The LAST ONE Flying
Jeff Skiles, Sully Sullenberger, and instructor Frank Moss discuss flying characteristics of the DC- 7 at Opa-Locka Executive Airport (KOPF).
I’M GETTING A CHECKOUT, just like thousands of other pilots do every
year as they transition to new and different type of aircraft. But
mine is in something special, a Douglas DC-7B returned to its
Eastern Air Lines glory. And my checkout will culminate tomorrow
in a second-in-command type rating added to my certificate.
I begin the steep turn again and call out 140 BMEP (brake
mean effective pressure) to the flight engineer as we roll through
30 degrees of bank. He dutifully increases the power. I find it dif-
ficult to verbalize power changes because it takes thought rather
than instinct. I’m thankful, though, that someone else is caring for
the throttles. The controls are heavy in pitch and roll and it takes
two hands on the yoke to maintain altitude. I mention the heavy
controls to Frank and he responds, “We think this is a sports car
compared to the DC- 4.”
I can’t imagine what the DC- 4 must be
like because this is taking all my attention.
There’s an odd lack of visual pitch refer-
ence in the DC- 7. You sit closer to the
windshield than in most airplanes so there
is no window frame or long nose to judge
against the horizon. My second turn still
resembles a sort of phugoid oscillation, but
I at least hold it within 100 feet of altitude.
Good enough, move on.