View Full Version : Three Pointing a DC3 at night

17th Dec 2014, 21:45
I had trained on the Harvard (RCAF) in 1964 and went on from there to mostly jets. However seven years later I was checked on a DC3 while with ferry flight out of Cold Lake Alberta.

Anyway, one night we were VFR and approaching GSW (Greater Southwest in Ft Worth Texas), little or no winds reported. At this time of the night we were with DFW (Dallas Ft Worth) Tower control. We could not pick out the runway or approach lights at GSW when we thought we should, so we questioned the tower??? Bang, the lights are on now, but we are pretty close in.

We quickly set up on a decent glide path and did a pretty good approach, given the circumstances. As we came over the button, it reminded me of how easy it was to land a Harvard (AT6) in a 3 point landing at night.

So, I decided then and there, as we were lightly loaded (12 Pass + 4 Crew), I would see how this bird would react to a 3 point landing.

Well, as we touched the runway, it was the longest tire screech any body on board, especially me, had ever heard. It had also included (or masked)the tail wheel because no one, up front anyway, felt the tail wheel touch down after the fact.

I only wish I would have retired on the spot as I knew at the time it would be all down hill from there.... :)

18th Dec 2014, 00:51
Right seat on a Dak on wheels, loaded with all sorts of flammable stuff onto a frozen lake about 8pm in January in northern Manitoba in the mid '80s.

The Boss said keep the nose up.

Scared the heck out of me.

Everything, which started out really dark with a vague white streak ahead, got really white, really fast and really slow, as we plowed through about a foot of fluffy snow.

Apparently that was what was expected by the cognoscenti...

The bastard sitting in the left seat just laughed at me, as he had doubtless been doing to other neophytes since his attachment to said seating arrangement in 1944.

18th Dec 2014, 01:59
Never really tried to do a three point landing in the DC-3.

Too chicken I suppose. :p

Also, after hearing my father's horror story about the time he tried to three point a totally empty (noting in the baggage compart either) C-47, was not something that encourage me to try it.

18th Dec 2014, 02:02
I can't ever remember three pointing a DC-3, or any other tail dragger for that matter, as standard procedure. Land tail low, but not three point. The tailwheel is the weakest link in the landing gear, so we were taught to look after it as much as possible. You always land tail low with the DC-3 on skis. The airplane is usually pretty nose heavy on skis especially when empty, so much so that we used to use the aux tanks as mains in order to keep the CofG from exceeding the forward limits.

18th Dec 2014, 02:25
I was told to keep about 200 pounds in the baggage compartment for the best handling on landings, so we put a standard mechanic's full tool box in there, just the top bit.

Which came in handy a couple of times when we broke down on the road, all my mechanic had to do was grab whatever part he needed, jump on the airlines and come to us.

18th Dec 2014, 02:52
Too chicken as well (+ lack of talent) to try that on a DC3T.
Not really recommended according to Basler's Gurus from Oshkosh.

Also with a Beech 18 some time ago I did, silly me, agree to let the other try a three pointer.
His excuse was "Works great with any Pilatus Porter"

Well, nothing went as planned. I still don't know how we did not manage to snag one of those runway edge lights during the process.

Rwy edge lights on each side! :O

To sort of quote Harvard1964: "It only went UPhill from there" :p

Metro man
18th Dec 2014, 03:08
I've never seen a DC3 three pointed before, and I've watched plenty of them land. Supposedly you can break its back if you get it wrong.

18th Dec 2014, 03:14
There is a video of Arthur Godfrey three pointing his DC-3 on the grass runway on his ranch. I've seen it, but don't have the slightest on how to find it.

That's the only one I've seen, on film or in real life.

Loose rivets
18th Dec 2014, 03:21
I always waited about 500 intensive flying hours before I start trying things on a new type. I'd got some time in the right seat of the DC3 but had to come off shiny jets and go back on it for my first command. It was grand on a nice sunny day, but bloody awful at o-five-sparrow's in ice and grot. But I slowly got the hang of it.

Short field was stunning - IF you'd got good brakes, and IF you'd got plenty of grass before the runway, and IF you'd got NO step up to the concrete. All those things and you could have fun.

Waaaaaay back on the speed (and here I'm talking 47 kts with no real load) with more and more power going on as the drag went up. Although the tail was way down, when the wheels touched, push the stick forward and put the brakes on. Yep, not kidding, but you need that 500 hours of really working up to this stage. Anyway, quite firm braking could be achieved but if you burned your energy away before the tail was down you could guarantee the end of a career. You had to have kinetic energy in reserve. It seems hard to believe now, but with a brisk surface wind, it would stop in about 3 aircraft lengths. No screeching, no fuss, just total commitment to not kissing that energy away before tail down.

Funny thing about tail down. My mate went to NZ to fly the DC3. They pretty well insisted on three-pointers which he didn't like for the reasons mentioned above. He'd got lots of time on type, but they tried to bend him to their ways and they parted company after a year or so. Shame, but that was half a lifetime ago.

What I didn't like about the Dak was it's total refusal to come out of the sky. If it had been on fire you'd need nine minutes from a typical cruising height. Speed, nothing-ish. Controls crossed, rudder hard against the stops. Or, bombing down with the needle past the red line, it made not a jot of difference, the darn thing was a balloon full of hydrogen and it liked being in the sky. That worried me since it ran on petrol. Being in a field and running like hell is the only place I'd like to be if it caught fire.

I've done all-sorts with Daks. In the oily 70s, the men from the ministry of air were told to back off us North Sea oily-men carriers. Passing one's dinner menu to the waitress in the Sumburgh Head hotel as you flew past was one thing . . . nah, I'm exaggerating, but we did wave ;)

The Dak was the first large-ish aircraft I landed blind. Empty, with a good bloke in the RHS, I'd been reading up on the Lysander pilots, and how they kept straight with the turn indicator. I tried it, and it worked like a dream. ILS onto the ground and then concentrate on the LOC and that little needle like hell. We stopped astride the white line and I called for flaps up. I can still remember, he'd been hovering over the controls, but was now slumped back in the seat. Blimy! Blimy! It's all he could say, but I'll tell you what, that gave me confidence in years to come when a tour of the Canaries saw airfields shutting as we arrived at them - four times. In the stillness of that low cloud I just felt okay about busting minima because of two things. Having the knowledge it was possible while jet transport still had turn indicators.

If you're still about, give me a PM.

I've done dozens of blind landings in Texas. I think these guys are from the Randolph AFB advanced instrument flying school, and I was the token Brit. We started off on the 172 and all the landings were based on pressure instruments.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v703/walnaze/Flying/33105979.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/walnaze/media/Flying/33105979.jpg.html)

The tall old fella is Col Carl Crane a friend and aviation pioneer. Because his life had been devoted to teaching people to fly on instruments, he was an honorary lecturer at Randolph. His interest started when he tumbled out of the sky with a senator's son on board. Open bi-plane No Horizon, just mk 1 eyeballs. Sort of set him on a career path. The guy on the right built some of the prototypes.

Lots about Carl on Googoo.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v703/walnaze/Flying/Work1240.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/walnaze/media/Flying/Work1240.jpg.html)

I hate this modern world of SOPs


18th Dec 2014, 03:28
Not a grass runway and not sure if it qualify as a three pointing.
But it show what pigboat mentioned about being tail low for ski landing.


India Four Two
18th Dec 2014, 03:49

I had never heard of Arthur Godfrey, but I was intrigued.

I think the clip you are referring to is at 35:55 in this film:


18th Dec 2014, 04:03
What I didn't like about the Dak was it's total refusal to come out of the sky.

I had forgotted about that. It did take forever when you were in a hurry.

One afternoon I had just taken off and was heading off to somewhere and as I was looking around I looked down at the left engine and noticed that the paint was bubbling on the aft part of the engine nacelle and turning black.

‘Gee’ I thought, ‘that’s interesting’.

It took a couple of seconds for me to realize what was causing that. Fire.

I look back in the cockpit and looked at the fire warning lights, dark. Never the less, decided to assume the blasted engine was on fire. So as we ran the Fire/Shutdown check list I turned around to go back to the airport. That damn DC-3 would not come out of the sky, hell, I almost had to do a 360 on final not to overshoot a 10,000 foot runway.

After we landed and maintenance examined the engine, there had not been an actual fire, but if I had not noticed the paint burning, there would have been one. The exhaust manifold had become separated from the engine exhaust tubes and raw exhaust was empting into the back of the engine, the engine fire detector loop had been burned through, which was the reason for no fire alarm.

So, that ended that trip and we all went to the bar.

Oh, it was a freshly overhaul engine and this was the first flight after the engine had been installed. The company that did the overhaul got a very terse letter from me.

Loose rivets
18th Dec 2014, 04:04
There, 35.46 Nice 3 pointer. Having flown a Connie on one engine.


India Four Two
18th Dec 2014, 04:07

I had never seen a video of a DC-3 on skiis before. Coincidentally last week, I visited the Calgary Aerospace Museum and took this picture of their DC-3 on skiis. I hadn't appreciated that the skiis are not positioned in the usual way with bungees, but with an aerofoil:


18th Dec 2014, 04:30
India Four Two

I think the clip you are referring to is at 35:55 in this film:

That's it, well done! :ok:

On a side note aobut Arthur Godfery.

Back when the Jet Commander first came out it was in direct competition with the Lear 23/24. So Lear Jet made an around the world flight and not to be out done, so did a Jet Commander which was flown by Arthur Godfery.*

I really can't remember who won, don't really care anymore to be honest, but on the last leg back into Oklahoma City, where the Jet Commander was built, Arthur Godfrey did a high speed pass and then rolled the aircraft. The FAA went apeshat and was going to violate the crew, but Godfrey told the FAA that in fact, his cowboy boots got stuck in the rudder and only due to his quick thinking and reaction was a terrible accident prevented.

The FAA may have bought that story, but nobody else did.

* Having flown both the Lear 24 and the Jet Commander, I am in total awe that they were able to make it around the world, even more so with the Jet Commander. In later years I happen to run across one of the pilots that flew the Jet Commander on the around the world flight, there were four of them including Godfrey, and he told me that to be completely honest he was shocked that they made in one piece as well.

18th Dec 2014, 04:35
"What I didn't like about the Dak was it's total refusal to come out of the sky."

I used to pull the throttles and then go full fine on the props before taking in a steep dive (steep, that is, for a Dak). If you pass by the pearly gates , don't tell the boss.

Solid Rust Twotter
18th Dec 2014, 07:12
Like Metro, the bloke who trained me on the DC3 gave me a hard time about three pointers. If you got it wrong lightly loaded you'd spend the next few seconds porpoising down the runway hanging onto the stick. If you did that with a full load you'd likely break its back. Tempted a couple of times but I stuck to wheelers in the Dak.

I think the low wing loading and high aspect ratio has a lot to do with the refusal to stop flying. Gusts from the side on coastal strips had my sphincter snapping at the seat cushion like an angry turtle.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
18th Dec 2014, 13:47
I only wish I would have retired on the spot as I knew at the time it would be all down hill from there....

Soon after I checked out on the Chipmunk in the late 1970s I was flying G-BARS at Hawarden. Most of my Chippy time up till then had been at Barton or other grass strips, where the rough surface left you in no doubt as when the aeroplane was on the runway. But Hawarden was hard runways.

It's the only time, as I flared and held off, that I wondered what the hell was going on as speed was ridiculously low and were still in the 3-point attitude, yet unstalled! I was expecting the bottom to fall out of it with a teeth-loosening crash the last few inches to the runway, and was about to cushion it with power, when I realised we had allready landed some while back, and were in the roll-out!

Never managed it quite like that since!

Loose rivets
18th Dec 2014, 16:02
Looking at that Skiis photo reminds me of my bewilderment about the tiny joint in the middle of the undercarriage leg. The metal is down to almost nothing at that point.

As a sprog, I bounced a full load of pax at SEN. When I say full load, I mean 40-odd passengers. When I say bounced, I mean a height which would have enabled me to glide to Stansted.:ooh: Hans Haslett was my kind skipper. His eyes were normally housed in their sockets, but now they were out on stalks and his normal hoot of laughter was kind of strangled. He took control and landed from the apex with room to spare. Grand days, and a great skipper to have. I learned what low flying was from him. AMS to ROT and some of the open water had two lines of foam after we passed. I know, because he pulled up and turned to show me.

Kids of today? Kah! wadda they know?

18th Dec 2014, 16:56
The skis and their plumbing weighed 1100 lbs. When retracted they fit up under the nacelle with the front of the ski a couple of inches aft of the forward edge of the nose cowling. With the ski down, that airfoil at the rear - called a sail - allowed the ski to fly. The sail could be adjusted so the ski assumed the proper attitude. Gear selection went thusly: For landing on skis, Gear down, ski down, then after takeoff it was Gear up ski up. On wheels it was Gear down, ski up. The ski selector was located on the cockpit floor below the throttle quadrant. I have a pic somewhere with a guy doing a touch and go on one ski, the left gear was hung up when a ski check cable hooked on a protrusion in the wheel well. He did a touch and go and bounced the airplane a couple of times and the cable dropped off the bolt head that had been snagging it. I'll see if I can find it and post it here.

Vmc on the 3 was somewhere around 80 kts as I recall - 83kt? - but the airplane would fly no problem at 65 kt. In rough ski conditions the procedure was to accelerate to 60 kt with the tail low, then add 1/4 flap and wrestle the airplane into the air. You then sat there in ground effect and waited till the speed built to Vmc. Below Vmc if an engine developed indigestion you chopped them both and went straight ahead. In sticky snow conditions you could need great gobs of power just to taxi, so a close watch on head temps was a must.

18th Dec 2014, 17:29
Arthur Godfrey was a top rated “morning man” in Washington, DC, broadcast radio in the 1930s.

He eventually did morning duty in both Washington and New York City, first by wire line, and eventually commuting to NYC for most of the week. He bought what became Godfrey Field near Leesburg, VA, and near his farm. He gave the airfield to the town of Leesburg. The town has moved the airport KJYO to allow growth.

Leesburg, VA : Airport History (http://www.leesburgva.gov/government/departments/airport/airport-history)

Some time along the way he bought a DC-3, which he flew himself.

18th Dec 2014, 20:38
Vmc on the 3 was somewhere around 80 kts as I recall - 83kt?

For some reason, I want to say 87kts. But you're most likely correct. Whatever the speed was, I was taught that it was V-1/V-R/V-2, climb speed and V-Ref. We had speed cowlings and on hot summer days I had to climb at a higher speed to keep the cylinder head temps down below the yellow line.

Never knew why they put speed cowlings on it, I couldn’t see that it would make all that much difference. :p

18th Dec 2014, 20:52
Con now that you mention it I think 87 kts it was. I can't ever remember seeing a speed kit in Canada, except Carl Millard (Millardair) had a couple in Toronto, used to haul auto parts out of Oshawa and Detroit.

Speaking of Millardair, a lot of guys cut their teeth at Millardair on the Beech 18. Overheard on Toronto ground one evening:
"Ground, Millardair 331 at the hangar with Tango, for the push."
'Ahhh...331 ground, say type of aircraft."
"Beechcraft one eight." :D

18th Dec 2014, 21:04
I don't know what it was with me, but the first landing I made in a new aircraft that I was checking out in, I always greased them on. However, usually on the next landing the resulting bounce would clear a large hangar if it should happen to be on the runway.

The DC-3 was no exception. :(

My second landing in the 727 was quite specular. :O

18th Dec 2014, 21:46
You're not alone. I once bounced a DC-3 so high I looked down on the next airport down the line. ;)

Apparently the DC-2 was a stiff-legged brute. I once had an instructor at Allegheny Airlines that had flown for Pan Am back in the day, on exotic stuff like the DC-2 and the Boeing 314. He said the DC-3 was a pussycat compared to the DC-2.

I've also done a few flights on a DC-3 with the R-2000's. It was actually an ex-military machine, a C-53? that had been modified by Remmert-Warner in STL.

Here's that pic of Rex Clibbery doing the bunny hop I promised.

18th Dec 2014, 21:55
Agree wholeheartedly about fluking it first time .. not to be repeated in a hurry

It was into Tamworth in the CSIRO machine VH-RRA (so sad . .. .she ended up on the scrap heap) . . beautiful summer's morning after a pleasant run up from Mascot. Joined on a wide right base for 12. Wriggle the bum back in the seat. Steady as she goes. Minor adjustments from a one mile final to the fence. Drawing the power off at just the right rate . . back back back then that very satisfying squeak of the mains . .. ease the tail down to a minor squeak I cannot remember hearing except on the field as a bystander

Used to hear, on early dead calm mornings, the MMA 3s land at Guildford (Perth Airport) in the mid 60s. Home was a about 400 yards from the threshold of 24. I'd be lying in bed contemplating the day ahead when that melodious 2x1830 burble came wafting through the casement . . . you'd hear the power come off followed by the distinctive little squeal of the mains touching .. then you could count 5 seconds before the minor squeal.

Overnighting in the Esplanade Hotel in Hedland , room upstairs opening onto the long verandah ( as so many pubs were configured throughout the wide brown land)), just after daybreak woken by that unmistakable humming drone . . . sprung straight out of bed (in a way just not possible . . or safe . .today) and there coming down the main street was a gleaming VH-MMD in all her glory. She flew at the same level as the verandah rail I was clutching in near disbelief. As she cruised by from left to right I swear I saw the skipper turn his head and wink. (Knowlngly, in all probability)
It was , as I found out later out at the drome, the redoubtable Freddie Ashleford, making his final pre-retirement flight with the company. He may have just possibly had a few the night before because the agent said that he needed to get the steps for Freddie as he seemed somewhat hesitant to board by climbing the hook on ladder.

THINKS .. there must be as many tales of the DC-3 as there are of bringing out the old windjammers before the days of steam driven ships and planes and trains and gyroscopic instruments and Edison wireless arrays

18th Dec 2014, 22:04
In the course of the 1934 air race from England to Australia the KLM DC-2 made an emergency night landing onto Albury Racecourse (there was no airport then) lit by the headlights of a few motor cars. Captain Parmentier and his First Office Moll pulled this near miracle off, pulling up in about 300 yards. They were bogged and needed assistance before they could get off for Melbourne and first place in the handicap section. Despite being lost the night before (which necessitated the Albury landing) they crossed the finish line second,,behind Scott and Campbell Black in the DH88 Comet racer.

http://www.klm-va.nl/resources/images/events/historical/pictures/uiver_albury.jpg (http://www.klm-va.nl/php/sites/event_historical/history_uiversstorey.php)

19th Dec 2014, 04:54
The DC-3 was no exception. :(

Con when I was a young 1200hr wondersprog F/O on my checkout on the 3 the checkie passed me on some words of absolute wisdom after parking -

"Listen Mike...if you can master this aeroplane and fly it accurately and safely in any weather and in any condition you'll be able to fly ANY machine the bastards throw at you in the future."

True words to this day umpteen years later.

Solid Rust Twotter
19th Dec 2014, 07:46
Everything happened around 84 kts as I was taught. Seemed to work OK.

During the floods in Moz a few years back, I was flying one out of Beira. Whole bunch of SAAF crew working out of there as well. We came in one morning with a full load and as I got the mains on, a gust lifted the wing on one side, so I hoofed it to correct and subtly over egged things. We ended up wobbling down the runway to the point where it was safer to just let go of everything and wait for the horizon to stop spinning. Ended up parked on a patch of grass in front of the terminal with a load of the SAAF guys watching.

Years later, I was still running into ex SAAF guys who were there and spoke of the idiot who parked a Dak on the lawn. As an aside, my cojoe was also an ex para and we ran into those same SAAF crews in an eatery one night. They were celebrating something so lots of happy snaps being taken. Cojoe managed to get into quite a few and geek the camera, which led to the two of us coming very close to reversing out of the restaurant blocking punches as we went. I managed to distract them for a few seconds then grabbed him and dragged him out. Them being soft air farce cocks, we wouldn't want to break any as their CO was a good mate we used to lob chunks of biltong at when we taxied in to Caia. Cojoe is a still a loony bastard, but has a heart of gold.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
19th Dec 2014, 11:03
Earnest Gann's "Fate" confirms the DC2 to be "a stiff legged brute". Some lovely prose in that book describes well his early attempts to tame it.

19th Dec 2014, 11:43
Hear the story of the Uiver in the 1934 air race here (http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2006/11/14/1788347.htm).

John Hill
19th Dec 2014, 18:56
We need some of you Olde Pharts here to take AMY for a fly, she has been in the hangar for almost a year now, nose pressed up to the doors but doing nothing except dripping oil!


19th Dec 2014, 19:10
Nice pic John, she looks in great shape. If they quit dripping oil it means there's none left in the engine. I can't say I've ever see a tow bar off the mains before.

19th Dec 2014, 19:15
I'd love to John, but, no physical, no fly.

Did you guys modify the main gear to hook up a tow bar to them, like piggy posted, I've never seen a main gear tow bar?

Fine looking aircraft by the way. :ok:

John Hill
19th Dec 2014, 19:24
I dont have any information on the tow bar, you would have to ask the Skippys, they had her for a long time as VH-CAN. Maybe they did the mod for those 'special Australian conditions'!

Eric T Cartman
19th Dec 2014, 19:28
@ Loose rivets
I've done all-sorts with Daks. In the oily 70s, the men from the ministry of air were told to back off us North Sea oily-men carriers. Passing one's dinner menu to the waitress in the Sumburgh Head hotel as you flew past was one thing . . . nah, I'm exaggerating, but we did wave

You've reminded me of a 4 week stint I did in Sumburgh in 1973. A skipper from a well known Scottish airline appeared in the Tower & insisted that he'd seen an AA DC3 clip a wave with its tailwheel on approach to the short runway. I don't think anyone believed him but I've often wondered ........ :suspect:

India Four Two
19th Dec 2014, 22:31

Some time ago, you posted about AMY's retirement, due to lack of funds to carry out the required maintenance to keep her C of A.

Any update on what is happening?

John Hill
20th Dec 2014, 00:18
India Four Two, I dont have any more information and believe AMY is still the property of the trust that was set up to operate her. Meanwhile we keep her warm and dry in the shed.

20th Dec 2014, 03:57
Well now you've done it again. Wasted a whole 'nother evening. Envious as heck of you guys who flew the DC-3.

And that Arthur Godfrey film was superb. I remember him from his "Talent Scouts" TV show. I never knew he was so involved with flying.

And those Chesterfields killed him.

20th Dec 2014, 09:29
From my limited notes, she was delivered from Douglas' Oklahoma City plant in 1944 as C47A, c/n 13506.

Issued to the USAAF, (s/n ???) she served in the South West Pacific Area during the closing stages of WWII, subsequently sitting around Manila airport until acquired by the Australian Government in 1947.

As VH-CAN, she then worked for the Department of Civil Aviation and Department of Transport (while operated and maintained by TAA) until about 1978.

After that, she was used for charters by Paradak and then, I think, RPT work with Air North.

The NZ firm, Pionair, subsequently acquired her and she became ZK-AMY in 1994.

The basic colour scheme she's wearing now is close to how she looked when she was in Pionair livery - and it looks pretty good, I think.

Long may she grace our skies.

20th Dec 2014, 10:05
Just had a Dak fly over my house.

They do twilight champagne flights on Saturday nights.Can't miss the sound of those Pratt + Whitney radials !

Solid Rust Twotter
20th Dec 2014, 10:41
Is that Nescafe TV commercial with the DC3 still around?

Loose rivets
20th Dec 2014, 11:47
What happened at 3:54 under the wing - or was it just pixels?

You've reminded me of a 4 week stint I did in Sumburgh in 1973. A skipper from a well known Scottish airline appeared in the Tower & insisted that he'd seen an AA DC3 clip a wave with its tailwheel on approach to the short runway. I don't think anyone believed him but I've often wondered ........

You had to be checked out to go into Sunburgh and my training skipper had two goes to get in visual and then opted for a downwind landing on the short runway. He left black lines half way up the runway and we turned looking at the stones near the sea. I kept my lips clamped tight shut but took that on-board as a thing not to do. In fact, despite going in there in the Heron, I don't recall many landings on that runway, and the few that I did were because of strong winds and no sweat.

I took particular care not to get the bird salty. At that time there was colossal pressure on us to 'Get in' and now we had BA up there as competitors. Many time they came back having not landed as there were only primitive aids. I picked up on the grumbles from the Oily bosses and set about trying to find a safe way into what could be a tricky airfield. I searched and searched for a law that said we had to cruise at a given minimum altitude and didn't find one. All I needed from the ABZ guys was a low-ish departure and permission to push back down below the typical alto stratus. They seemed more than open to the idea and I set off on my first visual at c100'. The thing about that area was that cloud cover could be very dense, but more often than not, left crystal clear air underneath. As long as Fairisle came into view (to the left) at the right time one could breathe easy. I'm assuming the destination was clear under cloud, which it had to be or I'd not go for a while. The lead-in lights were bright and easy to follow around the Hotel IF you'd done it multiple times on clear days. I recall one rather miserable trip where the waves were high and I was about to climb to a certain return to base. I just did not want salt spray on the aircraft. As it happened we suddenly popped into the promised clear air and got in.

The next thing is BA spitting nails suggesting our bods must be cheating and busting minima - You should have seen his face when I said I'd never got that high.

You may think this is all a bit cowboy-ish, but I can tell you, my concentration was absolute. Everything had to be right, and had to feel right, if you know what I mean.

20th Dec 2014, 13:28
What happened at 3:54 under the wing - or was it just pixels?


20th Dec 2014, 18:35
You may think this is all a bit cowboy-ish,

Nope, not at all.

How I almost got a lot more time in DC-3s

Back when I was with the Marshal Service we received an order from Janet Reno's office to go down to the secret airfield where the confiscated aircraft were stored, seemed that the ATF or DEA had confiscated two DC-3T, the turbine powered DC-3s.

We asked why, we couldn't use them. Washington quickly informed us that yes we could, to transport prisoners in lieu of the 727s.


So one of the other senior captains and I* jumped in a Cessna 310 we kept around for this type of nonsense and flew down to Texas to examine these two DC-3Ts and come up with a really good reason how we could convince some armchair idiot this was a really stupid idea. So we fly down to the secret airfield where a lot of these confiscated aircraft are kept. Now when I say secret airfield, it was a secret to everybody except the media or to those that didn’t bother to ask. After our identities are confirmed, all it took was a driver’s license, we were allowed into the hangar.

There they were, fresh out of the conversion center, in fact the only time on the DC-3s was from Wisconsin to Texas. They looked brand new, expanded seat tracks for both the pilot’s seat and co-pilot’s seat, hell I could fit in either one, fancy looking radar and real flight directors. But, the cabin was cargo only, which partly helped us to justify rejecting these DC-3s. However, as nice as they looked, we still couldn’t use them. We tried to get the guys running the place to let us fly them, just for the hell of it, but too much red tape.

So we got back into the Cessna 310 and flew home. After two months of hotly contested memos back and forth to Washington we finally convinced them that those two DC-3s could not replace our three 727s. No matter how much cheaper they would have been to operate.

* We were the only two pilots in the outfit that were typed in the DC-3.

20th Dec 2014, 19:12
If you're going to Scumburgh from Aberdeen, Fair isle should be on your right..

West Coast
20th Dec 2014, 21:07

Any idea where they ended up?

20th Dec 2014, 21:28
Any idea where they ended up?

I do believe they were auctioned off sometime later.

There was also a Falcon 50 in the hangar, we really needed that for our international extraditions, however, as soon as we requested the Falcon, we were told it was going to the FBI. Funny enough, the FBI pilots we knew didn't know a thing about it.

Loose rivets
21st Dec 2014, 00:31
Viscount? Again, I was lucky to have training on the real aircraft. I did fly the sim, but it was a bit of electronics nostalgia . . . oh, and model house making.

John Morgan of British Eagle took Bob Brooks and me up to STN for our first flying on type. The aircraft was parked outside the hanger/offices/school, and we strolled out and fired it up. One of the exercises was to fly to the threshold at 1,500' AGL and land off that. Super training and so confidence-building. In the next couple of years I didn't need to really throw it around until one very memorable day when a skipper took the western valley route to Innsbruck and turned west. While we were having one of those, Innsbruck's that way. No, it's this way, conversations, the scenery was turning into the stuff on nightmares. We were now over stratus with pointy spikes sticking out of it and the sides closing fast. We had been briefed that we did not have the performance to out climb the mountains in this valley. I was mindful of the company aircraft lost on peaks just ten miles away.

The next bit was more suited to a movie than passenger flying, with a 60 degree bank and every ounce of power I could squeeze out of the donks. Although the mountain was slipping close under the nose it wasn't too critical and all I could think about was, God, I hope I'm right or I'll be hung for mutiny.

The skipper was a nice bloke and had done good stuff in the war. I decided to carry on with him the next day, but two F/Os had come down from LPL that day and he was off the roster. To this day I'm glad I didn't have to be the one to tell tales.

RIP Bob. He was a good pal, even put me up at his house when we moved to Luton.

John Hill
21st Dec 2014, 05:59
DC3 caught in the act of chemtrailing...


21st Dec 2014, 13:22
Never flown one nor flown in one but I would really like to have a go. The following mini-doco got me all misty-eyed at the thought until the reality of what they were doing struck home.

DC3 in Colombia

21st Dec 2014, 18:03
LR, we were doing the same thing Wick - Orkney with the BEA Viscount in the seventies. Can't remember if we also did a 'below cloud' transit to Sumburgh.

I took this photo back in the 70's on a BEA Viscount trip from Inverness to Sumburgh. We may have called in at Kirkwall but it's too long ago to remember. We went low level the whole way, here we are just passing the Old Man of Hoy.....


Shaggy Sheep Driver
21st Dec 2014, 18:14
Nice pic! With 4 of Rolls Royce's finest whistlers, low level over the sea is no problem!

Was that a scheduled flight?

21st Dec 2014, 18:31
Yes it was scheduled - I think this trip was about 1976. Later on we used Alidair and then BAF Viscounts to position our helicopter crews on the oil company charters to/from Aberdeen/Sumburgh.

Much easier doing an approach to 33 at Sumburgh in a stop and land machine!!

Loose rivets
22nd Dec 2014, 02:47
Kirkwall sticks in my mind for two reasons: One is that during the early 70s fuel crisis, I was asked, ney, begged to fly some fuel to one of our aircraft that had to divert and probably divert again. Anyway, he was out of gas. I agreed and was rather taken aback to find the fuel was in 40 gallon drums. I was good at air law and new that I shouldn't . . . It's been okayed. Yeh, right. Anyway I got overhead with that crystal clear air on the airfield, but the VOR only allowed 400'. Both the crew below and my mate and I were shaking our heads. I hung around for a few moment - you know what it used to be like up there, no one needing your airspace. - and on one bumbling drone along the centerline, I saw a hole and through that hole I could see the numbers.

"Full Flaps!!!!!!!!!!!" Said I and in a moment we were pointing into that hole with total trust about that clear 200' we were promised.

I taxied in to a warm reception (not heated, just warm) and the waiting skipper said, We thought there'd be no chance, and then this aircraft appeared through a hole 45 degrees nose down. Others said I let sunlight into a grey afternoon like a heavenly chariot surrounded by shafts of golden light. That, or You crazy Sassinak! Fuel's off, get ou'ta here!!!

One of the two.

The other thing is, a young lady there on the airport is a blood relative, the daughter of one of my Semi-siblings. I never met her or her mother - she spent most of her time up on a tiny island, but I talked to her on the phone the first time I'd finally found the first of 4 children and many times after that. Finding them was a fantastic moment in my life - so sad I'm so crook I can't drive miles to visit very often.


Loose rivets
22nd Dec 2014, 03:01
Can someone try for me to see if they can get into my Photobucket just by clicking on the photo. It took ten goes to get a 'copied', but now is a portal in = even though I'm signed out.

I know it happened to Tony D some years ago and I sent him a PM to let him know. I've no idea what to do about it though.

John Hill
22nd Dec 2014, 03:19
I can get in as far as seeing the public albums.