We are big believers of giving experiences as gifts, and for my last birthday I was excited when I opened my envelope and pulled out a voucher for a flight with a Junkers Ju 52. This plane flies regularly over our house and when we hear the loud engines come closer, we stop to watch it fly past. It’s a rather slow plane and doesn’t fly at a very high altitude, but that makes it all the easier and fun to watch the world go by when you’re sitting in the plane.
We took off and looked for familiar landmarks to tell us where we were. We marveled at the light dusting of snow on the fields and before long, we saw our house. Then, the sun broke through the clouds and we chugged towards the mountains.
The plane seats 17 people, but in an attempt not to have 4 people sit across from eachother and have to crunch knees, only 14 passengers are on the flight. The seating is tight enough as is. But, that is part of the whole experience! There is one flight attendant, and two pilots fly the plane. The pilots are retired air force pilots and know exactly how close they can fly to mountains, how low they can fly above glaciers and how much they need to barely fly over ridges. Sometimes you feel like if you could just open the window, you could reach out and touch the snow.
Our flight was headed for St. Moritz, via the Julierpass which also is the only road kept open in winter, but about halfway into our flight, I noticed the clouds started to get lower and there was snow falling outside. I wondered if we’d even make it to St. Moritz or if we would have to turn around and fly back. As there are no modern instruments in the plane, the pilots fly only where they can see clearly. The flight over the Julierpass wasn’t going to happen. The plane dipped and made a hairpin turn as we turned back and the pilots decided to fly via Davos and the Flüelapass into the Engadin valley.
We flew lower and lower, and I noticed cross-country skiiers who stopped on the trail to look up at our plane passing by and before we knew it, we had softly touched down and landed!
I wish I could tell you about the flight back. Unfortunately, due to the bad weather, we were told after lunch we wouldn’t be able to fly back and would be taking a bus instead. We were all a bit disappointed, but … safety first!