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KL 672 - The last flight

Nice picture of PH-KCE signed by the crew of KL 672 (thanks to Guy Van Herbruggen for making the photo)

25th October 2014 - a sad day for me any many mad dog fans everywhere with the last scheduled MD11 operated passenger services.

It marks the end of wide body tri-jet services anywhere as the DC10 and L1011 Tristar have also passed into memories this year too and also marks the end of 80 years of Douglas aircraft operation at KLM right through from 1934 with the DC-2 to our MD11 in 2014. It would of been nice if this milestone was celebrated in KLM's 95th year anniversary too.

I had planned to be on this flight as and when it happened and regardless of cost. I was able to get on the last Swiss flight in 2004, and should of been with Finnair on 2010 but the final date kept changing and i wasn't able to make it in the end. This flight though was more significant as KLM were the last to stick with the MD11 for passenger services.

It had been hoped to keep them until 2016 at one point but rising fuel costs, newer aircraft and Air France's financial woes helped to conspire to retire them earlier.

I managed to persuade 3 friends to part with some money and join me so i booked our flights with KLM directly, fllying out on 17/10 from Norwich to Amsterdam on Fokker 70 PH-KZP. We then connected onto KL 691 to Toronto with MD11 PH-KCB.

8 nights in Canada gave us time to visit Niagara Falls, the National Air Force museum at Trenton and Canada aviation museum at Ottawa as well as time aircraft spotting and organise a pleasure flight with Nolinor Aviation on a Convair 580.

The day of the flight started nicely, clear skies and sunshine - something we'd not seen much of all week. We had the Convair flight on the morning to enjoy so by the time i actually got to Dorval it was around 3.30pm. We returned our rental car and went to check in.
By this time it was cold and raining.

Check in wasn't the fastest, we had to use machines to check in then go to bag drop. The machines splurt out horribly thin boarding passes and i struggled to keep mine intact;

After that, through security and wander round the terminal, see what other airliners are there etc.

Gate 55 was for our flight so i made my way there in time to seee PH-KCE 'Audrey Hepburn' pull up. It wasn't the best gate for a view and with the poor weather as well wasn't great for pictures either. 'KCE' was given a water cannon salute on arrival but that was out of view from the gate area unfortunatley so i missed that. 

It was nice to meet up with many other MD11 fans too. People who have seen my web site over the years and sent contributions, pictures, information etc. Around half the passengers from our Convair flight also took the MD11 flight as well as other people who had travelled from far and wide to be there, Japan, China, all over Europe, USA, Canada, a good turnout. The flight was full but i know some had only booked very late.
Here is 'Audrey' at gate 55 after arriving from Amsterdam on KL671, and the crew for the flight altogether for a group shot. 

The gate area had last MD11 flight posters, an area for pictures to be taken of people, whose image was projected next to a shot of an MD11 and printed out like a postcard, made a nice souvenir. There were also refreshemnts, fairy cakes, bunting etc all laid on by Aeroports De Montreal staff.

The 4 of us before boarding.

Before boarding commenced, the AF/KL station manager said a few words followed by an Aeroports De Montreal manager and finallly the Captain of flight 672 Erwin Gabel.

I took the picture below just before i boarded.

Boarding was as for any flight. The crew were very enthusiastic and also well aware of the signifinace of the days flight and were genuinely pleased to see so many people had made the trip to Montreal to participate.

Push back from gate 55 was at 1904 and we taxied out for a Westerly departure from Montreal's 24 Left runway. On reaching the end of the runway we paused for a short while, then the throttles were opened up with the brakes on. The aircraft was suddering slightly with the power being held bythe brakes then off we surged, very impressive take off roll and we lifted off at 1924 with an impressive climb into the night sky.........

Click the link below for a video on youtube on PH-KCE taxiing and take from Montreal shot by YUL spotter;

You tube link of the take off of KL 672

A short while after take off, champagne was served with a special cake for the occasion

After that, the  usual superb KLM service prevailed, we had dinner, watched tv though i found i couldn't sleep, i didn't want to miss a moment of the flight. Quite a few other enthusiats were up all night too.Towards the end the crew handed out souvenir certificates.  

And then it seemed so soon after it started we were in Amstersdam. Flight time of only 6 hours exactly. We landed on runway 18 right and after taxiing for a short time and crossed over runway 18C, we were met with a fleet of vehicles with flashing lights to escort us to the gate.
Parking was at Gate D2, right below the viewing terrace. Schipol airport had opened up the spectators area early so people could see the last flight arrive. We were also given a water cannon salute by the fire department shortly before arrriving at the gate and the picture below was take byJeroen de Bruijn of us pulling up;

At Schipol, i was hoping to see PH-KCB there which had operated the last KL 691 from Toronto. It would be great if we had parked along side each other but that was not so. By the time i got off and got on the spectators area, KCB had already been towed over to the hanger area.
The light was good fromteh terrace and i was bale to get a few pictures before 'KCE' was towed away just beofre 8 am.

And that was that. A huge thankyou to KLM for making it a truly memorable occasion

A very enjoyable trip and also tinged with sadness. The MD11 has been a big part of my life for 20 years or so and whilst passenger flights are no longer possibly at least i will get to see them as freighters around the world.

Techinally the last bit is slightly inaccurate because we have one last hurrah on November 11th to look forward too yet. Hope to meet many of you again in a few weeks time.

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