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My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Fri Jan 09, 2004 5:18 am

Well, this is my first post here in a long time but this was definitely the most memorable commercial flight I have had, so I wanted to share with the forums.

Air Transat holidays was offering a promotion for return flights YYZ-MCO for $114 Cdn return plus taxes. I looked up the Air Transat website and found that all available flights were A330 except for Jan. 1 2003 which was showing an L-1011-150 series aircraft. I had heard that Transat was phasing these out rather quickly and realized it was likely my only chance to ever fly to L-1011, so I jumped at the offer and bought the tickets. In the back of my mind I still thought it would be likely that the aircraft could be substituted to an A330 or A310 depending on the pax load.

The flight YYZ-MCO on the 25th was on an A330-200, unfortunately I was not able to see the registration. It would have been fun knowing it was C-GITS though  Smile/happy/getting dizzy The flight was okay, typical A330 quiet cabin but the seat pitch left a lot to be desired. Transat in-flight service was friendly and efficient, about what I expected, and a light meal was served. It was only a 2hr 15min flight, so the seat pitch didn't bother me all that much and I was able to arrive in Orlando relatively relaxed. I was glad to see that Transat had the Airshow program running. Needless to say I really enjoyed my time in Florida with weather between 23-27C every day, but that doesn't really belong in this post  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Returning to MCO on the car rental shuttle bus January 1st, I was straining to see a Transat tail. I was very pleased to see the trademark L-1011 tail waiting at the gate, as I knew the incoming flight had been delayed more than 2 hours and I was really hoping there hadn’t been an aircraft substitution. The aircraft was a long body –150 series, I am about 90% sure it was C-FTNG but the registration was very small.

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Photo © Jonathan Derden - SPOT THIS!

Being a charter flight, everyone had arrived early and the boarding commenced 20 mins ahead of schedule. Unfortunately I was not able to get a window seat. I had 34H, an aisle seat just behind the wing. The aircraft was full except for a couple of seats, the pax load being 350 in a 3-4-3 configuration. I found that the seat was slightly narrower but there was a lot more legroom on the L-1011 than the A330 that I had flown with Transat to MCO. I think I would definitely be comfortable on a transatlantic flight, and I am 6’3”.

The time from the flight attendants closing the door to pushback was relatively long for some reason, about 25 mins. I was thinking, “please, not technical problems!” but it turned out that some of the baggage had been delayed in loading. Sure enough, pushback started and I could hear the #1 engine spooling up. The #2 engine startup sounded really cool considering how close I was to the engine, and it really has a distinctive sound. Unlike the DC-10, you never will forget there is a giant turbofan engine right behind you, it is a high-pitched noise but this could only be heard at idle.

Soon enough, all three engines were started and we started out on a short taxi to the runway. The sound of the engines increasing and decreasing power like I said was very distinctive. With most of my recent flights being on RR Trent or CFM56 powered aircraft, all you hear is a muffled roar, especially sitting at the back of the aircraft. With the 1011’s RB.211s you can hear a lot more noises coming from the engine rather than just the roar of newer engines.

After takeoff, I was amazed at how quiet the cabin became. The #2 engine is quite loud at idle on the ground but is almost silent in flight. I would say the cabin is only slightly noisier than the A330-200 but is far superior in terms of passenger space.

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Photo © Dean Allchin

(The aircraft I was on did not have the centre overhead bins, but otherwise the interior is very similar)

Looking at pictures on the site and hearing personal accounts, I knew that the L-1011 cabin was large. But the pictures don’t do it justice. IT IS MASSIVE. Almost like you are flying in an auditorium rather than an airplane, considering how high the ceiling is and how wide the cabin is, especially compared to the A330. The flight attendants were struggling to reach the overhead bins. In fact, the A330 doesn’t even seem like a widebody compared to the L-1011. Same things go with the washrooms – I could go in and actually not have to duck to avoid the ceiling like on the A330 or 767.

I must say that although Transat has been rightly maligned for their maintenance woes, they have done an excellent job keeping a 30-year old airplane looking relatively new, at least to a pax point of view. The seats looked relatively new and there were very little shakes or rattles from the interior of the airplane even on takeoff. And I am cursing my 4-year old Nissan Maxima with every little squeak going over a bump. Quite an accomplishment actually.

Soon enough, too soon actually (about 2 hrs 10 mins after takeoff) we were approaching YYZ. If I was counting correctly, the flight crew went through at least five different flap settings before landing – and he pulled off a greaser. Sadly, I was thinking to myself, this will be the last time I probably ever fly on an L-1011 with Transat phasing them out soon and very few other airlines still having them in operation.

While fuel efficiency is definitely a concern that we should all have, from a passenger’s point of view we are really going backwards by phasing out the old widebodies like the L-1011. Even with a 3-4-3 seating configuration and 363 seats in total, there was still plenty of space. I hope that I will be able to fly one again, but if not, I salute the old Lockheed birds and I now know why everyone would rave about them.


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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Fri Jan 09, 2004 5:43 am

Thanks for that report,it sure is nice to see a L-1011 in a report,getting few and far between.

It will be 11 years ago in march that I took my first and last L-1011 flights,DL99 & DL98,LGW-MIA-LGW.

The flights were -500 machines,both x Pan Am.Neither flight was full,but I do remember how quiet and smooth the aircraft were.

Sadly I guess that will be tha last L-1011 flight for me.

Great aircraft,glad you had the chance to fly her.


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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Fri Jan 09, 2004 9:07 am

Good to see another L1011 report again! Although I have never been on one, I too am sorry to see them beeing phased out.
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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Fri Jan 09, 2004 9:58 am

Nice TR, wish I could go on an L-1011. Btw, Nissan's have very good reliability.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-

Fri Jan 09, 2004 1:31 pm

I remember flying the L-1011 for the first AND last tiem on TWA MCO-STL(Aircraft sub for an MD-80(LOOOOOOOOONG STORY) and even got upgraded to First class...(again LOOONG STORY)....so I enouyed every moment of it it was a VERY quiet flight we flew out at 12:00 and arirved at 1:00 AM in STL. I was so happy to see that L-101 pull up instead of the MD-80:D

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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Fri Jan 09, 2004 4:00 pm

Glad you got the chance to fly on a L-1011!

I flew on many TWA flights operated by L-1011s and always liked that aircraft much better than the DC-10.

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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Fri Jan 09, 2004 5:23 pm

Thanks for posting that report! It really brought back a lot of memories of my earlier flights on my favorite aircraft type. During the 80's and early 90's I used to travel at least once a year with my parents on one of LTU's trusty L1011's from Germany to Spain in a similar charter configuration.  Big thumbs up

Even if it is inevitable that these old workhorses will be put to rest in favor of newer and vastly more efficient equipment, it still makes me sad to see them go.  Sad
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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Fri Jan 09, 2004 5:26 pm

Thanks for the memories of my only L1011 flight on Hawaiian from SEA-HNL around 1990-91 when I was 6 or 7.
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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Fri Jan 09, 2004 6:46 pm

I flew on an American Trans Air L1011 SFO-OGG and HNL-SFO in 1993. I was 7 at the time, however, fortunately I had just a few months previously become very, VERY interested in aviation and was able to appreciate the trip as a result. (I had taken a strong interest in aviation shortly after my 7th birthday, and had rapidly bought many books on the subject, and with which I credit much of my literacy, and 1993 was probably one of the best years of my life in terms of aviation interest).

Though it was many years ago and I was, as stated above, young at the time, I did very much enjoy the flights. I saw the cockpit shortly before the first flight and possibly before the second, although I cannot remember too clearly on that point. The cockpit seemed to have good visibility and I remember seeing the flight engineer's station and asking the crew a few questions. On the first flight I had a window seat, on the return flight I had an aisle seat. The luggage bins were huge, and in general the entire cabin was very spacious. The food however was bad, and the restrooms broke down repeatedly on the return flight.

The outbound flight was during the day and I remember it got to be a bit monotonous staring out at the Pacific, however it was interesting nonetheless. The return flight was at night and the early 90s edition of "America's Funniest Home Videos" and "Honey I Blew Up The Kid" were shown on the movie screens.

While I was in Honolulu there was a military store (I think it was connected with a museum) that sold the expensive replicas of airliners, I bought a few as souvenirs, including, appropriately enough, an L1011 (in Eastern livery) all of which I still have today.

I am very glad I was able to fly on the L1011 and consider it to be one of the all time greatest airliners, along with the 707, the 727, the VC-10 and the 747. In fact the retirement of the L1011 along with the impending retirement of the 727 was among the events that contributed to me loosing much of my interest in aviation in early 1999.

I'm glad that those of you who have been able to fly on the L1011 had the experience, as it is certainly special. Hopefully at least a few L1011s will be preserved for posterity.

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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Sat Jan 10, 2004 1:22 am

It indeed is sad to see that L-1011 fly away forever. It is a spetacular aircfraft from the outside. I will never forget when I was on the ramp waiting for a crew van when I was working for AA at ORD. A TZ L-1011 (former TW) aircraft was spooling up. It literaly hurt from the vibration. My brest bone was vibrating! I only flew the L-1011 once on DL from ATL to HNL. The interior was shabby and so was the service! Without the center overhead luggage bins the cabin is indead very spacious. HOWEVER the scramble for storage was even worse than on modern wide bodies. The window seamed lower and I felt like I was bending down to look out. The newer 777 and A330/340 with the much more efficent baggage space.
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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Sat Jan 10, 2004 1:38 am

I flew on a few Delta L-1011. Boy the cabin really gives one the impressions of space, especially those without overhead bins. Feels wider than a 747 or DC-10. I was impressed. When the cabin lights are dimmed it really makes the cabin look and feel wider. The TriStar have a very distinctive humming noise when spooling up and it sounds really smooth and muffled. It is also amazingly quite. A real joy to fly in one! I will miss them.
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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Sat Jan 17, 2004 2:25 am

Great review, nothing beats the sound of the RR 22b on the L1011-1/100. From start up to taxi to takeoff to landing it makes some unique sounds, something the RR 524 on the L1011-500 or 747-200 cant duplicate. The 1/100 is in a league of its own and here at DFW recently we have had N188AT and N195AT (100's) come in on charters recently and always make a way to go to the ramp to catch that start up to takeoff. Still gives me chills after all of these years of being around them!
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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Sat Jan 17, 2004 3:31 am

Nice review indeed...My last L1011 flight was Delta ATL-MCO 3 years ago. I've
flown several TWA examples and loved that airplane.

What a long strange trip it's been
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RE: My First And Probably Last L-1011 Flight, MCO-YYZ

Sat Jan 17, 2004 6:38 am

Good you got to fly the L1011.

I do miss these birds. Sadly, my last flight on them was about 13 years ago (-500) don't think I will get another chance though!

I agree with your comment about how spacious the interior feels. Also the cabin was quiet too.

good report by the way.

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