18 individual fuel cells. Eight levers represent the two sets of throttles,
and four more control the two-stage superchargers that we call “
blowers” in radial engine transport parlance. The mixtures, carb heats, gear
and flap actuators, and hydraulic controls are on the back side of the
pedestal where the engineer can easily reach them. A large throttle
reverse gate actuator and a speed brake lever round out the collection.
The speed brake is an ingenious device. Like most aircraft, the DC- 7’s
limit speed for landing gear operation is determined by the nose gear.
The speed brake lever manually pulls the gear uplatches and drops the
main gear only. The main gear can be dropped via the speed brake lever
at 255 knots. Retracting them again, though, requires you to slow to 170
knots and lower the gear completely; only then can it be retracted. This
limits the use of speed brakes to situations where you’re high and fast on
final and probably don’t want to retract the gear again before landing.
All airliners have an alternate method of determining if the gear is
down, and the DC- 7 is no exception. For the main gear, the pilot on the
side in question yanks open his window (you can fly with the window
open), sticks his head out into the slipstream, and looks back at the gear
to view a painted target only visible when the gear downlock is engaged.
I comment to the flight engineer, “Flying with the window open must be
fun in January.” He says, “Try flying in South America with a load of
fresh-cut meat. We never close ’em; keeps the flies down.” Ah, the glamour of flying golden age transports in the 21st century.
The one thing noticeably absent to lightplane pilots are any propeller control levers. The props are electrically controlled by toggle
switches that increase and decrease rpm. Electric props are standard
equipment on big radials. The Convairs I flew 30 years ago had the
exact same little toggle switches to control propeller rpm.
Before flying the DC- 7, Jeff and Sully spent considerable time individually with instructor
Frank Moss becoming familiar with the cockpit. “We’re not burning 500 gallons an hour
while we’re doing that and it’s a lot more relaxed atmosphere,” Frank said. “We start by
running the checklist, running the checklist, and running the checklist.”
Second-in-Command Type Rating
Instructor Frank Moss endorses Jeff Skiles’ logbook and signs him off for his checkride.
In the United States all aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds maximum takeoff weight require a special rating to operate as pilot-in-command; it’s called a type rating. Six years ago the FAA created a new second-in-command (SIC) type
rating to bring the FAA rules into compliance with international standards on pilot
certificates. All pilots flying outside the United States in foreign airspace who are flying
as second-in-command of an aircraft required to have two pilots
must have an SIC type rating in that aircraft. This does not apply,
however, to aircraft flown solely on domestic flights within the