TOP: Like any good radial, the No. 2 engine is spewing
oil. Normal oil consumption is 3-1/2 gallons an hour and
each engine holds 48 gallons of oil. ABOVE: Maureen pours
mimosas in the rear galley.
seat. We have about 100 miles to go, and it’s
good to sit in the first officer’s seat and lis-
ten to the Wrights rumble for a while
before beginning our descent.
At such low power settings I don’t
ask Greg to reduce the power; I just
crank the trim wheel forward and start
a 500 fpm descent.
Charlotte is a US Airways hub and I’ve
been here literally hundreds, maybe even
thousands of times over the years. Landing
on 36R is like coming home for me, but
never have I come here in grander style.
We level at 3,000 feet. I call, “ 110
BMEP.” Greg reduces the power and the
speed begins to bleed off.
BRINGING IN AN OLD BIRD
At 187 knots we can begin using the
flaps to slow up. “Flaps 10,” and then
“Flaps 20.” At 170 knots, “Gear down,
landing checklist.” Greg complies with
all of this.
I’m approaching the runway at 150
knots. A bit fast, our VREF is 115, but I’ve let
the DC- 7 get high on approach. “Flaps 30,
minimum power.” I can handle the speed
right now; the DC- 7 has enough drag to
quickly bleed off speed once I get back on
the PAPI glide path.
Tower has stopped departures until
our landing, and the US Airways flights are
lining up on the parallel taxiway. With the
aircraft still high and fast, Frank casually
suggests full flaps. “Flaps full.”
We cross the threshold, and Greg
begins easing back on the throttles as I feel
for the runway. A good landing in the DC- 7
is a combined effort between the pilot and
the flight engineer. Not once have I
touched the power on this entire flight.
A good landing in the
DC- 7 is a combined
effort between the pilot
and the flight engineer.
Not once have I touched
the power on this
The only steering tiller is on the captain’s
side, so Frank takes over to taxi the DC- 7
to the ramp. Fire trucks have come to frame
the taxiway and shoot water over the airplane as we approach the ramp. Frank
suggests I open my window to get a “better
look at those trucks.” Following the directions of my captain, I have my window
yanked open and my head sticking out
before I realize I’ve been had. Fortunately
Greg slams it shut before I get a bath.
Once at the ramp, the big props spin to a
stop as Greg cuts the engines, and
I wave to the crowd that has amassed for
our arrival. The end of a perfect flight and
a perfect day. Fifty-two years old, and certainly my best birthday yet.
Jeff Skiles, EAA 336120, has been a pilot for 34 years
and has almost 21,000 hours logged. He is EAA Young
Eagles co-chairman, owns a 1935 Waco YOC cabin
biplane, and was first officer on US Airways Flight 1549,
the Miracle on the Hudson.