Birdwatching
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Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sat Jan 15, 2005 11:27 pm

I just read the thread about why you always board an airplane through the left side, and now out of nostalgia I'm starting a thread about the unforgettable experience of boarding a 727 through the back (tail) stairs. My first time I was really young (like 7 or 8) and I was really afraid of entering the plane that way, because of the giant engine above and all the exhaust vents from the APU etc. Back when I lived in Ecuador, I flew on 727 a lot, and you could always walk from the terminal to whichever entrance you wanted, so I always entered through the tail.


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lindy field
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 12:42 am

The rear stairs could also be used by the crew to see if the aircraft was in working order...
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ILSApproach
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 12:46 am

Planed and de-planed from a T9 722 at MBJ two years ago!

Mike @ MSP
 
pr1268
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through T

Sun Jan 16, 2005 2:02 am

slightly off topic: I did the same on several occasions in a DC9 (well, actually, a USAF C-9 and a Navy C-9). The military prefers using the rear stairs since they don't have to bother rolling a boarding staircase to the side of the a/c or use an elevated terminal with jetways (not too common on military airfields).
The only time an aircraft has too much fuel is when it is on fire.
 
Piedmontbrat
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 2:08 am

Strange you should start this thread. I was thinking about my first plane ride back in 1967. Was an old Piedmont Martin 4-0-4 from Roanoke to Charlottesville via Hot Springs and then Shenandoah Valley airports. On the return from CHO, I flew one of Piedmonts first two 72's. Talk about going from horse and buggy to a Porsche...WHEW!

Miss Piedmont's old speedbird. My guess is there are a lot of folks around that would like to see that speedbird fly again. Ah well.......

Thanks for the thread and the great memory!
 
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RayChuang
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through T

Sun Jan 16, 2005 2:20 am

I do remember getting on board a JL 727-200 at HND in 1970 on a flight from HND to the old Osaka airport at Itami using this rear stairway. Alas, it was raining at HND that day and I was soaked before I got on the plane!  Sad
 
SATL382G
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 2:23 am

The USAF C-9s (not sure about Navys C-9Bs) had a airstair at the forward door as well. Generally the forward door was used for patients, aircrew, and the medical staff. Regular pax got pushed out the back...

Oh and they had the medevac ramps at the forward cargo door as well. Used for litter patients.
"There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being shot at and missed" --Winston Churchill
 
CougarAviator
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 3:23 am

In college, the University of Houston basketball team participated in the NCAA tournament at the Memphis site.

UH used a charted Continental 727 to go up there.

We de-planned through the rear stairwell onto some charter buses that were waiting for us.

I kind of felt like a VIP....  Smile
Failure is not an option.....
 
COAMiG29
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 3:38 am

I got to board a CO 757 767 737 and 727 through the tail and each time it was great. things like this are becomming more rare. so i considder myself fortunate
If Continental had a hub at DFW with nonstop flights I would always fly them, unfortunantely good things take time.
 
deltaffindfw
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 3:58 am

It wasn't that long ago that DL used the 727 on the shuttle. I exited from the tail at LGA many times.
 
dan2002
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through T

Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:15 am

I got to board a CO 757 767 737 and 727 through the tail


I didnt know the 737, 767 or the 757 has a tail door, maybe you boarded through the L3? door at the rear of the plane.

-Dan
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peterpuck
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:32 am

What you thought was the APU was actually the #2 engine Birdwatcher. The APU on a 727 is located in the right wheel well.
 
INTENSS
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:44 am

Like Deltaffindfw already stated, Delta Shuttle (I'm sure PA Shuttle prior) de-planed their 727's from the rear stairwell. We did the same with the Yankees and Mets charters when they came through LGA. Their busses would be waiting while the players waited for us to unload their bags. Best job ever!

-Rich
 
m404
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 5:13 am

And of course boarding from the rear of my namesake, the Martin 404, then the Caravelle, the DC9, and last the 727. Carriers were Pacific, Air France, Iberia, Bonanza, AirWest, Hughes Airwest, Alaska, PSA, Royal Air Nepal, Republic, Aerolineas Argentinas, Varig, East African, Hawaiian, Pan Am, Frontier, TWA, National, Eastern, Northwest.

Best story was deplaning on the first one. The M404. I was a brand new agent meeting a super nice flight attendant (I still remember her name) and wasting time onboard with her (his term) when my boss yelled from below to get my (butt) outside and I fell down that airstair and broke my leg. When I came back from the hospital all plastered up he gave me a stool, a pen and said I was now a ticket agent. I had no where to run.
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LAXintl
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 5:20 am

Just watch out for the constant oil dripping from the No 2 engine!
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
spyderz
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through T

Sun Jan 16, 2005 5:36 am

This summer I boarded my first aircraft through the tail and it was pretty cool. It was a Jetsgo MD-80.
 
aeroweanie
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through T

Sun Jan 16, 2005 5:40 am

In a skydiving club loft I once saw a picture of skydivers deplaning a 727 through the aft door, at considerable altitude. They must have deactivated the D.B. Cooper device (a little vane that prevents the rear door from opening when airborne).
 
INNflight
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 5:43 am

I've only once boarded "through the tail"... Austrian Airlines MD83 way back in 1993 I think  Insane
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ERJ145LR
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 5:48 am

I have great memories of tail boarding a hawiaan airlines dc-9 through the tail! So awsome!
 
ual777contrail
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 5:52 am

The 727 was the greatest airplane to work and fly on. We (UAL) have worked many diversions with the 727, and the rear stairs made that plane a dream for deplaning.

I remember once, a premiers made it to the gate a little late, she was held up by a security problem. After talking with the crew, the ramp pushed the plane back, gave her a head set to block the noise, walked her out onto the ramp, dropped the stairs, and let her board that way. She was very thankful, and we enjoyed the opportunity.

UAL 777 CONTRAIL
 
Rattibone
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:20 am

If you still want to board through a tail of a 727, First Air does it all the time since all their fleet are combis, pax loading via an airport bridge can't be allowed. Lots of fun...
 
AzoresLover
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:21 am

And don't forget how DB Cooper chose to exit a NW 727 via the rear door back in 1972.

Of course, the plane was at altitude at the time!!

NOT recommended!
Those who want to do something will find a way; those who don't will find an excuse.
 
FlyboyOz
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:37 am

Cool B727...It's a special design of B727 in the aviation history. In Australia, Ansett Australia was the first airlines to have B727s in Australia history...then later Trans Australian Airlines also had B727s as well. I had flown on Australian Airlines B727 from SYD-MEL when I was tod.

SQ also had B727s as well. It was my first time to flow on it.
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FlewGSW
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:54 am

In March 2000, I was on a chartered Continental 727 out of Guam. We had to use the tail stairs as there was no equipment at the military airport we flew into. I understand that the plane was soon to be the last Continental 727 in service.
 
trintocan
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 8:21 am

I have also boarded MD80s and DC9s through the tail doors. It is quite a unique experience to walk in right past the engines and climb into the plane from behind. I am not quite sure whether I have ever boarded a 727 in this way though.

TrintoCan.
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ltbewr
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 11:39 am

I recall using the tail stairs on a couple of time to leave a 727 at DCA back in the 1980's. Kinda of wierd but interesting experience, but obiously not done much today at DCA. It was sometimes used if the weather was nice enough, and to unload the a/c easier and faster. Often the tail stairs were used by maintenance, catering work. Also on most small jets/turboprops (RJ's, ATR's) you use the side doors which sometimes have their own stairs.
 
UK_Dispatcher
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 11:59 am

I have only ever used the tail stairs once - it was boarding a Spanair MD83 for a NCL-PMI flight in 1998.
 
Skydrol
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 12:23 pm

Have boarded only two or three flights in this manner, I believe one was a DC-9 and two were 727s. As a kid, I thought this was incredible.


Ventral stairs are also much more convenient for mtce boarding aircraft which are not on a gate or in the hangar than climbing through an avionics bay hatch, especially when trying to carry things!



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aerorobnz
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through T

Sun Jan 16, 2005 12:26 pm

I boarded an AZ MD82 via the tail in August. very loud.
Flown to 120 Airports in 44 Countries on 73 Operators. Visited 55 Countries and counting. Wanderlust is like Syphilis, once you have the itch it's too late for treatment.
 
zippyjet
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 1:33 pm

I thought D.B. Cooper who became the stuff of 70's folklore ended the use of ingress and egress from that bottom 727 door. Cooper hijacked a 727 back in the early 70's and parachuted to oblivion with a lot of ransom money. Wasn't that access sealed off? At least here in the States?
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NWAFA
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 1:40 pm

The good old days!!! I have been very lucky to do it on PSA, UAL, and NWA.

A few years back there was a power outage at MCI, and the jetways could not be used. Only NWA, and AA could still get their flights in/out...AA was using the MD80's and NWA was using the DC9's..thank god for those tail stairs!
THANK YOU FOR FLYING NORTHWEST AIRLINES, WE TRULY APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!
 
ckfred
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 1:52 pm

Back in the 1960s, TWA used to use both L1 and the tail stairs to board and deplane 727s at Kansas City Municipal. Coach passengers used the tail stairs, while passengers in First used air stairs positions at L1.

I remember seeing a sports report on the news a few years ago. The Dallas Cowboys were leaving DFW on a chartered AA 727 for a playoff game. Rather than use airstairs at L1, the team boarded through the tail stairs.

Just an aside, but a friend of mine who flies 757/767 for AA had a Cowboys charter from ORD to DFW after a Monday-night game. The food service consisted of Bistro Bags, but they were about 4 times the size of the standard Bistro Bag.
 
flygmolinafmly
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 1:55 pm

My last experience boarding/exiting through the tail was returning from Las Palmas (LPA) to Madrid (MAD) on an Iberia Airlines 727-256 Adv in June 1999.

We deplaned from the rear on our arrival in Madrid. It was a fun experience and the feeling of being on the tarmac amongst all other airliners was unforgettable.

Great service and great airplane. In fact, it would be my 2nd to last flight on a 727.
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have bee
 
pr1268
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through T

Sun Jan 16, 2005 3:38 pm

Don't some airlines' operations manuals dictate that the crew lower the rear stairway on a/c so equipped when the plane is parked to eliminate the possibility of the plane falling backwards on its tail if the weight/balance gets thrown off?

Just curious, I was pretty sure the 727-200 has this requirement since it has a considerable amount of mass behind the mains.

I guess the IL62 has a weight/balance concern, as witnessed by the tail wheel (kinda odd looking considering...)


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Skydrol
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 3:47 pm

Pr1268 wrote:

>>>
Don't some airlines' operations manuals dictate that the crew lower the rear stairway on a/c so equipped when the plane is parked to eliminate the possibility of the plane falling backwards on its tail if the weight/balance gets thrown off?
<<<

I was just reading about this!!

Check here:

Ventral Stairs Left Lowered




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Aleksandar
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:19 pm

I used those stairs many times and it was always fun. It was always on JAT's 727s and DC-9s at the airports throughout former Yugoslavia. Yes, it is loud and very often it takes a bit longer to get into the plane that way (there was always somebody too cautious in front of me who watched it's every step!), but when you get inside, you appreciate to comfort of the plane even more
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paddy78
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:59 pm

Had a couple of experiences with this...at TWA here in Colorado we had a lot of football team charters coming in during the season to play the Falcons at the USAFA. Not enough gate space to handle these charters and they wanted thier busses on the ramp anyway (pre-9/11 here...) and we would regularly board and deplane teams down the stairs of a 72 or an 80. Also had some serious winter freezes at the airport, sheet ice and such. Remember one night after the merger with AA, got a dedicated pilot in who landed when nobody else would even think about it. Made it all the way to the gate without a hitch, then to my horror discovered that the wheels on the jetway had completely frozen to the ground. Thing wouldn't budge. Airport guys told me "don't even think of deicing them, the airport drainage system is not set up for it yet" (really early snowstorm, like early october or something). Sat out there with the heater on them for 20 minutes without effect, finally told the captian, we'll drop the stairs and tell everyone to get thier coat. First guy came down the stairs and said "man, I sure did miss Colorado!"

And yes, it is a good idea to drop the stairs overnight on a 72, but no need on an MD80. Had an AA 727 tip up here many years ago after a night of heavy snow. It can really put some weight on the stabilizer and brushing that sucker off is not fun.
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scotron11
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through T

Sun Jan 16, 2005 10:20 pm

Showing my age here, but in the 70's it was quite common to board the 727 via the rear stairs as quite a few airports in EU did not have air-bridges.
 
FlyMeToTheMoon
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through T

Sun Jan 16, 2005 11:30 pm

It was great getting off the DL shuttle at LGA and DCA through the back. Especially on Friday nights when everyone was in a hurry. Much to my surprise B6 used the same - deplaning through front and back doors - at LGB this past week. Kinda nice being able to walk (slowly) past an airplane on the apron. Anyway, I miss the DL Shuttle 727s, great planes.
Fly me to the moon... but not through LHR!
 
737-990
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 8:01 am

You can still use the ventral stairs on Alaska MD-83s at BUR, especially now that they have implemented the"TANGO" turn procedures with 30 minute turn times, you see that on most of their turn flights. For 737s they do set up the back stairs and deplane/board out the back left door. The same is true for HP, WN and UA at BUR.

My only two time using the ventral stairs on a 727 was with Mexicana at GDL.
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United_fan
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 8:37 am

When FX had thier 727 at IAG for the airshow in August,they had the rear stairs open. You walked in the rear and exited the front.
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AngelAirways
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 am

the only time i have boarded an aircraft through the tail was a year ago on an Alitalia MD-82. It was not pleasant at all.

I was greeted by an eeeeevil smell coming straight from the two rear toilets which seemed to have spread itself right to the front of the cabin and soaked into all the furnishings. The whole plane had a sublime yet resilient and ever present aroma of faeces mixed with that blue airline chemical.

Awful.. especially when compared to AZ's clean fresh A321s...
 
ual777contrail
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:17 am

~~~~A few years back there was a power outage at MCI, and the jetways could not be used. Only NWA, and AA could still get their flights in/out...AA was using the MD80's and NWA was using the DC9's..thank god for those tail stairs!

Most companies have mobile stairs to use. I have worked in 7 different stations from the east coast to west, and all have had mobile or push up stairs.


UAL 777 CONTRAIL
 
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ClassicLover
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:33 am

FlyboyOz, you're so totally wrong with your statement about the Australian Boeing 727s.

TAA and Ansett-ANA introduced Boeing 727s on the exact same day (in 1964), due to the two airline policy at the time.

This is why Boeing's customer code for TAA was -76, and for Ansett -77 - because they had to order the same equipment at the same time.

Back on topic, I've never had the pleasure of the airstairs on the 727, since I've only flown the 727 twice. I've done the rear stairs for a 767 though, but it doesn't really count, does it  Smile

Trent.
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firstclasser
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 10:04 am

Can someone post the link to the "left side only" thread?
 
m404
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:18 pm

This doesn't really fit as rear stairs but just an awesome rear view while walking under it to board at rear left door (not to mention a darn welcome view) at Entebbe, Uganda in the early 70s in twilight just before sunrise.

Could not find a complete photo looking up but take it from me, walking under four RR Conways hung way out in back can't be beat for imposing.

The gorgeous Vickers VC10


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Photo © Stefan Ottosson

Note the tailplane shape
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Photo © Gerhard Plomitzer



[Edited 2005-01-17 04:19:59]
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BOEING787
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 7:33 pm

I remember boarding an Emitares 727 thru the tail once when flying from Colombo to Male (Maldives) in the early 90's. It was exteremely noisy but a nice experience.

Sri Lanka and the Maldives have been thru a lot lately, our hearts and prayers go out to the brave people of those two countries!
 
BOEING787
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 7:38 pm

Here she is!


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Awsome service by the crew - lot's of free champagne in Y on a 45 minute flight. President of Maldives was on board ahead in First with his entrouage.
 
JetMechMD80
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 7:55 pm

I thought D.B. Cooper who became the stuff of 70's folklore ended the use of ingress and egress from that bottom 727 door. Cooper hijacked a 727 back in the early 70's and parachuted to oblivion with a lot of ransom money. Wasn't that access sealed off? At least here in the States?

No, it was not sealed off, the inside handle was deactivated some aircaft so the stairs could not be lowered from inside the aircraft. The stairs could still be lowered and raised from the outside. Another device to comply with this, was the installation of "Cooper lock" it is just a small vane that pivots on a shaft, when the Aircraft is moving, the slipstream shoves the vane over, and it blocks the stairs from coming down. We also had to install two actuators to blow down the stairs in an emergency.

What you thought was the APU was actually the #2 engine Birdwatcher. The APU on a 727 is located in the right wheel well.

Never heard of a "Birdwatcher" what is that? Are you referring to the "S" duct for the #2 engine?
As for the APU, it is not just in the right wheel well, it is in both wheel well's. It sits dead center on the keel beam. You can access the accessory's (fuel control, starter, generator, etc) in the right wheel well. But to change the igniter plug, and burner can, you access them in the left wheel well. The exhaust duct is also in the left wheel well.
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Type-Rated
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RE: Unforgettable Memories: Boarding 727 Through Tail!

Tue Jan 18, 2005 2:14 am

What I remember most about entering/exiting ventral stairs is the odor of Jet-A, and how cold and windy it is back there! I've been up and down the rear stairs of plenty of 72's and DC-9's in the upper midwest during the cold winter/spring seasons. First you get the Jet-A smell, then it always seems to be windy back there, with your trouser legs flapping in the wind. It's a relief to finally get into the comfortable cabin. It really can be quite an adventure.

Speaking of rear stairs, didn't TW have an incident near SAT where the rear stairs opened partially in flight and the F/A was hanging down the stairs with pax holding on to his legs trying to close them?
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