I flew CO down to MSY (and I was happy I made the decision), but on the way back, I didn’t have extra time to play with, so I needed to take a nonstop. Of course, my first choice was Delta. After browsing through the schedules, the 3:00pm flight caught my eye, simply because it was scheduled to be operated with by a DC9-50. The thought of flying on a DC-9 one more time really perked me up. And with the way fuel prices are going, “one more time” could easily end up being “one last time”, so I wanted to make sure I was able to fly on a truly classic jetliner while I had the chance. As it turned out, this latest (last?) flight on the -9 turned out to be a memorable one.
Delta Air Lines
Flight DL 1158
Dep: 1500 (actual 1604)
Arr: 1725 (actual 1811)
The inbound flight from ATL touched down a little late at 2:30pm and parked at gate D-6 at 2:35pm. I was curious to see if the plane could be turned in 25 minutes. The ship number was N773NC, and it looked really sharp in the DL colors. Boarding didn’t start until about 2:50. Once on board, I was immediately impressed by the cabin…the DL blue leather seats looked great. To the ordinary passenger, there was no way one could tell this plane was built in the 1970’s. Sitting down in seat 22F, I was impressed by the seat comfort and pitch. Indeed, I found the seating on the D95 to be more comfortable than its big brother MD-88. Seat 22F is a good seat if you want a view and if you want your brain to be rattled silly by the JT8D engines…the best of both worlds.
At about 3:10pm, the Captain announced that there was a problem with one of the fuel tank monitors in the flight deck. He said they could fly with it, but they needed to make sure the fuel tank was filled to capacity. So the fuelers were called back out to the airplane. At about 3:20pm, as they were adding more fuel, I saw a huge spray of fuel shoot out from the right wing. It looked like a fire hose going off. It lasted about three seconds. I guess they over fueled the aircraft? Anyway, a few minutes later, the ground crew pulled out the haz mat cart, and a crew of about six people started to work on cleaning up the spill. All in all it took about twenty five minutes before the spill was cleaned up well enough for us to be pushed back. Push was at 3:50pm.
While we were still on the apron, the engines spooled up to a very high thrust setting with the brakes applied, about three times. It seemed like they were testing the engines out or something. Due to our max fuel load and high pax count, we taxied to runway 10, the longest runway at MSY: 10,104 feet. As we turned on the runway, the engines spooled up again to what sounded like 50-60% power, and we sat there for over three minutes with the brakes applied. It was a weird experience. I have to say this combined with the several engine spool ups on the apron had me hoping that we’d actually takeoff and not head back to the gate. But a little after three minutes of holding, thrust was increased a little more, and the brakes were released. Indeed, it was a long, loud takeoff roll. Music to my ears. We climbed out due East over the suburbs and made a slight left turn about twelve miles from the field as were overflew downtown New Orleans. Here’s a link to the takeoff video…and remember, the actual takeoff roll doesn’t start until a few minutes into it…
After we reached 10,000ft., the Captain came on and made some announcement, but the cabin was so loud back there, it was mostly inaudible. I did manage to make out “arrival gate A, A is in Alpha, 15”, though. A beverage and peanut service started shortly thereafter. I spent the rest of the flight taking various pictures and watching the world pass bye below. It was nice actually having a cloudless sky the entire way for a change. I got a great view of downtown Montgomery, Alabama and West Point Lake. Descent into ATL started shortly thereafter. We overflew the field, headed out East towards Stone Mountain, and turned around and landed to the West. It was a classic DC-9 landing with multiple power adjustments on final approach. Here’s the landing video…
Taxi time was fairly quick and we parked at gate A15. It was a mad rush exiting the aircraft as many people had close connections. This plane would fly to TLH later in the evening as DL2178. Here are the pictures from the flight…
It was not a typical flight by any means, but the DC-9, as it’s done for decades now, got everyone there safe and sound. I’ve always been a sucker for classic jetliners…mostly because I grew up flying on them…and it doesn’t get any more classic than a DC-9, especially in the year 2011. But all things come to an end, and the end is quickly approaching for the DC-9 in passenger service. Over the years I had the chance to fly on 28 Boeing 727’s…and looking back on it, I took it for granted, just because I figured they’d be around forever. But as the year’s have passed and I’ve seen so many planes that I admired from my youth be put out to pasture, I’ve come to appreciate them more and cherish my time on them more. Believe me; I cherished my time on that DC-9 yesterday. It was like stepping back in time for me, if only for a couple of hours. Happy trails, old friend.
[Edited 2011-02-27 06:55:53]