Sunday, June 20, 2010

B-25 on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Before you start reading of my latest CQ adventures, I thought you might want to learn of a "real" adventure. My pal John Brier, Continental Airlines Ret. sent this video along and I thought you might enjoy it.

It's the 68th reunion of the Doolittle Raid, held on April 17 & 18, 2010 at the USAF Museum at Wright Field and the largest gathering of B-25's, seventeen, since WWII. Of the original 80 Doolittle Raiders who sailed into history aboard the USS Hornet (CV8) in 1942, eight are still with us and four were able to attend this reunion. My Dad flew B-25's during WWII. These men are/were Patriots, back when that word meant something and was more than just a hollow punchline in some insignificant, earmark voting politicians speech. I hope that you enjoy this video... I sure did!

Would you like to learn more about General Doolittle? He wrote an autobiography with Colonel C.V. Glines; I COULD NEVER BE SO LUCKY AGAIN. I read it a few years ago and couldn't put it down. Visit "The Raiders" site to learn more about this extraordinary American, Medal of Honer recipient and leader of men. You'll be amazed with what you learn.

Now enjoy the exhilarating sights and sounds of a

On to something a little more mundane.

CQ-Continuing Qualification
One more time!

Another predawn arrival to the training center in the hotel van. The birds are singing, the air is cool and dry and so is your mouth when you suddenly wonder if you've prepared sufficiently for what lies ahead, just behind those cold, dark, impersonal doors.

It's that time of year again, when I make my annual trek to MSP to see if I still have what it takes. But like this last year, much has changed with this event as well. With two training centers, one in MSP and the other in ATL, I could have been assigned either. I was just as happy to perform in MSP as it gave me some semblance of familiarity. At least I knew where the cafeteria is located.

It's 0500 as we approach what used to be known as NATCO. (Northwest Airlines Training Corporation) It looks much the same today, minus the NWA signage. Inside much has changed though. It's a ghost town. Where many were once employed to support simulator activity, they've been moved to ATL, the primary training location. My annual visits to MSP used to include socialization when I'd see old friends like Ellen, Bill and Gina, all helpful making the experience run as smoothly as possible. They're all gone now. I never realized just how much I relied upon them or how easy they made things for me until they were removed. I'd like to pass along a much belated "thank-you" and hope that you are doing well.

The 757 simulator/briefing room corridor

What was once a thriving, bee-hive of activity, is now mostly quiet as an occasional voice spills from a briefing room and echos through the hallways. "Hello, hello ello ello..." Much is going on at Delta, with expansion and cross training, it just happens to be centered down south.

Our new 757-200 briefing room wall panel layouts.

Here's the simulator that I took last years training and check ride in.

Here it is again this year. See any differences? Our LOFT Instructor Al Anderson with my sim partner Lenny Frisco, waiting for me to take my pictures so we can get under way. Al is an NWA retired 747-400 captain who now instructs in the 757 program. Al in fact was a 757 instructor at one time during his NWA career.

Lenny, who retires in two months has had a colorful career that includes service in Vietnam flying F 105 Thunderchiefs (Thuds) and flying Electra's and 727's at Eastern Airlines. "The Great Silver Fleet".

CQ includes two days of simulator training and checking. This is day two that includes the LOFT, Line Oriented Flight Training. Al, seated here in the simulator, has given Lenny and me our paperwork (release and flightplan) and allows us time to prepare the cockpit before I call for the Before Start Checklist and get underway.

Today's LOFT includes a basic departure from JFK, experiencing a hydraulic problem during the climb out, solving it as best we can, diverting to PHL and utilizing what we have for gear, flaps and brakes. I'm being judged not only on how I fly and solve the hydraulic problem, but how I utilize my FO, dispatch and ATC. Have I kept the flight attendants and passengers in the loop? Have I efficiently orchestrated a safe outcome? To do this, I simply hand the airplane and external communications over to Lenny, ask him to keep me in the loop, pull out my emergency/abnormal checklists and get to work. When ATC gives him a new heading and altitude, I pause for a moment to back him up and insure that items are set properly. Fixing a problem, such as hydraulics, pneumatics, or a failed engine is important, but FLYING THE AIRPLANE takes precedence.

I enjoy these exercises because it gives us the opportunity to use alternate methods to extend flaps and gear and determine if we have braking capability. After successfully landing, we had no nosewheel steering and had to be towed from the runway. Good practice!

From my archives

I knew that Al looked familiar! Here he is in Osaka a few years ago, far right, planning a -400 flight back to DTW. I'd deadheaded from DTW to NRT with this crew a day earlier. I was seated in the upper deck and Al gave me permission to shoot as much as I wanted.

Our instructor for Day 1, better known as "Maneuvers Validation", was John Rosenberg; unfortunately I'd not brought my camera with me for this event. Maneuvers Validation demonstrates proficiency in precision and non precision approaches, engine failures, stalls, wind shears, aborts, missed approaches, holding and a variety of other maneuvers that we otherwise never see during normal line operations. It's a great review and good practice.

Referring back to my opening paragraph, there was nothing "cold, dark or impersonal" about John or Al. In fact they created an excellent learning environment and as usual I absorbed much during this years event.

Something new for the NWA pilots this year was a 45 minute, aircraft systems oral. In the past, we'd accomplished an online systems test that was validated when we attended CQ. Like most pilots, I very much dislike orals; you just never know where they're going or how deep the instructor will dig if he or she detects weakness in a particular system. This was not too bad though and concentrated on NWA/DAL differences which actually helped clarify a few matters for me.

Check this out, I really hope John reads this!

From my archives

As I'd mentioned, I felt badly that I didn't have a picture of John to share, but I've searched through my very extensive archives and found this. This is a picture of John's new hire pilot class, as pictured in North Centrals employee newsletter, "THE NORTHLINER" published in October 1978. See the words INTERLINE NEWS? Look just to the left to find captain Rosenberg.

It was in this issue of THE NORTHLINER, that NCA announced its intent to merge with Atlanta based Southern Airways and form a new airline (Republic) that would serve 150 cities, in 25 states, over a 23,000 mile route structure.

I was flying as a captain at Air New England when this shot was published. Accordingly, all of these guys, most of whom I've flown with at one time or another on DC-9's, were all senior to me at REP and NWA. Many are still here at Delta today. Bob Finnegan, top row, 5th from the left, flew copilot for me at ANE and was instrumental in getting me hired at REP. Robin Mangold's dad flew for Eastern Airlines and lived just down the street from my parents when they moved to NH. Pictures like this, people like these, will give you a little more insight to why I love flying for the airlines.

North Central Airlines Convair 580

Both Al and John started their airline carriers as Convair 580 copilots with NCA, Al in 1968 and John in 1978.

Bear with me, I'm doing this from memory

North Central started life as Wisconsin Central in '46 and merged with Southern Airways in '79 to create Republic Airlines. In '80 Republic merged with Hughes Air West, formally Air West, made up from a three way merger in '68 between Pacific Airlines, Bonanza Airlines and West Coast Airlines. In '86 REP and Northwest Airlines (formed in '26) merged to form Northwest Airlines. In 2009 NWA and Delta merged to form the worlds largest airline. Delta, formed in '28 merged with Chicago and Southern in '53, Northeast Airlines in '72 and Western Airlines in '86. Do you know Phil Mickelson? His dad was an Air West captain who flew for Republic and I think retired from Northwest. I love our history and am fascinated by those who came before and built these and other airlines.

And finally, Len and I outside the simulator after convincing Al and John that we know what we're doing. I'm good for another year, but Len leaves us on August 1 to join the ranks of our retired alumni.

As usual, thanks for reading. I'm working on a post concerning my first long-haul 767-300ER flight from Beijing to Seattle and our visits to the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City.

Until later,

I almost forgot. The August issue of AIRWAYS just came out and you may be interested to read Jeff Kriendler's take on the DELTA/NORTHWEST merger. Jeff's article is well written and researched, but the best part is the magazines cover shot! OK, yes...I took the shot, but it's my first magazine cover shot ever!


  1. Great post as usual, love the history! I still believe the best part of my vacations is going to the airport and flying to where I'm going.

    Joe (Lebanon, NH)

  2. Thanks Joe,
    I appreciate your comments. I've spent many enjoyable hours flying in/out of LEB in Twin Otters, FH-227's and my Cub. Although now long gone, the previous airline terminal, an old quonset hut that stood where today's FBO is located, had one of the best airport restaurants in New England.

  3. How times change, I get a good view of app/dep of rwy 18/36 and am amazed at some of the aircraft that go in and out..Biz Jets to Military and of course what the Tower calls Mosquitos, Cape Air C-402s, same time every morning from BOS.

  4. What a great read Rand! And amazing how you could dig up those pictures of your instructors! I love the new picture of the cockpit at night - with the US reg, a Delta B744 - but lovely lights at night! I'm really looking forward to your B763 trip info!

  5. Thanks Mark,
    I'm pleased that I have those photos, but I've learned that it took me entirely too long to find them; my cataloging has to improve! I've just started working on the 763 trip, but my daughters wedding, just around the corner, and all the yard work associated with it has taken over.

  6. Rand,
    I recognize that DC-3 picture from one of my much-loved Len Morgan books (Airliners of the World). That aircraft had the distinction of being, at least for a while, the highest-time airliner ever. Following retirement from line duties with North Central, it served as an executive transport for NC execs for at least several more years. What I didn't know is that it's now at the Henry Ford Museum, painted in NW colors. Although it originally served with EA before going on to NC, I'm guessing there was a deal involved between the museum and NWA when they brought it in for display. Maybe they'll repaint it DL now?

  7. Excellent Bob!
    It was given to the Museum after Republic was formed and was flown into the Ford test track by one of the former NCA chief pilots. It was dismantled, brought to the Henry Ford Museum, reassembled and sat outside deteriorating for many years. It was a sad sight. Now, with its NWA paint scheme, it shares indoor display space with many of Henry Fords finest pieces. NCA made a beautiful folder with pictures and a printed history of this fabulous DC-3. While working as a DC-9 simulator Instructor, I was able to get my hands on one, thus this picture.

  8. Looks like you're next in line for take-off at SEA on 34C. Have a great flight!

    Tim G in MN

  9. I'm with Tim - 34C intersection with Quebec at Sea-Tac.

  10. Rand, With all of these aviation professionals retiring, whose moving up through the ranks to replace them? And who is going to replace the few moving up in the ranks? I know this is a well known problem in the industry, but your blog gives anecdotal evidence of it.

  11. Rand,
    Thanks for reminding us of the anniversary of the Dash-80. I have seen this aircraft at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport near Washington, D.C. It sits nearby one of the retired Concordes. What an incredible span of commercial aviation history in one spot.