AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 18

PROFICIENT PILOT

A bygone era

BY BARRY SCHIFF

It sure was fun, back in the day

BARRY SCHIFF 

retired from
TWA in 1998 at the
then-mandatory
age of 60.

WHEN I STARTED WITH TWA IN 1964, the 250-knot speed
limit below 10,000 feet did not exist. We could take off
in a Boeing 707, retract the gear and flaps, push the nose
down to the horizon, and accelerate to the barber pole
(redline).
Was this dangerous? Given the increasing population of light airplanes and other creatures milling about
in the lower altitudes, I concede that it was. This is why
the 250-knot limit eventually had to be imposed. But it
sure was fun. Nor did we care about the cost of the extra
fuel this consumed. At 20 cents per gallon, "kerosene"
was cheap, seldom a consideration except during longrange operations. (Bonded fuel for international flights
cost only a dime a gallon.)
My first low-altitude experience in a Boeing 707
occurred when I was co-pilot during a ferry flight
from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Shortly after
takeoff, Capt. Perry Schreffler asked me to cancel IFR
and advise Departure Control that we would proceed
VFR. He wasn't kidding. He had told his buddies at
40-mile-distant Santa Paula Airport that he would be
"dropping by" that afternoon during a flight up the
coast. None of them had any idea what Schreffler had
in mind. Try to imagine, though, the unexpected sight
and deafening roar of a humongous Boeing 707 passing over the short runway of a pastoral, nontowered
general aviation airport at a "bit less" than 1,000 feet
agl. It was an experience never forgotten by those who
were there.
We did all sorts of things in those days that would
land us in Leavenworth these days, such as inviting passengers into the cockpit. This happened with
regularity. The most memorable such experience for
me was when I was a Boeing 727 captain and invited
actor John Wayne to occupy the jump seat between
Amarillo and Wichita. What was he like? Bigger than
life, an extraordinarily proud patriot, and every bit the
way he appeared on screen. But you didn't have to be a
celebrity to visit the flight deck. In those days we had
the unofficial discretion to invite anyone.
Equally enjoyable was walking through the cabin to
chat with passengers and answer questions, the most
common ones being, "Who's flying the airplane?" and
"Where are we?" It's probably just as well that post-9/11
regulations ban airline pilots from such "cabin tours."
Some don't know their geographic position as well as
do passengers with their own moving-map displays.

18  |  AOPA PILOT  December 2013

Savvy passengers using Wi-Fi often know more about
distant en route weather, too. They can observe Nexrad
weather displays, while most airlines do not allow their
pilots to use Wi-Fi on the flight deck. (iPads serving as
electronic flight bags are used to access stored data.)
Pilots used to be required to be more intimate with
their airplanes than are today's pilots, but this did not
necessarily make them better pilots. I mean, who cares
how AC electrical power finds its way between one circuit-breaker panel and another? But we had to know
this and many other arcane details. One of our senior
captains finally had enough. During the oral examination for a 707 type rating, he was asked by an FAA
examiner to cite the exact wingspan of the international variant.
"Why would I [care] about that? I'm not building a
box for it," the captain snorted in rebellion.
He got away without having to answer.
The good old days really were, at least in the sense
that we were allowed greater flexibility and liberty.
For example, there are quiet and occasionally boring periods during transoceanic flights. At such times
and especially during red-eye flights between Hawaii
and the mainland, I often took out my nose flute and
played The High and the Mighty into an open microphone and over the VHF frequency guarded by all other
oceanic flights (but well beyond FAA and FCC listening range). I have been told that my broadcasting of
this haunting melody developed a significant reputation over the years. Most of the younger pilots who
heard it, of course, didn't have a clue, so the elders had
to explain. It also attracted lots of replies such as "Hi,
Duke," "Don't hit your captain," and other such references to the classic 1954 film. It was comforting to hear
from others out there plying the night skies. Then the
frequency would again fall silent and the dark sky was
again a lonely place to be.
Perhaps some of you can remember having been
dropped off curbside at some international airport and
then racing to your gate and onto your flight in five minutes (or less). There were no metal detectors or security
procedures, just smiling faces watching you run by and
expressing hope that you made your flight.
Such times and such freedoms are forever
gone.
AOPA
WEB

www.barryschiff.com


http://www.barryschiff.com

AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013

AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013
Contents
President’s Position
Visual Approach
Letters
Waypoints
Proficient Pilot
Foundation Focus
License to Learn
Pilot Counsel
Fly Well
What Happens in Vegas...
AOPA Sweepstakes
Aviation Jobs
Gift Guide
Pilot Products
Pilot Products
News
People
Yacht of the Air
Around the World in 25 Days
Aviation Legends Walter Extra
Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Unpredicted, Unadvised, Unaware
Summit 2013: Meeting Mr. Baker
Technique
Proficiency
Wx Watch
Technology
Ownership
Frugal Flier
Never Again
State and Local Action
Member Products
AOPA Foundation
Member Services
Government Affairs
AOPA Insurance Agency
Fly by Wire
Pilots
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - President’s Position
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 9
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Visual Approach
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 11
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Letters
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 13
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 14
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Waypoints
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Proficient Pilot
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Foundation Focus
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 21
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - License to Learn
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 23
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Counsel
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 25
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Fly Well
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 27
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - What Happens in Vegas...
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 29
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Sweepstakes
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 31
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Aviation Jobs
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Gift Guide
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 37
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - News
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 39
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - People
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Yacht of the Air
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 43
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 44
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 45
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 46
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 47
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 48
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 49
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Around the World in 25 Days
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 51
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 52
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 53
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 54
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 55
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 56
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 57
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 58
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 59
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Aviation Legends Walter Extra
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 61
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 62
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 63
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Unpredicted, Unadvised, Unaware
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 65
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 66
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 67
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Summit 2013: Meeting Mr. Baker
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 69
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 70
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 71
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Technique
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 73
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 74
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 75
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Proficiency
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 77
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 78
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Wx Watch
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 80
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Technology
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 82
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Ownership
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 84
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 85
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Frugal Flier
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 87
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Never Again
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 89
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 90
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 91
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - State and Local Action
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 93
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Member Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 95
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Foundation
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 97
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Member Services
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 99
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Government Affairs
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 101
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Insurance Agency
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 103
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 104
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 105
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 106
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Fly by Wire
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 108
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 109
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 110
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 111
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilots
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover4
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