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Flying the DC3

Old 10th Jan 2009, 01:58
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: sydney
Posts: 81
I remember from the right seat:

Friggin carby heat control I could never get right.

Landing gear hydraulics that sounded like bagpipes.

Waste paper disposal unit... open window and allow slipstream to remove papers.

Raincoat over the lap when flying in rain as the old suckers leaked like a sieve.

No pressurisation. Start descent early if you want eardrums intact.

Spark plug changes after descent if you closed throttles completely,as the whole lot oiled up. Pissed the engineers off.

Geez jets are so much easier to fly.
zube is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 02:32
  #22 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: In the detent
Posts: 469
best thread in a long time!

For all those who have flown her, especially in the old days - please keep the stories coming... You needn't be afraid of boring us
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Old 10th Jan 2009, 02:34
  #23 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: The Shire
Posts: 2,898
Having a surf this morning, watched her (CWS) cruise up and down the coast.....


Such a bloody shame
The Green Goblin is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 09:21
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 374
Open the window son.

Yeah the sliding window, what a beauty.
You could lean right out and wave to the girlfriend in flight … best on short final when she could clearly see you. Also great to lean out as you passed over war wreckage near aerodromes and try and get good photos.
Wasn't any good for clearing the cockpit of bloody cigarette smoke. It all streamed out past your nose.
I hated flying with Bloody old Captain Trembles... he lit the next one from the last.... there was no way of escaping the stink.
One FO used to torment Captain Drama by doing his AIP amendments while flying along. He'd open the window for each superseded page’s disposal, flick it forward from between pointer and big finger and it’d go fffuppp as it suddenly changed direction and shot out. He’d then slam the window shut.
Each time it shut, there’d be a sudden change in pressure in the cockpit, which painfully stabbed Drama’s ear drum, so he flinched. He wouldn't admit it... old soldier!
The senior F.Os could do things like this to get the old bugger back for his definite WW2 bomber pilot attitude to ham fisted, totally useless F.Os who were only good for hanging onto her in the cruise (No auto pilot). We junior blokes just accepted the crap he heaped on us, because if you could stuff up, it would happen with Drama and prove him right.
I was recently told a story by a retired captain at a reunion. Like a bloody dill I didn’t write his name down… “I’ll remember, no problem … then I had lots more rums.
Waaay back when he was a junior F.O. he was flying along out west and made a number of mistakes on the flight plan, so it was looking pretty bad with overwriting and crossing out.
TAA made the crew pin ALL the paperwork together at the end of the day… plans manifests, progressive load summaries, that started off with a zero and had to end with a zero.
It had all the loads (mail, pax, baggage, cargo,) uplifted and dropped off at each of the ports for the day, entered in the hundreds of boxes and columns.
"The boy" told the Captain he was worried about what would be said about the flight plan when it was examined.
Crusty Capt. (obviously a good bloke) said, “Showus”
Examined it and reckoned it was a bit of a disgrace, so opened his window and … oh dear! … then, resignedly shut the window.
Young bloke sang his praises from them on.
Some months later, Senior Route Captain (Later known as “The abominable NO man) … my old man… saw sprog passing by in the traffic office and said, “I want to see you in my office”.
“Shit! What have I done now” thinks one thin bar wearer.
The old man pulls a government envelope from his desk and empties the much creased but straightened, somewhat faded document on the desk and with THAT look asked, “What’s the meaning of this?”
Some ringer, riding by weeks after the accident, saw a paper on the ground and not being used to litter, dismounted and retrieved it.
Seeing that it was an important looking manuscript he felt it better be handed in to the authorities, so folded it and bunged it in his buttoned shirt pocket where it'd be safe.
Next time he was in town he visited the police station.
Cop agreed that it must be important and posted it off to TAA.
At the time of being told this tale I had recently been in the Commonwealth Archives, sorting through the five inch thick file that was the records of investigation of my old man’s, older brother’s, fatal Guinea Airways Lockheed 14 crash south of Darwin during the war.
Because it was a war crash and more so, because it was a magnificent documentation of buck passing, inter service rivalry and a chain of easily avoided links that ended in ten Yank communications blokes’ and two Aussie pilot’s deaths, it had been hidden away for sixty years.
I knew the old man had done some of the searching for the aircraft on his daily Adelaide Darwin trips (Took six weeks to find the wreckage … and that was only after as bush fire)
Amongst the many papers was a very incomplete, not very tidy radio log that looked suspiciously like the old man’s writing.
Boxes to have crew names weren’t filled in, sloppy writing, not staying inside the boxes… a terrible effort. (Something to do with the between 12 and sometimes 24 hour flight times in his logbook)
It DID have the date and rego so I photographed it … just in case.
Yes, on checking his logbook, the old man had been the FO on that flight.
Wanted to email a copy to the “teller of the tale” to show him the boss was once a sprog and not perfect, but can’t remember his name.
Often pilots tossed the food they didn’t like in their lunch box, out the window.
Same old salad, made at 5 AM got nice and warm by lunchtime. Tomato got to taste like asparagus, cheese sweated oil. Something green wilted in the bottom. Ham … yuk! Cake and crackers were OK … individually packaged.
Often sad asparagus or tomato would slide down the outside of the aircraft because it was so limp and wet. Difficult to chuck limp stuff hard… tends to disintegrate and coat the inside of the cockpit. Embarrasing to explain that to engineering
I had an apple once that I didn’t want.
Tried chucking it with considerable force and see if it’d get chopped by the prop.
Missed the prop and sailed into the engine nacelle where it bounced about for the rest of the flight. Props only go at 1050 RPM
Went quiet for a while. Do I fess up to the Capt. Could it dry out and become a fire hazard.
I kept an eye on it and it danced about happily for the rest of the flight.
Engineers found it or maybe one of the Bois who’d have eaten it. Never heard any mention of it afterwards.
Should have saved it for ammo and chucked it at the dear little black kids who hurled rocks and sticks at us as we passed close by on final.
Little black boys weren’t the only ones who tried assaulting aeroplanes on final.
Had a school mate who told me they used to make pipe canons with thripenny bungers and a marble and tried denting the underside of planes. They lived near Essendon and would ride their bikes out and ask the engineers if they could go and look at the planes parked away from the tarmac.
They know the rego of targets they’d shot at and examine them very carefully.
Haven’t times changed.
Pressurisation and computers, refrigeration … more comfortable but… Boring!
sixtiesrelic is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 10:15
  #25 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 43
Jack Curtis gave me a marvellous piece of DC-3 advice the first day I flew with him...wandering down finals with me flying at about 600 feet with a healthy crosswind, he cleared his throat, looked across at me and said "right lad, just remember, your feet aren't just there for dancing..."

For some reason I found Jack telling me this hysterically funny - and my crosswind technique improved out of sight!!
skyways is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 10:25
  #26 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 374
A37575 mentions the saftey latch being unlocked and splatt, aeroplane on her guts.
I know that people take off with the (safety) latch unlocked today and haven't heard a good reason why!
The latch is to stop her gutsing herself if the gear lever is inadvertently raised.
We unlocked it on the gear up command and if the time it takes to unllock and unlatch is the reason, I don't agree. It is a pretty swift manoeuvre and the loss of acceleration for the second or so it takes is negligible.
Certainly more aeroplanes have come to grief from bypassing this safety feature than crashed on takeoff after losing an engine.
Maybe if Jack is reading this HE can explain.
For the uninitiated there is a small lever on the cockpit floor between the pilot's seats, that is stowed down flush when the gear is down and locked.
It is attached by cables to a "spade " in the gear linkage that mechanically jams the gear in the down position.
To raise the gear, the latch has to be first raised, pulling the spade clear so the hydraulic rams can raise the gear when the gear lever (Hydraulic) is moved to "UP".
There is a further safety feature called the lever latch lock? It is a small semi circular collar that can be moved through ninety degrees to park over the end of the latch handle so you can't pull the handle on the floor up.
You flick it forward so it falls in front of the handle on the floor, then you can raise the lock handle and follow up by pulling the hydraulic handle (at elbow level when you're sitting to raise the gear.

sixtiesrelic is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 10:49
  #27 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: All at sea
Posts: 1,807
In PNG one airline (TAA) always set the gear to the 'spring lock' position for take-off. But then, they also had some aircraft with JATO bottles. Just what advantage any of this would have been on some of the strips if an engine quit at 60 or 70 knots, I dunno....maybe the choice was to drop it on its guts to stop, or fire the JATO and hope to go?

In my early days as Captain on the Gooney I pulled a little stunt that got me into a spot of trouble. One dark winter's night we were returning from the Shetland Islands with no pax on board. The hostie was a ditzy blonde, sitting down the back reading a Mills & Boon. I told the F/O to get out of his seat and hide in the forward cargo locker. Then, with autopilot on, dimmed the red lights to minimum with the U/V lights (which the Poms favoured) up just enough for a ghostly blue glow. Slid both cockpit windows full open, pressed the hostie call buzzer and bailed out of my seat into the locker next to the F/O. Up comes hostie to take our coffee orders. Sees the empty cockpit, hears wind howling around the open windows and of course assumes the worst.
About the time she had subsided to the floor in a sobbing heap, we set her off again by simultaneously leaping out of the locker with a loud BOO.
Next day I got a big lecture from the chief pilot about the rule that said 'one pilot must always be at the controls blah blah' followed by an acknowledgement that it was pretty bloody funny, but I was never to do it again. Imagine doing something like that in today's PC world.
Mach E Avelli is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 11:00
  #28 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,419
grass at Wigram, where I was not to touch the brakes, but taxi using only the tailwheel lock and power
That is a complete no-no as the strain on the tail-wheel locking system is significant. The tail wheel lock was specifically designed for the take off and landing run where in theory the aircraft runs straight. Being taught not to touch the brakes amazes me How do you pull up otherwise? - if you are taxiing using differential power and tail wheel lock all you are going to do besides eventually stuffing the tail wheel lock is to pick up more speed!
A37575 is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 11:13
  #29 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 374
Patair had Jato on VH-PNA
The word was you got 400 feet of climb out of them if you had an engine failure at 81K. They only used them at one strip when I flew 'em and only the captains got to use 'em in practise when they ran out of life.
I can see some sense in boppin' her on her guts in the kunai in PNG rather than bopping big trees... She would only have the brakes and deceleration of the props dragging till she hit the long grass tho.
Why would you kiss off a safety feature in OZ these days?
sixtiesrelic is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 11:24
  #30 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,419
Remember Forrest Air at Essendon. Les Morris was chief pilot for a while and he and I flew freight to Tassie. The friction nut was u/s and you definately needed a friction nut as both throttles would quickly slide backwards (always unevenly, too) if you took your hands off them for a moment. Les brought a length of rope and wound it around the throttles to act as a friction nut.

The storm windows were invaluable in heavy rain which blotted out all forward vision. Sure you got wet but at least you could see outside after you opened the storm windows by sliding them on rails. You can do the same on the 737 providing you depressurise first and open the sliding window. Very handy fall back trick if fuel getting low and you can't divert.

I noticed the magneto switch assembly on one of those photos. The Master ignition on/off switch was there in case of crash landing or ditching. It was a similar switch in the RAAF Museum Ventura that lost both engines in the circuit at Richmond, that had an internal short and cut out both mags on both engines without the pilots being aware of it until the engines stopped..
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Old 10th Jan 2009, 11:48
  #31 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,419
In PNG one airline (TAA) always set the gear to the 'spring lock' position for take-off. But then, they also had some aircraft with JATO bottles. Just what advantage any of this would have been on some of the strips if an engine quit at 60 or 70 knots, I dunno....maybe the choice was to drop it on its guts to stop, or fire the JATO and hope to go?
The RAAF did the same thing. The reason being if a late abort occured with no hope of pulling up within the aerodrome boundary, it was a simple matter to pull up the latching lever and then select gear up. If however the latching lever was locked down then it took some effort while looking down on the floor, to lift the locking ring, pull up the safety latch then go for the main undercarriage lever. Interestingly, RAF Pilot's Notes for Dakota 1V at page 25 Check List before Take off requires the undercarriage latch lever to be set at Positive Lock (safety clip engaged).

We had one pilot who manufactured a telescopic device like transistor radio aerial with a rubber grommet at the tip and with this he could adjust the Sperry Gyropilot pitch and rudder knobs on the instrument panel without ever having to lean forward. He just whipped out this telescopic aerial thingie from his shirt pocket and ever so casually twiddled the gyropilot knobs with great aplomb. I suspect the term "real cool dude" started then.
A37575 is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 12:58
  #32 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,106
The only time I have been in a Dak was as a passenger...I'd been to the UK to a big party the day after my first solo, and ended up busting my ankle after way too much celebrating in high heels.

Anyhow, I had to get home to Jersey next day and went on the Air Atlantique DC3 (I think it was G-AMRA) flight from Exeter as a "non-ambulatory pax". I remember how hard the poor hostie had to work pushing me in the wheelchair up that slope so I could look inside the cockpit! Disembarking was a lot easier. Wheeee! That's a steep slope!

Meanwhile one of the DC3s here in Aus has my name as a callsign....have been told if I want the rego I have to buy the whole aircraft. Anyone wanna share?
Charlie Foxtrot India is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 13:17
  #33 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Bai, mi go long hap na kisim sampla samting.
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Anyone wanna share?
no way............ your old man is way to big.
the wizard of auz is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2009, 13:22
  #34 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 43
not taught not to use the brakes, quite the contrary - just to learn not to rely on the brakes to do all of the steering...they tend to fade as they warm up...
skyways is offline  
Old 11th Jan 2009, 03:08
  #35 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Australia
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no way............ your old man is way to big.
It is witticisms like this that make it so easy to be a PPRuNe addict..loved it.
A37575 is offline  
Old 11th Jan 2009, 04:19
  #36 (permalink)  
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Location: Bai, mi go long hap na kisim sampla samting.
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I was serious. he's a big guy and highly trained in people harming.
the wizard of auz is offline  
Old 11th Jan 2009, 06:27
  #37 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: NZ
Age: 68
Posts: 190
Great thread. Keep the stories coming. Been in the Dak bout 80 times myself but only landed in one twice, about 50 years ago.
Fark'n'ell is offline  
Old 11th Jan 2009, 10:09
  #38 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: All at sea
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The Poms were great destroyers of DC3 engines. Their CAA had this ridiculous requirement for an annual C of A air test. Basically, it involved loading the old girl up with fuel and ballast, blasting off with a sprog co-pilot who had a stopwatch and all the forms to fill out. It didn't matter if it was solid IMC, the test had to be done on the appointed due day; otherwise the aeroplane - already then some 35 years old - would suddenly become unairworthy. Fortunately, it was easier to fly accurately in fog, and the cool conditions probably helped a bit to save the engines from instant destruction.

After logging temps and pressures during takeoff (when CHTs are in a constant state of change, so what they did with this information, I dunno) and time for the gear to retract, we got down to the seriously engine-damaging stuff. The critical engine was feathered (time taken to feather was recorded) and the other one set at max takeoff power - the whole 48 inches - and the climb rate at 86 knots was measured over 5 minutes (or it may have only been 3 minutes, but it felt like forever). Then that engine was unfeathered (timed with stopwatch of course) and the other engine, having been flogged half to death, was then feathered (timed of course) and the first engine then run at METO power for some interminable time like 5 or 10 minutes while the climb continued to be measured; this time at the magic number of 91 knots. When that was over, the by now snap-frozen engine was re-started and we carried out various configuration stalls while timing flap extension times and recording onset of buffet and final stall speeds. We may have even measured VMCA - I can't remember if it was on the test form. We certainly did that one during endorsement training.

The other gross injustice to the old girl was meat-bombing. Most summer weekends we would rip the seats out and 30 parachute-equipped peanuts would sit on the floor while we climbed as quickly as possible to 12,000 feet, then they'd all leap out in waves of 6 or so. While they were floating down holding hands like they were in some kind of love-fest, we had to get the DC3 back on the ground as quickly as possible to pick up the next mob of nutters; to do it all over again.

Although I was always as sympathetic as possible to the engines by cooling them slowly and warming them up again, and I am sure others were also, we always seemed to have a failure within weeks of such silly games. I had two engine failures with this company and I know that there were many more. As a result the company dumped the DC3 as 'uneconomic' when in fact it should have been unbeatable for some shorter routes.
Mach E Avelli is offline  
Old 11th Jan 2009, 10:43
  #39 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Australia
Age: 71
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The other gross injustice to the old girl was meat-bombing. Most summer weekends we would rip the seats out and 30 parachute-equipped peanuts would sit on the floor while we climbed as quickly as possible to 12,000 feet, then they'd all leap out in waves of 6 or so.
How about 48. Both cargo doors removed. Two groups of 24 each. These guys would stand up facing the exit in 4 rows of 6 abreast. ie a bunch of 24. On their signal, the first group of 24 all run towards the exit and they are gone. At this time the next 24, move down the back and immediately repeat what the first group did.
Talk about a pitch change
dogcharlietree is offline  
Old 11th Jan 2009, 18:54
  #40 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 76
Lucky enough to fly as pax in Air Atlantique G-AMPZ several times after having tried several times in 1980's and 90's to grab a pax ride in one in both Australia and NZ. Always remember an Air North DC3 looking lost amongst the 747's at Kingsford Smith when I first arrived in Australia in 1985 and one on poles at Tullamarine as I left.

My father spent many years flying them around Europe after the war and would always tell great tales of just how wet it was in the rain and how he would spend hours watching St Elmo's Fire racing round the windshield. Days when he had to either go around or through the Alps and/or Pyrennes depending on the weather. Even in those post war days when flying was not yet for the great unwashed he had troubles with passengers who had had too much alcoholic refreshment from the trolley. His solution. Climb higher and let the lack of oxygen take its effect. Worked like a treat.
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