers sat behind us, one either side of the aisle, each clutching their small cardboard lunch boxes, reminiscent of those kids’ meals you get at the golden arches fast food “restaurant”. My beloved, of course, opened his up straight away, no doubt hoping for a toy. Instead he discovered a very tasty sandwich, bottle of water, plastic cup and, joy of joys, not a toy but a pair of complimentary earplugs. It was very noisy!
It was one of the most entertaining plane trips I’ve been on in ages, despite the fact we couldn’t listen to our iPods or read using our electric gadgets. We could, however, see straight out of the cockpit and enjoyed a fantastic view of the Spanish and Portuguese coastlines below. The next leg of our journey had an awful lot to live up to – how boring to have to travel in a run of the mill jet plane!!!
(For any enthusiasts out there, and my Dad, we were travelling in a Beechcraft 1900D, approximately 17m in length with similar wingspan. Cruising speed 500 km/h and cruising altitude 7600m.)