Real Answers from Real Pilots

When you don't have a camera

I apologize if this is in the wrong section. I was reminded of this due to a conversation and thought I’d post it for the history buffs. I live right in the fly over of GRR airport. Close enough that any plane that comes in has gear down, is on final and extremely visible. In a car, I’m a five minute drive not counting traffic lights.

Saturday July 3rd, I was up early as usual and out walking the dog when I heard the unmistakable sound of multiple piston engines. I start looking around and about that time they cleared the tree tops. A couple of World War II’s finest heavies. With their iconic dual tail fins, a pair of B24 Liberators all polished up and likely heading to an air show someplace had just taken off out of Grand Rapids. To have a piece of history like that fly over and you can see them in the air without being 5,000 plus feet away from them is sight to behold. It made my weekend. The things we see when we don’t have a camera…lol.

Derek

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Derek,

I feel your pain and that’s one of the main reasons I keep my phone close. If I miss a call its not the end of the world but I never want to miss a good airplane pic :wink:

Adam

Derek,
Wow! I can imagine how cool that must have been to see… the kind of sight that gives ya chills! Thanks for sharing!
-Hannah

Derek,

I had a similar thing happen to me back in 2003. It was the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight and I lived about an hour north of Kitty Hawk. I was out in the yard and heard a low rumbling, it sounded like nothing I had heard before. I looked up and a TWA Lockheed Constellation flew right over my house at about 3,000 feet. This was also special for me as my grandfather had flown that specific airplane back when he was a TWA pilot. I do not have a picture, but I will never forget it.

Chris

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Chris,

That’s pretty cool. I had to look up a Lockheed Constellation to see what it was. I’d heard of it but wasn’t very familiar with it. It looks like a neat plane with a bit of history behind it. The fact that your grandfather flew one only sweetens the moment…

Hannah,

It was definitely a cool moment. I’ve always been a history buff and specifically I like WWII era planes, particularly the heavy bombers. Maybe because I’m from Michigan and the Ford plant at Willow Run (alas home to an ATP location) was not only one of the plants that produced the B24, if I remember correctly, we built more of them in Michigan than any of the other plants. By the end of the war, we were rolling a Liberator off the production line every 63 minutes. Essentially, at that point we were building them faster than the German’s could shoot them down.

Adam,

Yeah, lesson learned. Must have phone close by…lol.

Derek

Pretty bad when I have to correct myself. I began going through some old photos I have of WWII aircraft and they were not B24’s. I got caught up in the excitement and the dual tail fins which makes me believe they were actually B25 Mitchells. If they were B24’s I think that would have been newsworthy because last I heard, there were only 2 B24’s that were still airworthy. Another reason I wish I’d have had a camera.

Derek

Derek,

We need to get you up to speed on your civilian airplanes, especially if you are to be an airline pilot :slight_smile: The Constellation is generally regarded as one of the most iconic, and certainly one of the most beautiful, airplanes ever built. It was one of the first airplanes to open up transatlantic service and became very closely associated with both TWA and Pan Am. The graceful curved lines and the three rales make it instantly recognizable, if you are lucky enough to see one.

Chris

Lol…there is always room for improvement. The bit that I had time to read about it this morning, you’re right, it definitely sounds like an iconic aircraft. I did see that it was one of the first if not the first plane to use a pressurized cabin. The pictures online of the Constellation are beautiful. It does have some great lines to it. Was it the DC7 that was its primary competitor?

Derek

How awesome! Definitely great to live that close to the airport and get a front-row seat to the excitement! My house in Dayton was about 5 miles from WPAFB and under one of the flight paths. I miss sitting in the backyard watching the cargo and fighter jets. My office was next to the base as well, and I was lucky to have a window and watch them take off and land - the best distraction from work.

Lucas

Being able to watch fighter jets at Wright Patterson would definitely be cool. The closest I’ve ever been to one of those was a museum. I hear you about being distracted from work. Where I work we are also in the flight path, just a little further away. Some days I feel like I don’t get a lot done because there are too many planes coming in or taking off that work suffers. I see a lot of CRJ’s coming in and a fair number of Southwest 737’s. Last week before work I was walking my dog before it was completely light out and got to see a Fed Ex come in. Not 100% sure but think it was probably a 767.

Derek

While I was on a layover in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico the captain and I got to go see and old Connie off the side of the runway. The aircraft has been parked at the airport since it was hit by a runaway DC-4 back on February 3, 1992. Pretty cool to see a piece of history…

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Hannah,

That’s really cool to be able to see something like that. There is something about the old planes that perks the interest. Maybe it’s the history behind them, as in if they could talk, the stories they would be able to tell.

Derek

I visited that same Constellation a few years back. We landed the night before, on the taxi in the Connie was silhouetted with the lights from the Lufthansa hangar, it looked like it was sitting on the ramp, ready to go the next morning.

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Chris,

Nice pictures! Hopefully someday I’ll be lucky enough to see it in person.

Derek