This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
After leaving the Jeanne d'Arc in June 1971, I spent some time with my family, mostly at the Abbey. Then I packed all my Navy uniforms and my clothes and was ready to fly to Tahiti for my first post as a Navy officer.
Flying to Tahiti
I am not sure from what airport I flew, but I strongly believe it was from Le Bourget Airport, the first airport of Paris, that is no longer used by commercial airlines.
My mother, Marie, drove me to the airport. My luggage was too heavy, but the airline found a way to not charge me.
The fastest way to fly from Paris to Tahiti was first to fly to Los Angeles, then to Tahiti.
However, as you can see above, UTA was not flying directly to Los Angeles.
But it had a very long way to go to Los Angeles going eastward. As there were some seats available, the Navy was baying them cheaply. And me and my comrades that were also going to Tahiti, we traveled for 48 hours.
The airplane was a DC-8.
UTA DC-8 Airplane
As I remember, the plane stopped in Athens and Karachi in Pakistan (and not in Colombo in Sri Lanka, that was still known as Ceylon). After Karachi, I don't remember if there were other stops before Sydney in Australia.
For entertainment, in 1971, there was no video and no electronic headphones.
Movies were shown using projectors from the ceiling on a screen.
In-Flight Movie with a Projector
And the music was was distributed in small pipes and you could listen to it using pneumatic headphones.
We stopped in Sydney for 12 hours and slept for several hours in hotel bedrooms. In the mean time, the airplane went to Nouméa in New Caledonia and back.
Finally, we started the last leg of our trip, from Sydney to Papeete, the capital of Tahiti.
It was a very long trip!
The Papeete airport is called Faaa or Fa'a'ā International Airport (yes, three consecutive 'a'; that should all be pronounced).
Fa'a'ā International Airport
I was greeted at the airport by all the officers of the ship I was posted on, including the commanding officer: the "Bâtiment de Débarquement de Chars" (BDC) Trieux.
Continue to Part 37
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Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8
Part 9 - Part 10 - Part 11 - Part 12 - Part 13 - Part 14 - Part 15 - Part 16
Part 17 - Part 18 - Part 19 - Part 20 - Part 21 - Part 22 - Part 23 - Part 24
Part 25 - Part 26 - Part 27 - Part 28 - Part 29 - Part 30 - Part 31 - Part 32
Part 33 - Part 34 - Part 35