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.


  1. Congratulations on your pending retirement.

    I've been reading your blog for several years now and have always enjoyed what you've had to say and how you say it.

    I hope that you will continue blogging after you've retired.

  2. Hate to see you out of the sky, but congratulations! A buddy of mine over at American (777 pilot on international routes) similarly got the reprieve when he was about to turn 60 when they changed the age to 65. I should get hold of him sometime and see what he's up to, haven't heard much from him since I moved from Texas.

  3. Well my friend, so the time has come. I trust you will thrive in your new 'life style' because your interests are so varied but I also know you will never give up breaking ground whether it be in a Stearman or a Cub for flight is in your veins!! After my retirement back in 03 after several months of being at home 24/7 my wife of 30 plus years informed me that I'd "ruined her life" by being a constant fixture in our home. The subsequent years eased her concerns and I kind of think she likes having me around. So take good care, be well and enjoy this part of your life you earned through your love and dedication to a truly wonderful profession.

    God's Speed,

    Tom Helwick, Livingston, MT KLVM

  4. Rand,

    Enjoy retirement.

    And congrats on being able to go out on your own terms.

  5. Congratulations on your retirement Rand! I can speak from experience when I say that it is a big step. But I can also tell you that it is a rewarding step. You have worked hard for and have certainly earned your retirement and I hope you enjoy it for many, many years. I will miss following you on your treks across the world to places I can only dream of visiting. But thanks to your blog and pictures, I have visited them vicariously through you. I will miss those adventures as, I am sure, you will miss them also. But they will be replaced with new adventures. Good luck!

  6. Time marches on! I will miss seeing the world through your eyes and words. I always admired that you were a man who loved his job. Best to you Rand.

  7. Congratulations, Rand! I will miss "flying" with you in this blog, but I do hope you continue to write about your own jaunts in your own aircraft. Since I found your blog a few years ago, I have anxiously awaited new entries to your blog.

    Congratulations on a long, safe career. I look forward to hearing what new adventures await.

  8. First things first Rand, my girlfriend fell in love with you from the picture on your blog! True story! So she wishes you the best for retirement.

    I read your blog a long time ago from an ad in Airways Mag, and i have followed my dream to hopefully tell some stories that you have. 6 years later, i am flying a Dash-8-Q400 for a major regional airline in Sydney Australia, and have been put on hold to fly either the Embraer 190 or Boeing 737 in the next year or two for Virgin Australia.

    Thanks for all the stories, and inspiration for not only my blog, but also to follow my dream of being a pilot.


    Michael Lesser

  9. Hello Rand... first thing first... congratulations on your well deserved retirement. You will certainly be missed around your colleagues and well... for us; your readers, we hope to remain in touch with you.

    I agree that you have inspired us and make us live the aviation world through your eyes. Your posts have been great for both pilots, crews and non-pilots like me...

    There is a feeling of nostalgia for certain in the post of all your readers. Nevertheless... we wish you the best and look forward for that closure flight that brings a colorful and unforgettable ending to your flying career.

    Thanks for everything you share with us... greetings from Mexico !

  10. WOW! Rand Peck, I did not see this coming, and that leaves me disappointed, but happy for you. Finally more time to go fly some tail draggers ey:-)

    Still thinking about Buffalo Wings and the Curtiss or Dc-6?;-)

    Anyways, its such a strange coincidence that when you retire, I start my training to become a pilot. Ive followed your blog for many years (since age 21 at least, and now im 26), and you have been a great inspiration for me doing this.

    The passion I have for aviation and flying is driving my wife nuts, so now she`s pushing on for me to do something about it instead of driving trains and her head crazy. Ive met so many pilots over the years, from AA-crews in SFO to Sas-pilots allowing me to strap in on the jumpseat when I was a CCA in RNoAF (Royal Norwegian Airforce).

    Almost everyone warned me (Even Clay Taylor is warning people about the hazards of becoming a pilot in Airways Mag every now and then), but even still I cant help my self.. Just gotta do this! Its a love and passion I cant explain, but that you and many
    fellow aviators understand.

    (I guess if someones crazy enough to do this even after having heard about all the job-droughts and lay-offs, TSA and what not, theyr really do have a passion for it)

    Thanks Rand, enjoy the retirement! Hope to see some shots on the low and slow above the US north east.

    If you ever get to Stavanger, Norway, then let me know: Then I`ll take you for a spin on the front end of the freight trains:-)


    Yngve Giljebrekke
    Stavanger, Norway

  11. Congratulations!

    Anyway, you will be always the Captain, our Captain!

    Thanks for everything,

    Vittorio, Modena - Italy.

  12. Rand-
    I was looking at the leap...but figured I have a few years left to ride it out. It is a hard choice to make for all involved. How much did the sitting in the DTW 'comfy chair' figure into your final call?
    I know if it was me, just sitting and not flying as much as I know I could be would wear on me. Just takes the fun outta things.
    You take care-
    Tim 8DME_W_ORD

  13. Captain, first of all congratulations.

    It´s been an honor to follow your blog. I´m 32 and a frustrated airline pilot. Despite my degree in Law i´m currently working in a Bar because of the crisis here in Spain (i´ve been fired 3 months ago). My dream is still there, PPL in less than two years.

    On those long nights at work smiling sometimes to some stupid people i take a few moments for myself and i run to the laptop, reduce the spoity window and searh for you blog. It is really a relief.

    Thanks a lot for that sir, i wish you a CAVOK retirement.

    Carlos. LESO.

  14. Your blog is one of my all time favorites. I always wanted to do what you do, since the first day I flew on one of those big ole beautiful connies as a little kid. However, my eyesight and circumstance kept me from realizing my dream. Your awesome blog has let me live that dream, although vicariously. Please do not stop blogging, even if it is just reminiscing. I need this fix. You do not realize how many lives you touch.
    I flew a lot in the "Golden Years" (1965-1998 - 1.5 million FF miles), a lot of it in the northeast. Northeast was my favorite airline and the Yellowbirds will always have a special place in my heart. I still have the ticket folders from back then and every 400 scale NE diecast that they have made.
    I wish you the best in your retirement. I understand your choice, it makes sense. If ya can't fly, it just doesn't have the same cachet.
    God bless Rand, and all the best.

  15. I will also add my congratulations on your retirement. From all that I have ready in all your posts you have a very varied career! I for sure am going to miss your posts because they have always been very informational and detailed.

    I hope someone is able to document that last flight especially that great water cannon salute that will greet you and the last time you shut down the engines - I'm sure it will be a special moment for you!

    I hope in that even in your retirement you'll be able to take a trip down to South Florida that we might still be able to enjoy that cup of coffee one day!

    Wishing you blue skies until that last flight and a very peaceful retirement - more time to spend with family!


  16. Congratulations on your upcoming retirement Captain Peck. Selfishly I wasn't very happy to read the news of your decision to retire, I have read your blog and your magazine articles for a few years now and looked forward to every one of them. Whenever I've been to Narita I've looked out for you to tell you in person how much I've enjoyed reading them. Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your career as an airline pilot.

    Mark H

  17. Congratulations Captain Peck!

    Enjoy your retirement, hopefully you'll have some time to put your words together in the form of a book. I'll certainly be first in line to purchase it when it is published, either online or in book form!

    All the best,
    YYC Dispatcher

  18. good evening, capt. peck... i wanted to give out my big congrats to you for what you have done your big part of flyings for 38 yrs. i have been a big fan of yours since i finally got myself a computer 10 yrs ago and kept track of your stories via your website or airliner magazines everytime i stopped by at an aviation store by boeing field in seattle, washington. by the way, i am also an airline hobby and i am still awaiting for your answer of how can you figure out the horsepower out of a jet engine??? my dad still wont tell me on that trick cuz he used to be a jet powerplant mechanican for air force stationed at "now closed" clark afb in again, my big congrats goes to you and you deserved it for what you have accompished in your flying career for 38 yrs. wish you the best of your retirement coming up in one month..take care, Darren

  19. Cap'n Peck, best wishes for your "golden years." Leaving what you love will just reveal other loves - perhaps more important loves.

  20. Congratulation on your retirement Captain Peck, i'd just like to thank you for keeping up this blog and allowing me to share your experiences in aviation. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the blog and want to wish you all the best for the future

  21. Save a few new pictures, we have not heard from you since the Big Announcement about your retirement. From the heart, I hope that your employer granted you the grace of the Last Flight, perhaps with some of your family members aboard. The calendar is running out. Please tell us that you are on the trip or that it has been completed - and that a major post will follow, very soon. After **38 years** with your airline, or those that it consume, I cannot imagine that your Last Lap would be denied, 'reserve' Captain or not. No matter the outcome, yes, your readers already know that you Father was treated with far more grace. What gives? WIll you have a final trip report for us? Best wishes - for good health and a productive retirement,

  22. Great lookin kid! I assume you went through with the retirement today? CONGRATULATIONS!

  23. i have been a big fan of yours since i finally got myself a computer 10 yrs ago and kept track of your stories via your website or airliner magazines.Meet and greet parking Luton

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