A new Hungarian relic from the Holy Land

Why is it that the most fantastic discoveries – no matter whether the bigfoot, the monster of Loch Ness or the woolly mammoth crossing a river in Siberia – are always captured on photos out of focus? Whatever might be the reason, it also worked when the author of the present post, when visiting the Holy Land some days ago, wanted to capture a brief but striking encounter with his camera.

But let us not anticipate the story. To understand why this encounter was so unexpected, we have to recall an important event which in early February was in the focus of Hungarian press: the bankruptcy and standstill of the Hungarian national airline company Malév. The company’s fate was sealed in Tel Aviv where, on February 3, the Ben Gurion Airport would have been willing to serve the Malév flight back to Budapest only in exchange for a sizeable payment. The rest is, so to say, history: the Malév called back all their flights, except for two ones stranded in Tel Aviv and Dublin. Some days later we read in the news that most of them were shipped on the same day to Ireland, the base of the US company leasing the fleet of Malév, and on February 6, Monday early morning the last plane of Malév left Budapest. Interestingly, on February 23 we could read again that on that day the last Malév plane left Budapest: this one supposedly waited for service, and this is why it was taken away with such a delay.

But what happened to the plane in Tel Aviv? Interestingly, the news say almost nothing about this. The only reference can be found in the above quoted article which briefly summarizes the fate of Malév’s fleet: “The Malév came to a standstill on February 3, and the first leased planes landed on the same day after 10 in the evening on the airport of Shannon, Ireland, in the center of the US International Lease Finance Corp (ILFC). From the 18 Boeings making up the core of the fleet (the “black army”) 14 were taken on that day to Ireland, two remained temporarily in Budapest, and two arrived from Dublin and Tel Aviv, respectively.” So all the Malév planes – including the one in Tel Aviv – returned to the Irish base. The last Malév plane definitely flew away.

Or not? On 5 March I was about to leave for Copenhagen after a one-week visit from Israel. On the airport we were informed that the security check of the passengers of our flight would be done for some reason on the old Terminal One, which is about five kilometers from the new Terminal Three, and we would be taken there with shuffle buses. We went down to the lower level of the terminal where we found the bus station under a bridge, and within a short twenty minutes the bus came. The first section of the road runs along the fence of the new terminal, so we could clearly see the planes standing there and waiting to fly off. And here the unexpected encounter happened. In a “shame corner” of the airport there stood modestly, with its nose turned away from the other planes, the Malév plane, with its well known red-white-green tail paint! The bus driver, seeing me jumping up in an excitement and trying to make photos through the bus window, politely slowed down a bit so I could take better photos. Even so they did not come as sharp as I wanted it. Nevertheless, in this way it has at least that slightly blurred documentary feeling which is so characteristic of the photos of the yeti and the woolly mammoth of Siberia:


Since after the security check we were taken back to Terminal Three along a completely different road – exactly, on an unused runway of Terminal One –, I could not see the Malév plane from land any more. But the greater was my joy when after the takeoff looking out of the window of our plane I discovered that I had a perfect view of the Malév plane. I eagerly kept clicking my camera, and as it turned out at home, there were some usable photos among the many blurred ones:


Gentle reader, be informed that, in spite of all news, the last Malév plane has not yet taken off. It is stranded in Tel Aviv, waiting to be ransomed, just as the Hungarian captives did five centuries ago in the then Ottoman Gaza. Until that happens – and as things are now, it will not happen soon – we have the opportunity to admire a living – or rather agonizing – piece of Hungarian past on the airport of Tel Aviv. The series of Hungarian relics in the Holy Land, the Hungarian altar of the Dormition Church on Mount Sion, the Hungarian Our Father plaque on the Mount of Olives, and the mosaic of Our Lady of Hungary in the church of Nazareth has been enriched with one more beautiful item.

4 comentarios:

Araz dijo...

I just came across the fact that one of the co-founders of the Leasing Company was Hungarian: Father and son team Leslie Gonda and Louis L. Gonda founded ILFC in 1973 along with Steven F. Udvar-Hazy. The company was acquired by international insurance giant AIG in 1990, although the unit was still run by Udvar-Hazy until he retired in February 2010;

Studiolum dijo...

This is a beautiful twist in the story! I include it in the Hungarian version as well :)

A Két Sheng Szerelmese dijo...

Well, these news are already old news - and they were already when I have published the post. The very last remaining Malév flight departed from Tel Aviv airport just this morning and has already landed on Dublin airport. One less reason for the curious Hungarians to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land...

Effe dijo...

It seems to be like that.
But - who knows - maybe there will be another ghost plane in Tel Aviv for another traveller, and then another one, and then one more...
Mysteries don't have expiry dates.