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Sunday Morning Cruise Around KL In The Breitling DC - 3

Soaring Back In Time

There were creaks from aged aluminium drumming against each other as the plane began its approach onto the runway. I held my breath as I could see both pilots busily punching at buttons and knobs as the WWII-era aircraft began to kick-up speed. The pilot slowly slid the throttle higher up its gate and i couldn't believe the sensations and feedback that began clanging away at my entire anatomy. I was almost certain, it was the last place on earth I wanted to be in but there was no turning back. Up and away we went.


had never known how important the phrase 'take nothing for granted' was, until I was locked into my seat on board the Breitling DC-3 airplane. Prior to boarding the aircraft early in April, I was very excited at the prospect. A self-proclaimed lover of history with an old-soul, I was not only relishing the chance to gaze upon a historic aircraft from yesteryear, but also to sample the plane where it was meant to be- in the air. However, the faster and higher we climbed up into Kuala Lumpur's skyscape, the more I wished my seat had an 'eject' button or that I could knock myself out with a string of double-shot neat whiskies. But no, there was no chance to make u-turns or emergency exiting.This old-school DC-3 aircraft (DC for Douglas Commercial) was in town as part of its record-breaking world tour, aiming to become the oldest airplane to circumnavigate the globe. As such, we were invited to taste this unique flying experience on board the plane as it celebrates its 77th anniversary this year.

The 30-minute flight flew at a low cruising altitude of just 609.6 metres over Kuala Lumpur's urban city skyline, complete with a few circles around our iconic towers, the Petronas Twin Towers as well as the KL Tower. It was a mix of both grand and special feelings, viewing these majestic buildings from the inside of a very analog machine. The first Douglas DC-3, twin-engine propeller plane made its maiden f light in 1935, at a time when Breitling had introduced its first onboard chronographs for civilian and military aircraft. Nicknamed the "Normandy landings plane", the DC-3 seats 20 passengers and has a cruising speed of 241 km/h (130 knots). More than 16,000 DC-3 aircraft were built and most major airlines acquired them as part of their fleet. Today there are fewer than 150 DC-3 aircraft left in flightworthy conditions worldwide, including the Breitling DC-3, also known as 'Dakota' back in the day, which itself flew for the first time in 1940. It now flies under Breitling colours and participates in a variety of air shows around the globe.

Just before our flight experience, we were given a brief elaboration by the plane's Captain, Mr. Francisco Agullo. "It could be a bit bumpy and noisy at times but this gives you the real taste of f lying and how it was in the early days. You will be able to feel the wind and forces of nature against you. It gives a real insight into how aviation history shaped during those early decades of the 20th century," said the dapperly-dressed pilot. It was quite unbelievable at how well the Breitling DC-3 took-off and landed; it was definitely one of the most comfortable landings I've encountered on an airplane, despite being a little weary at the start of the flight.

It was fascinating to absorb the creaks and bumps of an aged aircraft, which to my mind was also a peek into the comfort levels of people from World War eras. While we may be nicely pampered with the modern aircraft flight experiences of today, sampling this plane allowed me to fully grasp of how far we've actually progressed as a society; while our planes have built-in air conditioning, this DC-3 depended on outside air flow to cool the cabin inside. Simple things like this made it an exceptional sampling. A wholesome combination of wood veneers and steel bring a classic and vintage feel to its cabin as well.

We also learnt much later how the Breitling DC-3 was intercepted by four Royal Malaysian Air Force PC-7s near Alor Setar. It then flew in perfect formation over the Penang Bridge to somewhat symbolise the global spirit of aviation. This Breitling DC-3 world tour took to the skies on March 9, 2017, seventy-seven years to the day since its maiden flight. Departing from Breitling's home country of Switzerland, the plane is scheduled to visit 28 countries and 55 cities over six months, landing back in Switzerland at the Breitling Sion Airshow 2017 in September. Malaysia was its 12th stop, after crossing the Balkans (Zagreb, Athens), the Middle East (Tel Aviv, Amman), the Gulf states (Bahrain,Doha, Dubai), Pakistan (Karachi), India (Nagpur) and Thailand (Chiang Mai, Phuket).

Of course, to mark this exciting voyage of the skies, Breitling have introduced a limited-edition Navitimer aviation chronograph to celebrate the tour. The 500-piece timepiece is notably distinguished by its caseback, engraved with the Breitling DC-3 World Tour logo. This same watch was worn by the Captain of the plane, Franciso Agullo, even as he ferried us across KL's brisk skies that Sunday morning. Breitling fans will have to wait however, until the fall of 2017 to acquire this limited-edition timepiece, as each of the 500 pieces are also passengers on board the DC-3 during its travel around the globe, making it a worthy collector's timepiece. As for this writer, the feeling of travelling in this historic and iconic aircraft is one that he will forever cherish.  

Of course, to mark this exciting voyage of the skies, Breitling have introduced a limited-edition Navitimer aviation chronograph to celebrate the tour. The 500-piece timepiece is notably distinguished by its caseback, engraved with the Breitling DC-3 World Tour logo. This same watch was worn by the Captain of the plane, Franciso Agullo, even as he ferried us across KL's brisk skies that Sunday morning. Breitling fans will have to wait however, until the fall of 2017 to acquire this limited-edition timepiece, as each of the 500 pieces are also passengers on board the DC-3 during its travel around the globe, making it a worthy collector's timepiece. As for this writer, the feeling of travelling in this historic and iconic aircraft is one that he will forever cherish.