South America, a Flight Back in Time

With more and more classic aircraft being ticked off in our flight log, there was one little Fokker still on our wishlist for some years. We have flown the Fokker 50 twice now with Air Antwerp and BRA, the Fokker 70 with KLM and most recently Fokker 100 with Carpatair. We even flew the Fokker S.11 Instructor twice. You could tell, we like our Fokkers. And rightfully so, as they are well built aircraft that will always bring a smile to you face no matter if you're an avgeek or not. 

Over the years, we learned that there still are some Fokker F28 Fellowships still in use by some governments and militaries. For example, the Colombian Fellowship FAC1041 visited Woensdrecht Air Base for a big maintenance visit two years ago. That is also when we learned that the Argentine Air Force still operated two Fokker F28-1000C in their fleet, and that these planes - which were recently overhauled - were aimed to also be used for the LADE, Lineas Aereas del Estado. This is the government-owned state airline in Argentina, that operates with aircraft from Fuerza Aerea Argentina, the Argentine Air Force. The news that LADE would operate the F28 meant that one would be able to book tickets to ride them. Now the questions arose: when, and how? 

Challenge 1: booking tickets

You could say that over the years, we gained quite the experience in booking airline tickets. However, the website from LADE is not your average airline website. The first question that came to mind was, are foreigners even allowed on these flights, as these are active military aircraft? And then, on what routes do the Fokkers operate and when?  Luckily, contact with LADE is quite easy through two WhatsApp numbers, and with our skills in Spanish being almost non-existent, they try their best to communicate in English too. That is how we learned that the schedule for the Fokker F28 is known two months in advance at a maximum, and that flights currently only operate a single route out of Buenos Aires with some stops. Besides, the flight only operates on a few days per month, only on Mondays or Thursdays. So, not even all Mondays and Thursdays..

This made planning quite the challenge.  Usually for a big trip like this, we like to plan at least 6 months ahead. However, as the Fokker F28 flight would be the main goal for this trip, we cannot plan anything untill we secured ourselves a ticket with LADE. Now, when shall we fly? During the hot summer (which is December)? During winter (our summer holiday)? Or, can we perhaps combine with some fun airshow? Well, in Chile, the FIDAE Airshow will be held again in 2024, so, it would be fun to combine it with FIDAE. 

With the rough period set, we reached out to LADE again with the question when the schedule for that period would be known. With FIDAE happening from 9 till 14 April, our aim was set for late March or April. The response was that the schedule should be known by the end of January. Schedule and tickets should pop up on the website, they said. As all this planning started in summer 2023, the big waiting game had begun. Just to tell you a little bit about ourselves: we are bad at that. When a small seed has planted, we would like to explore all the possibilities and book as soon as we can. But all of that had to wait, as we did not even have a flight date to plan everything around.. 

Still, we made a wishlist of all the things we would like to see and do and set the travel duration for about two weeks. That was all we had to work with. Fast-forward to January 2024. We again contacted LADE with the question if there would be a flight schedule known already. Then we learned that this schedule would be known no earlier than the last weeks of February. Bummer, but they could assure me that the route would still be the one route out of Buenos Aires. In the meantime, the LADE website, which was previously accessible just fine, was now only showing white, and could only be entered through a relocated VPN. This made keeping track of the site for the exact dates a bit more of a challenge. 

However, in the meantime, our contact with LADE through WhatsApp had grown a little more informal and friendly, and the lady from LADE send me the schedule for the F28 on 15 February. Now, we knew which dates it would fly in April. They would fly on 1, 11, 15, 25 and 29 April. With the dates of FIDAE in mind, we finally set the date for our Fokker flight. Monday 15 April. That is the goal. Next step: buy those tickets!

Then, there was that Friday night mid-February. We again had WhatsApp contact with LADE and they told us that that night, the tickets should go on sale. Constantly refreshing, and just as the guy from LADE said, just around midnight in The Netherlands, the tickets went on sale! Adrenaline rushing through our veins as we worked our way through the steps. Payment was a bit of a hurdle as the site collapsed several times, but then, finally, we had our tickets!

Seat reservation and check-in would only be possible at the counter, but for now, we could move on with planning this magnificent adventure. Step one ticked off, let's do this! We are going to South America!

Saturday 6 April - Hola Colombia! 

Today is the day we start our South American adventure. The first hurdle is to get to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in time. Normally when we fly early, we book a night in the wonderful Citizen M Hotel. But, as our flight leaves around noon on this weekend day, train travel should be no issue. How wrong were we, as an animal on the tracks decided for all trains to be cancelled for at least the next couple of hours. So, we take the car to the airport instead. 

Check-in at Schiphol was also a bit of an issue as we did not realize we needed a CheckMig form for entering Colombia. Luckily, the lady from Aviapartner attended us on that, and within a few extra minutes, we were all set and headed for our flight to Madrid. 

Yes, today we fly Iberia via Madrid to Bogotá, Colombia! Our first flight with the Spanish carrier, so we'd like to give it a try. First, we fly IberiaExpress on their A320 EC-LUS, to transfer at Madrid to the Airbus A350-900. The transfer goes smoothly and with no significant hurdles we arrive at our gate. The international Iberia terminal is pretty quiet, even though there is an Emirates, Avianca and also a LATAM parked here. We grab some lunch and it is already time to board. 

Our aircraft for today is EC-NCX. The flight is uneventful and actually we are pleasantly surprised by the quality of Iberia. The food is decent, metal cutlery, service is good and friendly and the inflight-entertainment is a good collection of games, movies and more. The moving map also is superb quality. All in all a good flight.

We arrive in Bogotá at around 20.30 on runway 13L. Immigration went smoothly, and in no-time we are in Colombia. It has not sunk in yet. All those stories of South-America and Colombia being so unsafe, and yet, here we are. Immigration officers were friendly, the airport looks modern and good. So far, so good.

We collect our luggage and find ourselves a way to the hotel shuttle. The coming nights we stay in the Movich Buró 26 hotel at Bogotá El Dorado Airport. We check in and go to our room. The room is nice and luxurious, and even though the windows are not wide, the views are incredible! We have a nice lookout over the hangars of Aer Caribe and Aerosucre, and a great view on the runway. We take some initial night shots and then after an Aerosucre Boeing 727 landed we quickly go to bed. Goodnight! 

Sunday 7 April - Hotelspotting Bogotá

Goodmorning all! We just woke up really really early due to our jetlag, but all in all the night was good. After a relaxing shower we report for breakfast before returning to our room. As spotting in Colombia is not considered safe for two blonde foreigners, we decided it was best to stay in the room and enjoy the views from here. After all, there is a lot going on! 

Colombia - and South America in general - is a little hard for modern plane spotters, as not all traffic is visible on tracking platforms such as Flightradar24 or ADSB-Exchange. And usually, the stuff that is not visible is the most interesting and fun stuff to spot! So, we just sit down on the bed, and waiting for all the goodness to come. And oh dear, what a lot of goodness there is here at Bogotá! Several Policia Nacional aircraft, an Aerosucre Boeing 727 for a short morning hop, a Laser MD-82 and even an Antonov 32! Ohter highlights are the numerous King Airs and some Boeing 747s taking off.  Although we are facing the sun and the windows are not ideal for photography, we still enjoy the views and have a great time.

Initially, the planning for today was to meet with Sergio, a friend and first officer on the Boeing 727 with Aerosucre. However, the duty called and he has to fly a leg to Caracas today, so we will meet with him tomorrow. Still, he recommended us a safe spot only 20 minutes walking from our hotel to watch his takeoff. As we are in for a little adventure, we agree and pack our gear.

First, we walk to the domestic terminal for some lunch. While walking, we see a SARPA Jetstream 32 taking off. Also something that cannot be seen on Flightradar. So, a nice surprise. Then, we walk past the arrivals hall, from where we can spot an Amazon Air Antonov An-26!  As the arrivals hall is not accessible for us, we have to shoot through it, with the security officer next to us laughing and being happy with the results. So are we, although the photos are not the best. Oh well, reason to come back for, right?

Then, we walk to the spot. During the walk we see a USAF C-17A Globemaster III take to the skies from the southern runway. The walkto the spot feels pretty safe, even though the neighborhood is a little sketchy. When we arrived, we spot some wildlife in the form of wild guinea pigs. Then, we are suprised by a Boeing 737 taking off. We are thrilled as this is a Fuerza Aerea Colombiana Boeing 737-400 Combi! 

We walk through the field to a couple of other spotters who were enjoying the day. What a view there is! From this point we have a stunning overview of the northeastern side of the airport. We have a blast, and we do not have to wait long for the first special: a Basler BT-67 Turbo Dakota, the modernised version of the DC-3, in service with the Policia Nacional de Colombia. Unfortunately taking the southern runway, but still a nice catch. Then, an Aer Caribe Cargo Boeing 737-400F is being towed out of the hangar for startup. There is so much going on here.

Not long after the that it is time for the real show to begin: Sergio and "his" 727 enter the showground. Taxiing in front of the Aer Caribe , the long sleek triholer makes her way to runway 13L.  First, an Ethiopian Cargo 777 shows its performance and as soon that one is gone, the Aerosucre Boeing 727 lines up with the runway. The lights turn on and the Boeing 727 thunders down the runway. Like a true Aerosucre 727 she rotates late and roars low over our heads. What a sight to behold! Incredible. As the 727 continues to (slowly) climb out, it leaves at least four car alarms beeping and honking. What a legend! 

After the 727 had turned away, the next classic jet races down the runway, the Aer Caribe Cargo 737-400F also gives a great show with a fast and low take off. So amazing! As the burns and the action gets a bit quieter, we decide to walk back to the hotel. We see another FACH Boeing 737-700 taking off, and then say goodbye to our new Colombian spotter friends. 

Back at the hotel we continue the spotting, but we also enjoy the hotel facilities and a good meal. As we are still quite jetlagged, we will not stay up too late. Tomorrow we will meet with Sergio and take our next flight as well, as tomorrow we will leave Colombia again already.. 

Monday 8 April - More classics!

Goodmorning and welcome to already our final day here in Bogotá. Such a bummer that we are leaving this afternoon, but there is still a lot to see today! First, we go for a good breakfast. While at breakfast, we see the FAC1041, the Fokker F28-3000 from the Colombian air force taking off from the southern runway. Unfortunately, we left all the cameras in our room and as with a lot of interesting movements here, the little Fokker was only visible on Flightradar during its take off roll. Oh well, at least we have seen and heard it, that is also nice.

Then, we go back to our room as we wait for our meetup with Sergio today. During the wait, a lot of interesting traffic takes off from the northern runway, such as the SARPA Embraer 145, a USAF C-130J and a FAC Commander. As the sun is still rising, the light conditions are challenging for photography, but nevertheless we are happy with the catches. 

Then, it is time to meet Sergio in the hotel lobby. We chat for a bit before he takes us on a short walk to the area that we were overlooking the past days: the Aerosucre hangar. Sergio managed to arrange us a visit here, something that is not for everyone! After completing all the security formalities, we are welcomed inside. The three of us are greeted by HK-5216, one of the two Boeing 727s, which is undergoing a C-check. Also two Boeing 737-300s are present. As Sergio is a 727 pilot, we obviously start here. Sergio shows us his office, the classic flight deck. The 727 cockpit is pretty spacious compared to other cockpits we entered. An obvious feature here is the office for the flight engineer, with a table with all the tables for flight operation. 

The engineers are working hard on the classic triholer, so Sergio is not allowed to power up the plane, which means that the flight deck stays cold and dark. Still, we are impressed by all the gauges, knobs and dials. After taking all the photos, we leave the 727 and walk on to one of the 737s. 

The first 737 we see is in a familiar livery. This plane used to fly for Titan Air in Europe. Now registered as  HK-5439, she is the newest member of the Aerosucre family. She is at the moment being prepared for her first revenue operation for the Colombian airline. We see how the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer is taken off for inspection, and after that we go on board for a look at the flight deck. What a difference this is, even though this bird is still considered a classic jet! But she is fitted with electronic flight displays already. It looks a lot more modern than the old 727. Sergio is also amazed, as he tells us that he had never been in the 737-300 flight deck before. Also, the cockpit is a nice and unique vantage point to see the 727's sexy back end!

We take some photos in the cockpit before we walk on to the third and last aircraft at the hangar: HK-5370. This is also a Boeing 737-300, but this one is in full Aerosucre livery. We walk around the aircraft before entering the cockpit as well. Even though this is also a -300, the cockpit looks completely different than the ex-Titan. No electronic displays, but again lots of gauges, dials and knobs. As the three of us are having fun in the cockpit, one of the engineers comes by, as they need to energize the aircraft for maintenance purposes. Good news for us, as we get to see the flight deck all lit up! We take some photos and some selfies and then let the engineers do their jobs.

As we exit the 737, we are standing underneath the business end of the 727 which has its engine number 2 exposed. This is also when we give Sergio a little present as thank you for this amazing and one-of-a-kind opportunity: a framed print of two self-made cartoons of the Aerosucre 727 fleet, and a package of stroopwafels (I do not know which present he eventually loved more hahaha). We take one last glance at the stunning classics here at the hangar before we leave the property. How amazing was this!! 

We walk back with Sergio to our hotel, where we invite him over to our room, to see our amazing view for himself. That afternoon, we will fly to Lima, and Sergio needs to fly as well, but on a wayyyy cooler plane. Oh well, if only.. 

As we are having a good time spotting and sharing stories in our room, we see the Laser MD-82 taking off again, but we are also surprised by the departure of the other Aerosucre 727. Even Sergio did not expect that departure, haha! Also, some shunting movements can be seen from the Aerosucre hangar, as the 737-300 is pushed away to make room for ex-Titan plane to be towed to the run-up area for engine runs. Business is also booming at the AerCaribe hangar, as one of the 737-400s gets some love for the radar and the Antonov 26 has its cowlings open.  

As time really flies when you're having fun, the time has come to say goodbye to our friend and make our way to the terminal. We check in our luggage and have a look at the military apron from the landside vantage point behind the check-in area at El Dorado. We see a Colombian C-130 Hercules coming in as well as the Avianca retro A320. Unfortunately, this plane goes to the "wrong" side of the airport, as we depart from the northern gates. With all that goodness in the pocket, it is time to head through security and to the gate. 

At the gate, we discover that our aircraft has not arrived yet. That means that we can sit back and relax with a good show of all sorts of aircraft passing by. We soak in as much Colombian goodness as possible. What an incredible time we had here! Acutally, we cannot wait to come back here. Sergio and all the other beautiful people we met here: thank you so much for making our trip as unforgettable as it already is!

We board our Avianca Airbus A320 with the American registration N4304. During taxi out we have a glance at the military apron and the massive variety of interesting aircraft that are parked and based here at El Dorado. Also, a USAF C-37 lands right before our eyes. With some other traffic also out of the way, it is time for our take off from runway 13R. One last glimpse at the military part gives a good view on the two Fokker F28s. One is still active, the other one (FAC0002) is currently being prepared for transfer to the museum. 

Then, we see the main terminals and the cargo ramps. On the cargo ramp, the last Aerosucre Boeing 737-200 is parked. Unfortunately, we did not see it in action, but seeing it from above is still pretty cool. To be honest, you fly too fast to see all the beauty of El Dorado, especially when trying to focus for photography. Still, we are happy with the results. Eventually we leave the airport behind, and we are treated on a stunning view of the city, before we enter the clouds. Goodbye Bogotá, your airport is amazing, we cannot wait to come back! 

The flight itself is pretty uneventful. The seats are a bit cramped, unfortunately. That, in combination with the struggles and difficulties we had with completing the booking for this flight make that we are not all that happy with Avianca. However, we are on our way and actually cross the equator on this flight. As we fly over the endless forests and brown rivers, the clouds break open. Now and then a big storm cloud can be seen. Just before we cross the Andes mountains, the clouds come back in.

Approach into Lima is very spectacular. So much sand and brown all over the place! Even two shipwrecks at the beach and some steep cliffs. Then, the city of Lima comes into view. We are amazed by how brown everything looks. Quite the shock, to be honest. Still our eyes are almost not capable of sucking it all in, what a spectacular approach this is!

We know we are approaching from the north, which is the case 99% of the time at Lima. That means, that during the landing, we will be in for a treat aviation wise.. Let the show begin! 

First, we see a boneyard with dusty old airliner frames. Boeing 727, Boeing 737, Fokker F28, there is a lot! Then, a big blue hangar comes into view with two Antonov 32s, a Boeing 737-300, Boeing 737-200 (and a Gulfstream, but that one is the most "meh" and blocking the views on the Boeing 732..) Then, we see a C-130 and a C-27, an Antonov 26 and two Fokker 70s. Then, a Latam hangar and the second military ramp filled with Antonov 32s, Mil Mi-8 and a lot more. Eventually we see the main teminal and the Policia hangar, with again two An-32s. What a landing!!!

That concludes this flight, and we leave the airport building. Luckily, our hotel is connected to the terminal by a footbridge. We stay in the Costa del Sol by Wyndham. Our room is number 732, which has a great view over the airport! The sun is already setting and we are pretty tired with all the impressions from today, so that is a thing for tomorrow! Buenas noches! 

Tuesday 9 April - Peru, Relax, Spot, Relax, Spot, Relax.. 

Lima Jorge Chávez International Airport is just like Bogotá an airport where all the interesting movements are actually not visible on any tracking website. This means that the strategy for capturing the interesting goodness is to sit and wait. So, when the sun comes up, we are ready for it! The goals to see are mostly propeller aircraft like Antonovs, Fokker 50/60, helicopters, B1900 and DHC-8. Luckily, the hotel room has a window that can be opened. This makes listening for a prop sound (and photography) a lot easier. If only there was no diesel power unit providing power to some construction site nearby mimicking perfectly the sound of an idle turboprop engine... Oh well, just sitting and waiting then. We call it our spa-day, as we also use the free time to pamper ourselves a bit. It is a holiday after all, right? :) 

We do see some nice stuff, but compared to Bogotá, Lima sees a lot less variety in its general traffic. Most traffic is Latam or JetSmart, with now and then Sky Airline. Those three are around 80% of all traffic. You can call us spoiled, but eventually we got a bit bored. So, we go for a short walk down the street to see if any preserved aircraft can be seen, but unfortunately no luck. Also, Google said that there used to be an aviation park down the road, but all of that is gone now. All we saw were busy roads, loud cars and even louder buses. Still, it was a fun walk and nice to see some local (road) traffic. 

Once back in the room we go back to our spa-day and spotting. Luckily for us, the military had woken up as well. We see a Hercules and Spartan taking off, and the Fuerza Aerea del Peru Boeing 737-500 also comes in to land. We also discovered that the window at the hotel staircase can also be opened and gives a better view to the north side of the airport. Also, when aircraft take off here, you might get some amazing tower-crossing shots from here! 

From our room we have a somewhat clear view on the military apron, so we see pretty early that a Mil Mi-17 from the Ejercito del Peru is being prepared for startup. Eventually, this helicopter (wearing a brutal digital camouflage livery) also takes off using the main runway. Then, after several hours and thousands of Latam A320s later, we hear a deep roar. We get all excited, and rightfully so, because before us, an Antonov An-32 from the Policia Nacional del Peru makes its way to the runway. The sun already had crossed the runway so it is backlit, but still, it is one of the highlights of today. 

Quickly the sun begins to set over the airport and the cargo ships in the ocean. The sunset is absolutely stunning. After darkness fell, we grab some dinner at the immense food court in the terminal. Lima Airport landside is pretty impressive though! With a stomach filled with McPollo we go back to our room and decide to call it a day. After all, it was still a good day. 

Wednesday 10 April - More Antonovs and Flying to Santiago!

Good morning! We just woke up, all excited for today. Today we spend the last morning at our hotel here in Lima. We hope to have some nice military action again today before we fly to our third country already! The airport is fairly busy in the morning, with lots of international arrivals. Also, some nice domestic planes depart again. We prepare ourselves for heading downstairs to get breakfast as we see that the Antonov An-32 from the civil Peruvian carrier ATSA is being towed to the other side of the airport! That could only mean that the plane will be loaded - subsequently followed by a departure!

As we see that the cargo just arrived to be loaded, we rush to the restaurant for a quick breakfast as we do not want to miss this take off. The breakfast here is really really good, so even though we are quick, we thoroughly enjoy every single bite. With the toast and bacon still between our teeth, we go back to the 7th floor to inspect the loading progress. Luckily, we see that there are still three pallets need to be loaded. However, we also see a second Antonov An-32 starting up its engines! 

How lucky are we, we see an Antonov An-32 from the Ejercito del Peru taking off in the most incredible warm morning light! That is truly a sight to behold. Not long after that, the ATSA Antonov is all filled up and being pushed back for startup. This one is significantly heavier than its military comrades, as it has not even rotated yet when it "crosses" the tower. But that sound... Pure music!

With the ATSA out of the way, it is time to check out of the hotel and check in for our flight. Time to do some terminal spotting, woohoo! 

The check-in area at Lima Airport is only accessible for passengers with a valid ticket, and there are lots of officers checking on that.  Really well organized actually. After dropping our bags we head for security and with not too much hassle we enter the departure lounge. Here we discover that the gates have separate corridors for the incoming passengers, which means that at all times, you will have a wide space between your two windows. Reflections are unavoidable for  photography.. Still, we try our best to make the most of it. Also, the views are pretty limited due to the planes that are closely parked to the building as well. 

The best views are to the south side of the airport, looking at the police hangars. Here we see a B1900, an An32 and some other helicopters. The navy is actively flying their helos as well, as we see a AB212 and even a Sea King passing by. As all the good stuff is not visible on the radars, we are totally surprised by the ATSA Antonov 32 coming back in, taxiing right in front of us! All in all, we do not get bored and eventually it is time for boarding.

Flight for today to Santiago de Chile is with Sky Airline on an Airbus A320Neo. The plane, registered CC-AZF, is currently only used on this route, and has just been towed to the stand. The flight is not that full, so we have two rows to ourselves on the right side of the aircraft. 

The right side of the aircraft (window seats F) are at Lima on departure the best seats in da house. This due to the fact that 99% of the flights take off using runway 16L so you will taxi close by the Ejercito and Fuerza Aerea base on the north side of the airport. On the south side you still have the Aeronaval base, which also has plenty of interesting airframes that we absolutely wanted to see, but on take off most aircraft are already too high to even have views on those aircraft. 

Taxi out is indeed a treat as we see so many stunning aircraft. Antonovs, Mil helicopters, Spartans, Boeing 737-200, there is so much to be seen! The good thing is, you taxi by so closely that the photos are nicely crisp and sharp. Eventually we make a left turn to line up with the runway. The views on the active airport stop, and the views on the new terminal are in our opinion not that interesting compared to the active side. However, we do spot the Sea King hovering over the harbour during take off!

The views on the harbour are stunning though! So many ships and boats! The rest of the flight does not have that much of a view as we fly mostly over the South Pacific Ocean. As we reach Chile, the sun also begins to set. The approach into Santiago Pudahuel Airport is absolutely breathtaking with the sunset over the mountains. Eventually it got dark as we land on runway 17L. The airport Terminal 2 is huge and new, but even though we are the only arriving flight here at the moment, it still takes over an hour to get through immigration.

Tired from this process, we arrive at our hotel, the Holiday Inn. It is an amazing hotel with perfect service in every way, but for now we just want to sleep as tomorrow we will be heading to the FIDAE airshow. Good night! 

Thursday 11 April - FIDAEday

Luckily for us, we can sleep late a bit, as the airshow grounds do not open that early! So, at a normal time, we wake up and get out of bed for breakfast. Then we grab our gear for today. Cameras, batteries, monopod, some bottles of water, some food, and with a private taxi driver waiting for us at the hotel we are ready to go! 

Today we attend the Feria Internacional del Aire y del Espacio, or FIDAE. This is a big trade airshow in Chile, which is held at the Pudahuel Air Base at the northern side of Santiago Airport. During our short taxi drive around the airport, we see an old Boeing 737-200 which used to fly for Sky Airline. 

Then, we enter the showgrounds. As we have accreditation as photographer, we do not have to pay for the entrance and even may use a separate entrance also used for exhibitors. As today is not a public day, it is not that busy as well. 

The static show is good, but for photography the big fences being placed very close to the aircraft are not that nice. Still, there is a nice variety of Chilean military aircraft. We actually hoped to see some other South American armed forces here as well, but these have very limited presence. The Dominican Republic brought their brand new Dulus turbotrainer aircraft and the Brazilians have brought their demo team Esquadrilha da Fumaça with their Tucanos. 

Highlights of the static display are definitely the Chilean Navy P-3 Orion, the Boeing 737-300 and the KC-135 with the old JT3D Engines. Other highlights are the F-5 Tigre III, E-3D Sentry AWACS and the Bell UH-1 and AB-412 helicopters. Although it it a nice collection, we do miss some (promised) airframes as Embraer should be here with their E195 E-2 and KC-390, Boeing should be here with a 787-8 from LATAM, Airbus should be here with a Delta A350, but none of those are present. Secretly, we also hoped to see the Boeing 707 IAI EL/M-2075 Phalcon Condor, which retired from service in 2022 but should still be present on the airport somewhere. 

The aerial displays are fun, with nice shows by an E-3D Sentry, the F-16C, F-16AM and the F-5E Tigre III. A highlight of the show is for most people the USAF F-22 Raptor Demo Team with their spectacular display. We have a chill and fun day as we have also plenty of time to visit the exhibition area.

Eventually, the day comes to an end and we are being picked up by the colleague of our private hotel driver. On request, we drive back to the hotel via the eastern side of the airport this time, as we thought that should give some more views  on the airbase to see all the hidden gems. And it surely does pay off! We see some business jets and other private aircraft, but also another Chilean Air Force Boeing 737-300. Three more C-130s, but also we get a glimpse of two BAe-146 from Aerovias DAP, and even a PBY-5A Catalina! As we make our way to the southern end of the runway, we see two grey aircraft parked near the cargo area. These aircraft are another KC-135 and... The Condor! So there it is, we finally see it with its big nose! Photography conditions are not that great as we shoot from a moving car on a not-so-smooth road, through a fence avoiding trees. Still, we are pleased with the results. 

Our driver drops us off in front of the hotel and we stay outside at the walkways between the two terminals to spot some departing aircraft and helicopters. What a day this was! For now, let's enjoy dinner and use the hotel computers to import all our photos and videos from this trip so far. What a journey it has already been!

For tomorrow, we originally planned to visit a museum in the city and then go back to the FIDAE show, but we feel that we actually have seen everything that FIDAE has to offer this year. So, we decide to rent a car for tomorrow and make a drive through the Andes!  

Friday 12 April - Santiago y Cajon del Maipo

This morning, we pick up our car: a nice Hyundai Creta. First, we drive around the airport again, as you can get close to the hangar area. Here we can grab some shots of the Catalina and some more Aerovias DAP Bae146s, one of which has its cute penguin livery. As there it not much more to see, we make our way to our next stop: the Aeronautical museum in the city of Santiago. 

The Museo Nacional Aeronáutico y del Espacio is a free museum with a nice collection of aircraft and scale models. Some highlights of the collection include a PBY-5A Catalina, a Fokker F.27 Friendship and the legendary McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The museum also has a separate exhibition on historic jets, which is only accessible on request. It is worth it, as that exhibition houses a Mirage III, a Vampire and even a Harrier jump jet, and some more nice aircraft and engines.

There is also a restoration area where two BAC 1-11s, a Boeing 707 and some other airframes are stored, but that area is not accessible for the public unfortunately. Glimpses of the storage area can be seen from the museum staircase and from outside the fence. 

The area in front of the museum also has some very nice airframes. Three DC-3 Dakotas, a Lockheed Neptune firebomber and many more jets and props. However, some aircraft are hard to photograph from the museum grounds, but are doable from outside the fence. All in all, we had a fun morning here, but with all the pictures taken it is time to move on and drive to the Andes mountains! 

Our destination for this afternoon is Cajon del Maipo, which is a reservoir at around 2 kilometres altitude in the mountains. It is only two hours driving from the city of Santiago, and the route is simply amazing! The views are out of this world. The river flows wildly and works its way through the rock formations. Eventually, the paved roads become gravel roads where we have to drive through waterfalls, we need to avoid hitting a herd of sheep guided by a horseman and we see lots of cacti and special mountain vegetation. 

The reservoir itself is absolutely beautiful and gives an amazing panorama into the valley. What a joy to drive here! We can recommend everyone coming here to visit this. After a bit of hiking around the lake we make our way back to the hotel, as we want to be back before darkness falls. When driving back to the city, we see an old Avior Venezuela Boeing 737-200 preserved/converted to restaurant (?) next to the highway. What a day this was. The steak will taste good tonight haha! 😎

Saturday 13 April - Relaxation & Planewatchation

Today we have another relax day planned. Well, not actually, our initial plan was to go back to FIDAE to attend a public day. However, considering that we discovered that there were no additions to the display performers nor were there any other aircraft on the static display (okay, the Boeing 737-300 was swapped for the LATAM 787 and the Delta A350, but those planes were not interesting enough for us to spend money on a taxi and join the endless queue for the entrance).  Besides, from our hotel we have a bit of view on the action on both runways. The eastern runway is in use for the FIDAE, while all commercial traffic uses the western runway. From the corridors on the top floor of our hotel we have a nice view of the (airborne) traffic of both runways. 

We spend the day here to take some rest as well, combined with some swimming, taking a good long shower etcetera. We do keep an eye on the FIDAE flight schedule though, as some jets are still nice to see. The weather is also a bit better than two days ago, so in the afternoon we visit the observatory platform (which is actually a theatre, as it says) on the boulevards between Terminal 1 and 2. From here we see another E-3D Sentry make a few passes and also the F-5E Tigre III gives a good show. The flight demonstrations end with the final performance of the F-22 Raptor in a stunning golden afternoon sun. All in all, a good day. Now we go back to the room, and pack our stuff again for our flight tomorrow morning! Buenos Aires, here we come! Buenos noches!