Rogério Lopes was a pilot for SATA Air Açores between 1970 and 1999. He flew the Dakota, the Avro, and the B146 and ended his career flying the British Aerospace ATP fleet.
In the nearly three decades of inter-island flights, he has collected an endless number of stories that he likes to remember. “The Teacher who was afraid to fly” is an episode he remembers with longing and affection.
She was a passenger who traveled every week between Ponta Delgada and the island of São Jorge, where she had been placed to teach. She was very afraid to fly and boarding on the airplane was always experienced with great anguish.
If there are particularities in the inter-island flights of the Azores, the most touching will perhaps be the familiarity that is established between SATA employees and passengers. Although the cockpit is a restricted area, its door was open in most cases. In some cases, there was not even a door, just a curtain.
Between boardings, and whenever the weather allowed, cockpit crews watched the passengers’ movement at each stop. In many cases, they already knew them from a distance, so many were the flights they made together.
Therefore, the Teacher (as she was affectionately called) was already well-known, as she always showed a particularly anxious behavior. One of these days, Captain Lopes asked her if she would like to travel in the cockpit, so she could see how relaxed the flight is. He thought that the lady might lose her fear when she saw that nothing dangerous is happening. Fortunately, Rogério Lopes recalls, the flights in which she sat in the jumpseat of the cockpit were always calm, and not even the winds that so often disturb the landing on São Jorge Island disturbed her.
As time went by, and after many trips, the Teacher stopped taking the cockpit’s jumpseat, because anyone who has tried it knows well that, although the view is magnificent in that small space, the seat is not the softest.
Even so, whenever the Teacher approached the plane to board, the cabin crew already knew the procedure: “Here comes the Teacher who is afraid to fly! Let’s get her a front seat. She likes to be as close to the cockpit as possible ”.
Rogério Lopes doesn’t know how many years the informal upgrade went on, but he was pleased to know that he contributed to making this passenger feel more peaceful and safe onboard SATA Air Açores. After all, even today, that’s why we work on our daily basis, on land and in the air.