Monday, April 13, 2015

Dear MadDog

This is one of the hardest letters I will ever write. I'm leaving you. I didn't make this decision lightly. You're a great airplane, quirks and all, and we had some great times - even when you occasionally tried to kill me or get me violated. I grew to love you despite your faults, or maybe because of them. But now I've met someone new, somebody wonderful, and it's time for you and I to part company.

When we first met, I was both intrigued and intimidated by your age and experience, your heavy manual controls, your various aerodynamic protuberances, and your reputation as the heartbreaker of the fleet. I stayed up late at night studying your systems and practicing my flow patterns, and later flying the simulator in preparation for our first liason. And then we were together, at long last, and at first I was completely overwhelmed. Heck, it takes three hands just to get you started! But over the next several hundred hours, I became comfortable with your heavy demands, your old-school design, and your occasional nonsensical outbursts. I even started to think of them as normal. Right engine spools up eight seconds slower than the left engine? "It's a Mad Dog." VNAV mysteriously levels off at 6250 feet and refuses to descend further? "It's a Mad Dog." Get sent around because your Vref is 30 knots faster than the preceding 757? "It's a Mad Dog." Bumping through the tops because stall margin won't let you climb above FL310? "It's a Mad Dog." Number 17 in line for takeoff in ATL and it's 87 degrees in the cabin with the packs full cold? "It's a Mad Dog." I came to accept that this was just the way things were.

And yet...I heard tantalizing rumors of a sweeter, kinder plane, a pilot's airplane with boosted controls, great big engines, a long efficient wing, and a lithe, sexy airframe free of unsightly strakes and vortilons. Many of my captains knew her before they upgraded to your left seat, and in your more temperamental moments I'd hear them mutter, "Never should have left the ER!" Some of my fellow new hires were fortunate enough to fly her right out of the gate, and I couldn't help overhearing their gushing accolades of her attributes. I tried to defend you. "Yeah, well...the Mad Dog has control cables! She'll keep flying through a nuclear holocaust! And look how senior I am in the Mad Dog! I held a Saturday off last month!" But every time that other airplane taxied past, I couldn't help but cast an appreciative gaze her way. And when this bid came out, with a whole bunch of new slots in my home base, I couldn't resist her siren call. I had to find out for myself what all the fuss is about.

So I'm off on a whirlwind romance with the plane they call "The Boeing" in October. But you and still have the summer to make some last sweaty memories together. I'll never forget you, Mad Dog. And somehow I get the feeling that fate with bring us together once again, perhaps sooner than I think.



17 comments:

typingtalker said...

After most of the 70 series DC-8s were retired, this became my favorite airliner. Long and thin with big engines.

typingtalker said...

After most of the 70 series DC-8s were retired, this became my favorite airliner. Long and thin with big engines.

Ben Read said...

A delightful post, Sam. Congratulations on the upcoming new type. I'll look forward to reading more about your new ... companion.

Tom B. said...

Great post Sam, and congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Ok, what is "The Boing"?

Anonymous said...

Let me try that again.
What is "The Boeing"?

Anonymous said...

I just noticed the picture at the end of the post. I'm thinking that is a hint.

Anonymous said...

Many congrats.

hoppers

Sam Weigel said...

Anonymous 7:19/22 - Heck, I don't even have to be coy because it's operated by so many airlines. I'll be flying the Boeing 757 and 767 (specifically, my airline operates the 757-200, 757-300, 767-300, and 767-300ER as a single fleet). And yes, that's a Thomas Cook 757-200 in the photo.

D.B. said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO

We poor soles in the back love the Mad Dog! It's the only plane on the line that has 4 good seats per row (2 aisles, 2 windows - only one middle). So the toilets are crushed like the attendants legs in that back bench. It's smooth and quiet near the front, and no wing to obscure the view until about row 16. And I know after 20 years which seats to avoid (19F is worst), and which to get (20A or 7B, if I can't get an upgrade).

Pleeeaaaasseee don't go!!!!

Leo G. said...

So are you starting to fly abroad? That's a big deal, isn't it?
By the way, thanks for continuing the blog. I've been reading it for years (since you were at Horizon) and was very happy you started to write for Flying magazine which I'm also a longtime reader. I was afraid you will not write here anymore, but I'm happy I was wrong... :) Thank you, Sam!

Leo,
Private Pilot from Haifa, Israel.

alex said...

Hey Sam,
As an aspiring airline pilot I have found your blog to be both interesting and helpful. i appreciate what you do! Would you consider you're upgrade time of roughly a year and a half to the 757/767 to be faster than "normal" or is it about what you expected?


Thanks!
-Alex

sequ said...

Congrats!

You'll love the Boeings!

Saludos,

SEQU

Sam Weigel said...

LeoG-- It's a combined international & domestic category, and the plane does go to 5 continents, but in all likelihood at my seniority level I'll be flying 98% domestic, Caribbean, and latin america.

Alex-- The 757/767 has been held by newhires since the class after mine. There are now people with less than a year seniority flying it in five of its six bases. Incidentally, the other US legacy carrier that's been hiring a lot has also been putting newhires in their 757s. The question was never whether I could hold it once my seatlock expired, but whether I could hold it in my base with seniority comparable to what I'd have on the MadDog. In fact I'll be bidding slightly higher on the 757 than the MadDog, go figure. It's largely because many of the new MadDog captains are coming off of the 757's right seat.

Blogging with Spencer said...

How long is the 757/767 class at DL?

Blogging with Spencer said...

How long is 757/767 class at DL?

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