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Flying the "roaring buckets" - LGW-DUB-LGW on a classic 737 (w/pics)

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  • Flying the "roaring buckets" - LGW-DUB-LGW on a classic 737 (w/pics)

    Just after last Christmas I made a New Year resolution to get at least one more flight in Europe with a 737-200 while I still had the chance. My last trip with the type had been way back in 1989 on Lufthansa, and with Ryanair ordering vast numbers of 737NG's time was running out. Originally I intended to book a flight for early June. The Gatwick-Dublin route was still 100% operated by the type, and it was possible to get two different aircraft by using the 1500 outward journey and 1910 return. However, careful scanning of the Ryanair timetable revealed that the 1500 ceased operation on 28th April! Hasty discussions with my boss ensued, and the latter granted me a day off for 26th April - two days to spare!

    Ryanair 737-200 EI-CNZ
    Flight no FR1123
    26th April 2005

    The afternoon departure permitted a leisurely start to the day, travelling down to London Gatwick by train late morning. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, and checked in promptly so as to be in the first group of pax allowed to board - I ended up with boarding card no 32, well within the 1-60 which made up the first batch. Gatwick hasn't changed much over the years, except that the viewing terrace seems to have closed. There was however a very high security presence in the departure hall, backed up by CCTV filming as pax passed through security itself. It wasn't long before my flight was called for boarding at Gate 10 as I expected. On arrival at the gate however I was asked by staff how I knew it was that particular gate, and they seemed puzzled when I told them that the flight had been advertised for a good 10 minutes!! I was however in good time to watch our bird arrive - EI-CNZ, another ex-Lufthansa machine.

    There were few inbound passengers, and so we were allowed to board almost immediately. This was via a rather dubious set of stairs, and allowed me to view this old girl's patched up bodywork at close quarters.

    As I wanted a good view of the engines I made for the back of the cabin and selected a window seat in Row 17. However, after sitting there for a full five minutes (during which time the other window seats filled) the cabin crew advised me and others that the rear four rows weren't in use!! I made the best of things and moved to seat 14E, which at least had a reasonably clean window. Our taxi out to Runway 26 was a short one, and so the crew had to perform the safety demo rather quickly. Being only about half full the take off roll was fairly short, and we climbed rapidly with a fair wind on our tail. It was however a beautiful sunny day, ideal for flying, as we cruised at 29,000ft. How I had missed the roar of a classic jet in recent years!

    After so many 737-300 and -700 flights, the difference inside the cabin was immediately noticable, being both more compact and old fashioned. The noise level was also very apparent, especially as I had sampled one of Easyjet's A319 fleet just a week before (a plane I hold in very high esteem btw). It was nevertheless very comfortable. Clues to this airframe's past were very evident.

    This was my first time flying in to DUB and so I was rather impressed with the scenic approach.

    The landing was very smooth, before that typical early 737 roar as we slowed down. What followed was one of the fastest taxis to gate I can remember, and the engines were then shut down almost before we had stopped. The captain and his crew were clearly in a hurry for something!

    I had about an hour before I was due to check in for the return flight, so I set about looking for any good photographic spots within walking distance - with no success whatsoever! I did however observe a large metal pig ouside the arrivals hall - a reference to the 737's nickname of "Flying Pigs" perhaps?

    Ryanair 737-200 EI-CNT
    Flight no FR118
    26th April 2005

    Check in was again completed with no fuss, followed by a huge queue for security. The latter were being very thorough, asking for all items (shoes, belts etc) to be removed. The Italian guy in front of me took exception to this and almost threw his shoes at the security officer, followed by a torrent of abuse when he discovered the souvenir paper knife he had just purchased in the city couldn't be taken on board! Like it was going to make any difference.

    I was impressed with this airport, excellent facilities for what is still a relatively small place. All gate numbers were advertised, so I was able to proceed to departures early enough to get a few pictures - as a small storm passed overhead. The views of the apron are great, although some reflections from the windows were unavoidable. Below we see EI-CDF, a 737-500 of Aer Lingus, and EI-DHF a 737-800 of Ryanair (only a few weeks in service).

    I had been hoping all day that one of my two aircraft would be a logojet - two remain in the fleet - and as it happened they both arrived together! EI-CJC in Hertz colours first...

    ...followed by EI-CNT, yet another ex-Lufthansa frame in Vodafone livery, which taxied up to gate 14 where I was waiting. My wish had been granted!

    There was a fair wait for a member of staff to arrive, but boarding was then accomplished very quickly. This time we had a full load of pax on board, so I made a bee-line for seat 17F - I wasn't going to be denied twice in a day! As we departed the captain advised us that we would be cruising at 33,000ft routed over Fishguard. Before take off, I grabbed a shot of that -200 powerplant while I still had some light available.

    And after waiting for a sister aircraft to land we were away, just as the sun poked through the clouds.

    As we headed over the Irish Sea I realised that this was the end of an era for me. These early baby Boeings have been around me since I was little: from when I lived down the road from LHR, to my visits to LGW (where Britannia and Air Europe examples shared the tarmac with BAC 1-11s of British Caledonian and Dan Air), and of course in more recent times at STN which is nowadays my nearest major airport. Now I was heading home on one for probably the last time.

    Traffic into LGW was quite heavy, and we found ourselves stacked for a good ten minutes. Despite this we landed some 15 minutes early on Runway 26 where I had been just five hours earlier. As the engine "buckets" unfolded I attempted one last photo (apologies for the quality, it was almost dark so I have enhanced this the best I can):

    I took a last look at CNT as I walked into the terminal. Thirty minutes later I was back on the rail station waiting my train, as a loud roar erupted from beyond the main buildings.....

  • #2
    The 732 was my favorite aircraft to fly on. I just love the way the reversers fly open and roar on landing. Great Report, I like the pics


    • #3
      You gotta love the 732s. To bad they are being phased out Glad you got to fly on one. Great report
      You've got to try to find what's right before your eyes-Finger Eleven


      • #4
        nice report and pics. i havent seen a 732 in so long and then today i just happened to look out at an a/c taxiing in at ATL and, lo and behold, it was a DL 732. too bad their days are numbered severely


        • #5
          Great Report! I can't wait to fly my first 737-200 in Hawaii later this year. The cabin looks extremely modern for a realitively old aircraft.
          - The baby will be back -


          • #6
            Originally posted by babypurin
            Great Report! I can't wait to fly my first 737-200 in Hawaii later this year. The cabin looks extremely modern for a realitively old aircraft.
            The cabin is typical for the newer 737-200s built after around the middle 1970s.

            The 737-200s have always been one of my favorite planes to fly in, especially the newer 737-200 Advanced model with the more powerful JT8D-15 or -17 engines. I have heard they are also a favorite with pilots.
            Click Here to view my aircraft photos at JetPhotos.Net!


            • #7
              732's are so sweet. I have some awesome memories from them.


              • #8
                Thanks for your replies, the trip really brought back memories of when I first flew the type in the late eighties and what a great plane it is to fly. It really will be a shame when they are gone, but at least we still have the newer variants.

                Regarding bbuse's comments, I believe both of these particular airframes were delivered to Lufthansa around 1981. The cabin in 'CNT being identical to that in 'CNZ.

                Crunk415balla you might like to know that we were treated to THREE openings of those reversers back at LGW, we needed to use most of runway 26 to slow down with a full load


                • #9
                  Nice report. The last 200 I was on was an Air Canada/Canadian Airlines B737-200 (Fin 512 C-GCPQ) from YYZ to MCO. That was back in 2003.


                  • #10
                    Interesting report covering my all-time favourite 737.
                    The last ride on a 200 I remember of took place in 1997 over the route PHL-MIA on board UsAir's N229US. The inflight service and especially the dinner were bad but FUNNY
                    Thanks for visiting
                    *Avimage's Monthly Slide list *


                    • #11

                      Great flight review. I fondly remember what maybe the very last two flights I took in the 732. It was on the way back from Austin to Oklahoma City May '04, Southwest Airlines. N95SW and N87SW, I believe. AUS-DAL-OKC, very nice flights. Especially the crosswind landing and takeoff on RWY 13R at DAL, w/ a 20-25kt crosswind, lol. At OKC, w/ full flaps, a stout south wind at around 30kt and reverse thrust, the pilot had no problem in using less than half of the 9800ft runway. Awesome machine!

                      The photos are great.



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Crunk415balla
                        The 732 was my favorite aircraft to fly on. I just love the way the reversers fly open and roar on landing. Great Report, I like the pics
                        Ditto!!!!! I love the whine that those oldies make when we slow down!!!!
                        O'Hare - The Aviation God's greatest creation, or their greatest mistake? you be the judge!


                        • #13
                          My last ride with 737-200 of GB Airways in 1994 from GIB-LHR