One of the opportunities that this network presents to us is the chance to gather those great cockpit and layover stories that we have all either experienced or heard throughout our careers. Many of you are great story tellers and I encourage you to write down those stories you've told many times and send them to me in an email or as an attachment. I'll put these together in an email booklet and send them out to the NET for all to enjoy again and again.
I just ask that you be discrete and harmless. I will edit these for content and, as of now, I plan to give each contributor credit. If you would prefer to remain anonymous, make sure you tell me that in your email.
These can be about anything or anybody, the company, the government, the military, the FAA, etc., etc., etc. Stories about the company's growth, record flights, patriotic acts, aircraft incidents or accidents, mergers, weather, etc., funny or sad, stories that should not be forgotten through the passage of time. The stories that are submitted will develop the book's organization and format. Send me as many as you can remember and let's make this a classic collection. There will be ongoing updates. Dave
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THE STORY COLLECTION -- VOL. 1
Sometime during 1967 as a new-hire, on probation, DC-8 second officer, I was flying with legendary Captain Jim Carlton enroute ATL-LAX. There was a knock on the cockpit door and when I opened the door, one of the young, reserve, great looking, flight attendants entered and asked what we would like to drink.
Captain Jim turned around and gave her his usual comment about how he'd like to get together with her on the layover, etc. She said, somewhat laughingly at being hit-on, "Jim, you're old enough to be my father". Jim looked at her more closely, then reached into his back pants pocket and pulled out his little black address book.
Flipping the pages, he looked back studying her and said, with a smile, "Honey, what was your Mama's name?"
We all broke up laughing. (Dave Roberts)
Hi Dave and the network: Is that Historical or Hysterical??
Not all stories are as funny as the one Dave just sent out:
I was "flying along in flight" from JAX to ATL a number of eons ago with an FAA controller on the jump seat. We had had altitude reporting for about a year, and he related this story:
(paraphrased) I was controlling a flight of F-4's out of CHS down the airway off the coast of Georgia. The leader called and asked if the flight could deviate around some weather. Yes, was the answer. I immediately noticed that their altitude dropped from FL 330 (or some such) to 7,000 feet! I called and asked what they were doing, and the answer was "You cleared us to deviate!". Needless to say, I was flabbergasted, and our supervisor investigated. He found that they thought our telling them they were cleared to deviate included altitude, and that they had been doing it for years!
Makes you wonder...
Feel free to use my name: AL LEE
retired Nov 2000
As a new Flight Engineer on the DC-8, I was preflighting the inside cabin, and being short of stature, I had to step up on the arm rest to be able to check the pressure guage of the First Aid Oxygen...while doing that I felt a nice pat on my butt and the comment "must be a new Engineer" as the flight attendant walked past. I later learned how lucky I was that Betty Warren, who was noted for unannounced "Gotchas", spared me that day. (Jack Hollister)
On the DC-8, before rain repellant, we had a system called rain removal, a pneumatic system that ported high pressure air over the windshield to improve visibility...when activated it made a loud "whoosh". One evening while cruising along in flight, a brand new flight attendant made her visit to the cockpit, and in the conversation, she made it clear that she really liked flying, but her only fear was emergency depressurization...you know when the air all rushes in with a "whoosh" sound. Needless to say the F/O reached up and activated the rain removal and the flight attendant was reported to have wet her pants....cruel and unusual punishment!!!!(Jack Hollister)
I was a new Northeast Airlines 727 F/E in 1967 and FLL did not yet have jetways..... as was our custum we would comment on the gals as they walked towards the stairs just aft of the cockpit on the left side. Usually it was about outfits, looks, body parts, etc..... I have no idea what possessed me to mention something about the ugly old one approaching the airplane last, all by herself. (surely you know where this is going) At any rate unlike as with the other previous remarks, neither the co-pilot nor Capt. said a word to agree or disagree with my smug comment. No sooner did she get to the top of the stairs she turned left, walked into the cockpit and kissed the Capt. and had the sweetest nicest smile, and personality, I had seen since my crush on my 5th grade school teacher.
I don't know how well you know the 727 "front office", but I assure you there was no hole, or area big enough for a buffoon like myself to hide in, despite my frantic desire to find one.... The Capt.(to remain nameless) a true gentleman and a scholar never said a word, and we were to become future great friends, although admittedly it was one of the worst starts to a friendship I could ever think off, aside to what surely was my most embarrassing moment ever. I could go on about flight attendants mistaking Captain's wife's for other gals at previous dinning tables, but those are stories for another day.
submitted very humbly by,
Dave - Do you know that you are opening "Pandora's Box" with this request! I flew engineer for Carlton, Bain, Howe, Moss, Fields, and many others (which contemporaries told me I couldn't possibly get along with and they were wrong)! I loved these guys. Their brains were different from ours. They said things then that today we would be put in jail for. They were, however, wonderfully talented men, and one must wonder that if Sept 11th happened on their watch, would the terrorists have had a chance? Personally, I don't think so. Jim Bain flew almost every plane ever made in this country, either military or civilian, including a "POGO" type plane that he was the only one to fly. His retirement flight was an honor to serve as engineer on! However, his "honorees" couldn't attend in SFO unless they toasted him at the entrance with my champaign! I flew with "Robbie" Robinson for two months before I found out that he was a WW11 Navy Corsair Ace! His first "kill" is one to be remembered! Their stories were incredible, all of them! And I am a blessed man for having the privilege to work with these fabulous Delta pilots!
HISTORICALLY TRUE DELTA STORIES AS TOLD BY: WILLIAM (BILL) F. KERSCHNER, CAPTAIN MD-11, PDX (RET)
I HAVE SEVERAL CAPT. EARL EPPERSON STORIES THE NOTORIOUS PRACTICAL JOKER AS TOLD TO ME BY THE LATE DICK STEEL. I BELIEVE EARL IS STILL AROUND TO CORROBORATE THESE STORIES. #1. BACK IN THE OLD DAYS PROBABLY UNTIL ABOUT 1960 IT WAS THE CAPTAIN'S PREROGATIVE TO INVITE PEOPLE TO RIDE ON THE JUMPSEAT IN THE COCKPIT. ONE DAY A FRIEND OF CAPT. EPPERSON HAPPENED TO BE A PASSENGER ON HIS DC-6 FLIGHT. HE TOLD THE GENTLEMAN TO COME RIDE IN THE COCKPIT AND THAT THEY WOULD PRETEND HE WAS AN FAA INSPECTOR TO PUT SOME FEAR INTO THE F/O AND S/O. THE FIRST OFFICER HAPPENED TO BE SNAKE SMITH. (I ASKED SNAKE ABOUT A YEAR BEFORE HIS DEATH IF THIS WAS A TRUE STORY AND HE LAUGHED A LOT AND SAID YES).
AFTER CAPT. EPPERSON INTRODUCED HIS FRIEND TO SNAKE SMITH AND THE S/O AS THE FAA HE PROCEEDED TO INSULT THE PHONY FAA INSPECTOR BY SAYING THAT YOU FAA PEOPLE ARE NOTHING BUT COMPLETE IDIOTS AND IF YOU WANT TO RIDE ON MY JUMP SEAT KEEP YOUR BLANKETY BLANK MOUTH SHUT, ETC. HE CONTINUED TO INSULT THE PHONY FAA INSPECTOR THROUGHOUT THE FLIGHT AND MEANWHILE SNAKE SMITH AND THE S/O WERE REALLY SWEATING. THE S/O WAS SCANNING THE GAGES LIKE A DEMON AND SNAKE WHO WAS FLYING THAT LEG AND STAYED ON HIS ALTITUDE WITHIN 10 FEET. (NO AUTOPILOT IN THOSE DAYS).
#2. THIS HAPPENED PRE-1960 WHEN CAPTAINS HAD THE PREROGATIVE TO ALLOW PASSENGERS TO RIDE THE JUMPSEAT. ONE DAY CAPT. EARL EPPERSON HAD A PASSENGER ON HIS DC-6 FLIGHT, WHO WAS A FRIEND HE KNEW WAS DREADFULLY AFRAID OF FLYING. HE TOLD THE GUY TO COME ON UP FRONT AND RIDE THE JUMPSEAT SO THE PASSENGER COULD SEE WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE COCKPIT AND THAT WOULD SURELY PUT HIM AT EASE. MEANWHILE, EPPERSON GOT THE F/O AND THE S/O (WHO WAS THE LATE DICK STEEL) AND TOLD THEM ABOUT THIS GUY'S FEAR OF FLYING AND THAT THEY ALL WERE TO DO SOMETHING AFTER TAKEOFF TO SCARE THE STUFFING OUT OF THIS GUY. AFTER TAKEOFF EPPERSON REACHED UP AND TESTED THE CARGO COMPARTMENT FIRE WARNING SYSTEM, THE F/O TESTED THE ENGINE FIRE WARNING SYSTEM AND HE ALSO PULLED BACK AN INBOARD ENGINE ENOUGH TO GET THE GEAR HORN BLOWING. THE S/O STARTED YELLING "WE'RE GOING IN, WE'RE GOING IN!!!" THE GUY ON THE JUMPSEAT WAS SO PANICKED THAT HE GRABBED S/O DICK STEEL AROUND THE NECK (THE JUMPSEAT ON THE DC-6 WAS DIRECTLY BEHIND THE S/0 WHO SAT JUST BEHIND THE PEDESTAL) AND ALMOST CHOKED HIM TO DEATH. DICK STEEL THE S/O WAS A VERY BIG LINEBACKER SIZE, REDHEAD. DON'T KNOW IF THE GUY ON THE JUMPSEAT EVER TALKED TO EPPERSON AGAIN IN HIS LIFE.
#3. BACK IN THE DC-6 AND DC-7 DAYS IT WAS COMMON FOR THE S/O TO FLY EVERY THIRD LEG EVEN THOUGH IT WAS NOT LEGAL AND THE S/O WAS NOT OFFICIALLY CHECKED OUT BY THE COMPANY IN THE F/O POSITION. IN OTHER WORDS THE F/O AND S/O WOULD SWAP SEATS EVERY THIRD LEG. THIS WAS COMMON PRACTICE.
ONE NIGHT S/O DICK STEEL WAS FLYING WITH CAPT. EARL EPPERSON. IT WAS ABOUT A 0200 DEPARTURE. DELTA FLEW A LOT OF ALL NIGHTERS BACK IN THE DC-6 AND DC-7 DAYS. S/O DICK STEEL FOUND IN HIS MAILBOX A LETTER SIGNED BY CAPT. PRE BALL THAT STATED THAT HE WAS TERMINATED, "FIRED" BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN REPORTED THAT HE WAS FLYING IN THE F/O POSITION WHEN HE WAS NOT AUTHORIZED IN THIS POSITION.
DICK STEEL WAS STUNNED AND HE SHOWED THE LETTER TO CAPT. EPPERSON. CAPT. EPPERSON SAID, "THAT'S TOUGH KID, IT'S A STUPID WAY TO LOSE YOUR JOB WITH DELTA, BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE FOLLOWED THE RULES." DICK STEEL WENT DIRECTLY TO THE TELEPHONE AND CAPT. EPPERSON SAID. "WHO ARE YOU CALLING AT 0200." STEEL SAID, I'M CALLING CAPT. PRE BALL AND TELL HIM YOU MADE ME SWAP SEATS. CAPT. EPPERSON SAID, WITH A SMIRK ON HIS FACE, "IT'S JUST A JOKE KID, I WROTE THAT LETTER, PUT DOWN THE PHONE."
EARL EPPERSON HAD GONE THROUGH ALL THE BOTHER TO WRITE THAT LETTER ON A DELTA LETTERHEAD TO GET A RISE OUT OF DICK STEEL.
#4. BACK IN THE 1950S THERE WERE SAWMILLS AROUND ATL AIRPORT, A LOT OF VFR FLYING BY THE AIRLINES AND THERE WAS A FEMALE TOWER CONTROLLER IN THE ATLANTA TOWER BY THE NAME OF NELL.
ONE DAY DELTA FLT.#234 (TRUE STORY BUT THE FLT.# MAY BE FICTITIOUS) CALLED ATL TOWER ABOUT 5 MILES OUT FOR VFR LANDING. NELL, THE TOWER OPERATOR SAID," ROGER, DELTA #234 CLEARED TO LAND TO THE EAST ON RUNWAY 9 LEFT." DELTA #234 RESPONDED, " BUT ATL TOWER, THE SMOKE OUT HERE AT THE SAWMILL SHOWS THE WIND IS OUT OF THE WEST." NELL RESPONDED, "IF YOU WANT TO LAND AT THE SAWMILL, CLEARED TO LAND TO THE WEST, IF YOU WANT TO LAND AT ATLANTA AIRPORT CLEARED TO LAND TO THE EAST ON 9 LEFT."
Here is one from the L-15 Honolulu days. In the early 80's, there were only two flights to HNL, one from DFW and the other from ATL. We were both staying at the Beachcomber Hotel, in downtown Waikiki. The hotel started giving rooms to the first crew there, and the second crew often would have to wait up to 2 hours or more for their rooms. Since the DFW crew was scheduled in first, this became quite a contention with the ATL L-1011 crews.
The "contest" started whenever a DFW flight was late. In this instance, the "race was on." In one case, with both crews dead even to the gate, both rushed out to claim the bus and dash down town. This particular day, the ATL crew got there first only to find out that the DFW crew had sent their S/O in a taxi with the crew list and had already checked in the DFW crew.
The "Great Race" happened a few weeks after, when, true to form, everything was even. Both crews were on the buses, everyone had counted the others crewmembers to make certain that no one was in a taxi, and the race was really on. Just three blocks from the hotel, with both crew buses at a stop light in downtown Waikiki traffic, the DFW S/O jumped from the bus, jogged the three blocks with crew list in hand, and DFW won again. !!
Back in the days of the DC3 there was a flight scheduled to leave BOS early and make several stops through the Cape and return to BOS. It came time to crank and the Capt. still had not arrived. There were no passengers and the F/O not wishing to get the Capt in trouble, slid into the left seat, started up and taxied out. But instead of going to the active he taxied around behind the hangar where he made the required radio calls all day. "Off BOS at 06, inrange MVY. Off Mvy at 27 inrange NAN, etc, all day long. Finally he deplaned after taxing back to the ramp at the correct time with his completed log. It wasn't till accounting discovered the discrepency some days later that the story came to light. I don't remember how the punishment was meted out; whether they gave him time off or an award for ingenuity. Please withold all names to protect the dignity of elder brothers.
My knees had been giving me a little trouble so on a San Diego layover I decided to take a brisk hour walk instead of jogging. The co-pilot and engineer wanted to jog so they took off along the waterfront ahead of me. When reaching the Navy piers there was a Nuclear ship tied up and the whole ships company was disembarking for a day of liberty. Mostly young officers, they were milling around the small grinder and spilling over onto the sidewalk. I would have to navigate my way down the sidewalk through a sea of whitehats. I noticed my co-pilot and engineer, still a couple of blocks away, already coming back toward me. They maintained their pace but it seemed like they were employing some kind of delaying tactic, jogging in large circles and zigzagging. When they continued on toward me it appeared they would pass me just before I got to the middle of the crowd. They were up to something but I couldn’t figure out what and therefore couldn’t care less. However, when they got to within about 10 feet of me they both, in unison, went into a fine military jogging salute and shouted out to me loud and clear, "good morning Admiral", then speedily jogged away. With a scowl on my face I returned the salutes of about a hundred Ensigns and JG’s eventually making my way clear.
My biggest regret on retiring was never figuring out a way to get even with that pair.
We were sitting at the bar at the Spanish Village in Phoenix waiting for a table to become available. There were plenty of places but few bar stools so AB Paul pulled up a chair and sat at the bar. This made AB about the same height as me sitting on a barstool (imbibing a sarsaparilla). Shortly thereafter a kitchen helper came out and began cutting lemons behind the bar across from us. AB turned to me and quietly said, "this is the worst margarita I’ve ever had". The helper, apparently listening intently to our conversation, overheard the comment, and began pointing and slowly moving his knife toward AB in a threatening manner. By the time AB had fully stood up he was looking down at the helper and the helper was looking up at AB.
Don’t recall having ever seen anybody get back to work cutting lemons that fast.
We were walking out to an earlybird departure from the patio in ATL. It was the first trip of the month and I had the same Black copilot I had flown with before. I liked him and we got along real good...we had "buddy bid" the previous two months so I had gotten to know him pretty well. I also knew he was getting a reputation, especially among Black flight attendants, as a real "ladies man"...a socially suave Casanova. He put his flight kit down to make the walk around and I went up the stairs. At the top of the steps I met the 3 flight attendants...all Black. Looking down at the ramp they asked, "is HE our copilot"? (His reputation had preceded him.) I answered in the affirmative and from that point on the atmosphere turned decidedly cold...not cool, cold. They totally ignored us.
Right before engine start the senior flight attendant must have had compassion on me and came into the cockpit. She turned her back to the First Officer and asked me in a pleasant voice, "do you want anything to drink"? I said a black coffee would be fine and thanked her. She started out of the cockpit but hesitated, turned and with coldness back in her voice asked the co-pilot, "do YOU want anything"? He said he would also like coffee. With her voice turned down a notch or two she asked "how do you like it"? (Wrong thing to ask). He turned around, tilted his head, and with a cocky smile replied "I like my coffee like I like my women". With no hesitation whatever she shot back with "we ain’t got no STUPID coffee".
It is so hard trying to taxi a pre-dawn flight wiping tears from your eyes.
For the rest of the month I became quite resourceful discovering unusual ways to insert the word "stupid" into our conversations.
The example of a Jim Carlton story reminded me of my own experiences with flying with him. I flew with him often, and the following story happened time and time again. He set up the scenario day after day.
We all would report on a layover and climb into the van. Jim Carlton would have on a large quantity of after shave or cologne. (on purpose). A flight attendant (then known as stewardesses) would remark, "who is it that smells so good?" And Jim would smilingly reply, " I have a hard on, but I didn't know you could smell it !"
This happened over and over again. Do not know if this is offensive to readers or not, but it is so typical of Jim Carlton! He was certainly a character and a legend.
Remember how, on the night before payday, Cracker would walk around the lounge with a salmon colored envelope sticking out of his pocket asking "did they take out more on your check this month?" This, of course, would cause a stampede to the Crew Sked supervisor.....
One night on Owly Bird sign in Cracker was begging Red to give him his check. "There’s no way I can cash it before tomorrow, I’m leaving on a trip now", Cracker pleaded.
To shut him up Red said, "I’m only giving them out in alphabetical order".
"Good", said Cracker, "I’m first in line so give me my check".
"No you’re not, Cracker, you are way down the list", Red admonished him.
"I’ve changed my name" assured Cracker.
"TO WHAT?" snapped an agitated Red.
"Aaron Aardvark" quipped Cracker, who then successfully got his check.
I commuted to Nashville from Atlanta and sometimes had to do it by surface transportation. One night, after coming in off a trip, I really wanted to get home, so instead of changing clothes I decided to drive home in my uniform. Running a little low on fuel I stopped in Chattanooga to fill up. The service station attendant kept eyeing me and my car rather curiously. It was obvious he could not make a connection between my Mercedes and my uniform. As I was leaving he could not contain his curiosity, "Is that your car you are driving", he asked. Yes, I replied...is there something wrong? Well, "no", he stammered, "I just always thought people in the Salvation Army were poor".
Delta can, at times, hire some of the sweetest but some of the most naive of flight attendants.
We were flying a DC-8 from ATL to SFO and I was the co-pilot. Before closing the door I looked back in First Class and there was a deadheading Cracker and his crew. As you might remember Cracker would not, under any circumstances fly above FL 310. (The upset that Dana had experienced at 370 had made a big impression on Cracker.) We were flight planned for FL350 and as we were climbing out I told the engineer to let me make the PA, which was fine with him. When the Captain turned off the seat belt light I picked up the PA and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have leveled off at our cruising altitude of 39,000 feet...bla, bla, bla". I, of course, was trying to make Cracker feel very "comfortable".
About 5 minutes later a sweet young flight attendant on her second trip came into the cockpit. She looked around and guessing correctly asked me if I was the co-pilot. I said yes. She came closer and with a puzzled look on her face asked me "what is a sob?"
A what? I replied.
"A sob" she said, and spelled it out "an s, o, b...the Captain back there told me to come up here and tell the co-pilot he was a lying SOB".
Our DC9 trip laid over in STL every Sunday night. We always stayed in the same room without fail. It was so consistent that we started hiding refreshments for the next week in the supply side of the air conditioning duck. Our sarsaparillas stayed remarkably cool.
One night we were shocked when they assigned me a different room. The clerk apologized and said that in a mix up the room was assigned to an American Flight Attendant. She was in there with our sarsaparillas and didn’t know it. We talked it over and decided to give it a try, all she could do was say no.
We knocked on her door, explained that we had always been assigned that room, had left something there, and would she mind if we came in and retrieved it. To our surprise she agreed but left the door open and stood close to it in case we weren’t real. I grabbed a chair, put it under the vent, hopped up and with screw driver in hand retrieved our two cans of cold sarsaparilla. I replaced the vent, hopped down and we started to leave. Then...
Slam...she shut the door and was defiantly standing in front of it. "Share" she said, "that will be one for me and one between both of you two". And, of course, once outside, you know who lost the toss in that very revolting situation.
THIS EVENT OCCURRED, CIRCA 1966 ON A DC-7 NIGHT FLIGHT FROM DTW-IND-MEM-SHV-HOU WITH HOU BASED CREW MEMBERS:
CAPTAIN F.C."FAROUK" STEVENS: (STEVENS GOT THE NAME "KING FAROUK", WHEN SOMEONE WALKED INTO HIS HOTEL ROOM IN DTW AND STEVENS WAS SITTING ON THE BED AND A FEMALE FRIEND WAS FEEDING HIM GRAPES, JUST AS ONE WOULD EXPECT KING FAROUK TO BE FED GRAPES. THERE WAS ALSO A PHYSICAL RESEMBLANCE.)
FIRST OFFICER: RON DAVIS
SECOND OFFICER: K. DON KNIGHT
THE STORY: CAPTAIN "FAROUK" STEVENS WAS KNOWN TO BE SOME WHAT OF A BRAGGART AND SOMEONE WHO USED EXCESSIVE HYPERBOLE IN CASUAL CONVERSATION. ON THIS PARTICULAR FLIGHT HE GOT LUCKY AND MADE AN EXCEPTIONALLY SMOOTH LANDING, AT LEAST FOR HIM. HE COULDN'T STOP BRAGGING AND AND BET THE F/O, RON DAVIS THAT DAVIS' NEXT LANDING WOULD NOT BE AS GOOD AS HIS WAS. AS IT TURNED OUT RON DAVIS DID NOT MAKE A VERY GOOD NEXT LANDING AND "FAROUK" JUST COULD NOT STOP THE BOASTING AND LET IT DIE. SO THE NEXT LANDING WAS AGAIN "FAROUK'S" AND HE WAS ALL PUFFED UP TO SHOW HOW GOOD HE WAS. RON DAVIS, THE FIRST OFFICER HAD HEARD ENOUGH AND HE WAS ABOUT TO RETALIATE.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO NEVER FLEW THE DC-6 OR DC-7 YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT THE FLAP HANDLE WAS ON THE REAR OF THE CENTER PEDESTAL CLOSE TO THE FIRST OFFICER'S LEFT ARM. REMEMBER, THIS WAS A NIGHT FLIGHT AND THE COCKPIT WAS VERY DARK. NOW, IN THE ROUNDOUT FOR LANDING AND ABOUT "10 FEET IN THE AIR", F/O RON DAVIS QUIETLY REACHED OVER TO THE FLAP HANDLE AND YANKED UP THE FLAPS TO ZERO. THE DC-7 HIT LIKE A ROCK. "FAROUK WAS ASTONISHED THAT HE HAD MADE SUCH AN INCREDIBLY HORRIBLE LANDING. NO ONE REVEALED WHAT RON DAVIS HAD DONE, AND I BELIEVE THAT TO THIS DAY "FAROUK" STILL IS PUZZLED ABOUT HIS ABOMINABLE LANDING.
WILLIAM F. "BILL" KERSCHNER
to be continued.........
THE RETIRED PILOTS COMMUNICATIONS NET
For all retired DL Pilots, their widows, and families.
David L. Roberts
Captain, MD-11, ATL (Ret.)
Retired Delta Pilots Network
http://retireddeltapilotnetwork.homestead.com/Index.html Delta Museum & Fly-in information