There were only 200 of them built, and we have one here! To the skies once again in this retro MD11 operated by Garuda Indonesia on the expert server. This time we headed out of a quiet Bangkok Airport (Suvarnabhumi) bound for the largest city in Indonesia, Jakarta. Snaps taken in flight order - 1 departure and 10 arrival and time of day varied on some.
It’s an old machine now and whilst we could have taken it up the service ceiling of 43,000 feet, that airframe has done its time in the skies so as not to keep pushing it, we went with a lighter cruise of 37,000 and enjoyed the heritage and memories once again. No passengers today - just earthling and machine cruising over the Gulf of Thailand, through the east coast of Malaysia through Singapore over the Java Sea and making our approach into Jakarta.
You’ll find Garuda using their 737s on this route now but it’s nice to give this old beast some attention. Loved, hated, branded a legend and awful in the same breath by many and tarred by the incidents of the past, it was destined for the production scrapheap and overtaken by more modern machines of the time like the 767 and with that, the last shiny new one was delivered in 2001 to Lufthansa Cargo.
It originally took a while to get to grips with it on I.F but it’s a great build by the devs. Jumping out of a 787 after 12 hours of flying and getting into this is like cooking baked beans on an old stove whilst camping in a tent in a field having just spent the week in Buckingham Palace. It will serve the same purpose, just done differently. Old, retro, a bit clunky, it’s certainly a change to the technological festivals of the modern airliners. Take the helm of the controls and some with good old manual handling on take off and landing, it’s great fun to fly. Keep the throttles and pitch balanced and with a bit of side to side twitching on final and let that trio of engines bring the thing down smoothly and hit them with some reverse thrust when on the ground.
We landed in Jakarta without any problems with a small amount of turbulence on approach.