Review SPG Member Event Netherlands: Flight in 1944 Douglas DC3 Dakota

Discussion in 'Starwood | Preferred Guest' started by thomas199023, Mar 11, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    Last Thursday I received a call from the Hotel Pulizer in Amsterdam to invite me for an SPG member event celebrating the new SPG program this Sunday. The event would include a flight in a 1944 Douglas DC3 Dakota and a get-together with SPG members and Starwood staff in the club lounge of the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport. This was a joint event by all of the Starwood hotels in the Netherlands (LC Hotel Pulizer, Sheraton Amsterdam Airport and the LC Hotel Des Indes). I did not have to think about this opportunity for a second, being the aviation geek that I am.

    The day started with a one hour drive to Amsterdam Airport through lovely weather. We truly could not have been more lucky with the weather: clear skies, no wind and a spring like 15c degrees. As an hobby photographer I could not have asked for more.

    We arrived at the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport on time and went straight up to the Club lounge where we were welcomed by several Starwood staff member, including our very own Flyertalk member GMamsterdam.

    He held a short talk about SPG and the occasion of this event and invited us to have a few drinks and eat some snacks in anticipation on the transfer to the new General Aviation terminal (yes that’s the VIP private aircraft terminal). During this time we had some time to mingle and talk about the new SPG benefits and other travel related stuff . After some time we made it downstairs to the lobby where several minivans were waiting to take us to the airport.

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    GMamsterdam

    The General Aviation terminal is actually the oldest and original Airport of Amsterdam (Schiphol).
    We needed to check-in here with DDA Classic Airlines who would take care of our flight today. They are a airlines that only flies with vintage aircrafts. More info about them can be found here: http://www.dutchdakota.eu/home For most flights the general public can buy tickets as well.

    We were checked in without any hassle and then proceeded through to security, which we could bypass! :D Now that's a way of flying! ^ Apologies for the quality of the photos here as there was a huge sign saying, no photography, so I had to be discreet!

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    We were briefed about our flight by this guy:
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    He told us to go to the toilet before takeoff as the plane would not have a working lavatory on board. Also we should not carry and knifes or weapons on us, but we would not be checked.
    Oh and no smoking on board!

    Please note that all staff at DDA Airlines are volunteers, most of whom also work in the Aviation industry. Our captain today was for example a B747 freighter pilot for MartinAir, quite a contrast to today's DC3! They all seemed to be truly enjoying their job at DDA!

    We were had to get on a bus to reach to our Aircraft, located only 50 meters from the gate (Ryanair would have had you walk).

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  2. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    And this is where we first saw our ride for today!
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    Our ride today would be the Douglas DC-3C (C47) factory NR. 19754, the PH-DDZ was registered as 43-15288 by USAFF. (Yes I did some serious research on this plane! :D) Where it would be in active service for the US Airforce until 1961. Unfortunately all data and logs about the history of this aircraft before 1961 have been lost. At this time the Aircaft was parked at the Military Aircraft Storage and Deposition Center in Arizona. In 1964 the aircraft was used for a few months by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), they changed the registration of the plane to N1616.

    On May 22th of 1964 the Aircraft was bought by Somali Airlines and it was stations in the Somali capital Mogadishu for multiple years. After a short stop in Malta for a few months the plane continued its life at the Egyptian airline "Pyramid Airlines" who would use it as a transport plane for the oil industry. From January 1981 it was stationed on Malta again at the Malta International Avation Comapny (MIACO).

    On the 13th of February 1987 the plane was finally bought by DDA Classic Airlines who still fly the plane today. This aircraft was the second DC3 Dakoto for DDA, who had planned to store the aircraft and try to restore it by 2010. After receiving the Aircraft in May of that year all parties were so enthusiastic they stared renovating it immediately. A undertaking which would last for over 12 years, May7th 1999 was a memorable day for DDA, as the PH-DDZ made its first flight. The plane had been transformed form a old beaten down rust bucket to a virtually new airplane. A official delegate of Boeing (McDonnell-Douglas) even stated that the last DC-3 was build in the Netherlands.

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    DDA crew performing maintenance tasks on the aircraft.

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  3. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    [​IMG]

    Pre-flight

    The Aircraft had to be entered on a series of small but extremely steep stairs, most people had to be helped to get in. The first thing you'd notice when entering the aircraft was that the whole plane was very angled. I'd say the angle was more than 20%, which meant you really had to clime to get to your seat! The seats were really comfortable though and the legroom was better than in most legacy carriers' economy class.

    We had seat 3A and 3C, just over the wing by the engine. The wing blocked a bit of the view but we'd been told that in-flight we would be able to move around the cabin, which we could luckily. It did made for some nice taxi, takeoff and landing video's though.

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    Our seats

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    Me and my dad

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    The obligatory legroom shot, truly incredible legroom!

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    Small tray table
     
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  4. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    One of the emergency exit seats

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    A custom made "brarf bag"

    And for the real geeks, the airplane safety card!

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  5. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    We also got a complimentary copy of the "Logbook" magazine

    The Pilot made a flight announcement in English as well! So for those interested here it is:


    The Flight

    We taxied past all the KLM Hangars to our Runway where I made a video of the takeoff of this DC3 Dakota Aircraft:


    We were soon airborne and made our way to our cruising altitude of only about 1000 feet. The aircraft is capable of a higher cruising altitude but for this sightseeing trip we'd be flying very low, which was extremely fun and not only for us but also for the pilots!

    The pilot made its announcement and invited all of us to come say hello in the flight-deck and make as many photo's as we would like!
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    Note the flight-deck door stayed open the entire way!

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    During take-off!

    After a minute we reached cruising altitude and the seat-belt sign was turned off and we were invited to roam the cabin as we would like.

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    The 25 seat cabin
     
  6. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    The view of Amsterdam out of my window. Incredible!

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    Recognize this anyone?

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    Patrick from SPG is enjoying himself as well! :D

    Then it was time to visit the "cockpit".

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    Note the funny seatbelts!

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    Now what does this all mean?
     
  7. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    [​IMG]

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    I guess we're going east!


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    This is the storage cabin!

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    The wing again! View over Haarlem.

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    Preparing the cabin for landing
     
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  8. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    This was our original flight path, but we deviated quite a bit
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    All to soon it was time for landing, however as the plane was rocking about so much most people were starting to get a bit nauseous me included so I guess it was goof the light only lasted for about 40 minutes.

    I made another video of the landing, note the very quiet and fluent touchdown!


    After landing we had a few minutes to take photos of the plane and talk to the crew.

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    There she is! A very beautiful plane!

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    The mighty engine!
     
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  9. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    [​IMG]

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    One more!
     
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  10. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    [​IMG]

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    The MAC painted tail

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    By Fokker apparently

    After this we were taken back to the Sheraton Club lounge where we had a few drinks and something to eat again and we talked with some of the other SPG members and the Starwood staff who were all genuinely impressed as well. We talked some more about the new benefits and of course our newly gained experience and slowly made our way back home.

    This truly was a very impressive experience and I would really like to thank Starwood Netherlands for organizing this event and inviting me! If there are any questions I would be happy to answer them! If you would like to experience this as well have a look to the DDA website and perhaps you'll be on one of their flights soon as well! http://www.dutchdakota.eu/home
    I will do it again for sure as well!
     
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  11. alohastephen

    alohastephen Gold Member

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    How can I get invited? ;)
     
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  12. uggboy
    Original Member

    uggboy Gold Member

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    Amazing invitation and report! Thanks for sharing!:)
     
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  13. Sweet Willie
    Original Member

    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Thanks for posting the report !!! I love the videos.
    Why do you think you were contacted? (do you stay often at this property or ?)
     
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  14. thomas199023

    thomas199023 Silver Member

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    Yes I stay there quite often, not sure what the other qualification were. It seemed to be a mix of Dutch SPG elite members and newly minted lifetime elite member.
     
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  15. Sweet Willie
    Original Member

    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Great move by the hotel, glad you could take advantage of the offer !
     
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  16. Skypath

    Skypath Silver Member

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    All. My. ENVY! :p

    Thanks for sharing this awesome opportunity with us! :D
     

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