Thursday, June 5, 2014

Since retiring in October 2012 from the 747-400, I've not been contributing to this blogsite, primarily because there are so many well written blogs available from active duty pilots. Their viewpoint and experiences are much more up to date than mine. On the other hand, surprisingly, this site still see's more than 200 hits per day from around the world, so obviously many are still enjoying the pictures, stories and experiences.

If you'd like to see a more updated version, I've created a new website, Rand Peck Aviation Photography, My Career Through a Lens. This is mostly a photography site that follows my very enjoyable airline career through pictures. Click HERE to transfer to my new site.

So just what have I been up to since retirement? Actually quite a lot but I spend most of my time with this little guy. My almost two year-old grandson.

Thanks...... Rand

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Mighty DC-9
The end of the line.

For the past week I've been reading of the impending, last commercial flight of a US Air Carrier owned Douglas DC-9. This will take place on 6 January 2014 as DAL 2014 from MSP to ATL. The accolade most often expressed with this event seems to be "workhorse." For a jet transport that has served continuously since 1965, it is certainly that; but this is a word, a noun reserved for detached,  earthbound reporters or airline accountants with green eyeshades, tethered to a desk, not for airman. Particularly for airman who have experienced thousands of hours in one, slid down slippery runways, skirted towering, magnificent thunderstorms and delivered families home for Christmas. I certainly don't mean to anthropomorphize this airplane, but she's far more than a reliable, old jet aircraft that has outlived its usefulness and burns too much fuel.

For both my father and me, as young men of different eras it was our first jet type rating, our first jet captaincy that would prepare us for bigger and better commands. I'd enjoyed thousands of hours in it as a First Officer before my number surfaced for a captains slot. My new category, "DC-9 Captain" realigned my perspective in ground school, simulator and aircraft training. Yes, we still did aircraft training in those days. I was no longer the back-up or "just" the FO but the man in charge, the go to guy when the chips were down and took this training far more seriously than I had before.

The Nine sported a pair of JT8D's that roared as a jet should, had leading edge as well as trailing edge flaps, had complex, yet reliable systems but no moving maps, no FMS. When a system failed it simply wasn't a matter of pulling up a page and identifying a valve that failed to operate. It required a time consuming investigative process, trial and error, isolating segments and identifying the faulty area by temperature or pressure readouts. 

There are no "top of descent" indicators to cue the pilot as to when to descend to cross ten west of Gardiner (Gahdnah, in the vernacular)  at 8,000 and 250 knots. Our present position on that murky night, during an ILS to 4R in BOS was determined by an NDB needle (located outer marker) and DME rather than a picture on a screen. Not to confuse you, there is a picture, but it was in our brain, cultivated by years of experience. My opinion is that the DC-9 created an atmosphere where a pilot is forced to have more than a vague understanding of his/her equipment and maintain his flying skills. To support my argument, I refer to numerous current articles concerning modern "glass" aircraft and the debate over diminishing pilot skills. Make no mistake, I've flown and recognize the importance of glass, but it has its inherent "reliant" side as well. 

On the other hand, I apologize in advance to current professional airman who disconnect the automation frequently and "hand fly" specifically to maintain not only the hand skills, but the "cognitive" skills as well. 

Because this is what the DC-9 and later the B-727 taught us. Not just how to fly, but how to think, think in advance of the jet. But the learning didn't stop there, the lessons would continue to unfold.

As a young DC-9 captain I learned the importance of taking care of my passengers, you know, the people who paid my salary, those who trusted that I was rested, prepared and competent. I learned to put myself in their shoes, to understand their concerns and lend a hand beyond just flying the machine. They after all were someones parents, children, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, a returning veteran lying forever silent in the forward cargo hold, to whom the best of my skills are owed. I'd as well learned the importance of taking care of your crew. I'd learned this lesson best from captains with whom I'd flown who had no concept of this thought.

For all of these experiences, I'm forever grateful and indebted to the marvelous old DC-9, as they applied to all other aircraft that followed and to my life for that matter. My familiarity with her aqua colored cockpit, the smoothness of her controls and switches made so by the touch of a thousand hands before mine will never diminish. I can close my eyes and the fragrance of her cockpit remains in my nostrils. It was a love affair of flight, in a marvelous old machine and a young man who loved what he did.


Rand K. Peck
DC-9 Captain, Ret.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I still receive many emails asking me to keep writing my blog.

24 left and right at LAX

But my thoughts are that there are many current blogs, most very well written by active airline pilots, who are in a far better position than I to comment on the industry. I've kept my blog up though because surprisingly, it still receives as many as 100 hits per day, so someone out there is still enjoying it. 

On the other hand, where I may be able to contribute is with my photography. I've just built a new site that I've made public today. I have thousands of airline photos that many seem to enjoy, so click over and I hope that you enjoy these pics as much as I do.

I've only posted a few photos so far, but will add more weekly.


Friday, October 4, 2013

I can't believe that its been a year!

It's been quite some time now since I've updated my blog, nearly a year to be exact, but thanks to the kindness of the folks at AIRWAYS, they've allowed me to post the article that they published about my retirement flight in their February 2013 issue.

And now for the rest of the story....

I'm a year into retirement and it's proceeding nicely. Well, more or less. What it comes down to is that I ran at full speed for 38 years and then on 1 October 2012 I came to a dead stop. Not even a cool down period, but that was my choice, I elected to take the early out (18 months) and would do it again. Financially it was a sound decision.

But yes, I miss the airplanes, the people, the layovers and the overall activity that surrounded this wonderful career. Much of it was mundane but the exercising of your brain, contributing to a company and being part of a large organization was rewarding. I continue to follow Delta (among other things) every morning on my internet reading, but it's different now; I have nothing to contribute to it's future success.  

However, don't think that I've been sitting home pining away; quite the opposite it's been a very busy time. My daughter Sam and my son-in-law Blair returned to the US from three years in New Zealand and brought Sebastian (our first grandchild) with them. With Blairs new job in the US the necessary accouterments soon followed. After renting a fully furnished apartment in Boston for 9 months and determining their future, they recently purchased a restored, 1800 colonial in "old town" in Marblehead, MA. My pickup has been very busy. They're moments away from Marblehead Harbor and have chosen a wonderful location. 

Also, our son Ian, who graduated from BU Law last year earned an LLM at UC Berkeley Law (Boult) just a while ago. The proud parents  flew jetBlue nonstop from BOS to SFO for that event. I would have loved to have saved the money and flown DAL out, but that would have required a stop somewhere (JFK, DTW, MSP) and this would have compromised getting their via our new, "retired" non-rev status. 

I've also exercised one of my other passions. Antiques. Early American furniture to be exact, some dating to the mid 18th century or 1750's. We've owned two homes during our marriage, the first dated to 1840 and the present to 1790. We've tried hard to furnish them authentically with the appropriate antiques and with relatively few bills in our way have done a pretty good job. A love of history, architecture and American antiques have helped tremendously to fill the void.

To that end, to help promote business, I've created a new blog and website to market our antique business. I'm sorry, there are few airplane pictures here, but that part of my life is over and I have to move on. But I'll never forget about it!


As usual, thanks very much for taking the time to read my stuff.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

I have sad news to report.

Air New England DC-3 over Nantucket 1975.

Can't you just hear those magnificent old 1830's just purrrring away as ship 654 turns and heads for Martha's Vineyard? A vast ocean, blue skies with gentle breezes and a windscreen full of white sails on a beautiful summer day in a Douglas racer. I may have retired from a 747 but my heart, forever 25, remains here on the Cape among radial engines and tailwheel airplanes. 

Nelson Lee and Joseph Whitney, aviation pioneers to whom I and many others owe much.

I have very sad news to report to my Air New England friends. On Tuesday 30 October 2012, Mr. Whitney passed away. He'd been battling cancer for some time and although he sounded very strong during our last phone conversation a month or so ago, he's now gone. For those who may not know, we lost Mr. Lee on 6 September 2012 as well.

Services will be held for Mr. Whitney at 2 p.m. on Saturday 10 November 2012 at 

St Pauls Church 
59 Court Street, 
Dedham, MA. 

Together, these fellows both veterans, founded Executive Airlines in 1964 and when forced out by new investors, founded Air New England in 1970 and put Executive out of business. They were entrepreneurial pioneers in the commuter airline industry who surrounded themselves with a dedicated team and gave hundreds of aspiring young pilots (including me) their start in the industry. 

Air New England memorabilia

If you are available and plan to attend these services, please contact Christine Hamersley at

or respond below in the response area and I'll pass it along to Chris.

During the early days of Executive Airlines in Florida. Probably around 1965 or so. Mr. Whitney is to the far left and Mr. Lee is to the far right standing by a Beech 99.

January 1975. Mr. Whitney accepting ANE's part 121 certificate from an FAA Representative. The previous small airline to receive certification was Ozark Airlines in 1950. 

Mr. Whitney just a couple of years ago at an Air New England reunion.  

An article in the Logan Airport newspaper about Mr. Whitney and ANE's newly won certification. The photo was taken on a BOS ramp.

We all think our youth will last forever and that we can put off important things until tomorrow. I never really thanked Mr. Lee or Mr. Whitney for giving me my chance in aviation, although from conversations we had, I know that they knew that I thought it. But right now though, that just doesn't seem to be enough.

Click here to visit my ANE Picasa album.

Hope to see you in Dedham on Saturday.

As a postscript, here's the ANE contingent that attended Mr. Whitney's services. I hadn't seen most of these friends in more than 30 years and it was fun to catch up. Who do you recognize?


Monday, October 1, 2012

Today is October first, the first day of the rest of my life... now, what am I going to do? Just a short report to let everyone know that I'm done and that at some time in the future may write more in depth about the day. I'm really not ready to just yet.

My last trip was a roundtrip between Detroit and Nagoya. Delta, meaning my DTW base manager Scott Harris was great and offered to secure most any trip that I wanted, including seats for my wife Linda and a water canon salute back in DTW.  I passed on this however due to logistics within my family and simply flew my last assigned trip. Frankly, I didn't want any fanfare. His offer was most generous and if I were still flying London, Paris or Frankfurt I'd have accepted his offer.

This is the cockpit crew for the first leg of this trip. Rob is sitting behind me, Jill is in the first officers seat and Paul, who will be retiring soon is behind Jill. Although I've seen Rob around the property for years, this is the first time that we'd met; he serves the pilot group as a 747 check airman as well. In fact it was my first trip with all of these pilots and they went out of there way to make this trip memorable.

This is my flight attendant crew over to Nagoya with many of the same faces returning as well. I mentioned in the brief that this may be my last trip and they went out of their way to make it a celebration. A wonderful crew, thank-you.

We're moments away from push back at Nagoya here to fly the Anjyo Reversal departure. At this point it hasn't quite penetrated my brain that this will be my last airline flight. Jill is in the right seat, Jeff is in the jump seat and the other captain, Jerry is taking the picture. Jill and I will fly the first half of the flight until passing Anchorage, when Jeff and Jerry will return to the cockpit and continue to DTW. As you might have imagined, when Jill and I returned to the cockpit just prior to the top of descent, Jerry got up and offered me his seat and the landing. Again, much appreciated.

I had very little trouble making it through the flight until the flight attendants, congregated by door two at the end of the flight, gathered round and presented me with a card that they'd purchased in Nagoya. Their kindness was overwhelming and I did my best to maintain my composure. After all, I am.... or was a Captain!

To all of you who left comments on the previous blog and sent emails, thank-you as well for your generosity and taking the time over the years to read my stuff, write and send pictures. It's been a privilege for me to spend time with you.

But now it's time to say good-bye and see what lies beyond the next horizon. I wish you all well and thank-you for your camaraderie.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

I've waited 38 years for today!
I just didn't know it.

What? What's this??

Six weeks ago, Delta offered an early out program, the third such offer in the last few years. The first two came via NWA, but this last arriving via DAL. I passed on the previous two, but they sweetened the pot a bit and with some reluctance submitted my application. The company was explicit and advised that not all those who applied would necessarily be rewarded. Easily understandable, they can't let all 747 captains or all 777 captains retire as the training requirements would be burdensome.

The application process was open for 30 days, ending on July 30. Then there was a two week revocation period that ended at midnight on 14 August for those who might get cold feet, do a little soul searching and re-think their position. They expect about a 10% revocation. I'll admit to a few sleepless nights during this time period, tossing and turning, weighing the pros and cons and building a financial spreadsheet in my mind.  It's now noon on the 15th and I've not seen the final list posted anywhere, not that there's anything I can do about it, my decision became binding last night. 

I suspect that my name will be on it but more importantly they will list the separation date for each person. That's what I really want to know. According to some, the earliest seperation date could be as soon as 1 September. Whoa.... that's only a couple of weeks away!

For 38 years I've been flying airliners and have a heck of a collection of uniforms in my closet, but today I'm sitting here on pins and needles wondering if that run is about to close. I'll write about it when it happens.

16 August 2012 @ 1200

Well, the list just came out, I'm on it and my separation or retirement date is 1 October. Let me say that again so it sinks into my brain... I retire on 1 October. As I approached 60 a few years ago, I just wasn't ready to retire and my "luck of the Irish" kicked in and the FAA changed the mandatory retirement age to 65. I lucked out big time. But now at 63.5, spending more time commuting to short call reserve than actually flying, the time has arrived. I'm mentally prepared and ready to pass the baton. So too are those younger than I who have waited patiently for my seat. I leave the responsibility that that seat represents in excellent hands.

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I've loved this job with a passion, even during the bad times when we suffered strikes, furloughs, mergers, pay cuts and other catastrophes. But they've all worked out, the good has far outweighed the bad and in the immortal words of Lou Gerhig, "Today, I'm the luckiest man in the world." I mean really, how many people get to experience flying a Boeing 747? And a 767, 757, 727, A320 and a DC-9 before that.

But please let me leave by clarifying my position to the many who read my blog and want to pursue this career. As good as it has been for me, keep in mind that you are working for a large corporation who really doesn't have your best interests in mind. This is not meant as criticism, it's simply a fact, just like your highest priority is your family, not your employer. Their obligations, any corporation's for that matter, lie with their share holders, this is a LEGAL obligation and they will do what ever is in their interests. Hopefully, we as employees will benefit as well. For the most part, over the last 38 years I have. I've written extensively in the past about having a back up plan when times are less than good. That's enough about that.

So, I have about 45 days remaining and expect to squeeze in a "last flight" somewhere along the line and will certainly chronicle it.



My father and me on the morning of his retirement flight. January 1980, 32 years ago. He arrived at Delta via the Northeast Airlines merger in 1972, while I arrived at Delta via the Northwest merger in 2008.

This is Tom and me standing in flight ops at JFK. Tom had just returned from Tel Aviv and I was leaving for Tel Aviv. Tom's an ANE buddy and he just retired on the same early out program that I did as a 747-400 captain.

This is Sydney, Tom's wife and another Air New England refugee. She's an A-330 captain and took the early out program too.

Wes and me in a 727 from many years ago. Wes, yes... another ANE pal, isn't leaving but as a result of the early out program, will be replacing Tom and me in the 747-400. Currently he's a JFK 767-400ER captain. 

Tom, Syd and Wes all left ANE for MSP based North Central Airlines and have experienced several mergers now. They merged with Southern Airways to form Republic Airlines, then they brought Hughes Airwest into the fold, then merged with Northwest Airlines and now will retire from Delta. Let this be an example that the airline that first hires you may have little to do with whom you retire from.

And yet another ANE friend Tony Q who took the last buy out and has been retired now for nearly a year.

A few days have passed since I was awarded my retirement date and its begun to sink in that my time here is finite.