Howdy. I read this question & joined up as a result. I'm a retired NWA, orignial NCA pilot. I started on the 580, flew it in both seats, with 1040 total hours in it. Doesn't sound like much. But there were a lot of experiences in it.
I was a light airplane pilot when hired. The first time I got my hands on the Bionic Buzsaw, I couldn't believe it. After I had flown DC-9 F/O and was bumped back to Convair Captain I really couldn't believe it. It takes muscle to fly this machine UNTIL you learn how to fly it... then it's easy... UNTIL things go to pieces, and you have to make corrections without the aid of trim. Like on a go around, or single engine cut. A tremendous amount of physical force is necessary. I had female co pilots.. (4) and none of them could do very well at it. One, wife of a Captain who was in her probationary year, announced to me that she would handle the ailerons and elevator while I would operate the power levers and rudders. We had a discussion as you may have guessed. She's flying 747-400 F/O... as a cruise pilot. She watches the airplane fly itself, etc at altitude. The job fits her perfectly.
The 580 had all the power you would ever want on her two Alison 501-D13 turboprop engines, produced 4,000 shaft horsepower each... (8,000 HP before the gearbox, prop and accessories). It took me about 8 months to become comfortable in it and only after becoming Captain did I really feel as if were an extension of my soul.
She would take a horrible pounding from weather, and withstand the most god awful landings you can imagine. But when you got to know her, she could be greased on nearly every time... landing with 300 HP per side, which was zero thust. Often you would not know you were on the ground until you felt a slight tug at your shoulder straps.
Our ceiling was FL 230, which seemed pretty high to me. She would get there right now! 4,000 FPM rate of climb was normal until passing 170 then she'd only do about 2,000 FPM. Contrast that to the 747 that waddles up to altitude often at 300 FPM... and sometimes just stops. Same with the 727 if it had the low power engines.
I don't know what you are looking for... feel free to reach me at Captrig@aol & I can give you more of what your looking for, maybe. I'm new to airliners.net, so I don't know IF you're getting this, or what.
I'm medically retired at age 48 (now 53) and yes I do miss flying the airplanes a lot. Diabetes. I do not miss the rat race at the airline that has gotten much worse since 9/11.
I'm looking at a print I have of one of the 580's in North Central livery over the Missouri river. Beautiful print. It shows an anvil topped thunderstorm in the background... the old 580 with it's C band radar did very well navigating around them, and occasionally in them. It seemed we were either flying in thunderstorm conditions or blizzards... nothing in bettween. I also have a shot out of my window (Left Seat) of the huge Alison engine & the awesome propeller. I can still hear it... it had a sort of whistle mixed in with the vibration from the engine that you would feel on the ground long before you heard it. Same engine as on the 130's you know... they have the Hamilton Standard props, while we had another, and I'll be damned if I can remember what it was. I'm in conact with one of the Captains I used to jerk gear for on a daily basis. He was THE BEST Convair pilot I ever flew with... so anything I don't remember, he will.
I flew the Convair, all DC-9's as F/O and Captain, (MD-80 is a DC-9 you know?) 727 as F/O & Captain, DC-10 F/O and 747 F/O. Started flying when I was 12.
So... anything more you're interested in??
Capt. NWA (Ret)
New River, Arizona