Pihero
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Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:16 pm

To write the story of the DC-4 is to take on a big chapter of aviation history : from the days of the birth of what became the Military Air Transport Command, with the pioneering of the great North routes, the Berlin airbridge, and after the war, the rebirth of world civilian air transport.
There are dozens of books and films which tell that story, the best being Ernest Gann’s “Fate is the Hunter”. and “The High and the Mighty”

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In France, as a young boy, I watched dozens of times a film called “ Aux Yeux Du Souvenir “ which told the eventful flight of a DC-4 across the Atlantic.
The DC-4 then became the subject of my childhood dreams.

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Then, a year after the Academy I was offered a DC-4 course and the king couldn’t have been my cousin ! I was elated… my childhood dream came true, even through the five weeks classroom lectures which would reveal all the intricacies of its systems… The lessons were tough and thorough as we were attending the same classes, regardless of our functions : pilots with flight engineers… that meant I knew the ignition timing of the engine, the function of the poppet valves… and the pass mark was 85 %.
I must confess I never went so deep into systems in my other type ratings.
After those studious five weeks, time for some fun flying :
-First two hours each of circuits and bumps : 1500 ft patterns, then 1000 ft and finally the low alt 300 ft circuits : The airplane is incredibly stable with well balanced – if heavy – controls.
The main aspect of the cockpit was the instruments disposition : just about half-hazard with no logic to talk about… we are very far from the British-then-universally adopted T. But one had to adapt and we soon developed a very efficient instrument visual circuit.


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… And here I am in Madagascar…



On my first line flight. The Training Captain is Soissons, an old hand of the Air France African division and the flight engineer is Jessenne, known by all as “Jess”… he will become one of my greatest friends.
The airline’s DC-4s are in my opinion the best looking ever. The aircraft seems, as usual with pilots ready to give them a personality, steady, a no-nonsense partner for some elating play with the clouds.



Today, we’ll be operating the tourist flight : Tananarive to Nosybe. Forty five passengers are enjoying the comfort of the deep foam “pullman seats” which welcomes them like a cocoon.
Jess starts the engines 3,4,2,1 in that order, counting nine blades before switching to both mags… the beast vibrates, raring to go, but there’s a lot to do first : the check-list is very long and the engines run-ups take a long time ( that will also allow the oil temp to stabilize )… 1700 RPM, prop checks to low setting, then back, then prop feather check… Mag check at 1000 RPM…
And back to the check-list again, prior to takeoff.
The takeoff itself is very smooth : you lift the nosewheel off the ground at 75 mph and leave the attitude there… when the airplane is ready, it will lift off by itself, and then you have to fight it in order to accelerate level just above the runway… 110 mph, pull a bit, then announce : “Positive rate of Climb, Altimeter unstuck… Gear up !”
500 ft , “First reduction “, to METO power
1000 ft acceleration flap 10… 5… Flaps up.
150 mph, “Second Reduction “ to climb power.
After takeoff checklist.
Climb is done at 170mph, 500 ft/min to respect passengers eardrums and there are only two cruising altitudes : 9000 ft or 10,000, for lack of pressurisation.
Cruise is done at an indicated 200 mph which gives – o Magic ! – 200 kt TAS at cruising FL ; The technique for achieving cruise settings is to climb three or four hundred feet above the intended level, then gently descend in order to accelerate to the cruising speed. It’s a busy time : the flight engineer has to deal with the RPMPs – 2300 usually -, the manifold pressure, the mixture, the cowling flaps… then, when everything stabilizes, put the props in sync. A real pro doesn’t use the synchro dial, he does it by ear, eliminating the woowwoowwoow frequency into a nice background rumble.
For the pilots, it’s time to recheck the instruments, reset the gyro-compass, check the gyros vacuum suction pressure and start the navigation… Today, it’s rather easy : we’ll be pushed by the TNR VOR for the first half hour, do some dead-reckoning until we snare the Nosy be beacon on the ADF.
We don’t need it : these crews’ knowledge of the country is incredible “ See the double bend of the river with the big flaming tree ?... fly right over it and these two hills which look like a witch’s tits…”
Time to rest a bit and set the autopilot : its indicator is in fact the huge horizon that takes most of the captain’s panel : keep it steady on its track, then engage one by one the three levers behind the pedestal.The thing will keep the airplane steady on attitude, bank and heading… An autopilot correction is quick and brutal, just about a kick in one’s back (side).
Every five minutes or so, reset the gyrocompass with a reading from the oil-filled compass hanging between three sandows on the glareshield…
Time to descend : 300 ft/min so as to put little strain on our passengers’eardrums, 200 mph indicated. Controls seem set in concrete and trimming is a vital necessity. Soissons teaches me to do all the descent with the trim wheels… and it’s a very accurate trajectory keeping.
Under 150 mph, it’s a delight to fly.
Final approach, airspeed gently winding down to 120 mph, full flaps, full fine pitch, final checklist and boy, all up to you !
115mph, three hundred feet, 500 feet per minute, the “Four” settles nicely into the ground effect… Hold the nose ! Frrrt Frrrt !..nice one, buddy !... Fly the nosewheel to the ground…See ? Nothing to it !
Air Madagascar stops its flying at 3 PM local, as thunderstorms would develop like clockwork every day at five in the afternoon, so will stay at the hotel for the rest of the day.

Cette photo de Nosy Be est fournie gracieusement par TripAdvisor


Yes… First day in heaven, and on a DC-4 ! What else would a pilot need? I ask you.

[Edited 2014-02-17 06:18:25]

[Edited 2014-02-17 06:21:23]

[Edited 2014-02-17 06:22:11]

[Edited 2014-02-17 06:23:30]
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flyingturtle
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:34 pm

Merci beaucoup pour ta histoire interéssante!



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N14AZ
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:39 pm

Nice thread!

Quoting Pihero (Thread starter):
then, when everything stabilizes, put the props in sync. A real pro doesn’t use the synchro dial, he does it by ear, eliminating the woowwoowwoow frequency into a nice background rumble.

Honestly, I didn't even know that something like this had to be done on a DC 4.

Quoting Pihero (Thread starter):
… And here I am in Madagascar…

Great picture with three amazing aircrafts in the background. Do you know by chance who operated the Bac 1-11 next to "your" DC 4?
 
Natflyer
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:40 pm

Merci Monsieur! I can relate to you story, but being a few years younger my first "large" airplane was another Douglas, the DC-8.
 
Pihero
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:54 pm

Quoting N14AZ (Reply 2):
Do you know by chance who operated the Bac 1-11 next to "your" DC 4?

If I remember correctly, it was a VIP aircraft from Nigeria or Zambia.
But I may be mistaken.
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mrskyguy
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:35 pm

This is TERRIFIC! We need more write-up stories like this. I felt like I was there!

Mon francais est un peu rouille, mais j'espere que vous continuez a ecrire plus d'histoires pour nous!
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:39 pm

Beautiful topic and a great insight into the 4!

I never knew most of this stuff, such as descending to increase to cruise speed and so on! Looking forward to the next one, this was GREAT!!!
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:48 pm

Thank you for taking the time to post this ... it was as enjoyable to read as any magazine article I have read.
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:57 pm

Thanks, it is great to read how well these old machines performed in their prime! The sophistication of the people was if anything more important and impressive back then than it is now.
 
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:04 pm

Quoting Pihero (Thread starter):
“ Aux Yeux Du Souvenir “

Quite appropriate for this thread ! Who needs a movie when we have posts like this ?

Un plaisir à lire (et relire)...waiting for the next episode ! (as I know first hand there is so much more   )
My goal as an engineer is to fill my soul with coffee and become immortal
 
Pihero
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:30 pm

Thanks, guys !
I have to say it was very difficult to keep the post short and to the point. There is so much on this plane !

Quoting Flighty (Reply 8):
The sophistication of the people was if anything more important and impressive back then than it is now.

We fly airplanes, it's true. But in many ways they shape us, and the more we like them, the more we are impregnated with their characteristics, their quirks... basically by everything we love in them.
The 'Four made me a better pilot, more aware of my environment and the little signs I gathered from her tiniest reactions... And as the instrumentation was so basic, that knowledge came from something akin to a developped sixth sense.
I learned airmanship with the likes of Soissons, Courteville who was a Free French fighter pilot and kept a sweet spot in his heart for the Spitfire and the Dewoitine 520, Pecherand, aka "The Peach" who had then some 35,000 hours and probably the greatest manoeuvre pilot I've ever seen... I was an apprentice, and, boy ! did I learn !
The 'Four taught me that less is always better than more, some tidbits - that are now forgotten by the young ones of today - like controlling the speed with the yoke and the descent with engine power, which sounds ridiculously basic but is in fact the beginning of great airmanship.
When later I went into jets, it took a long time being relaxed... something was missing... and it was the comforting bass rumble of these four R2000s droning in synch.
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warden145
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:56 pm

Tres bien...merci beaucoup!!

If I may ask, about when was this?

Wonderful story...looking forward to more installments!!
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:05 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 10):
some tidbits - that are now forgotten by the young ones of today - like controlling the speed with the yoke and the descent with engine power, which sounds ridiculously basic but is in fact the beginning of great airmanship.

You may be pleased to learn that in Canada at least, the concept of 'control airspeed with pitch, rate of descent with power' is ingrained into the heads of new pilots to this day. I would assume that this is also taught throughout most western flight schools.
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:22 am

Thank you for this wonderful description - a joy to read.

The DC-4 also has special memories for me. My 3rd and 4th flights were on Qantas DC-4s VH-EDA and VH-EDB when I flew from Sydney to Norfolk and back in December 1976 for my honeymoon.

I remember that the engines were so loud that no in flight announcements were made. Instead the captain periodically passed back a sheet of paper with a printed map and an "X" to update our our location. He also noted on one of the maps that we were flying at a speed of Mach 0.28 at the time.

http://www.stephencodrington.com/Aviation/Flights_Log/Pages/1970s_files/Media/003_norf1_242_cd2074_img0004/003_norf1_242_cd2074_img0004.jpg?disposition=download

http://www.stephencodrington.com/Aviation/Flights_Log/Pages/1970s_files/Media/004_norf21_242_cd2074_img0024/004_norf21_242_cd2074_img0024.jpg?disposition=download

http://www.stephencodrington.com/Aviation/Photos_of_Planes/Pages/Airliners_1970s_and_1980s_files/Media/19761221-DC4-NORF-b/19761221-DC4-NORF-b.jpg?disposition=download

http://www.stephencodrington.com/Aviation/Photos_of_Planes/Pages/Airliners_1970s_and_1980s_files/Media/19761221-DC4-NORF-c/19761221-DC4-NORF-c.jpg?disposition=download
 
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:58 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 10):
We fly airplanes, it's true. But in many ways they shape us, and the more we like them, the more we are impregnated with their characteristics, their quirks... basically by everything we love in them.

Thank you so much for posting this. As one who flew big airplanes with round engines and propellers, when you smelled the oil and exhaust all the time, I truly loved them. And this brings back many memories of fond times in odd places.

For some reason I likely will never understand, it seems to take a Frenchman to memorialize the joys of flight. Thank you Pihero and thank you to one who was truly an aviator, thank you St. Ex.   
Sixty Plus Years of Flying! "I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things." - Saint Ex
 
compliancecheck
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:34 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 10):
There is so much on this plane !

I for one would love to read more about it! I was unfortunately not around for these aircraft or their golden days!
 
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:56 am

Quoting compliancecheck (Reply 15):
I for one would love to read more about it! I was unfortunately not around for these aircraft or their golden days!

Oh they're still in service. You just have to look for them (hint: CYZF).
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:14 am

Quoting compliancecheck (Reply 15):
Quoting Pihero (Reply 10):There is so much on this plane !
I for one would love to read more about it! I

Thankfully there is plenty available, compliancecheck! It maybe began with a guy named Ernest K. Gann, who kind of 'drifted' into airline flying in the '30's, and found himself flying unarmed transport aeroplanes in the Pacific during WW2 (up against the Japanese). He wrote up his experiences.

Sorry - my computer is playing up, won't post links - but just google "Ernest K. Gann - "Fate Is the Hunter." A good read.

He later wrote 'The High And the Mighty.' Which became a marvellous film starring John Wayne etc., about a DC4 getting into trouble losing an engine between Honolulu and San Francisco.

Still can't copy a link - but just google the title and it will come up - the whole film is still available (and free  ) on the net.
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:41 am

Quoting Dalavia (Reply 13):
Instead the captain periodically passed back a sheet of paper with a printed map and an "X" to update our our location.

I would love that!


Keep those stories coming, please!  


David
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Pihero
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:10 am

Quoting Dalavia (Reply 13):

I remember that the engines were so loud that no in flight announcements were made

That's what happens when people remove the foam/glass fiber insulation in the cabin. Otherwise, the 'Four was pretty quiet inside.... but in hot and dry climes, that weighs a ton and costs in terms of performance.
Thanks for the pictures.  

Quoting warden145 (Reply 11):

If I may ask, about when was this?

Course in May, training flight at Lille-Lesquin in July, First flight 24 July 1972.

Quoting compliancecheck (Reply 15):
I for one would love to read more about it!

As I posted, Ernest Gann deserves reading. Along "Fate is The HUnter" and "The High and The Mighty", there is a book which reads like a thriller, based on a true event : the search of a plane lost in the Great Canadian North which landed on a frozen lake ( there are thousands and thousands of those ). The book is immensely interesting as it tells of human ingenuity, navigation where compasses were worth naught. It's called " Castles in The Sky". They also made a film with John Wayne on it.

Quoting Nav20 (Reply 17):
Ernest K. Gann, who kind of 'drifted' into airline flying in the '30's, and found himself flying unarmed transport aeroplanes in the Pacific during WW2 (up against the Japanese). He wrote up his experiences.

No. Gann was a mail pilot for what was to be American Airlines. During WW2, he was among the pioneers who trailblazed the US-UK route via Canada, flying C-47s, C-54s and Liberators and were at the origin of the soon-to-be US Military Air Transport Command.
The Berlin Airlift was their hour of glory, but IMHO, they are amongst the forgotten heroes of WW2.

Quoting threepoint (Reply 12):
in Canada at least, the concept of 'control airspeed with pitch, rate of descent with power' is ingrained into the heads of new pilots to this day. I would assume that this is also taught throughout most western flight schools.

Yes it is, but jet flying soon teaches a more brutal approach... until they fly with an old-timer who shows them, with the help of a modern FPV - Flight Path Vector, aka "the Bird" - that t's still very valid and leads to a smoother and more comfortable flying.

Quoting macsog6 (Reply 14):
thank you to one who was truly an aviator, thank you St. Ex.

"Wind, Sand And Stars" is my favourite aviation book under its French title " Terre des Hommes". There are a few translations into English, of which one is extraordinarily close to the original ( as a matter of opinion superior for style ) by Lewis Galantiere. Don't buy any other. The book is an enchantment.

PS : This could be a picture of my first contact with the 'Four, the way I remember it.


Thank you all for your comments.

[Edited 2014-02-18 01:13:34]
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Dalavia
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:32 am

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 18):
Keep those stories coming, please!

Well, not really a story, but here is a photograph of one of the captain's information sheets that was passed around the cabin on my Qantas DC-4 in December 1976 to keep passengers updated.

To me, this has much more personality than a map on a TV monitor.

 
BrusselsSouth
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:09 am

Really enjoyed reading your post,

merci Pihero!

Regards
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:10 am

Pihero,

I really enjoyed your narrative, thank you so much for sharing. Mr. Gann is one of my favorite authors, I'm sure you would enjoy one of his later novels "band of brothers" . I'm guessing you already read it. Did you ever get to experience the Air France Caravelle service to the far east? I read it was spectacular. I was lucky enough to fly SFO/ANC/HND as a child in a northwest DC6 then more recently on a B777 LAX/NRT in F and reflect how far we have come from then to now. I shall look for "aux yeux du souvenir" and "terre des homes" translated by Galantiere.

thanks again!

Dalavia,

thanks for posting the QF flight log, it was wonderful, thank you Captain Wickes, wherever you are! I especially liked the part about the dance floor   I just read "a lifetime in longhaul" by Bill Anderson, you might enjoy. Interesting QF flew the DC4 and the 707 during the same time frame.

[Edited 2014-02-18 03:16:56]

[Edited 2014-02-18 03:27:03]
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:25 pm

Pihero,
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the DC-4. I could almost feel the vibration of the radial engines, the smell of the interior..One consequence was that I immediately checked Amazon for Ernest Gann,s book. It's available, I'll certainly buy it! I have logged two flights on the DC-4 as a kid in the sixties. Once in Greece, once in Taiwan. I was surprised to hear that Qantas had them in service as late as in 1976. Not a single DC-4 was ever registered in my native Finland, there were a few DC-6Bs however that were used for charter flights. But mostly Suomi was a Convair country.
 
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:35 pm

Quoting b737100 (Reply 22):
thank you Captain Wickes, wherever you are! I especially liked the part about the dance floor

Typical Aussie aviator humour... especially when one realises that in front of the passeger cabin is the cargo hold up to the front door, then the old radio and nav section, with the astrodome on top and a fixed Bendix gyro-stabilised drift meter.
As the pilots would use the latter from time to time, some dastardly minded fright (!) engineer would coat the eye-piece with shoe polish. Apparently, it was apparently great fun for them to see a captain - or an FO - with a black eye... Until one day, flying for Air Mauritius to Johannesburg, the French ambassador and his wife were invited to visit the cockpit, and of course, the captain being the perfect host offered to show them the African savanna from above... Jess was then busy repairing the stewardess water heater and nearly fainted when Lady Excellency came back to her seat with a perfect ring of black around her eye. Diplomatic incident !

[Edited 2014-02-18 05:38:51]
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ImperialEagle
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:50 pm

Thank you for an excellent read! I really miss the old "windmills" of long ago!   

Care to give us an "incident" story or two? I'm sure you have a tidbit involving props/engines/ or Ice.

Best wishes!
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:37 pm

Pihero,

How reliable were the engines on the -4? Did you have to close one sometimes? Performance with three running? During my one and only flight as a teen in the mid 60s on a DC-6, #4 was closed, I still remember seeing it before any announcements came..and we turned back of course.
 
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:11 pm

Quoting saleya22r (Reply 26):

How reliable were the engines on the -4?

One has to remember the Pratt & Whitney motto : "Dependable engines", and the R2000 was certainly that. A very simple ,design, built for ruggedness and fiability.
But like most of radial engines, it used ti have a number of forbidden RPMs, the main ones I still remember were between 1600 and 1700 RPM and 2300 to 2550. One wouldn't play inside those limits for threat of very dire consequences.
The engine main weakness was the electric start motor - which used to have a very distinct whine - but in the hold we used to carry a rope ending with a leather cap, which we would put on one propeller tip, pass three turns around the hub cap and have the rope pulled by a jeep on the FE's signal. It never failed !
I only lost one engine, through icing one late afternoon when we had to come home and of course take the gauntlet of the clockwork uninterrupted line of Cbs right on top of the cliff overseeing the East coast plains... withoutr radar... just eyeballing and looking for the darkest clouds ( those without ice ) or clearer skies between cells . One can understand that this kind of strategy contains some contradictory elements...In the end, we were getting too much ice and the captain decided to descend and hug the ridge, hopefully under the cloud base, which worked. I swear we weren't more than 500 ft above the hills, still in heavy rain and hail... the noise was incredible but we lost the ice and five minutes later ended up in bright bliue skies. The engine restart was a non event... Immediate...
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:46 pm

I haven't really posted very often, but when I read stuff like this, I remember why I finally decided to join a.net. Fantastic reading, and an amazing tribute.
 
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:33 am

Quoting Pihero (Thread starter):
Then, a year after the Academy I was offered a DC-4 course

Pihero, you are really dating yourself.  

Is the end of flying quickly approaching ? Wish I made one choice different way back and followed my dreams into the sky. Love it when I'm up there now, wish I made it a career.
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:29 am

What a wonderful thread!

Quoting threepoint (Reply 16):
Oh they're still in service. You just have to look for them (hint: CYZF).

There was at least one airworthy there when I visited in Sept. Apologies for the self plug, but you may be interested in this trip report, part 2 in reply 2 covers 7x DC-4's parked at YHY (sadly the photos are rather dark as it was evening with no tripod) but would certainly be a place for you to visit for your -4 nostalgia and everyone there is no friendly Im sure you would be able to get on board easily, probably even fly.

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Pihero
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:02 am

Quoting CALTECH (Reply 29):

Is the end of flying quickly approaching ?

Another three months and I'll be done with airline flying.
I've already finished flying in France. My last flight, I think, I'll write in trip reports as it was a bitterr-sweet experience.

Quoting CALTECH (Reply 29):

Pihero, you are really dating yourself.

It doesn't matter. I was lucky enough, or bloody-minded enough, according to some of my friends and family, to always chose pleasure, love of flying and new countries above career. As everything happened, I was right, mainly because I flew at the explosion of modern airplanes, when older types were also still around : how could I pass having a go at the Convair 640 or the DHC-6 before the new jets ?
A quick look back : At the academy, electronics courses were about lamps : triods, tetrods.... and three hours on transistors ! the 'Four windscreen wipers were powered by the hydraulic system !
I have always been lucky that fate allowed me to fulfill all my dreams of flying (OK ! Not completely as I would have loved to fly Concorde !)... and I do feel immensely priviledged to have met, known and worked in so many skies with pilots from so many horizons.
I guess I'm talking about riches, something almost spiritual...

Regards
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BA84
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:12 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 31):
Another three months and I'll be done with airline flying.

Bravo, Pihero, richly deserved!

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CALTECH
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:04 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 31):
Another three months and I'll be done with airline flying.
I've already finished flying in France. My last flight, I think, I'll write in trip reports as it was a bitterr-sweet experience.

Sad to hear.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 31):
It doesn't matter. I was lucky enough, or bloody-minded enough, according to some of my friends and family, to always chose pleasure, love of flying and new countries above career. As everything happened, I was right, mainly because I flew at the explosion of modern airplanes, when older types were also still around : how could I pass having a go at the Convair 640 or the DHC-6 before the new jets ?
A quick look back : At the academy, electronics courses were about lamps : triods, tetrods.... and three hours on transistors ! the 'Four windscreen wipers were powered by the hydraulic system !
I have always been lucky that fate allowed me to fulfill all my dreams of flying (OK ! Not completely as I would have loved to fly Concorde !)... and I do feel immensely priviledged to have met, known and worked in so many skies with pilots from so many horizons.
I guess I'm talking about riches, something almost spiritual...

Regards

Regret that I did not follow up with that type of career path, though it wouldn't have been before the explosion of modern airplanes. You've had a interesting career it sounds like. Enjoy your retirement, and godspeed.
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flyingturtle
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:26 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 31):
Another three months and I'll be done with airline flying.

  


I know you deserve your retirement. You're an aviation professional longer than I have lived. But there's no retirement from a passion.

Keep the stories coming, Pihero!  


David
Reading accident reports is what calms me down
 
Max Q
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:39 am

What a superb post. Thank you for sharing that with us Pihero.
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
Pihero
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:44 am

Quoting CALTECH (Reply 33):
Sad to hear.

Nothing sad at all . Aviation has changed so much in these past 40 years.
It has become a real industry and the freedom we used to enjoy in the sky is no longer.
Think for instance of a DC-4 pilot climbing above his assigned flight level in order to accelerate in a shallow descent to his cruising parameters : It's now totally unthinkable... Over most Africa, we were just bound for an HFcall every 30 minutes or so : The message was *TVB* - Tout va Bien- or *Operations Normal* in English, and could well be 50 Nm off track for Cb avoidance...
That's one of the reasons why the 'Four stands so fondly in my mind.
The companion of so many glorious sights : a sunset over Kilimanjaro... flying with geese over Lake Victoria... a low -very low - ferry flight over the Southwestern Madagascan reef... a cloud break approach on the edge of a cyclone in Mauritius... she will always be the one who taught me, along with some extraordinary teachers, what a pilot should be.

She will always have a very special place in my memory.
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MCOflyer
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:02 pm

Pihero,

What airliners have you flown besides the Convair, DHC-6 and the DC-4???
Never be afraid to stand up for who you are.
 
Pihero
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:30 pm

Add the Nord 262, the 737, the 747(100, 200, 300 and 400), the L-1011, the Airbus 320 family (all of them) and the 330.
Those are on my different licences.
As part of various opportunities, I have a few hours on the MD-80, the 767, the A300-600,the Tupôlev 134, the Nord 2501, the MD-20 and the Dak.
Funnily enough, I enjoyed them all except the TU-134 which I considered a flying coffin . I flew it as a test for an African government and along with three other colleagues we advised said government to eliminate it. For political reasons, they bought three - IIRC - which they rarely used and gave one to Mozambique... and it killed the then president in a crash scenario that we envisaged. That thing had zero spiral stability and atrocious aerodynamics : important wing sweep, no leading edge flaps, which meant a very high stall speed.
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David L
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:15 pm

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 1):
Merci beaucoup pour ta histoire interéssante!

   (Safer to quote someone else's French than to mess it up myself)

My first flight was in a Bristol Freighter (car included) but that was the only piston-engined aircraft I ever flew on. I did see some of the last of them at Kai Tak from the mid-1960s to 1971, though.

Fate is the Hunter: well, people have been going on about it for so long I thought I'd better get hold of it. So I just did. It had better be as good as everyone says it is.  
 
Pihero
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:48 pm

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 34):
Keep the stories coming

I have to confess that I wrote thius up in the hope that some fellow aviators would follow and give us a few stories of airplanes they flew, the flights they enjoyed...
I would love to read about Concorde, a day on the 727, guys on bizJets or Canadian float planes, or Aussie bush flying, or Siberian operations...
Come on, guys ! Be nice and share your experience with us all !
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Kuja
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:28 pm

A truly fascinating thread; thank you so much for sharing your memories. It really does sound like halcyon days indeed.

Whilst I am far too young to have any comparable tales of my own, I will share one from the past - some of you may have read it when it was originally published, but this tale of a DC-8 in the Marshall Islands is still one of my favourites.

"Little Amy" - Air Marshall Islands' DC-8

The DC-8 in question ended its career with ATI and is now preserved at John Rodgers Field in Hawaii, which I think is fitting.
 
ferpe
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:08 pm

Pihero,

I saw this thread late, therefore this late plea, please write about the other planes as well ! At least the ones you thought were great characters!!!

Merci mon ami for such a fantastic thread   

[Edited 2014-02-20 12:09:10]
Non French in France
 
ImperialEagle
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:35 pm

Quoting Pihero (Reply 40):
some fellow aviators would follow and give us a few stories of airplanes they flew, the flights they enjoyed...
Quoting Pihero (Reply 40):
Come on, guys ! Be nice and share your experience with us all !

Yes. I was able to coerce one of TW's old gray-beards into writing his first book and it was such a hit he ended up writing three! If you enjoy sharing the stories the folks at Simon & Schuster in New York are good folks to talk to. Might as well make some money!

Your style reminds me of the late Captain Len Morgan.

I was hoping you might have a "war-story" or two on the Breguet 763/765!
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough!"
 
HFW
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:30 pm

Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Pihero-...

a very touching and personal read, I enjoyed the journey to the past....
 
Aircellist
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:27 am

Magnifique! Merci!

J'espère que vous écrirez vos mémoires!
"When I find out I was wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" -attributed to John Maynard Keynes
 
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CALTECH
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Fri Feb 21, 2014 4:36 pm

Quoting Pihero (Reply 36):
Nothing sad at all .

For others and myself, sad to hear such a colorful career is coming to a end.
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Pihero
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:29 pm

Thank you all for your kind words.
Again, in my mind there is no sadness at all : I was fortunate, lucky, priviledged to have seen flying at the hinges of two era : Daddy's aviation and the entry to modern airline operations.
I loved the freedom of the skies we enjoyed until the mid-nineties... and a lot less the crowded skies-cum-FMS-and-cost index-and-TCAS which have begun to impede on our environment... These last five years have, as a matter of fact, been a bit frustrating.
I shall go back to the real flying, the purest form of aviation : flying sailplanes amounts to dancing with the elements or making love to the air currents and the mountain waves.
I guess I'm an incorrigible sky lover   
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sturmovik
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 25, 2014 6:45 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 19):
As I posted, Ernest Gann deserves reading. Along "Fate is The HUnter" and "The High and The Mighty", there is a book which reads like a thriller, based on a true event : the search of a plane lost in the Great Canadian North which landed on a frozen lake ( there are thousands and thousands of those ). The book is immensely interesting as it tells of human ingenuity, navigation where compasses were worth naught. It's called " Castles in The Sky".

I took your advice and read 'Fate is the Hunter'. Devoured it in two days. It is by far the best aviation book I've read so far, and now I'm looking to buy copies of the others you've mentioned. Thanks for pointing me to this treasure.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 31):
I guess I'm talking about riches, something almost spiritual...

I wish you a happy retirement, and I'm guessing you'll wax poetic even more when you're engaged in sailplane flying. Will look forward to more stories ..  
'What's it doing now?'
 
milesrich
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RE: Great Airliners I Used To Fly : The DC-4

Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:39 pm

I was born in 1951, first flew in 1955, and started flying regularly in 1960. I never flew in the DC-4, because, for the most part, I was never in the military and didn't leave the United States on a vacation until 1969. While DC-4's were still soldiering on in other countries, in the USA, by 1960, the DC-4 was gone. Only Capital flew them that year, and I never flew a Capital route or plane until after the United merger, and United grounded the DC-4s on June 30, 1961, the day Capital as a separate carrier flew its last flight. United flew a few DC-4 flights into Moline where I grew up but replaced them with Convairs in 1953. My experience must be similar to most other Americans because most of the personal recollections in this thread come from people who lived outside of the US. Capital, which could not afford to replace their DC-4's, even painted squares around the windows to get the casual flier to think they were flying in an airplane like the pressurized DC-6. Northwest probably kept their DC-4's because they had dumped their Martin 202s and never ordered Martin 404s or Convairs for their shorter routes. Of the other major trunk carriers, only United and Eastern operated the DC-4 into the mid 50s, and then on coach flights only. I think both carriers retired their last ones in 1957. Upstart intrastate PSA did operate them into about 1960 in California, and Pan Am operated them on flights into 1961, but on a few distant routes and in Cargo service. The USAF and its predecessor, the USAAF, as well as the USN operated the C-54 for over 30 years. Rugged, yes. in a regulated environment, the DC-4 could not be competitive with the faster and pressurized DC-6, Convair, Martin 404, and Constellations. Because they had four engines, the regionals did not want them and I think were prohibited from flying them. It is great that some are still flying today. But just think what would have happened if an airline in 1958 had attempted to fly a plane like the Shorts 360 or even and Embrear 120 against Convairs or Martins. Technology has improved, but passenger comfort has suffered.

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