Sunday, February 21, 2010

767 touch & goes in Grand Rapids

In my last blog I mentioned that Delta piled a bunch of us into 767's recently and took us out for touch & goes... yes, it was a ball. The airline used several airports to accomplish this training, including Lansing, Saginaw, Toledo and Grand Rapids, all of which I've visited in my DC-9 and 727 days. Other fields were utilized nearer Minneapolis for MSP based 757 pilots as well. Certainly, the simulator training that we'd accomplished in January satisfied the three takeoff and landings within the last 90 days aspect of the FAR's, but Delta went a step further by actually exposing us to a real airplane. Although expensive I'm sure, it was money well spent; at least from a pilots perspective. Our accountants I'm sure have another view of this, but Flight Operations/Training prevailed and valuable experience was garnered by those of us new to this type. Today's simulator technology is great, but there's nothing like the real thing; particularly when the airplane is catered too.

Effective May 1, 2010, when I show up for a 757 trip, a 767 may be awaiting me at the gate. That's why all of this training is taking place. As you know, the 757 and 767 are a common type rating.

I'd also mentioned that we'd noticed airplane photographer's gathering at specific locations around the airport as our training progressed. In fact at one point the tower asked us how much longer we'd be training, as I'm sure they were receiving phone calls about our presence. These small groups swelled as word got out that "Delta trainer one heavy" was in the neighborhood. Much to my pleasure, I've recently heard from Greg Peters in GRR who has shared some of his photography with me.

Take a look at Greg's work as we practiced Takeoffs & Landings

Delta trainer one heavy just feet above the runway.

Greg worked for Northern Air at the Grand Rapids airport for many years, servicing airliners, corporate and other private aircraft. His duties included loading, fueling, deicing and towing. As a diversionary airport for Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland, his exposure was great and he developed a fascination with transport category airplanes.

Straight ahead to 400' than a left turn to the crosswind leg.

He purchased his first camera in 1989, upgrading quickly to a Nikon SLR. He went digital in 2003 with a Nikon D70, has never taken any instruction and learned by experience. I can relate to that, never having taken any lessons myself, but I've driven a lot of people crazy with questions.

Max thrust, Delta trainer one heavy on the go

Today, after generously giving the D70 to his wife, he's shooting with a Nikon D200 with two primary lenses; a VR 75-300 and an 18-135. Here he's captured one of us after landing, standing the throttles up, retracting the flaps and accelerating towards V1. The shots that I post on my blog are all shot with a little Nikon P5000... I need to catch up with Greg!

"One thousand feet... cleared to land."
"five hundred... checks"

Greg left the FBO in 2003 and works today at Grand Rapids ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting) on a 10 day, 24 hour per day rotation, and according to him, "it's the best job ever." I love people who enjoy their work and apparently it offers sufficient opportunities to satisfy his photographic interests.

"V1 Rotate"

There were nine captains aboard this training light and when not in the cockpit, explored the cabin with another Delta flight instructor. But as I'd mentioned the aircraft was catered so we did this with coffee and a bagel in hand. And guys complain about training!! And yes... I like airline coffee.

On the go approaching the localizer antenna
(Thanks John!)

Greg mentioned that he has some 7,000 digital photos cataloged and has saved all of his slides from his pre-digital days and that he always... ALWAYS has a camera with him.

Looks like fun doesn't it?
It is!!
Both the flying and the shooting.

Thanks very much to Greg Peters for sharing his photography with us and to all of those who visited recently from AIRLINERS.NET. Would you like to see more great aviation photography? Then click over to AIRLINERS.NET to see some of the best aviation photography available on the net and participate in some of their interesting forums.

Now click here to watch the first scheduled 767 landing at DCA as Delta flies the River Visual Approach to land on 6,869 foot runway 19. In a heavy!

Plane Spotting is a huge hobby. I see spotters and photographers all over the world as I land and taxi about, at mostly larger, international airports. In fact a few years ago when NWA flew its last DC-10 flight from HNL to MSP, throngs of spotters and photographers surrounded HNL for its departure. More with long lenses anxiously awaited its arrival in MSP.

Here's just one photo of NWA flight 98, aircraft 237NW, pushing from gate 11 at HNL for the last time. Do you see the 757-300 in the background with its taxi light illuminated? That was me, inbound from SEA. An aircraft spotter sent me this photo a couple of weeks after this flight. We'd been asked to hold our position as the Ten pushed back.

I set the brake, grabbed my camera and took this shot while we held. Somewhere over there is the fellow who took the previous photo! Unfortunately darkness was beginning to descend over Oahu and my shot isn't particularly good, but it's historic so I've saved it. My friends at AIRWAYS Magazine published in February 2007, what has become a DC-10 collectors issue, addressing flight 98 and NWA's DC-10 history. They were nice enough to include my thoughts about flying this fabulous airplane in that issue. So it appears that I'm an aircraft spotter too, only from a little different perspective. I hear from aircraft spotters regularly, in fact I wrote this article for AIRWAYS in November 2008, concerning some I've met in Dusseldorf, Germany.

As usual, thanks for following along.


  1. Nice photos!

    An observation about the photo captioned "... approaching the glide slope antenna:" The antenna shown in the foreground is actually the localizer antenna.

  2. You're right John, thanks. I'll change that.

  3. Hello Sir, sry for my poor english )= I saw a photo on flightaware =)) are you still fling to Düsseldorf EDDL ???

  4. Great shots Greg! And with the snow effect, makes it even more dramatic!

    Rand - you ever get down to Ft Lauderdale - drop me a note - I'll catch you there for sure - it's only 10 mins from my office! I'm there a lot of lunchtimes (weather permitting!)

  5. Guten Tag Jan,
    Your English is a heck of a lot better than my Deutsch! Unfortunately, I've not been to EDDL since last summer, which is most certainly one of my favorite layovers. I look forward to returning soon.

    I haven't been to FLL in several years, but if I should, I'll make every effort to contact you.


  6. Hi Rand... how was your CUN flight? It's strange to see Delta only in your newer pictures... but nice ones indeed :)

    With your 767 assignment, I assume there are many new places to visit in the future... I wish you enjoy Latin America if you have the chance to fly here.

    Always a pleasure to read your blog... best regards.

  7. Hola Miguel,
    CUN was a quick turn, about an hour, before I ran off to catch an ATL flight to connect with a BOS flight and return home. Didn't get a chance to see much of Mexico as we descended in low cloud cover. But the arrival procedures are different!

  8. I train in Battle Creek, and live in Kalamazoo. It's nice to hear some nice things said about my home for a few years. Since I've been here, I don't have too many bad things to say about the city.

    Taking my instrument checkride soon. Training goes by fast once you start doing it at a steady rate. Unfortunately, the winters here are plagued with an overcast layer of clouds and snow.

    Hopefully I will be meeting you once I enter the airline industry, if that's the path I choose to take. I have loved reading your blogs, and they give me a lot of motivation!

  9. Hi Rand:

    What a shame about CUN weather :( It was an unfortunate exception. It will certainly be better the next time... just keep flying to Mexico.

    I saw this photo that reminds me a lot your LAX post... when you were parking next to DL fleet...

    Have nice flights... thanks for saying hello.


  10. Im glad Delta spends money on real plane training pilots. It is something just few airlines still practice to ensure safety ( Lufthansa, Delta, Taca... those are few I know). Delta did so on their 737-700 as well when starting flying into TGU/MHTG Honduras last year. They did about 12 takeoff and landings with different captains. I got a picture of their first revenue flight on if you want to see it.