MIAMI – Amid the COVID-19 pandemic many flights came about, flights that one normally could never imagine, flights amid crisis that have pushed the barriers of what was thought possible in commercial aviation. 

From the TAROM (RO) Boeing 737-700 that ferried Romanian doctors to Alabama in the US to the Somon Air (SZ) charter flight from Dushanbe (DYU), Tajikistan to New Delhi (DEL), India and the Kalitta Air flights taking stranded Americans home from Wuhan (WUH) amid the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial aviation has proven a crucial source of transportation

Many airplanes, however, have been parked amid the pandemic as well just as cruise ships have been parked in Miami, leaving 347 Filipino seafarers of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line with no current job or way home.

The seafarers needed a flight, a flight pushing the barriers of what anyone thought possible at Miami International Airport (MIA), a plane would have to come from Manila in the Philippines, over 9,000 miles away. 

Philippine Airlines Boeing 777-3F6(ER) at MIA Photo: © Max Taubman – @maximumaviation

Bringing Them Home

Heeding the call to action, Philippine Airlines (PR) organized a special flight, PR5112 from Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) to MIA departing on May 19.

Captained by Rommel Quizon, with the assistance of First Officer Joseph Marvin Jumaquio, Second Officer Jose Miguel Cajucom, and Second Officer Elijah Len Alcantara along with a team of flight attendants brought the aircraft into the sky at around 12:14 A.M. Manila time.

The Boeing 777-3F6(ER) with registration RP-C7772 then made a long journey across the Pacific Ocean before reaching North America. 16 hours and 9 minutes later, with a view of the Atlantic Ocean in the distance, the massive aircraft touched down at MIA at 4:00 P.M. EDT after soaring 9,316 miles.

The aircraft then departed a day later, first flying from MIA to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for a refueling stop before again crossing the Pacific before arriving back in MNL, bringing the stranded seafarers home. 

It is important to understand that the direct flight from MNL to MIA was made possible by a light load. Nevertheless, flight PR5112 stands as perhaps one of the longest direct flights to ever land at MIA.

With Starlux Airlines (JX) possibly connecting MIA to Taipei (TPE), Taiwan, the connection between the Magic City and East Asia hints at the wave of the future following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Featured image: Philippine Airlines Boeing 777-3F6(ER) at MIA Photo: © Max Taubman – @maximumaviation