In 2014, I worked for Danish Air Transport as a first officer on the McDonnell Douglas MD80 fleet. The airline had two aircraft of the type in the fleet by then and one of these were assigned for a very special mission arranged by FIFA and Coca Cola. The mission lasted for almost a year in the preparation for the World Cup and included flights to approximately 88 countries! The purpose of the tour was to bring football to people all around the world by showing up the coveted World Cup Trophy and of course to market the Coca Cola brand.
One of the main reasons why the MD80 was choosen for this mission was that is self-supporting with integral stairs both in the forward and aft sections with no much need of other ground equipment upon arrival. But still, there was some configurations to be made to the aircraft to get it fulfilled for the mission. First of all and the most obvious one was a new striking red Coca Cola scheme!
he striking painted McDonnell Douglas MD80 here seen after landing in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, where I started my adventure on the World Cup Trophy Tour.
Secondly, the normal passenger configuration was changed to a VIP layout with the first section of the aircraft consisting of an open space that was transformable to a lounge and showroom for the trophy. This was followed by two different sections of business class seats used by invited guests along the tour and the staff from FIFA and Coca Cola. At the rear section of the aircraft there was still some normal passenger 2+3 economy seating but these seats were most used as baggage hold. The standard cargo hold was fully loaded by exhibition material for the throphy that was used during the stops along the tour.
The cabin was just as striking red as the outside and every detail from overhead bins to catering trolleys were desgined in accordance with the Coca Cola brand. The trophy itself had its very own guards onboard guarding the trophy night and day. The only ocassion when you were able to see trophy without any protection was when we used the onboard showroom for the trophy upon arrival. At all other events it was displayed inside a thick and well protected glass box with the trophy guards in close proximity.
My adventure which lasted for some weeks started in the Caribbean, more precisely Trinidad and Tobago, were I replaced another first officer and joined the rest of the crew. From there I was fortunate to visit almost all of the islands belonging to the Netherlands Antilles and several countries in Latin America. The trophy event held in each country were different at all places and decided by the local Coca Cola company. It was a truly great experience to be a part of something like this and something that I will never forget.
Here is some photos from the flights during the tour, enjoy!
The beautiful and coveted World Cup Trophy were constantly guarded by two trophy guards using white gloves while moving it. For all others - see but don't touch!
Captain and I, here seen during one of our flights during the tour. The flight deck was probably the only place that was not pimped in the Coca Cola colors apart from the can on the glareshield.
The red overhead bins displaying the planned route and the background shows the forward section that could be transformed to a reception lounge for officials entering the aircraft upon arrival.
The first section of comfortable business class seats used by invited guest or former World Cup players that was fortunate to join the tour during a flight.
The second section of business class seats used by the FIFA and Coca Cola staff that worked with the tour. Some of them attended the whole(!) tour and spent weeks in these seats!
No doubt about which company sponsoring the World Cup Trophy Tour.
Aft galley area of the MD80 with the Coca Cola trolleys.
Several Coca Cola cans were consumed during the tour for sure!
The big trophy as well as small trophies were brought along the whole tour, in fact I am still wearing it today as a great memory of this once in a lifetime experience.
An after landing Coke upon arrival to Belize City which
marked the end for my World Cup Trophy Tour.
Thanks to the World Cup Trophy Tour I was fortunate to experience several countries of the world you usually don't visit on your standard vacation. As a passionate travel photographer I certainly took the advantage of getting some rare shots from these parts of the world which I might not be able to visit again. The time was of course limited during the stops but I still managed to get some great photography and experience of each country visited.
In fact, several of the following shots are my true favourites in my collection and some of them even award winning photos. Since my photos from the Netherlands Antilles already has its very own gallery here on the website, I have just picked some of the shots from Trinidad and Tobago and the countries in Latin America that I visited during the tour.
I hope you enjoyed my #tbt and enjoy my travel photos!
Hummingbird in the dense forest in Trinidad and Tobago
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 3200, 1/160 sec, f/5,6 @ 300 mm)
Boat ride in the swamp outside Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 1600, 1/250 sec, f/5,6 @ 300 mm)
Pink Heliconia, Trinidad and Tobago
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 640, 1/200 sec, f/5,6 @ 210 mm)
A great colony of the red ibis (the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago) is gathering for the night in the trees just outside Port of Spain.
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 3200, 1/200 sec, f/5,0 @ 200 mm)
The yellow Cathedral of Granada, Nicaragua
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 100, 1/250 sec, f/10 @ 28 mm)
A young mantled howler monkey in the trees, Nicaragua
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 250, 1/320 sec, f/5,6 @ 300 mm)
Colorful vegetation, Nicaragua
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 2000, 1/320 sec, f/5,6 @ 300 mm)
Black lava sand at the coast outside San Salvador, El Salvador
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/7,1 @ 70 mm)
Colorful public bus transportation, El Salvador
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 125, 1/160 sec, f/5,0 @ 200 mm)
The beautiful interior of Iglesia El Rosario in San Salvador, El Salvador
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 125, 1/30 sec, f/4,0 @ 17 mm)
Busy marina in Belize City, Belize
(Canon EOS 5D Mark II - ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/7,1 @ 145 mm)