The airline we were traveling on was Tam. Tam is the one and only airline that flies in and out of the Amazon. Due to the Pan-american games and the airlines inability to handle all the increased traffic, my entire trip date was changed. I was supposed to go to Brazil the last week in July and come back in August. Instead the trip was moved up several weeks because that was the only time tickets were available. When we got to the Miami airport, Jonathas went into full gear making sure that our group all stayed together and that we all had no difficulties. We had no problems. We got on the plane for a very long flight.
Normally there would be a flight from Miami to Manaus that takes only 5 hours or a little over that. Due to heavy ticket demands, we had to fly 9 hours to the opposite end of Brazil to SÃO PAULO. Then we changed flights and flew five hours back to Manaus. Our flight left at 9:20 pm and we flew all night. I was able to watch the inflight movies several times over. I watched Premonition starring Sandra Bullock twice, in both English and Portuguese. There was some other movie that was just so violent about the roman gladiators. I do not remember the name. I watched it in just Portuguese. Words were not needed for that. You could follow the story line with the Spanish close captions.
We had dinner on the plane. Pasta with pesto. It seemed the safer of the choices. Plus the stewards did not speak english and the word “pasta” was the only clear word I could make out! Already on the plane we were served some Brazilian food. Because it was such a late flight, dinner was at 11:00 pm! There was a computerized map on the plane that kept us abreast of where we were. I had a window seat but it was so dark out that I could not see anything below. I assumed we were over the Amazon jungle as there was not a single light on the ground. I finally gave up trying to strain my eyes for any pinprick of light from the ground and went back to sleep.
Breakfast came very early. The lights came on at 4:00am and breakfast was seeerv-ed! Rubbery cheese eggs and bacon that was paper thin. Finally we touched down and I was able to stand up. It felt good to get out of that seat! We have all had on the same clothes now for a very long time. I wanted out of those as well. We collected out luggage and stepped foot on Brazilian soil. (Or rather Brazilian airport) We weaved our way through customs and immigration and got on the connecting flight that would take us back the way we just came. Back to Manaus. It was a four hour flight.
Finally we are off that plane and in the airport collecting our luggage as a group so that we can board our ground trassportation.
About the third say into the trip Jonathas told us that a Tam plane had crashed at the domestic airport. We flew into the international airport which is in a different part of the city. It was very sad news for us to get. Some of us began to wonder if people back home thought we may have been on that plane. The timing would have been off so we put those fears to rest. This are the news blurb about the crash.
SÃO PAULO, Brazil – The pilot of an airliner that burst into flames after trying to land on a short, rain-slicked runway apparently tried to take off again, barely clearing rush-hour traffic on a major highway. The death toll rose Wednesday to 189 and could climb higher.
The TAM airlines Airbus-320 flight that originated in Porto Alegre in southern Brazil on Tuesday cleared the airport fence at the end of the runway and the busy highway but slammed into a gas station and a TAM building, causing an inferno.
The 6,362-foot runway at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport has been repeatedly criticized as dangerously short. Two planes slipped off it in rainy weather just a day earlier. Pilots call it the “aircraft carrier” — it’s so short and surrounded by heavily populated neighborhoods that they’re told to take off again and fly around if they overshoot the first 1,000 feet of runway.
The flags at the Pan American games flying at half mast due to the crash.