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My-Your chance of flying steam gauges?

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Well-known member
Jul 3, 2002
Since I've been in computer support for the past 20 years you would think I would love digital stuff but it isn't true. While its ok I much prefer steam. I'd be much more excited I think about my re-entry into flying if I thought I might get to fly a DC-8, B707, or an L-1011. Granted with my age and just getting back in etc. I may never see anything that size but those are the kinds of aircraft that I love. I know some are still around and wonder what those in the know have to say about their retirement etc. Will enough of them be flying in say 5-10 years to have a shot at it? Are there people fighting over them or are folks clamoring to get into the digital cockpits? Oh yeah how about the old DC-8's that just poured the black smoke! YEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAA!! Please tell me there are a few of those still around.

Love "steam guages" come on over to the dark side. Those old frieght Lears are nothing but old steam guages with basic nav instruments. You are lucky to have a VFR only GPS. Fortunately or unfortunately they will be arond a long time. Longer than most of the old DC-8's I fear. While they are not DC-8's they are a blast to fly and sure are a good plane to train you for flying a big one. If night freight is not for you it is good to learn early on so you can follow another path. I wish you luck in your endevers.

Klingon LRDRVR
Some of the majors are still flying 72s and Im sure many of the freight and non sched outfits will be flying older dc10,dc8s, 72 and older 74s for many years to come.
If you are looking to fly those specific types, (707, DC8, or TriStar) you will most likely end up flying freight, Or flying in south/central America. The TriStars, are probably gone, and the 707's have been gone for a couple of decades. The Diesel8's are still flying a little freight, but that market is so volatile it's hard to keep up.

If you are just looking to fly steam gauges, try someone that is flying DC9's ( NWA, USAJet, AirTran, Spirit, Southeast), 727's (Laker), or early 737's (Ryan, SWA who will probably keep theirs until they die ). Or as Klingon mentioned, try any one of a numerous group of business jets. The Lear series is almost all steam gauge until you get to the 45 and 60. Falcon 10's and 20's are round dials. etc.
Good Luck
Who looks at the gages?

With all the spinning around and movement, personally I just get a headache. I've found that a good crossword makes it all go away. Throw an autopilot in there, and now you're really cooking with gas!
Steam vs. Glass

No doubt about it steam is cool... You have to use the grey matter between your ears to plan your descent rather than V-nav path. With that said, every top of descent is new and exciting especially with a crossing restriction. You want me to cross this point at 10,000 - no problem, but can I cross it at barber pole?

On the other side, glass is cool in its own way. No doubt it is safer in south east Alaska. EGPWS rocks - almost as good as looking out the window. RNP approaches are something right out of Star Wars. Pure Magic.

When flying steam there is nothing quite as satisfying as closing the thrust levers at FL 350 and spooling them back up at 500 feet for landing... puts a grin on my face for the rest of the day.

The JT8D-17A fuel burn is what will eventually kill our 200's. Wathcing the fuel flows hit 12,000 pph on take off boggles my mind. Glad I'm not buying the gas!
Spoken like a man that has never flown glass.

My only experience on glass was in the sim. It was fantastic!

I'm looking forward to the future not the past.

Flying a DC8 was great experience. You'll get tired of old dirty and unreliable airplanes. Newer is always better. The last DC8 was built in '72.

Relax, have a sandwich... Did somebody wake up with their grumpy face on today and can't find their sense of humor?

If you have flown steam then you know that trying to plan an efficient TOD can be a challange but it is also fun. The goal is to reach TOD, close the throttles, join the arc (remember those?), configure and spool up at the FAF. Doesn't always work out, but it is a goal. Sure I could start down early, dragging along a bunch of gear and flaps turning dead dinosaurs into noise... but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun!

Glass is ok, but it does all the thinking for you - tells you when to start down, tells you when to configure (on our RNP approaches) - where is the fun in that? When flying glass I feel more like a typist than a pilot.

Have a good weekend.
Having never flown glass, I'm dreading the day I start class on a "modern" airplane. You know what they say about teaching an old dog new tricks...

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