Cactus521

Most interesting moment of flight

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I have flown commercial, hundreds of hours over the past five decades, and can remember so many moments in flight.  Like flying into Frankfurt in 1987, as dawn was coming, the clouds a pink and purple glow below us, so beautiful as we weaved our way in and out of them to touchdown following the path of the Rhine, which I could see below.  The flight was a non stop DC 10 American Airlines flight from Dallas, arguably the best Transatlantic crossing I ever had as we took the northerly route over Quebec and Newfoundland, just to the south of Greenland and Iceland.  I could see the Northern Lights out the window of the DC 10, so beautiful and a memory I will never forget.  Fast forward to last year when I flew to Europe again celebrating the 30th anniversary of that flight.  I found flying long hauls harder on my body for some reason, did not know at that time I was ill with diabetes, which is thankfully treated today and my life has changed 180 percent, and at a very cheap cost, the cost of insulin is low given its life saving benefits.

My favorite moment of flight was when I flew out of DC, in 93, down to West Palm Beach with a stop in Orlando.  And who was on our flight?  The great baseball player, Pete Rose, who got a bad deal when all the ball players and coaches were doing what he was doing in the day.  Passengers asked him for his autograph, I did not, I just nodded to a sportsman, as sports brings peace to us all.

My favorite words from the pilots were in 1977, when we 200 teens from the US touring Europe on the charter airline TransAmerica airlines were returning home.  We were allowed to drink beer until we crossed into US territory, exciting for me being a fifteen year old at the time, although I am a one beer drinker.  We took off from Munich, picked up passengers in Vienna, then stopped in Shannon Ireland for refueling, where there were giving us silver certificates in US Currency when we exchanged our money.  Then we took off and crossed the Atlantic, getting fuel in Gander Newfoundland.   As we were waiting to take off, some Rockwell Commanders, beautiful looking piston aircraft, were ahead of us on the runway.  Our pilot came on the mike and said "Be patient, those guys are winding up their rubber bands waiting to take off ahead of us".....  I have never forgotten that benevolent, gentle line from the Captain of a DC8-63 waiting to haul .... on the way home to JFK.  A couple hours later, I saw the lights of Boston coming into view, and knew he was taking us home to America.  I changed to American airlines at JFK, a 707 to Dallas, and a 727 to SFO, worn from a more than 24 hour journey, but content knowing the love and care of the pilots who carried us home...

John

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Coming home from a tour in Vietnam on a contract B707.  It was dark.  About 8 or 9 PM.  The pilot came on and said, "Welcome home.  Your back in America."   A few minutes later we landed at Travis Air Force Base.

Noel

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In Napa I lived not far from Travis during Vietnam, and often remember the C5's and C141's that would swoop over Napa on their way in to Travis.  When the START treaty was agreed to, I went to an airshow at Travis and walked aboard a Russian airliner, cannot remember exactly which one but it was long and had engines on the tail, it was a thrill for me to be on Russian territory for the first and only time in my life.

It was windy that day, and a C5 demonstrated a short distance takeoff into the wind, it was amazing how fast and how steeply it got up.  And they demonstrated defensive landings, where the C5 would spiral in so as not to be exposed to simulated gunfire on the ground.  I also remember the B52's that flew over Napa during the Vietnam war, I had binoculars and a telescope, I could see them flying way overhead with their contrails, from what base I do not know.

I went up in the Travis tower, a father of one of my friends was a high ranking officer there I remember her name, Deanna Vesper, wished she would have been my girlfriend then, had a crush on her as all young teens do.  We watched a military 737 200 take off into the winter mist, and were astounded at how quickly it got up and over Sacramento, and on its way to wherever it went.

At my high school back then, Vintage High School in Napa, we would have military days and the military would fly in copters for us to look at and marvel at as they recruited for ROTC and the regular enlisted forces.  I could not go into the military, I wanted to go into the Air Force but a visual impairment I still have today prevented me from going into any service, even though I registered for the draft when it was renewed at that time, after Iran.  My two brothers served though, one for a short tour in the Air Force, and the other in the National Guard for many years, with my father serving in WWII and Korea in the Army, as a staff sergeant and combat photographer.  So I was raised military style, and I still keep the disciplines my Father taught me so well while he was alive.

John

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What lovely reading from both of you, on a wet rainy early morning. Stirring stuff reading your experiences and pride in the crews that brought you home, although I was never in the US Forces or made trans-Atlantic crossings until after the ubiquitous DC-8s and the B707s ended their 'across-the-pond' forays.

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I'm waiting for "interesting" moments from the "front office" ..... preferably from '77 or earlier (navigating by VARS etc)

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1994, KLM 747 Holding pattern over Cairo, Egypt and circling around the great pyramids of Giza at 5000 ft, three times.

2016, JAL 787 Coming home across Alaska, NW Canada and New York mountains and Great Lakes

 

Bill Hagag

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1 hour ago, nhagag said:

1994, KLM 747 Holding pattern over Cairo, Egypt and circling around the great pyramids of Giza at 5000 ft, three times.

2016, JAL 787 Coming home across Alaska, NW Canada and New York mountains and Great Lakes

 

Bill Hagag

You lucky flier 👌

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Youngest and most interesting flight I have memory of was landing into an extremely stormy Reykjavik (BIRK) airport in Iceland at winter's night.

It was an international flight from New Your on an Icelandic Air DC-6. The landing was pretty nerve racking with the plane all over the place. Relieved and parked, we were asked to deboard the plane. Holding my mother's hand, we were shoved down the outside airstairs into a white hell. Holy pain in the face. Around 0°F, the major sideways snow and wind pierced our faces like thousands of tiny needles as we walked through several inches of the snow accumulating in mini dunes on the tarmac. It was a major white out and I remember being dumbfounded we actually just landed in this crazy weather. What a relief entering the terminal doorway.

 

On another flight in the early 70's, we were supposed to land at Luxembourg. Over the airport, we were notified that the airport terminal was on fire.  Yup, there was smoke where there seemingly shouldn't be. Not allowed to land, we were instructed to fly to Brussels, which the pilot did.  When we got to EBBR, the airport was so fogged in they couldn't and refused to let us to land there. We were ordered to go back to Luxembourg and land there, the pilot did and by then, the fire was more under control I assumed.

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I was at Cincy once in '97 waiting for a flight to Albany New York when a Tornado came into the area, fortunately not hitting the airport proper, but the sky turned black as night, the clouds with an otherworldy greenish hue.  The storm swept thru Covington fairly quickly and takeoffs and landings went back to normal.  The worst weather I ever encountered on two flights was going into and out of JFK when I was on my first trip to Europe in '77.  Coming in to land, still over Pennsylvania, our United DC-10 was tossed around like a child's toy, the turbulence was the most intense I had ever felt.  When we landed we changed planes to a Transamerica DC8-63, with the storm now right over JFK.  The DC8 took off on a takeoff roll that seemed like forever, and I recall seeing the threshold less than 50 feet under us as we finally lifted off in the storm, then we took off like a rocket, the steepest climb I had ever experienced in any commercial flight, to get clear and above the weather.  Shortly after we were at cruise, the Captain informed us we were the last flight to get out of JFK, that they shut the airport down due to the weather.  We were relieved and on our way to Munich, but I will never forget the weather that day in March of '77.

John

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Nothing too insane, but on December 14th, 2015, I boarded United 663, a Boeing 737-800 flying from Orlando up to Newark. I wanted to get a look at the flight deck, but I figured the pilots were probably busy with getting ready for departure, so I figured I'd wait until after we arrived in Newark. Doors were closed, and the plane was pushed back....about six feet. We were told that we would be sitting there for about 20 minutes as we waited for the rain to clear in the New York area. So we sat and waited. The passengers sitting directly behind me were getting text notifications, with one commenting a while later that the flight was now delayed until 01:10 PM (we were supposed to depart at 10:56 AM). They were wondering why the pilots weren't saying anything and said they can't keep us on the plane for that long. I was just about ready to tell them that whilst they may have gotten the text notification instantly, it takes time for the flight crew to get that information via ACARS, so they probably didn't actually know this yet. Not long afterwards, the plane was pulled back into the gate, and they let us off the plane.

Since we were stuck there for another two hours anyway, now would probably be a good time to have a look at the flight deck, so that I did. The First Officer actually turned around, looked at me, and asked what airline I flew for. Of course, I had to tell him that I only fly in the simulator, but I had flown the Boeing 737-800 in the simulator before, and the controls look very similar, just much larger, of course. After talking to the flight crew for a little bit, I managed to get a few pictures, including the one on the left sidebar there. I was actually the last one off the plane because everyone else had gotten off by that point. Figured now would be a good time to get some lunch before we take off again....and also try to figure out which one of my friends was actually picking me up from the airport. One of my friends was originally going to do it, but she told me she had a class later that night, so I wound up asking another friend, who said he'd be able to do it. The other one ended up turning around and telling me she could still do it, so I actually ended up spending half the flight....trying to figure out who was getting me from the airport. Finally, I sent a message to them on Facebook telling them that we are now over Virginia, and someone better tell me who's getting me from the airport before the plane starts going down.

The flight actually resulted in an emergency landing since we had a medical emergency during the descent. The original landing runway was 22L, but we ended up doing a 22L, circle to 29, the first time I had ever done a landing on 29. I knew we were lined up for 22L, but as soon as we started making the left turn to break off the approach, I started to think we were now going to land on runway 29. As soon as I saw the New Jersey Turnpike, I knew we were aiming for 29. Firm landing, rolled all the way to the end, and then a short taxi to the gate, which happened to be right by the end of the runway.

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One of my colleagues was asleep waiting for his flight to leave, he woke up, walked onto a plane, and sat down in his seat.  Only then did they announce that his flight was going to Hawaii, not SFO.  He sluggishly walked off the flight, looking no one in the eyes, to try to catch his plane to SFO.  It also happened to me, out of Missouri, a passenger got on our puddle jumper only to reveal she was on  the wrong flight, and to make things worse when they took her bags off they took mine off too, loaded with network cables, diskettes, and books I needed to implement a new hotel system in Springfield.  I had to wait until the next day to get my needed tools for work

 

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Not that this happened in flight, but the mention of "falling asleep" reminded me of this misadventure. I was fourteen, and traveling alone from Kentucky Military Institute to Tehran, Iran for summer vacation. My dad was stationed in Tehran as an FAA contract employee on loan to the USAID. He was there to survey, design, and install VOR nav systems between Ankara, Tehran and Karachi.

After having stopped and toured London, Paris, and Rome, I landed in Beruit for a four hour layover until my flight to Tel Aviz. I was so tired that I fell asleep in the terminal waiting area. I woke up several hours after my scheduled flight had departed. My luggage of course made the flight. In any case I had to wait until the airline could book me onto the next flight some six hours later. After arriving in Tel Aviz, the remainder of my mini-tour was smooth and uneventful.

Because of my dad's job, we were issued unique passports. Instead of the normal 'green' ours were burgundy covered, and had the words SPECIAL PASSPORT embossed in gold leaf. Aside from that word, they were otherwise identical to the State Department's DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT. Because this was something relatively new, few people knew what "SPECIAL" meant, so most opted to extend extra courtesies to us...

...so on my return to the US after vacation was over, when I landed in NYC the Passport Control Officer saluted me and said "Welcome back to the US sir!" (probably because I was travelling in my school's full dress uniform, sabre and all)...:laugh:

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One of several flights in 1980s on TWA880 (or was it 882?) JFK to Cairo was an overnight flight, upon just touching the north Africa coast over Alexandria with two hours of sleep on my side, the pilot one morning starts pretty steep descent and announces "Good morning, we have begun our descent into Cairo!"  It felt like a roller coaster ride!

Another flight TWA from Paris to JFK or so, shortly after takeoff the pilot states the landing gear won't retract and we will never get across the Atlantic.  We go back and about an hour later are taking off again.  A minute or or two later, we can't get the gear up.  We go back again and they claim it's fixed.  Third time, we end up having to go back and everyone has to get off the plane and the arm has to be replaced.  We finally takeoff a couple hours later and the gear comes up!

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