Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Christmas Gift For My Crew

I just received this Christmas card from Gary Orlando, probably the most informed F-27 and FH-227 collector in the country. To visit Gary's site and learn more about these airplanes click on WHISTLE PIG to enjoy his collection. Gary and I have been contacted by a film production company in Dallas, Texas to participate in a new documentary film concerning the 1972 Fairchild crash in the Andes. Much has been written about this accident, including a movie titled ALIVE. More about this later.


The first flight of a B-787 occurred on 15 December 2009 and you can watch it via a Boeing Webcast right here. Click here to visit this site and witness this highly anticipated event.

For another perspective concerning this historic flight, click on Fox News.

Ship 5813, a B-757-300 at the gate in HNL
Next stop LA

Just a few days ago, Greg (another New Hampshireman) and I flew flight 2622 from HNL to LAX with an LAX based flight attendant crew. We'd enjoyed our typical morning and afternoon on the beach, visiting the Waikiki Apple store, followed by watching the Patriots loose to New Orleans in the dome. Now at 7 and 4, our season isn't shaping up too well, but things would look up by the time we arrived at the gate. The agents handed me our paperwork and as I turned to leave told me that Josh and Ari were already on board. Hmmm... "who are Josh and Ari" I wondered? I'm due for a line check, must be a couple of check pilots, maybe the FAA, or simply a couple of jumpseaters trying to get home.

Ari and Josh in the command seats of a Boeing 757-300
(Apparently this isn't a line check!)

After loading the computers, pre-flighting the flight deck and exterior (it takes a little longer now as we've adopted Delta procedures and the copilot does just about everything as I offer moral support) our lead flight attendant brought Josh and Ari forward. I enjoy having kids come in to explore the cockpit and ask questions. Most are very shy and need to be coaxed, but not Josh, as he confidently walked in, introduced himself and his brother and asked pertinent questions. When I put them in our seats for this picture, the typical big brother directed his younger sibling... "don't touch anything." Most adults don't think to mention this!

After arriving in LAX and the passengers had departed, I corralled Josh, Ari and their mother Dana for a shot with most of our crew. Josh is holding drawings of aircraft that he'd seen at gates during his travels and Ari has my Twix bar. Now you know they had to be good kids to get me to part with a Twix.

Above and below are examples of Josh's art work, now safely stored with my very extensive airline collection.

Flight 2622 covered 2,276 nautical miles across the Pacific tonight, burned 44,200 pounds of Jet-A, arrived 10 minutes early at LAX and experienced this beautiful sunrise. Rather looks like something out of "2001 Space Odyssey" don't you think?

But the best part of this trip was that we'd had a hand in uniting a family during the holiday season. Josh, Ari and Dana weren't just on holiday visiting Hawaii, they were there to unite with the boys Dad and Dana's husband, Neil. Neil serves in the U.S. Army, was on R&R from Iraq and has since returned to theater. He, like thousands of others who have answered the call of our Armed Forces, have made this flight and all of my flights for that matter possible. Thanks to all of you and especially to Neil, who entrusted us with the safe transport of his family across the Pacific tonight. And like Josh, we're all proud of his Dad.


I was completely unaware that someone had taped my solo flight in 1971. Thought you might enjoy it! Actually it's just a different take on the old flying farmer routine


  1. Dear Captain Peck-

    Great story, thank you for sharing this. I want to thank you for the work you put into this fantastic blog. As an aviation enthusiast who grew up in the Detroit area I am particularly interested in the history of Northwest and it’s great to get your perspective, especially as the days of NWA are coming to a close. Also, I really enjoyed your article in the December 2009 issue of Airways on the NWA History Centre. I had no idea that it existed and will need to schedule a visit during my next trip to Minneapolis.

    I actually keep a blog of my own that discusses my interest in travel among other topics. You may be interested in reading one of the posts I put together in June about the history of the company…so far I’ve only written Part I covering Northwest Orient but have started my draft of Part II on Republic Airlines. In addition to the writing I’ve managed to scan and upload some of my own memorabilia and photos to with the piece. It’s not as polished as your blog but would certainly welcome you to stop and check it out! The link to the Northwest Orient piece can be found here:

    Thanks again for all your great information and photos. My best wishes to you for a happy holiday- Sincerely, East Coast Wing

  2. Merry Christmas to you and your family Rand...

    Isn't the NWA History Center now closed and down at Delta's ATL history facility? I think I read that some where.

    Hope your 767 adventure goes well, looking forward to your thoughts and impressions on that evolution.

    You 'covering' the last NWA operation of the 747-200? (Sigh...)

    As always, nice column, see you down the line (someday)

    Tim 8DME W ORD

  3. Hi Rand,
    Oh the neat people you get to meet in your job! I really like the winglets on Josh's 747 drawing, very fuel efficient. Had a little trouble with the "widget" though? Many are...

    Thanks for telling us about your special flight. Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season and always!

    Tim G in MN

  4. "Don't touch anything!" Great line (and sound advice). I really enjoyed this post--as always, thanks for providing us with such enjoyable reading!

  5. Thanks for the tip on the Boeing Webcast Rand! It was nice to be able to breathe again once they were safely airborne. I really hope that the 787 is all that they say it will be and am happy that the first flight was a success on such a public stage. Do yo think you will ever get to fly one?

    Tim G in MN

  6. Rand

    What a great description of the flight! I'm sure those two enjoyed it as much as I think the crew did!!!

    I heard a rumor that on December 26, the last NWA B742F is going to be retired - any truth that you know of?


  7. I,m not exactly sure of the date Mark, but that sounds about right. They'll also be a huge 747 party in MSP a few days later. I'm excited too about the 787 flight Tim, but think that my time will be up before we ever see it on line. That's OK... I flew the 727! Thanks Ellen, Merry Christmas to you and all of our classmates. Tim 757, I don't think the history centre has moved, in fact I just received my latest newsletter and they're overwhelmed with donated artifacts. Wing, thanks very much and you've done a wonderful job writing about NWA, I'll return soon to learn more about REP.

    Merry Christmas and thanks for your thoughts,

  8. Hi Rand love the blog, I saw this and thought you appreciate it the pilot is amazing.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Joe(New Hampshire USA)

  9. Rand,

    I really enjoy your posts. I have recommended your blog to several of my Friends. I am an aviation nut. I have about 80 hours flight training in a Cessna 172. I have children now and haven't found the time or money to fly.

    Keep up the great work (both flying and blogging).

    Skipper In MN.

  10. I have really enjoyed the post great work Rand.