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A Birthday Party

by John M. White |

It was a rather warm day in March 1972 when I climbed into the cockpit with the examiner for my checkride. After we had gone through the oral and pre-flight it was time to take to the skies. I don’t know about you, but I would always get really nervous when going for a type rating right up to the time I fastened my seatbelt and started the pre-flight checklist. From there on it was just “business”, and this day was no different. We taxied to the end of the runway, did our run-up, got our clearance and took the runway. I slowly advanced the throttles and began the takeoff roll, gently raising the tail and breaking the ground smoothly as we climbed into that clear blue Michigan sky. Immediately the examiner handed me the hood and we were on instruments for the next hour or so. Returning to Grand Rapids we landed and taxied in to the fbo at the conclusion of the check ride. As we taxied and I began to relax the examiner said “Good job John … just one problem. You forgot the in-range checklist.” At that point I threw my checklists into the air, frustrated and annoyed. You see, this was my DC-3 type rating ride, and as an ATP pilot all the responsibility fell on my shoulders. Technically the venerable DC-3 is a single pilot airplane as it was built and certified before the two-pilot requirement for aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds came into effect. But after I parked N518DW and walked into the examiners office all turned out fine. Type rating in hand, a smile on my face and off to the home base to celebrate. Speaking of celebrating, on December 17th of this year this wonderful airplane celebrated its 75th birthday, and it will have a place of honor next year at EAA AirVenture 2010. As it turns out the first flight of the DC-3 took place exactly 32 years after the Wright brothers’ first successful flight. Be sure and visit AirVenture 2010 where it is likely the last time that some 25+ of these wonderful aircraft will be seen together, including formation flights. If you would like to learn more then check out Douglas DC-3: 60 Years and Counting, a great book about this wonderful airplane! Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 They done it! They done it! Damned if they ain't flew. — Johnny Moore, shouted while running to the village of Kitty Hawk. 17 December 1903.

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