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Aircraft owned by Itapemirim flew on dirt roads in Africa

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Even today there are several examples of explorers in African aviation. They are people who defy the weather to provide air connections for passengers and cargo to the four corners of the continent. Typically, old planes fly, drive on damaged or unpaved runways, and carry dangerous loads in unstructured companies that deal with corruption, civil wars, and other conflicts on a daily basis. In fact, these are the elements that make up a script for a good action movie.

An old French documentary called “Oilmen in Full Sky” (by the French “Tankers en Plein Ciel”) entitled “Oilmen in Full Sky” is famous among aviation enthusiasts but unknown to the public. It depicts all of the above-mentioned difficulties, supplemented by impressive images of freight operations in Angola, with a special focus on the Boeing 727 from Air Gemini and Transafrik.

We have separated an excerpt from the following documentation (probably loaded), which highlights the launch of a Boeing 727 that has flown in Brazil. You can find more details about this below.

727 reliability

The versatility and reliability of the Boeing 727 – the first Trijato to enter commercial service – made it the best-selling airliner in the world in the first 30 years of jet transport. Production of the 727 spanned from the early 1960s to 1984, a remarkable period considering that the original market forecast was 250 aircraft and ended up delivering more than 1,800.

In 1998, 1,500 model jets were still flying worldwide, many of them in cargo operation and under as different conditions as possible, as is the case with the examples shown in the video above.

The name of the film “Oilmen in Full Sky” was not chosen by chance, as the jets were also used to transport fuel between remote regions of Angola, which operated in precarious security conditions at extremely high risk.

Boeing 727s were also preferred for the location of the engines as it was less likely that large amounts of dirt would be swallowed up on dirt roads.

Some flew in Brazil

Interestingly, some of the planes shown in the video flew in Brazil before heading to Africa. In the mid-1990s they were part of the Itapemirim Transportes AĆ©reos fleet.

In the documentation two Boeing 727 jets ex-Itapemirim can be identified, namely:

– PP-ITA (msn 18968): operated by Transafrik with registration number S9-BOD; and
– PP-ITM (msn 19507): flew with S9-BAH registration on Air Gemini (in the photo above we recorded the video frame showing the take-off of this aircraft, note the prefix on the landing gear door).

Other aircraft originated from Itapemirim and were also taken over by Angolan companies but do not appear in the video. Are you:

– PP-ITL (msn 20078): flew on Air Gemini as S9-BAI
– PP-ITP (msn 19313): was in the Transafrik fleet as S9-BAG

One of the excerpts from the video shows the then Technical Director of Air Gemini, Jean-Pierre Barbe, examining Itapemirim planes and traveling to Rio de Janeiro to see them in person before takeover (picture below).

In the future we will talk about the current situation of these aircraft. At the moment it is worth watching the entire documentary, even though it is in Czech (there is also a French version on the internet) as only the pictures already tell a lot about the history of these classic jets.

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