Riding a dutch classic in Argentinian Skies
The rugged Fokker F-28 Fellowship still soldiers on with the Fuerza Aera Argentina
By Jan Koppen
When working at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport, one is always surrounded by modern jets. Once in a while, the need to fly the OldJets must be fulfilled! Nowadays the choice is limited. Fortunately, Argentina, is a land still with several operational second-generation Fokker F-28 jets !
During the last week of January 2013, my wife and I left Amsterdam Schiphol Airport onboard a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 777-200, for the 15 hour flight to Buenos Aires. We escaped the cold freezing temperatures of Holland (-10 degrees C) only to arrive in Argentina during a heat wave. This was our annual holiday and we had planned many tourist activities in Argentina and Uruguay. One other reason to visit Argentina was to get up close to several airworthy second-generation Fokker F-28 twin-jets still in active service.
LADE F-28 Fellowships
Before this trip I was informed by Servaas Verbruggen about the possibility to fly LADE F-28’s from Aeroparque. Lineas Aereas del Estado is a part of the Fuerza Aerea Argentina and operates four F-28-1000’s. Given the fact that there are hardly any Fokker Fellowship operators left in the world, Bangladesh Biman grounded their F-28s last year, and being a Dutchman, a flight aboard this Fokker Jet is an opportunity not to be missed.
LADE operates every Thursday and Tuesday flight 5U/770 with a Fokker F-28-1000. Leaving Aeroparque at 09:30 hours for Ushaia in the southern-most tip of Argentina. Stops will be made in Mar del Plate, Bariloche, Calafate and Rio Gallegos. Beware; with so many stops this flight will take whole day!
Tickets can be bought with LADE’s town office. My wife and I opted for the first leg to Mar del Plate.
Our flight to Mar del Plata
Designated aircraft for our flight appeared F-28-1000 T-50. T-50 has had a very interesting career. She rolled out of the Fokker factory in March 1972 and started flying for Fairchild Hiller corp. and two years later she was leased by Fokker to Aviateca. In 1976 she was displayed at the Farnborough show before she was sold to Argentinian government as ship T-02 and later as T-04. During these years she was the personal transport for several presidents and even the Pope. In 2005 she was transferred to the military as T-50.
With a fresh coat of paint T-50 seemed externally in very good shape. Internally the 40+ year old Fokker is looks very classic with her open head racks. The beautiful leather fauteuils are even more comfortable than many business class seat on A-class carriers !
During the flight a had a meet and greet with the flight crew. The crew, wearing their Air Force uniforms, consisted of Cpt. Matias Vallejos, Vice-cpt. Cartos Pesante and Co-pilot Walter Dulgais. The purser was Raul Fernandez.
The 45 minutes flight to Mar del Plate was very pleasant. Raul explained me that all four F-28s and two F-27s of the Fuerza Aerea are operational. On my question; “how much longer will the Fellowships soldier on ?”, - Raul remarked with a smile on his face - “until they will fall from the sky