Thursday, January 17, 2013

Another First for New Truck 2

Actually, this is probably be a first for the RFD. I opened the local rag last week to find this image staring out at me:

Photo By David Bauman -Press Enterprise

It is a photo of new Truck 2 giving a wash-down to a Boeing 727 at Riverside Municipal Airport. (RAL) The aircraft is being retired from Fed-Ex and has been donated to California Baptist University, a Christian university here in town.

Apparently, Cal Baptist is starting an aviation program, which will offer degrees in aviation administration, flight instruction and other aviation related courses. I suspect some of the graduates from the program will end up working in aviation careers supporting missionaries around the world. The 727 will be used to train students an complex aircraft systems and turbine engines.

It is a highly unusual photo for many reasons. First of all, I can't remember a 727 on the ground at RAL. I'm not saying one HASN'T landed here before, I'm just sayin' that if one has, I didn't know about it. IF one has, it was for an air show (highly unlikely - I have been to most of them) or a charter or something like that. Frankly, RAL isn't large enough, nor is it equipped for large aircraft such as this to frequent it.

Second, new Truck 2 is giving the aircraft a traditional wash-down. Wash-downs are a rite of passage for retiring airline pilots at the conclusion of their last flight. In this case, it was done as this was this aircraft's last flight. To my knowledge, a RFD apparatus have never done a wash-down for any plane or pilot. If it did happen, it would have to had been done during WWII or earlier and there is no record of it.

Third, there is no engine company providing water to the truck. That is the only truck equipped with a pump. If you look closely, you can see the supply line going from the hydrant to the truck. Unusual for us.

Check out this video of the landing:

My airline pilot buddy used to be a second officer on 727s, he tells me that they are a little tough to land smoothly when they are empty. There is a pretty cool collection of video of an ex-United Airlines 727 landing on a very short runway in Chicago Il, at Meigs field. That airplane was being donated to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, where it hangs to this day.

Meigs' runway was only 3900 feet long vs. 5200 at RAL, so the UAL pilots were presented with a greater challenge that the Fed-Ex pilots that landed at RAL.

I am glad that both sets of  pilots were up to the challenge, and these classic airliners are still around today, rather than being turned into beer cans. Not that I have anything against beer cans, it's just that I prefer bottled beer and I like airplanes even more.

Thanks for reading,


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