I think this is just about the coolest thing ever. . .
Jellystone Air Park neighbor, Russ Farris, stopped by the hangar the other day with a logo cap that was "liberated" from the yoke of a Douglas DC-8 back in 1984. The airplane in question was N109DR, a DC-8-54F (convertible passenger/cargo aircraft), that rolled out of the factory in Southern California in 1964. Douglas used the airplane to flight test the long duct engine nacelles that were eventually used on the -62 and -63 series airplanes. At the end of the test program it was converted back to a -54 model, and delivered to Riddle Airlines in Miami, Florida. Riddle became Airlift International in 1965. In 1970 Ship 109 was leased to National Airlines to cover a newly acquired Miami-London route. It came back to Airlift International in 1974. Here's the cool part: In 1978 Russ earned his flight engineer ticket in Ship 109. He also flew his first trip as a DC-8 captain in the same airplane! I'll let Russ take it from here:
"I flew my first trip as a DC-8 captain on 109 in early 1984. Memorable trips from Miami to Port Au Prince flying live squealing hogs, all 125 of them. You never heard such a racket in your life! A career highlight you might say. . .
The logo cap was liberated from under the clipboard on the yoke. I thought it was the last flight, but it flew once more before the choppers got her in September 1984. . . The very last flight was from JFK to MIA, a three engine ferry with the number four engine entirely removed from the pylon because of damage. (Russ claims he was not a member of the ferry crew.)
From freighter/passenger jet flying military missions, to a major airline for their premier new international route, and finally pig hauling to Haiti with a 29 year old pig captain, she had an interesting life."
N109RD during the glamour days at National Airlines.
|Photo by Eduard Marmet, AIRLINERS.NET|
To quote Russ: "When Airlift got it back from National in 1974, they stripped the colors and it flew the last ten years of existence as a butt ugly tramp freighter of the skies."
Former 29 year old Airlift International Pig Captain, Russ Farris.
This story generated several comments from the peanut gallery.
The EG wrote:
"Reminds me of the DC-8 nose gear steering wheel that I liberated from a 50 series that was being scrapped at Opa Locka Airport around 1982. I was working for the Aviation Department of Dade County as an Airport Attendant. We handled several airports around MIA. I was one of those guys in the yellow Blazers that would hit you up for landing fees, as well as runway safety checks, and the like.
Unfortunately, my Mrs. Ex Wonderful threw it out with several other things while I was on a trip. And she wonders why it didn't work out between us. . ."
Brother Hogan wrote:
"Makes you wonder what every other "old" airplane's story is, and those who were fortunate enough to have had a part in it's life.
Trash haulin' was always an adventure; one never knew what was going to happen, even on a "routine" run.
Guess that's why we do what we do . . . just to see what happens next . . . never been disappointed either."
And finally. . .
I have been flying the MD-88/90 for just over seven years, and until this week, had never bothered to check under the clipboard to see if there was anything worth "liberating." My suspicions were correct. The days of art-deco logo caps have long since past.