The 43rd anniversary of this massive gathering of commercial aviation enthusiasts was held at an aviation lover’s dream location, the Delta Flight Museum. The sale tables for the 285 vendors wound throughout the Jet Age hanger leading the attendees to one of kind finds. From vintage tableware and glassware to time tables and safety cards, the three days dedicated to everything you could know and love about commercial airplanes.
Russell collected dishware from many airlines. He had retired from British Airways six years ago, “I remember when it was nice to fly,” he told me. I couldn’t disagree, it’s not like it was in the heyday of flying. He began his career working at Pan Am, and the first plane he worked on was the 747. He had seen the changes in the airline industry, up close.
He had his British Airways first class dishware items on display. “People don’t know what it was like to fly back in the day.” He collected a lot over the years and wanted to get rid of some things to buy some more.
There were many events and tours offered during the weekend. Tours of Delta Training Center, Delta Tech Ops, Atlanta Ramp Tour as well as tours of local aviation museums and the DC-3 and 747 at the Delta Flight Museum. Both the tours of the DC-3 and the 747 were big draws.
What I also enjoyed was listening to attendees sharing stories and information as I walked through the crowd. I was surprised to see the intensity of some of the conversations. These folks really know their airplanes!
DC-3-Ship 41 Tour
The gleaming centerpiece in the Prop Era section of the Museum is the vintage DC-3. Shawn, my guide for the white glove tour, has been a volunteer for the past couple of years and is still working for Delta. He was entertaining and full of information about the aircraft. We donned our white gloves and booties for the tour and entered the aircraft. It is a 12° slope as you head inside to your seat so you need to be prepared for the incline.
The DC-3 was the plane that changed commercial aviation. Some seventy-two hundred DC-3s flew in the US in the 1940s and 50s. Ship 41 was manufactured in Santa Monica, California. It was a durable, modern aircraft that could land on short runways which made it perfect for its short flights.
The non-pressured plane flew at 7,500 feet and could experience a lot of rough air. It was also not air-conditioned, so the Southern summer heat was most likely pretty miserable.
Delta’s Ship 41 first flew for Delta in January 1941. It was retired in 1958 and purchased by North Central Airlines. In the 1990s, the plane was located in Puerto Rico where it was flying cargo. Delta reacquired Ship 41 in 1993, and the restoration began in 1995. After being restored by the Delta employees and volunteers, it has remained the centerpiece of the Delta Flight Museum’s Prop Era display. The DC-3 was Delta’s Queen of the Skies in the 1940s.
Interior of SHIP 41
The twenty-one cream and green restored seats are covered to prevent damage to them. The seats had footrests, call buttons, overhead lighting and are adjustable. The racks above the seats are not for luggage but for hats. The ashtrays have been removed because Delta is a non-smoking airline.
There is a skylight in the toilet, and the galley is minuscule by today’s standards. The flight deck is low so you need to duck when accessing the cockpit. The luggage compartment which also carried sacks of U.S. Mail sits just behind the flight deck.
At the end of the DC-3 tour, Shawn told me that, “Travel gives you three gifts: the Anticipation of the trip, the Experience of the trip and the Memory of the trip. It is the one experience where after paying for it, you will be richer after the experience.” I could not agree more.
737-200 Flight Simulator
My instructor, Mike, was very patient with me. I told him I had one flight lesson years ago and found that piloting was way too much to control. He nodded and said we were going to do one takeoff and landing. Easy, right?
Taking off was certainly the easier of the two maneuvers. What I found difficult was moving the rudder with your feet in order to change the direction of the plane. Steering the plane was not difficult, keeping it straight and even with the horizon that takes a bit of concentration. It was a lot to juggle when you suddenly slide into the pilot’s seat. Mike assured me, we’d be fine.
My only thought was ‘don’t crash the plane.’ Take off was pretty smooth. When the airspeed reached 150, I pulled back on the yoke (steering wheel) and up we went. Then I had to maintain my eye on the horizon. We were flying!
We were flying a San Francisco program and headed toward Oakland airport. The landing is tricky; you have to line up the plane and watch your airspeed and angle of descent. I made it, but it wasn’t pretty. Mike immediately had us taking off again, and we back in the air. “Let’s fly under the bridge.” He said.
“What?” I exclaimed. “Under the Golden Gate Bridge?” He nodded. He had the controls, and he easily navigated toward the bridge amid all the alarms, ‘Obstacle, Obstacle’ going off around us. All I could think of was the Capitan Sully Sullenberger and the Miracle on the Hudson. We passed beside the stanchions of the bridge just a little off the water, and he quickly began to gain altitude.
Then he gave me back the controls to land. We came in a bit steep, and we hit pretty hard but we were down. Steering on the ground is not easy, because you have to steer with your feet and at 150 mph you really have to pay attention. Mike said I did well.
I’ve always respected the pilots’ job, but even pretending to do the job, was stressful. It was a truly hands-on experience and would recommend doing; it was a thrill!
Delta Surplus Sale
Delta Flight Museum’s Surplus Sale was held in conjunction with the Airliners Show. It was a smart decision as all the attendees passed through the surplus sale items before heading into the vendor’s area. You never know what you’ll find at the Delta Surplus Sale, but you can always find something. I have no doubt a good deal of money was raised to benefit the museum.
Next year Airliners International will be landing in Phoenix, Arizona, for their yearly event. If you love or just like airplanes or aviation in general, seek this group out, you will never know what treasure you will find.