Lisbon, Portugal & More

Week 9


Our  “Road Map”

It may be hard to believe, but this photo shows the oceanic plotting chart we used for our entire trip across the Atlantic. As the flight progressed, we recorded altitude and course changes and other conditions of flight. In graphic form, this chart shows much of the information contained in our approved Flight Plan, which contains specific details about the planned trip.

Before each flight it is the the captain who files the required, formal flight plan with Air Traffic Control (ATC). Once airborne over land, we must stay in constant radio contact with them. Because our radio link with land-based ATC has a limited range, responsibility for communicating with us over the ocean is “handed off” from ACT to high frequency (HF) radio operators in the SELCAL network. For much of the trans-Atlantic flight we inform the SECAL operators of any changes in our altitude and course and they relay the information to ACT. Information is also relayed through them from ATC to us.

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If you are really interested in how these charts are used, go here for a simulated ride-along with an aircraft flying the North Atlantic oceanographic route.


Taking a Moment To Remember

FF Sunrise over the AtlanticMidway over the Atlantic, with Europe ahead and Newfoundland behind, I found myself thinking of Amelia Earhart and her 1934 solo trans-Atlantic flight – which also left from Newfoundland bound for Europe.

However, her little single-engine Lockheed Vega had few of the navigation instruments that I have at my fingertips and none of the raw power of our Learjet. What courage it took for those early pioneers of flight to follow their dreams!

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Take the Sci/Tech Challenge:

From your Media Center, check out and read a book about pioneer aviators. Make a list of problems they faced and how they overcame them.


Lovely, Lively Lisbon

FF Lisbon with Quin in photoLisbon, Portugal will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first place I was sent as an air ambulance service pilot. Once we landed, I did a fast web search for ideas on interesting things to see and do while in Lisbon. See the “Sci & Tech say:” section below for some of what I found.

Although I did not get to most of the places, I know that I will be back again so I’ll keep my list handy. In addition, I want to visit a workshop and see artists actually painting and glazing the wall tiles known as azulejos, and I hope to listen to authentic Fado music. You can be sure I’ll also be on the lookout for Portuguese Water Dogs – made famous in part because the Obama family had one while they were in the White House.

From my research I was reminded that Lisbon is probably best-known for its colonialist history, ornate architecture and its old section filled with narrow winding alleys. I valiantly fought jetlag and took to the streets to do my own exploring. My photos on the next page show what I found.

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Take the Sci/Tech Challenge:

Learn how to pronounce “Praça do Comércio” by using a browser such as Google.  In the search bar, just type in “How do you pronounce” and then the word you want.  It will take you to a website where, with a few clicks, you can hear the word in its native language. In this case it will be Portuguese.


An Arch & a Statue with Snakes

FF Lisbon 1I took time to walk through Lisbon’s grandest plaza – the Praça do Comércio – with its statue of King Jose I, whose horse is shown stamping on snakes.

In the background of this photo is the impressive Rua Augusta Arch. It was designed and constructed to mark the rebuilding of the city after it was nearly destroyed by the catastrophic 1755 earthquake and resulting fires.

The Historic & Steep Alfama District

I also had time to visit the famous Alfama District. Because it is built on a hillside, it has steep slopes (and I mean steep slopes). I really got a good workout.

I found this area charming with its age-old buildings and narrow alleys. You can still see the traditional laundry spaces with their big outdoor sheltered tubs for neighboring households to do their washing in public.

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Yummy for the Tummy

To round out my first visit to Lisbon, I decided I had to try some local food, so I headed to the Praça do Comércio, where many restaurants have spectacular views of the ocean. I had heard that a very popular Portuguese soup is Caldo Verde, which is made with potatoes, shredded collard greens or kale, and chunks of chouriço (a spicy Portuguese sausage). I also sampled a specialty of the house – roasted pork ribs with rice. It was rich with exotic spices. Both the meal and the view were memorable.

When I got home I decided to try some Portuguese recipes so, once again, I went searching online. During my research I found that, because of their extensive worldwide expeditions, Portuguese sailors not only brought home foods and spices from many different lands but they also took their country’s favorite foods and shared them with the world. Here’s an example of how tea got to Britain. I have always associated the growing of tea with China and the drinking of tea with England. However, the British did not get the habit of sipping tea directly from their dealings with the Chinese. It seems that – at least according to Wikipedia – tea was made fashionable in Britain in the 1660s after the marriage of King Charles II to the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza, who brought her liking for tea, originally from the Portuguese colony of Macau, to the court.” What an interesting trip – Asia to Portugal to England!

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Take the Sci/Tech Challenge: 

  • Use an online Portuguese-to-English dictionary like this to find the meaning of “caldo” and “verde,” and any other Portuguese words you find.
  • Have a contest with your friends to see who can make up a story using the most English words that have come from the Portuguese. Share your story by emailing a copy to