Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: Northwest Airlines

Flying Stories for Feb 25, 2011

Please excuse me. I could swear I set this article up to be published Friday afternoon. Today I found it still listed as a draft article. My apologies.


Here are a few articles that you may have missed this week.

Remember that Northwest Airlines crew sent to prison for flying intoxicated? Here’s were the captain is now.
This is an article from one of the Minneapolis newspapers that recounts the events leading up to the crew being arrested. It continues by recounting the life that the captain has led since his arrest.

A few of the original Pan Am nisei stewardesses relate their experiences
This is an article from a Honolulu paper that recounts the experiences of some of the first Japanese-American Stewardesses hired by Pan Am in the 1960s. They talk about their flight experiences and the requirements levied upon them back in the age when flying was a more glamorous event.

A young girl from West Virginia finds her niche flying as a commuter airline pilot.
This is an article from a West Virginia newspaper describing the progression a young girl from their town followed to attain her goal of flying for a living. It all started with a flight she took when she was 15 years old. Her parents were solidly behind her decision to fly, but it sounds like she would have succeeded with or without their help.

A comparative look at airline performance.
This is an article from a Savannah newspaper that compares the performance of the major airlines for on-time arrivals, lost baggage and complaints. The last paragraph provides a comparison with some of the smaller airlines.

Flying in China began 100 years ago this week.
This is a ChinaRealTimeReport from the Wall Street Journal. It relates the first heavier-than-air aircraft flight in China, a short figure-eight course flown from a stadium in Shanghai. The article also goes on to provide a look into some of China’s commercial aviation plans.

A new company, Social Flights LLC, is attempting to use social media to charter aircraft.
This is a press release from the company that presents in glowing terms their idea for the use of social media for personal travel. It talks of forming ‘tribes’ of fellow travelers with like interests – sports teams, convention circuits, vacation spots, etc. – where the members could travel together on a routine basis. This appears to be an attempt to harness the current social media wave to schedule charter aircraft or empty seats on the aircraft already scheduled.

Museum loses it’s B-29 but the world may see another example flying
This is an article from a Wichita, KS paper relating their local museums loss of a Boeing B-29. The aircraft is on loan to the museum from a private individual who wants the aircraft to fly again. The Museum had planned to build a hangar specifically for the B-29. The hangar project was cancelled when the owner wouldn’t guarantee that the plane would sit in the museum for longer than the two years it may take to complete the restoration.

An airplane on a New York rooftop?
this is a jaunted.com article about what appears to be an airplane sitting on a runway in downtown New York. Yes, it’s even visible using Google Earth.

A new website for the XP-82 Restoration
The group restoring the prototype of the P-82 Twin Mustang has a recently updated website available for you. Newsletters, photos and videos that chronicle the restoration are available on the site.

The End of an Era

A friend of mine forwarded an email to me today that I thought you might be interested in reading. Northwest Airlines Boeing 747-200 Cargo Aircraft The message was written by a Boeing 747 captain for Northwest Airlines after his flight from Narita, Japan to Anchorage, Alaska last month.

I’m sure that you are aware that a merger is in progress with Northwest and Delta. Delta has decided that they are not interested in continuing to operate the cargo division of Northwest which has been based in Anchorage for several years hauling freight using the cargo variant of the venerable Boeing 747-200.

Here is the captain’s message (I have deleted names and added some explanations  in brackets):

As we got out of our black taxi [standard transportation from the hotel to the airport] the day after Christmas we knew that we were flying the last Northwest Cargo flight out of Narita. What we did not know but would soon find out from the Manager of Maintenance is that we were also flying the last scheduled 747-200 of any air carrier out of Narita. As we completed the paperwork in the crew lounge, F/O xxx, S/O xxx and I could not help but reflect upon the significance of this final departure. For decades this proud bird had defined Narita. It was not uncommon to see a flock of twenty 747-200 red tails nosed up to the terminal at one time. In fact it was uncommon to see anything but a 747-200 at any gate in Narita back then. It was the international aircraft of choice and for good reason. It was impressive…reliable, safe, fun to fly, comfortable, solid, efficient, massive and just a beautiful airplane. Everyone knew of the 747. The adjectives go on and on….It was the mother of all airplanes. But today it was headed for retirement to the warm desert sun like so many of the retirees who used to fly them. The difference though is that these birds can still do the job just as well as the they always have. It is just that the younger generations require less food…and that is all.

As the crew bus approached 6732 parked on the cargo ramp we could not help but scan the other newer airplanes on the ramp for signs of any other 200’s to confirm what the Manager had told us. That is when it really hit us that good ole 6732 and its sisters were sadly being muscled out by a more youthful generation and now oddly enough, seemed out of place in its own home. When we turned the corner and pulled up to the stairs, there was a larger than normal group of service folks lingering. We soon learned that we as pilots were not the only ones taken by the significance of this final departure. Cameras were flashing on the ramp, in the cargo compartment and in the cockpit as all of these handlers wanted to record a memory. We joined them in pictures and in sharing fond memories of the proud bird. There was a certain somberness to the procession of “spectators.” However, these were not ordinary spectators. These were the behind the scenes load planners, weight and balance people, the cargo loaders, the DG handlers, the mechanics, the dispatchers, the caterers, the fuelers and even the ramp security people….anyone who had had a part in the decade after decade of servicing the grand old lady. As the word had gotten out many more had come from all over the airport and perhaps even from home. As we all said our good-byes and thanked these fine people that had as much a connection to this airplane and its history as any of us, we prepared for departure. The impromptu crowd had grown quite large as we began our push back. As the plane retreated from the crowd on the push back the crowd waved continuously. There was no cheering, just a melancholy wave. You could feel the deep admiration.

We flashed the landing lights on and off repeatedly. One could sense the sadness and at the same time the pride of these behind the scenes folks who were as touched by the significance of this departure as anyone and had come to pay their last respects. Some had spent their entire career on the 747 as it had been flying here for over thirty years! There was no ceremony or parting speech, just the sadness of a bygone era which everyone dealt with privately. As we disconnected and started our taxi, the waves from the crowd never let up. It had been a magnificent era. But it had come to an end. As we climbed out of Narita it was the clearest night I have ever seen over Tokyo . The lights sparkled in a way which seemed to symbolically bid the -200 a fond adieu from the people it served so proudly for decades.

747-200 Captain

Now that the Department of Transportation has issued the single operating certificate to Delta, it will probably be less than a month before the Northwest name is completely gone.  Flight numbers are being changed and reservations systems are being merged. Soon all flights by the combined airline will have Delta call signs. All that will remain is painting the remaining 15% of the NWA fleet in the Delta paint scheme. Northwest will then be completely removed from the public’s eye. The end of another legacy airline.>

I wonder who is next?

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