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Old 11th Oct 2017, 06:20   #1 (permalink)
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BA 747 Pilot Reminisces

As the 747 Begins Its Final Approach, a Pilot Takes a Flight Down Memory Lane

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How much do I, a Boeing 747 pilot, love the airplane that I fly? Itís tough, and maybe a little embarrassing, to answer. But as the iconic jetís eventual retirement draws closer, I am surely not the only 747 fan whoís taking some very long flights down memory lane.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/t...?smid=pl-share
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Old 11th Oct 2017, 17:08   #2 (permalink)
 
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I operated the 74 for the last 20 years of my career. Only one flaw, some see it as an asset, the damn thing just carried to much fuel. Who in there right mind wants to spend 14 or 16 hours in a large tube covering 8000 ++ miles. I'm more in favor of the five hours to dry tanks. Need to land, get hot meal then back in the beast for another three hours or so. Over night stop with a good meal and an adult beverage. Do that another two times and then go home.


But, I still really love that Queen.
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Old 11th Oct 2017, 18:55   #3 (permalink)
 
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Great plan. Easy to handle and really good in a crosswind landing.
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Old 11th Oct 2017, 22:54   #4 (permalink)
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Nothing has come close to the B747, she will, for me, always be the undisputef Queen of the Sky!
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Old 11th Oct 2017, 23:14   #5 (permalink)

SkyGod
 
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My favorite.
Spent 15 years on the 747 for 4 different companies.
Yup, too much fuel and with 1 crew and long ferry flights (part 91, no rest breaks required) one could sit in the same seat watching the sun come up, shine all day, then go down and it was dark again..

Great memories though, will do it over again.
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Old 12th Oct 2017, 13:02   #6 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mark in CA
As the 747 Begins Its Final Approach, a Pilot Takes a Flight Down Memory Lane
I wonder whether the OP is in fact Mark Vanhoenacker by any chance, the author of the piece quoted and linked to? Shameless piece of self publicising if so.
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Old 12th Oct 2017, 15:37   #7 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverserbucket View Post
I wonder whether the OP is in fact Mark Vanhoenacker by any chance, the author of the piece quoted and linked to? Shameless piece of self publicising if so.
Well they're both called Mark, so that's pretty conclusive.

I guess his previous 600 or so posts without once mentioning he's a pilot were to throw us off the scent.
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Old 13th Oct 2017, 01:37   #8 (permalink)
 
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Reverser grow a pair.
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Old 14th Oct 2017, 09:45   #9 (permalink)
 
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I am basically a military fast jet guy but had the good fortune to fly B747 'Classics' for a couple of years, mainly -200 but we also had a -100. I thought that it was a delightful aeroplane to fly. No flight control system augmentation other than the yaw damper, 0.855M cruise, routine landings on a 7000 ft runway; magnificent. We had a company culture where we could hand fly it until established at climb speed and, on a nice day when you were acclimatised, take the autopilot out at top of descent. Some of the most fun sorties were pick-ups from maintenance when we had just 20t of fuel and did a max EPR take-off! On one of my last trips I closed the throttles at 28 000 ft, didn't use any power until 900 ft and was stabilised at 700 ft (company minima 500 ft). At touchdown my eye height was greater than my display authorisation minima (for small/fast aeroplanes). I was one of the pilots who flew an air-to-air photography sortie for marketing - flying a 747 close line astern against a LearJet was fascinating and a great tribute to the fantastic flying qualities of a great aeroplane. Happy days.
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Old 14th Oct 2017, 18:01   #10 (permalink)
 
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I started working as a ground engineer on 747s in Iran in 1977 and retired in 2010 after 33 years on them. It was an easy aircraft to maintain - relatively simple systems compared to the likes of Tristars or Airbus. The MEL was such that you were rarely grounded for a defect. I flew flight mechanic on several contracts. When based in Manila in the late 80ís I frequently did round trip to London without leaving the aircraft - 42 hour duty period! I loved the aircraft and always regarded my work as a well paying hobby.
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Old 14th Oct 2017, 18:36   #11 (permalink)
 
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Weren't the early ones a tad underpowered (less than stellar ROC), and suffered a high incidence of engine failures? I remember 5-engined 747s were not unusual as spare engines were ferried around!
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Old 14th Oct 2017, 19:13   #12 (permalink)
 
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Not just the "early ones" - ALL RR RB2111 powered B747's (as opposed to B744's, which were better) became "a tad underpowered" at higher levels! Going from Hong Kong to any North American destination, departing at Max RTOW and then having to meet the FL290 by the Taiwanese FIR boundary requirement (180 nm downroute) was a true challenge. You could either turn or climb, but not both, so orbiting short of the boundary achieved nothing (just used valuable fuel, which you were going to need later).

It was a true ground-breaking aeroplane in so many aspects, but it certainly wasn't perfect (I know to some this will be heresy, and I expect to be immolated on a cross shortly). I was lucky to go from the B747/B744 to the B777, which really showed up some of the Queen's deficiencies from the pilot's point of view. In comparison - the B747 had a cramped cockpit with very poor outlook (because you couldn't see in close to the aircraft, taxying could be a nightmare, without even discussing the trauma of reverse turns on the runway). How could you design an aeroplane where it was virtually impossible, without severe contortions, for the FO to even see the FE panel (he could in the B727)? The B747 was very noisy (particularly the short upper-deck versions (-200's-300's & -400F's) and the air conditioning in the tropics was, frankly, lousy. Certainly the B777 had much lighter and more responsive controls, also constant reaction, but some of that was the benefits of FBW I guess.

I went back to the B744 for a short period - while it was like returning to an old friend the "old truck" comparison leapt to mind....

Last edited by Dora-9; 14th Oct 2017 at 19:38.
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Old 14th Oct 2017, 22:37   #13 (permalink)
 
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I flew the 747 for over 31 years. My first 747 landing was on runway 13 at EGPK (Prestwick) on 18th October 1975 and my final 747 landing was also on runway 13 at EGPK on 30th May 2007. It was a lovely aeroplane to fly but then I haven't got anything to compare it with (except for a VC10 which is rather different).
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Old 14th Oct 2017, 22:52   #14 (permalink)
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The classic 747 is a lovely looking aeroplane. The SUDs look less well proportioned. The A380 looks... rubbish. Oddly, the SP looked good too.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 02:16   #15 (permalink)
 
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Airclues: That's a hell of a long time to be on one type! You must have got to know it very well. I like your first departure/last landing symmetry too!

Possibly my earlier post sounds rather derogatory - while I've never flown an aeroplane that I didn't find something to like, in fact I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Queen of the Skies. The B744 was cursed with too much fuel, and most of my time on this was spent on ULH, so I never regarded it as a career highlight, but I really liked its three crew predecessors (the -200,-200F & -300). You had to be on your toes (do you remember heavy departures with just a few knots between the VFE for that flap setting and the maneuvering speed?) but it was very rewarding indeed to fly well. Rather like (of all things) the F.27!
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 08:03   #16 (permalink)
 
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I flew the stretched version of the SP.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 09:28   #17 (permalink)
 
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Dora

Quote:
. I was lucky to go from the B747/B744 to the B777, which really showed up some of the Queen's deficiencies from the pilot's point of view.
I did likewise and agree entirely with both your posts.

Yes, to the observer the 777 is just another big twin and yes the 747/744 are/were fanastic aircraft, classic in appearance, rewarding to fly well, probably never to be replicated...but time moves on......
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 10:13   #18 (permalink)
 
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Flown 1/2/2F/3/4 for three companies. Favourite was the 4 - because I'm a lazy *******
(Think it was a 3 - same as 2 but different wing root fairing IIRC)
Quote:
At touchdown my eye height was greater than my display authorisation minima
Yes, all 747 base trainers were primed to give the control column a little nudge back when the stude SHOULD have started the flare.
Almost caught me out when I went back to it after flying 75 (my other fav) & 76.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 12:49   #19 (permalink)
 
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On the wall of the old simulator building at Cranebank there used to be two blue metal discs. One, level with the third floor windows, was a 747 pilot's eye height during taxiing. The other, way up under the eaves, was the same pilot's eye height at main gear touch-down.

Fortunately for me, I was only shown them after I'd been flying it for a couple of years, as far from being confidence building, I found it rather put me off.

I echo the view that the (earlier) 747s were somehow reminiscent of the F27, I don't know why, as they couldn't be more different, but somehow they had the same "feel", a pussycat with lion's teeth, as one instructor described it.

Last edited by split system breaker; 15th Oct 2017 at 13:08. Reason: Typo
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 14:15   #20 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
The other, way up under the eaves, was the same pilot's eye height at main gear touch-down.
I believe that the upper disc was the height of the fin. I remember them being fixed to the building in 1969 when I was on my VC10 'talk and chalk' course.

I wonder what happened to those discs? Has the building been pulled down yet? If not then perhaps the BA museum should save them.
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