Stories from the Caravelle's winter
Sunnuntai 11.2.2024 - Jouko Tarponen ja Hannu Hedman
There are several Caravelle veterans among us. During coffee breaks and in different conversations colourful stories have been told from those days. Below two personal experiences.
My first trip by air in a Caravelle
When we were 13-14 years old, my friend and I were real aircraft fans. We lived in Raisio and we came often to Turku airport or the nearby Sikovuori nearby to see airplanes. Mainly we came there by bike but sometimes our parents drove us there.
In spring 1982 my friend and I saved money to travel by air from Turku to Helsinki, the aim was to fly in a Super Caravelle which Finnair was about to remove from service. I was already then a Caravelle fan, which must be because it was probably the first aircraft I was able to recognise as a child. In those days a weekly charter flight from Turku to Heraklion was flown by a Caravelle. The Finnair Super Caravelle flew a scheduled flight from Helsinki to Turku on Saturday evening and the departure time to Heraklion was 9.15 pm - if I remember correctly. The return flight to Turku landed on Sunday morning at 7.15 am.
The great day was Sunday, May 23rd, 1982. We bought tickets for the morning flight from Turku to Helsinki, departing at 7.45. The aircraft was Super Caravelle and the ticket cost 70 Finnish marks. We returned home by taking a bus from Helsinki-Vantaa airport to the Helsinki railway station and from there by train to Turku.
I felt very nervous and thrilled about flying because I had never experienced it before. In the morning we left Raisio in sunny weather, taken to Turku airport by car by our parents. When we got there, the information display said that the aircraft will return from Heraklion almost two hours later than scheduled. Then we drove back home to Raisio and returned to the airport about one hour and a half later.
Finnair’s Super Caravelle OH-LSD ”Oulu” from Heraklion landed in Turku at 9.10, full of passengers. When the passengers had disembarked, and the aircraft had been refuelled, there was an announcement: “departure on Finnair flight AY204 to Helsinki, gate 1”. At that point I felt for a moment that the situation was almost insuperable.
I felt slightly better when my friend and I started to walk from the gate to the aircraft. I was a first-timer in air travel, my friend wasn’t. I could only look at the floor, during take-off the uneven surface of the runway could be felt inside the aircraft, and this was a new experience for me. When we were in the air, the travelling became smooth.
Soon I looked out of the window for the first time. That was something new and awesome. I don’t remember being afraid anymore, except when the aircraft was turning when coming in for landing. I was 14 and my friend was 13. The whole experience of the first flight was and still is one of my most memorable experiences. At that time air travel was rather luxurious, compared today. Travelling south on holiday was not that common then. This was really a great experience and overcame my fear of flying. Now I knew what flying was about. It was really safe in those days too.
An encounter in the dark
In this poor-quality picture you see a page from my pilot’s logbook from more than 50 years ago. At that time I was on a night VFR and basic instrument course in Kuopio. We were flying training flights and solo flights in the dark. I flew my first solo flight at night on February 4th, 1972. At that time the evening flight AY555 from Helsinki to Kuopio was flown on a Super Caravelle.
On these late flights I was often in the air at the same time with the Caravelle. Once flight controller Kalle Linden in the Kuopio tower warned me when I was heading south by the Kurkimäki masts: “OH-PCD, look around, the Finnair Fiver (555) is ahead”. The Caravelle acknowledged: “We can see the small one”. That was when I noticed there was an enormous pool of light flying on my left side.
After that I was more careful, and we met often in the air in the Kuopio APP area. It was rather stirring that the tower cleared my plane on the ramp close to the Finnair Caravelle. I had to go round and kick the wheels on my plane to make myself important. And yes, the guys waved from the Caravelle’s window.
First story: Jouko Tarponen, the photographer from the Turku team and documenter of the Caravelle restoration project
Second story: Hannu Hedman, also from the Turku Caravelle team and a pilot with his heart and soul. He also likes to wear a red robe before Christmas…