Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner made its first flight today, almost exactly 106 years after Orville and Wilbur made the first powered flight. And at least it did not act like the first beast did:

When out about the same distance as Will's, I met with a strong gust from the left which raised the left wing and sidled the machine off to the right in a lively manner. I immediately turned the rudder to bring the machine down and then worked the end control. Much to our surprise, on reaching the ground the left wing struck first, showing the lateral control of this machine much more effective than on any of our former ones. At the time of its sidling it had raised to a height of probably 12 to 14 feet.


Translated to English that means: The wind was gusting from the left and I over corrected causing the left wing to drag before the wheels, skids in this case, were on the ground.

Luck was with them because it didn't cartwheel and break up as would be expected. Probably because it was so low and under powered there wasn't enough force to flip it.

Anyway, I got to thinking about all the commercial jets I have flown on...

777, 767, 757, 747, 737, 727, 707...DC10, DC9, DC8, MD80, MD11, L1011, Convair 880, BAC111, Canadair CRJ, A320, Caravelle and a Soviet TU something or other.

Then there were the props, both prop-jets and recips.... DC3, DC4, Martin 404, Martin 202, Lockheed Electra. YS11A, F27 and a prop jet flown by Southern called, I believe, the Metro Liner... yeah Fairchild Metro Liner...and one flight on a Beechcraft.

My favorite jet is any jet that I am seated in First Class. My favorite otherwise is the 727. Grab the next to the last row on the left (facing forward) and you will be in an exit row with about 10 feet of space in front of you, the galley on your right from which you use to be able to mooch goodies and booze from the Flight Attendants.

The 727 also has the distinction of being the fastest commercial jet and I have heard actually survived being flipped over on its back at around 40,000 feet. The company was United and the pilot pushed the nose over and did a barrel roll. He managed to pull it out before it hit the ground or the wings fell off. A nifty bit of flying and proof that the 727 is one tough cookie.

The airframe was not damaged but the cleaning bill was several thousand dollars.

From the late 60's til the early 80's Delta had the best service of any airline. Period. Have a problem? If man could fix it they would do so. But finally the stress of low fares, mergers and assorted stuff turned them into just another airline.

United treated me well, average and poorly. Some of my fondest and hateful memories center around United flights and customer service. But all in all I have to give them a B+. Since I flew them heavily, almost two million miles, through the ups and downs of the 80's, 90's and early 00's then some of that shouldn't have been unexpected.

Southern had all single class of service. They ran an ad that said everyone was first class on Southern. That naturally was changed to no one is first class.. But actually they were a good airline. Served a lot of places with DC 9's that now can't attract a Canadair and if many of their pilots were ex-bush pilots, so what? When Southern was purchased by North Central they just moved on to Air Alaska.

But my favorite expression about an airline remains Ozark. Of which it was said that if things went bad, "They'll give you a ho cake and a glass of buttermilk."

Who could want more?

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