If you are a fan of the Boeing 767, this video might make you a bit sad.

Qantas Airways is in the process of retiring their final 767-300ERs and the TV show 60 Minutes produced a story following VH-OGG from Australia over to Victorville Airport (VCV), home of probably the most famous airliner graveyard. Many times the main-stream media drops the ball when it comes to stories like this, but I have to admit that they did a pretty darn good job!

VH-OGG first flew at Paine Field on November 27, 1990. It was delivered to Qantas on December 12th of the same year and served with the airline for its entire life — up until now. The aircraft even sported a special Planes livery from Disney on the fuselage for a while.

Another amazing photo by Gordon Boettger, from 26,000 feet over the Carson Valley, during a glider wave flight.

Another amazing photo by Gordon Boettger, from 26,000 feet over the Carson Valley, during a glider wave flight

Let’s pick up where we left off in Gone Gliding, Part Two, shall we?

We’re at Minden-Tahoe Airport in Soaring NV’s LS4 glider, hooked up to the Piper Pawnee towplane, and just starting our takeoff roll. Spencer, our ground crew, runs alongside the glider for a few feet while holding the wingtip. The ailerons are alive in a couple of seconds, and I hold the wings level with the stick, while steering along the runway centerline with the rudder pedals.

With the single main wheel rumbling under my seat, we accelerate quickly as we’re hauled along the runway. A little bit of forward stick gets the LS4’s tail wheel off the ground, and then I move the stick ever-so-gently rearwards. The glider levitates, and we carefully hold position just a few feet in the air, right behind the tow plane. Now that we’re airborne, we’re less drag for the Pawnee, and Silvio lifts off.

On tow behind the Pawnee, heading east, over the Carson Valley

On tow behind the Pawnee, heading east, over the Carson Valley

I’m primed for a possible rope break, and glance at the altimeter as we cross the end of the runway. It shows a bit under 5,000 feet, and I call out “200 feet!” We’ve passed the first “gate” at 200 ft above the ground, and if the rope breaks, we can now safely fly a 180-degree turn to land downwind on the runway. Silvio starts a climbing left turn to cross over the airport, and we’re nicely locked in, on tow. The feeling is something like being pulled behind a ski boat, and I’m not even thinking about what I’m doing to the controls, just reacting and flying. Heading east, and crossing over Runway 34, I relax. If the rope breaks now, we’re high enough to easily complete a normal pattern and landing.

As we continue to climb, I call Silvio and tell him that we’d like to “box the wake,” which is great practice while on tow. He acknowledges, and I start the maneuver by climbing a bit above the towplane, while keeping the rope taut. I stop for a moment, then fly the glider to the right, and stop again at the first corner of the “box.” Descend a bit, and stop below the towplane at the next corner. Now it’s a slide across the bottom of the box, stopping at the third corner.

Gentle nose up, keep the rope taut, climb above the towplane, and stop at the last corner. Then slide back behind Silvio, hold, and drop back down into the normal tow position, lining up the Pawnee’s horizontal stabilizer with its wing. Smooth, smooth, smooth, all the way around, and I don’t think that I yanked the Pawnee’s tail, even once. I realize that I’m grinning – nailed it!

Captain Heather Ross stands next to ZA003 at the Museum of Flight

Captain Heather Ross stands next to ZA003 at the Museum of Flight

(Editor’s note: During the festivities surrounding the recent 787 test model handover at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, NYCAviation was granted an exclusive interview with Heather Ross who is one of the head 787 test flight pilots.)

NYCAviation (NYCA): Before the Dreamliner, what other aircraft did you fly?

Heather Ross (HR): I flew on the 737 program as the production chief pilot for Boeing, but overall I have flown on the 747, 757, 767 and 777. Before I joined Boeing I served in the Air Force in the T-37 and T-38 training aircraft before switching over to the C-5 Galaxy as my main mission plane before I transitioned to the C-141 Starlifter. After that I joined United Airlines flying the 747 and 727 as a flight engineer before getting upgraded to a first officer on the 737.

NYCA: So out of all those airplanes, which has been your favorite?

HR: Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. There is a real tendency under the wing of this airplane (ZA003) to say this airplane. It’s a great airplane; it really is. I love this plane but I love the 737 too, so it’s really a tough choice.

NYCA: How does the Dreamliner compare to other Boeing aircraft, and what’s it like to fly the dream?

HR: It’s named appropriately, for one; the aircraft really is a dream to fly. It’s very easy and makes all of us pilots look good. The flight controls do a wonderful job of basically rejecting turbulence and upset so the ride is very, very smooth. Since we’re standing under the Dreamliner, it’s obvious we’ve flown this airplane all over the world; in fact, a couple times around. I can tell you even on 16- and 17-hour flights I don’t feel as fatigued as I would on any other airplane. The cabin pressure is much lower, and the humidity is much higher so you don’t feel dried out. It’s just a real comfortable plane to fly not only as a crew member and pilot but also as a passenger.

Continue reading On the Flight Deck with 787 Test Pilot Heather Ross on NYCAviation.com

Ryanair Boeing 737 ready to be flown - Photo: Steven Paduchak

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 – Photo: Steven Paduchak

That’s right, people, it happened!  Last weekend, I flew Ryanair with my buddy Dan.  It was a quick weekend getaway from Frankfurt to London.  We’re here in Germany on a semester abroad, and neither of us had been to the United Kingdom.  Before coming over “the pond”, we knew it was on the list of places to visit.

It all started on a Wednesday afternoon.  We booked the trip a few weeks prior, and we were counting down the days.  We all know Ryanair.  They’re known for having the cheapest airfare in the industry; making the airline beloved here in all of Europe.  The Dublin-based air carrier offered us each a forty euro (yes, you read that right) roundtrip from Frankfurt to London.  That’s a huge deal, flying between two major European markets.

I knew after a deal this unbelievable, there’d be some sort of catch.  In the end, there definitely was. Left and right, we were advised we had to pay for everything; printing off boarding passes, seat selection, food, etc… Being cautious of something like this, we came well prepared with food and boarding passes already printed off, so we managed to avoid all the imposed fees.

The day finally came, and we were on our way.  To our surprise, however, the airport we flew out of was FOREVER away.  It was one of the biggest catches we didn’t realize until our journey.  The airline flies into the smaller and medium-sized airports in order to avoid the hefty landing fees imposed by the major international locations. This is completely understandable – we all want to save money whenever we can, right?