Goodbye AVRO ✈ SWISS Farewell Flight over the Alps
The journey began very early at 4 clock on 19th August 2017 in Valbella-Lenzerheide, where I stayed on holiday. It was pitch dark, the rain drumming on the car roof and the wind howled. I drove very carefully to be prepared for the unexpected. Fox, rabbit, deer, wolf and bear - yes, they all live in the Grisons - could wander across the road. I said good morning to a fox and some deers which were illuminated by the car headlights. I safely arrived at the station parking in Chur and took the first train to Zurich Airport. My good friend Rafael expected me there at 6:45 with some freshly organised breakfast croissants. After a short coffee break, we went early to the check-in desk. Soon the line of people behind us got longer and longer. Everyone was happy and looking forward to the Swiss Jumbolino farewell flight. The check-in desk opened on time. I asked for a window seat, but all seats were already fixed in advance. But the dear Swiss Airline granted us actually one of the best window seats with 2A where you could even observe the engines. Rafael generously left the window seat to me although I would have gladly shared it with him. I was so excited about the upcomig flight.
The farewell flight was organized by four captains who welcomed us all happily on board the Jumbolino HB-IYZ. Captain Peter Huber announced exciting details about the Jumbolino over the loudspeaker and enthusiastically commented on the alpine flight. The aircraft took-off at 09:04 am on runway 28. I was able to catch a glimpse of the lake of Zurich before we disappeared in the clouds. After a few minutes, the Jumbolino was greeted by the sun. The highest Bernese peak (4'274 m), the Finsteraarhorn, looked out. Shortly thereafter followed the world famous Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau. What a phenomenal view! There were more clouds coming up again, so that we could devote to the culinary highlight. The flight attendants served a mineral water and a cup of vanilla-chocolate ice cream which was made especially for this farewell flight. I saved the lid with the inscription "Goodbye Avro". After this feast, there was a overwhelming view of the monumental Monte Rose massif with the majestic Dufourspitze, the highest mountain in Switzerland (4,634 m). Even the king of the European mountains, the Mont Blanc (4,810 m) was clearly visible and paid the Swiss Jumbolino a last tribute.
I remembered how, as a child, I was lying on the top floor of the Bern University Hospital because of my lung disease. In this terribly difficult time, the BAe 146-100 of Dan-Air was always my encouraging highlight. The aircraft flew daily from London Gatwick to Bern, the approach led directly past the hospital window. The Jumbolino has gained a very special meaning for me. And now I was on the farewell flight, what an honour!
We flew over the Valais, marveling at the many beautiful mountain peaks, the lush green valleys and the deep blue mountain lakes. As we flew over the winding Grimsel Pass Road, the Jumbolino also turned off in the direction of Zurich and set to descent into the cloud soup. The flaps and the landing gear were extended which sounds unbelievably beautiful in the Jumbolino. The four engines boomed and howled, pure music for my ears. After an hour-long flight, we gently landed at 10:05 am on runway 14 in Zurich. The passengers applauded vigorously as the aircraft rolled to the stand. As a farewell gift, Swiss handed each passenger a Jumbolino model and a freshly printed Safety Inscruction Card. We were allowed to take a last look into the cockpit where we could thank the friendly pilots for the unforgettable great alpine flight. The Jumbolino got a many kisses on its nose - Goodbye Avro!
Thank you so much to Swiss, the four captains and my good friend Rafael who made this possible for me!