Auckland Airport and two pieces of aviation history – Recently and during WW2

There is a lot of media, both mainstream and social, about repatriation of various nationals, stranded somewhere, back to their country of citizenship.

Some people have a slightly glossy view of how things should instantly happen. This is not a reality in the world we currently have. This writer has been connected to assisting clients with ‘urgent changes of plan’. In addition, a tense time waiting for a family member caught up in the Costa Luminosa cruise ship in the Mediterranean, to finally make it back to Australia. Those that reacted early and changed plans – we were warning people – had an easier and less expensive method of escape. It will be difficult from certain regions – Sth America and India come to mind, so we hope they have adequate travel insurance.

Aviation buffs got very excited in Auckland the other day as an actual Lufthansa aircraft touched down for the first time. I would think plane spotters SM sites will be in overdrive!

On March 25th and 26th, a Lufthansa 747-400 spent more than 20 hours flying from Frankfurt to Auckland. These flights were part of the German government’s efforts to repatriate its citizens in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The flight, however, was not without a stop. In fact, the jumbo jet spent about two hours on the ground in Tokyo on its way towards the southern hemisphere.

According to FlightRadar24.com, the flight from Frankfurt to Auckland via Tokyo Haneda operated as LH9902. Operated by a 20-year-old Boeing 747-400 with registration D-ABVY, the flight left Frankfurt at 19:00 local time on March 25th and arrived at Tokyo Haneda at 14:15 the next day, March 26th. Then, after less than two hours on the ground at Haneda the aircraft left at 16:14, arriving in Auckland at 06:17 the next day (March 27th). Given that the combined flight time from both legs was recorded to be 20 hours and 41 minutes, we can see that the journey for the flight crew just to get to their destination was close to 24 hours, when factoring in pre-flight time in Frankfurt and layover time at Haneda.

This epic flight brings to mind another historical flight that also featured Auckland Airport, during another major world event, one that was far more deadly that what we have now days.

 The First Commercial Airliner To Fly Around the World

When England entered the war in September 1939 (WW2), Pan American suspended its flights between America and Southampton, but continued serving neutral Ireland and Portugal with flights to Foynes and Lisbon, respectively.

One of the most impressive accomplishments the Boeing 314 flying boat achieved was when the Pacific Clipper had just taken off from Honolulu as the Japanese launched their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Rather than returning to Hawaii and risk being shot down by a Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the Clipper was ordered to fly west to Auckland, New Zealand. Once safely in New Zealand, the aircraft was told to head west to New York, performing a 31,100-mile flight with stops in exotic places such as Surabaya (Indonesia), Karachi (Pakistan), Bahrain, Khartoum (Sudan), and Leopoldville in the Belgium Congo. On the morning of January 6th, 1942, the Pacific Clipper landed at LaGuardia Field seaplane base with the distinction of being the first commercial aircraft to successfully circumnavigate the globe.

 

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