Must Be Your Lucky Number

By Reinaldo DeBaptista

November 2016

My father invited me to attend an event to celebrate the first Boeing 767 acquired by Transbrasil, a former Brazilian aviation company no longer in business. This was back in the '80s. There were screens all over the place showing videos of the new Boeing 767, banners, photos, some Transbrasil crews and other partner companies like my father's. The vibe was so cheerful and everybody was really enjoying the party.

At some point, someone from Transbrasil announced there would be a lottery for a round trip to a resort in Salvador da Bahia, all-included, for a weekend. This guy distributed some numbered tags to everyone and announced that the winner would be the last tag withdrawn from the bag, not the first one like it's usually done. One by one the tags were withdrawn and the number shouted, followed by a moan from its owner, obviously disappointed by the bad luck.

Finally there were only two more tags in the bag, one from a lady and the other one mine. After some shouting, jokes and vociferation, the guy pulled up one of the remaining tags and shouts its number. It was the lady's number. It provoked a louder and even bigger riot around her, as if she was the lucky one. She was jumping and screaming saying, "I won, I won," while the guy was trying to reestablish the order. After some time, it was announced that the winner would be, like it was said before the lottery, the last one in the bag. Finally, my number was shouted.

Along with me, there was a group of travel agencies in the same trip and we met at Congonhas São Paulo's airport. We boarded a Boeing 727 to Salvador for a two-and-a-half-hour trip. We had a wonderful time there visiting Salvador's city, a boat trip to the island of Itaparica and lots of sunshine. The resort was spectacular, with pools and everything else you can imagine. I was having a blast and still thinking if everything was real or was it a dream...

During those day-dreaming moments, I heard someone calling me. I turned my back and there was one of my flight instructors from the time I was getting my private's pilot license. He was the first officer of Transbrasil, scheduled to fly back to Sao Paulo the next day!

I told him about my adventure since the Boeing 767 event and how happy I was to be there -- not knowing my happiness would be even greater when he invited me to the cockpit on the way back home! Back then, it was OK to let other people fly in the cockpit with the captain's consent. For a private pilot used to flying the P-56 "Paulistinha," being in the cockpit of a Boeing 727 was heaven on earth! We had a stopover in Rio de Janeiro, where my friend landed beautifully in Galeão airport and then we headed to Congonhas.

Till today, I think about this adventure and it brings me the best memories and joy.