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Posted by David Reed on 07/31/2021


Summer Circumnavigation Event- Part IV

    AUGUST: Wide Body Circumnavigation. August is our final month of the Summer Circumnavigation Event. Remember, you don't have to actually do all four. You'll get an award for each one you do complete, so hop right in!

This brings us to our final event, WIDEBODIES. Grab the keys to your 747, DC10 or L1011 to complete this trip. Flights begin in London, and return to London. All flights must proceed in an easterly direction. Your flights can be passenger flights or cargo, but they must be published routes at HAG. See how quickly you can circle the globe with a box of Twinkies and an unlimited supply of coffee. Want to try something different? Make at least one stop in Brazil!


The DC-10

It was 1965 in sunny Long Beach, California. The Douglas plant was rockin’ to the Beach Boys. They had little debt and lots of cash as production ramped up for the first DC-9 deliveries, scheduled for December. The DC-8 program had just invested considerable sums in creating the Sixty Series, and production was ramping up for that too. Not to mention the large A-4 Skyhawk program for the US Navy. As to new directions, Douglas and Boeing were both looking for something new after having lost the government CX-HLX design to Lockheed’s C-5A Galaxy. Douglas was being cautious. He didn’t want to invest heavily in a new program after all the investment they had done with the DC-9 and DC-8 programs. Douglas saw the SST program as a money pit and dropped any thoughts of developing one.

Boeing announced the 747 program but Douglas was not willing to jump. They had looked at a similar design to the 747, their own D-956, but their analysis of the airline travel forecast showed a need for something smaller, more economical. Airlines hinted at a 280-seat airplane, but Douglas felt their Sixty Series, at 259 passengers, could fill the need for the 1970’s and 1980’s. Then in 1966 American Airlines put forth a formal request for proposal for a jet that would replace the 727, with more seats but similar performance figures. It should carry 250 passengers, be twin engine, operate from a 7000’ runway and cruise at M.82 for 1850 miles when fully loaded. There were other requirements stemming from American’s need to increase capacity at LaGuardia Airport in New York, but the New York Port Authority told everyone that any new airplane would need to be no louder than a DC-8 or 707 during takeoff and landing. The gauntlet had been thrown down. Analysists felt that there would be a market for up to 1,000 airplanes.

Douglas went to TWA and asked what they wanted. TWA wanted a cruise speed of M.85 like the CV880, and noise levels at least 5-8 db lower than current jets. United and Eastern wanted range, enough to go Idlewild to Los Angeles, or Idlewild to San Juan. Though the DC-8 Sixty Series were just entering production, United and Eastern were already looking for a replacement. Lockheed was working on their own design, the L-1011. Boeing stayed away, financially weighed down by the new 747 program and the new 737 program, plus the stretched 727-200 debut coming up. Douglas had two ideas, one a twin-engine design and the other using three engines. Several customers were wanting an airplane with a swing nose so they could load 8’ containers side by side through the front. This would require a cockpit mounted above the cabin, similar to the 747.  Douglas felt that containers could be easily loaded through a side door, making the design much simpler and less costly.

However, Douglas had problems of their own. Supply and personnel shortages caused backlogs in deliveries of new DC-9’s and DC-8’s. This meant price cuts for late deliveries, so much so that each DC9 and DC8 was barely breaking even. Skyhawk engines couldn’t keep up with production and planes were completed without engines installed. This was bleeding the company to death. Thus, the merger with McDonnell. Together they worked out the supply issues. The management at McDonnell-Douglas (MDC) now had a decision to make. Lockheed was designing the L1011, another widebody trijet. Boeing was rumored to be designing a new airplane, the 757, but little was known about it. Would it be a competitor too? Nobody, not MDC or Lockheed, would go ahead without firm orders. The sales war between Lockheed and MDC was brutal. On February 19, 1968, MDC and Lockheed were invited to American Airlines to receive their decision. MDC went in first, and American told them they won, with 25 firm orders and options for 25 more at $16 million apiece. However, MDC stated that production would not start until MDC received additional orders from other airlines within 90 days. Lockheed dropped the price of the L1011 from $17 million to $15 million and so Eastern, TWA and Delta ordered a total of 94 Tristars. United had a long-term relationship with Douglas, and in April they ordered 30 DC-10’s with options for 30 more, primarily because MDC offered their DC-10 with GE engines. United wanted GE engines and Lockheed wasn’t willing to put them on their L1011 at this stage. MDC ordered the DC-10 into production. Soon after, Northwest placed orders for 28 aircraft. MDC then began a sales blitz with all of their current DC-8 customers. First flight was in July of 1970, with the first delivery on time in August 1971.

Early in the DC-10 operating history, some major accidents marred its reputation. Though 48 airlines placed orders, only 446 were actually built between 1971 and 1989. The MD-11, introduced in 1990, sold 200. The DC-10 could carry 270 passengers for 3500-5200 miles, exceeding American's original request. The MD-11 could carry 300-320 passengers for up to 6750 miles. Both could cruise all day at M.82. Original estimates of 1,000 airplanes weren’t far off. 706 DC10/MD11/KC10’s were built, as were 249 L1011’s. All of the employees in the DC10 program were singing Good Vibrations in Long Beach.

Traveling- 1954 Style

It’s April 26, 1954 in Chicago. Spring is here, and at 7am the temperature is 70 degrees under clear skies and calm winds. On this day you are going to travel from Chicago to New York. You have two choices: Train or airline.

The New York Central Railroad has a deluxe train serving this route, called the Twentieth Century Limited. In fact, it’s the only non-stop train between Chicago and New York. Other trains make up to a dozen stops, but the Twentieth Century runs non-stop using a modern diesel locomotive, the EMD F7, leaving at 3:30 pm and arriving at 8:30 am the next morning. The Twentieth Century was a First Class, red-carpet service, with luxurious private seating rooms and large windows that provided a great view of the passing countryside. A gourmet dinner was served on fine chinaware, while the Club car was a place to relax after dinner with a smooth brandy and a cigar. Meanwhile, the conductor would change your Pullman room into a bedroom, providing a comfortable, quiet night’s sleep.  The price was $77.70 ($752 adjusted for today).

Your other option was a choice of flights on American Airlines. The Chicago to New York non-stop was called the Blue Ribbon Aircoach, an all-coach flight using the DC-6. This flight departed Chicago at 8:30 am and arrived at Idlewild Airport at 12:30 pm. There was no food service, but you could buy a drink. You could also choose a standard Flagship DC-7 flight, which left at about the same time but flew to LaGuardia Airport about 30 min quicker than the DC-6. The Blue Ribbon Aircoach fare was only $36 one way, while a First Class ticket on the DC-7 would cost $66.

The choice was of course up to your personal preferences. If you just wanted to get there quickly, then the airlines were the way to go. But if you had the time, money, and preferred the luxury VIP treatment, then the train was for you.

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