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Letter From a TWA Airline Pilot – Transcript

Letter From An Airline Pilot Image

This movie takes you back into the life of a TWA Lockheed Constellation “Connie” pilot and explains how the airline operates from start-up to shut-down.

The Lockheed Constellation (“Connie”) is a propeller-driven, four-engine airliner built by Lockheed Corporation starting in 1943. The Constellation series was the first pressurized-cabin civil airliner series to go into widespread use. Its pressurized cabin enabled commercial passengers to fly well above most bad weather for the first time, thus significantly improving the general safety and ease of air travel.

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It all began the day I brought flight 59 into Kansas City Missouri from New York.

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My flight in had been routine and after we’ve made sure that everything was ok.

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I left the plane with my crew by the way. My name is Martin, Pete Martin.

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I’m an airline captain and that’s me walking on the right. Yeah.

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Yeah I went to the ready room with my co-pilot to see if there were any letters for me.

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Most of them were bills and advertisements but one interested me particularly. It came from a man I’d never heard of.

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I was in a hurry and I didn’t open it thinking I’d read it later.

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Yeah mm I didn’t get to it until that night just as my wife was putting the kids to bed.

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Yeah no,

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mm good night, Bill. Sleep tonight boy, good night laura. Be a good girl.

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Well then can I sleep with raggedy ann? I think so clear.

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Well the letter surprised me.

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It was from a passenger flown with me. He wrote telling me he’d enjoyed the experience.

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I wondered if I’d ride him, telling him how a big airline operated.

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All right. I’m not a good correspondent, but anyhow, I decided to answer it first. I told him I was the wrong man. The right.

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I’m just one of a team, sir. I wrote a team of thousands of people. Each one of them contributing to every flight.

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I remember you have white and I’d like to tell you a few of the things that make a big commercial airline work.

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Maybe that will help explain what I mean.

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I’ll take my line, for instance. We fly from the pacific coast eastward across the United States, all the way to Bombay India 32,000 miles.

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We cover 60 U. S. cities, four counts and 17 countries overseen.

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We were first with regular coast-to-coast flights in the United States. First in over weather, flying pioneers and de-icers, automatic pilots, and radar.

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I could go on, but that’ll give you an idea.

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Your flight from Los Angeles California to New York showed airline teamwork and coordination your telephone for your ticket from your home in Los Angeles.

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Our office received your order, made sure that the flight you wanted to open and sold you a ticket.

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Yeah. Your order went to their seat center and immediately was teletype to our reservations service in Kansas City, where my crew will take over for the rest of the trip to New York.

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Ticket is cleared here giving a complete picture at all times 10 minutes after you’d ordered your ticket.

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Your name was on his correct flight listening. You were already, you called for your ticket two days later in our Los Angeles office altogether a pretty painless business.

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On your departure day you checked in at the airport, everything was ready. You’re lucky. Check the board. You’re traveling comfort in the hands of a smooth working team. Yeah, that’s a fine plane. That Constellation you flew in.

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They built her at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank California using the engineering and production techniques that have made us successful in aviation.

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The Constellation is very costly,

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and once you’ve seen her come together at Lockheed, you know why she winds up over 95 ft long with a wingspan of 123 ft with 10,000 horsepower, More than enough to pull four average railway trains.

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She weighs 17,000 lb loaded When she’s finished. We pilots think we’ve got the slickest ship in the air.

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Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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Okay. Before we ever see her, she’s put through a series of exhaustive tests. Every part of her from nose to tail gets this treatment.

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The reason is a word we live by in the airline business. That word is safety.

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Well that’s the story of your airplane. Now. To get back to your flight, You’ve got off on schedule and headed for Kansas City five hours and 10 minutes away.

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Your pilot and I were old friends.

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Yeah, after a couple of hours aloft you had luncheon and I think you’ll agree with me that the meal compared very favourably with that served by a good restaurant anywhere.

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Which brings up the Food Story one We’re pretty proud of.

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We’ve done a lot of pioneering here too in our Kansas City test kitchen. We’re always working on recipes, procedures and equipment, giving food for thought to food for flying.

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Although we have six food units around the country from which plane services delivered our production kitchen in Kansas City cooks all the meats, potatoes and desserts for the lines,

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75 of the food used in our coast to coast feeding is prepared here,

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five tons of food a week, 2.5 million meals a year. Mhm.

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These pre-cooked meals are kept in perfect condition in huge refrigerators until they are ready for distribution by air to the lines, six outlying food units.

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Yeah, yeah.

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But restores its own food in special ovens.

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Refrigeration enables us to prepare our food well in advance.

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Yet a meal processed by our system is served as hot and fresh as when it was cooked.

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Some really need efficient containers that have been designed for food and drink light and wait.

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That’s essential, but sturdy as well as comeback.

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In other words, built for flying.

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In lands. One of the first things we do is to remove the used service and put in the fresh service whether it be another meal or snack or simply a beverage.

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Well sir, with your me over you had a chance to look at the scenery.

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It’s pretty spectacular on that. Los Angeles to Kansas city-run particularly the Grand Canyon of the colorado.

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You know, this letter worries me a little. Are you getting enough behind-the-scenes stuff?

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I’ll try to put down some inside information. Now let’s see.

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Did you know it takes the company several years to train a captain or co-pilot, a year or more for other crew members.

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And that brings up another story. The training story. Yeah.

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In Kansas City we run a regular school for captains, first officers and flight engineers.

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We not only teach new personnel how to fly for us, but keep our old employees abreast of new developments that are always popping up in aviation.

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One of the things that make our business kind of fast.

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Three physical examinations a year to government one company and this constant checking up goes for training to once you get started. It never stops.

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Every six months we get an instrument check blind flying and there are regular line checks are pilots have logged a million hours, but these standards are never relaxed.

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Now for our crew, the crew that picks you up the Kansas City.

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All fresh and rested ready for the trip to New York.

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I’m captain, 18,000 hours flying with the line been flying since 1933.

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There’s my cope on it, the flight engineer and our hostesses to good girls. So much for us.

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Now, while you were flying towards us from Los Angeles, here’s what we were doing in Kansas City, my copilot and I checked in at flight control the operations boys.

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We talked over New York, weather ceiling 800 with a chance but only a chance of lifting.

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We discussed fuel load and the 1001 details that go into making ready for takeoff.

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On average, we have 57 flights in the air every hour of the day operations watches them all.

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Next meteorology weather forecasting, our company was the first to employ staff meteorologists and we listen to what they say.

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Every time we fly, the chief gave us the weather forecast, which he gets from the government, our own forecasters and our planes aloft.

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Weather was uncertain at low altitudes, so we decided on 19 ft for a smooth ride over the cloud.

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Our fuel order amounted to 4000 gallons enough to fly from Kansas City to New York and back again.

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We burn about a gallon a mile five gallons a minute. Mhm.

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I watched your flight come in from Los Angeles. It was right on time to Yeah.

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A lot of people get very busy all at once when a big ship comes in.

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I’ve seen it 1000 times. I suppose. I never get tired of Washington.

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Every man concerned has an important job to do. And it all contributes to the speed, comfort and safety of your flight.

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Meanwhile, our flight engineer checked over the airplane.

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This is standard procedure first, because he’s trained to do the job. Second, because it’s good practice to have it done by a man who’s going to ride the airplane. These fellows are like doctors.

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They know where to look and this checkup takes place every time one of our planes.

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It would have been brought to this overhaul base and had all four engines replaced every 10 hours. We just about take the whole ship apart and rebuild it.

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I wish you and all the other people who fly regularly could see this operation because defies the kind of attention a scheduled airline like ours Givings,

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first thing we do to a plane when she comes in is to remove her engines and tear them down piece by piece.

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Each of the thousands of parts is then given an eight-hour cleaning in a chemical wash,

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right next. Each part is put through a magnetic analysis to find any hidden faults in the metal.

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Then hand-inspected against rigid tolerances sum of the parts are okay good as new, others may require reconditioning in our shops and still, others may be replaced.

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Mhm. Mhm. Mhm. Okay.

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When the engine is reassembled, however, every part measures up. It’s really like a new engine.

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Renovated in our upholstery shop. They also replace any fabric-covered surfaces that need attention. Meanwhile, our sheet metal shop handles any work on the skin and fuel tanks of the ship.

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The base tests the airplanes, radio equipment, every bit of it.

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It also rips out her entire electrical system and rebuild it mm mm.

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Her instruments, get a ride on an oscillating test machine, which goes through the most severe maneuvers an airplane could be subjected to.

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Mhm. We re-polish and inspect the propellers to every three hours. We get a new sent.

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The balance of these planes is so perfect that, believe it or not, the weight of a paper matchbox will make them revolve.

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Yeah. Mm.

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Continuing maintenance means that a job like this operation which takes 4500 man-hours can be done in six days.

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The last thing we do is way the ship.

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Our planes must stay within one-half of one of their original. Wait, wait,

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mm mm.

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Well, it’s nice to know that you’ve got that kind of plane under you. Now to continue with your flight.

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Kansas city Ground Control W. A.

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Flight to request taxi clearance for New York T. W. A.

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Flight to runway 17 wins south, variable 5 to 10 north on taxi strip.

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You remember we taxied past the tower.

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These boys are the traffic cops of the airport. Working with air route traffic control. They clear my flight plan and keep checking my progress all along the line.

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We moved down to the warm-up block.

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I suppose you’ve wondered why there’s always a delay before takeoff. Here’s what’s going on upfront.

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Lux Cate campus with.

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Directed vacuum. Check 2 to 4 inches directional gyro setting on the cage, trim tabs,

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set takeoff flaps, take off lamps and heaters, check heaters, control services,

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free and full travel engine instruments, normal generators on the carburetor, air cold propellers, full and creek mixtures.

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Ridge Hill pumps on high airplane ready Kansas City Tower T. W. A flight to ready for takeoff to two clear for takeoff.

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We reached our altitude and we couldn’t see the ground. We didn’t have to.

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Here’s how we knew where we were all the way.

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First we were on the beam, kept getting it signals.

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Second, automatic direction finder. The airway is marked with radio signposts As we pass over each one.

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The needles swing and a marker. Light flashes on flight to Colombia 03 19.

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Visual on top ST louis 25.

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And that’s the way it went all the way. 1100 miles.

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Yeah. Flight to St. Louis 25 Indianapolis 10, Midway between points. We tune in the station ahead and ride in and out of that.

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Range five to Indianapolis 10, columbus 47 47 Mhm.

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Flight to Columbus 46. Pittsburgh 1717,

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Flight to Pittsburgh 18, Allentown 11 1 1 Flight to Allentown 11, Laguardia 35 45.

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As we neared our destination, we picked up another navigational aid. This was els instrument landing system. It gave us direction and glide slope while radio markers told us our distance from the airport.

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Then, by keeping the cross pointers at right angles, ALS brought us straight and true directly toward the field we’re passing down.

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I’m sorry. I didn’t get a chance to meet you personally, but I expect I shall. One of these days in closing, let me say to you one of our two million passengers.

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Thanks a lot from me, just one of the 12,000 people who helped run the airline that brought you home safely comfortably.

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