Topic of the Week: Your DC-10 Memories

It’s getting harder and harder to hitch a ride on a Douglas Commercial aircraft. The last passenger operator of the DC-10, Biman Bangladesh, has sent it off into the sunset. Douglas knew how to build airplanes to last forever. The DC-10 was a tank that could soldier on for many years, but the economics simply don’t work in the age of twin engine widebodies. I’m amazed the aircraft kept flying commercially for this long.

Of course, the DC-10 had a checkered early history with cargo door problems and a high profile accident in Chicago (though that was really a maintenance issue). Let’s not forget United 232 which cartwheeled on the Sioux City runway.

But the airplane became a reliable workhorse which provided me with many happy memories. My first intercontinental flight was on an SAS DC-10 from LAX to Copenhagen. It took me to Hawai’i on more airlines than I can count. In fact, my last DC-10 ride was on Hawaiian Air. Now it’s your turn. Let’s hear your DC-10 memories.

82 Responses to Topic of the Week: Your DC-10 Memories

  1. ANCJason says:

    First aircraft I was ever on – Northwest Orient ORD-MSP in 1982.

    • ANCJason says:

      NRT-FUK Japan Airlines 1993; FUK-HNL-LAX-DTW Northwest Airlines 1996; SFO-KOA-SFO United Airlines 1996

      MD11: NGO-PDX Delta Airlines 1993

  2. BigSix says:

    I flew on the DC-10 a total of 23 times, beginning on American (ORD-LAX) in 1981 and ending on Northwest (MSP-SEA) in 1997. Common routes were ORD-LAX, ORD-SFO, ORD-EWR and ORD-BDL mostly on United. One of my favorite A/C.

  3. TimH says:

    If it makes you feel any better, you can still get passenger service on a DC-3 (in North America):

    http://www.buffaloairways.com/index.php?page=passenger-service

    They really built those things to last…

  4. Oliver B. says:

    When i was 5 years old, my mother won a prize from a cookie brand. My dad decided to visit my uncle in Minneapolis. I’m spanish, and we bought 3 tickets from Madrid to Mineapollis with NWA via AMS. We flew on a DC-10-30, with the NWA new livery, and it was the best flight of my life. This is how I discovered my passion for aviation

  5. Ben in DC says:

    I flew on United’s DC-10s a few times over the year, but the one trip that really stands out is one from ORD-BDL in 1989. I remember vividly that it was within a week of the Sioux City crash, because as a young kid, I was a tad nervous. Anyway, right before pushing back, the flight crew realized they were having a problem with one of the rear doors. While they were messing with it, the slide deployed. We ended up sitting there for a couple of hours on the plane (they didn’t let us off) while crews changed that. The one fun thing was that the crew didn’t care that I stood back there and watched them work. We finally took off, only to turn around 45 minutes into the flight because the lead flight attendant became very sick. I think we finally landed at BDL around midnight, 4 or 5 hours after we were supposed to get in

  6. Dr. Jordan says:

    Hmm…The DC10 was an interesting aircraft, its no denying it was an inferior aircraft to the L 10th in regards to engineering and robustness, but I never had any issues flying them – even though I never got on one without thinking about UA232. My total DC10 flights: UA DEN-SFO, ORD-IAD DC10-10. CO MAD-EWR DC10-30, and my last DC10 flight was 1996 on IAH-LAS- IAH on Sun Country, the return was on N152SY, a DC10-15. I like the TriStar more, but I miss the DC10.

  7. Eric says:

    Worked countless DC-10 trips during my NWA days. AMS (seemingly hundreds of times),CDG,FRA,MXP,FCO,LGW,KIX,HNL,SEA,LAX,SFO,BOS,BOM,DEL and the dreaded Ten Hub Hop (MSP-MEM-DTW-MSP day trips). The ten gave me an opportunity to touch Iranian soil for about 8 hours in the mid 00′s when we made a precautionary (yellow emergency) dx to THR of the BOM-AMS leg of a 6 day trip in the 3R position. ‘We do not hate you…we hate your government” was the mantra of our gracious an very helpful hosts.
    I will miss the roar JT9Ds. I will not miss those (^$@! centerline overhead bins that were a pain (literally) to close and always opened on landing. Oh…the door 3 (L&R) positions were junior FA spots because on rotation the a/c system condensation would leak from the ceiling seem and rain on the jumpseat. Good times.

  8. I’ve flown L10′s countless times and never thought anything of it, but my one (early) 90′s AA LAX-HNL-LAX DC10 had me jittery the whole time because of thinking of all the accidents it had in the past. But to be fair, so did an AA 757 LAX-OGG-LAX, but only because it was my first long over water flight on a plane with 2-engines.

    I will say during the DC10 hey day years, I did not want to fly one because of the accidents it had. Odd since I know all planes have had accidents and DC10′s were flying all over the world everyday and not having problems, but there was just something about the DC10 that I just didn’t want to be on one. That one AA DC10 to Hawaii was only because it was a free ticket, otherwise I wouldn’t have paid to be on it.

  9. MeanMeosh says:

    I recall flying a DC-10 only once, in 1998, on a NW DC-10 going DTW-AMS-DTW as part of a trip to India (I guess that’s technically twice). I don’t really remember all that much about the flights themselves, except that on the flight from AMS to DTW, an Indian lady sitting in the row in front of me started pitching a fit because they didn’t have a vegetarian meal option for breakfast. What was even better was the NW FA’s response – that she could have the eggs because they were “powdered eggs” and therefore weren’t meat! While I suppose that’s technically true, it was rather poor form on the FA’s part, in more ways than one. Sadly, what I’ll remember most about that trip were the incredibly rude ground staff at both DTW and DFW on the return. I never flew with NW again after that experience, though the 8,600 World Perks miles I got from that trip are still sitting in my (now) SkyPesos account after all these years!

  10. David says:

    Perhaps I’m being a little cynical but I don’t think the demise of passenger DC10s is that big a deal. It didn’t sell in large numbers and as far as I can tell wasn’t that big an innovation as aircraft go, unlike maybe a 707, 747, 737 or A380. Sure it did its job, but was it really that groundbreaking ? Times move on…

    • Donald says:

      “As far as I can tell wasn’t that big an innovation as aircraft go,”
      The 10 was the first wide body designed for domestic service, from the start.
      Also was the first civil use of the GE CF-6 engines.

      • David says:

        Donald – with the greatest respect, neither of your 2 points really sound that significant in the bigger scheme of things…

  11. Evan says:

    One of my first flight memories is on a UA DC-10 EWR-ORD. We lost an engine shortly after take-off and had to turn back to EWR. It must have been 1987 or thereabouts. I can still remember the noise and shaking when the engine failed. I was pretty young and with my mom and sister, heading to meet my dad on a business trip in Chicago. Back at EWR, they asked us if we wanted to continue on another flight. The answer, of course, was yes. We made it safely to Chicago a few hours late.

  12. Brandon says:

    I ALMOST flew on a DC-10 once with AA ORD to LAX in 1991. I boarded the flight but then they announced a several hour delay due to no crew – so they moved us to another flight to LAX on a 767. The good news was this was my first flight in business class. It was quite a treat for an 18 year old kid flying home from military training.

    Another distinct DC-10 memory I have is seeing one from UA land in KOA back in 1990 – was pretty surprised to see one at such a small airport.

    Unfortunately I don’t think I’ve seen a DC-10 since the late 1990s – CO used to fly them into MCO (I think from EWR?).

  13. When I moved to Phoenix in 1976, I flew out here on an American Airlines DC-10. At that time, before deregulation, American and TWA were the only carriers that flew non-stop between Chicago and Phoenix. Since then, I often flew on DC-10s between Phoenix and Minneapolis / St. Paul on Northwest (since most of my family lived or lives in Wisconsin). I always had a good experience.

  14. James says:

    Flew ‘em a lot in college on AA (#72/73) in the mid-late 80s (HNL-ORD-SYR and vv). Loved how spacious they felt, even in economy. They used to rent these video game consoles in the back of the plane that were about the size of a trade paperback. Also, the back of economy was one big smoking section, with passengers sitting in FA jumpseats and using beverage cups as ashtrays.

  15. Andrew says:

    When I worked for AA in the early ’90s we were never happy to work a DC10 departure as the aircraft went tech so often!

  16. Neil S. says:

    I’m going to say it was an Eastern flight to Florida. Though might have been an L1011. I wasn’t the plane nerd then that I am now.

    • CF says:

      Neil S – That was most likely an L1011 but there is a tiny chance it was a DC-10. Eastern picked up a couple in the mid-1980s for some long haul flights that the L1011 couldn’t make. They didn’t last all that long. It was really most likely an L1011.

      • Arubaman says:

        EAL used the DC-10-30 strictly on the following routes: 1) MIA-EZE-SCL-PTY-MIA; 2) MIA-LGW-MIA; 3) MIA-MAD-MIA; and 4) MIA-LAX-MIA. They had 3 of the aircraft in their fleet.

  17. Ron says:

    I loved the Western Airlines DC-10s that flew into Anchorage from Seattle. Their famous “3 feet for your two legs” seat pitch is sorely missed on today’s planes. Flew them on a short-lived London-Anchorage-Honolulu route as well,

  18. Ron says:

    I believe all my DC-10 flights were on Northwest. This includes EWR-AMS and AMS-EWR in 1998, LAX-DTW in 2001, and LGW-DTW-LGW in 2005, shortly before the route converted to A330. I didn’t really like the plane, the seating was too crammed.

    Two months ago I had the opportunity to save a few bucks and fly the MD-11 for the first time by returning from Amsterdam with a connection in SFO, but I chose the (more expensive) nonstop to LAX on a 747.

    Of course, the DC-10 is not dead, I see them every day at LAX flying for FedEx. If the economics don’t make sense for passenger flights, why do they make sense for cargo?

    • Sanjeev M says:

      I think cargo by pure volume is more profitable (i.e. replace one passenger with cargo and you make a lot more) but it is more volatile and variable than passenger demand. You can also make many stops and pick up more cargo along the way, and you don’t have to feed cargo. Cargo is also unidirectional while most passengers come back to the origin in a short timeframe.

  19. Calpilot says:

    I took a Flight Engineer course at Long Beach City College in 1989. It was taught by a DC-10 engineer from across the street at the Douglas factory. The students decided that we wanted to go through his DC-10 Flight Engineer course instead of the LBCC syllabus. One if the best college classes ever!

    I became a First Officer for Continental on the DC-10 in 2001, about 6 months before they were retired after 9/11. I have to say, it was one of the best flying airplanes I have ever flown. And 6 of the best months of flying: Rome, Madrid, Milan, Edinburgh, Newark, Houston, and Los Angeles. And never a bad landing!

  20. shawn perry says:

    my last DC-10 flight was on Western airlines a week before they became Delta and we flew LAX-HNL and spent 4 glorious days on the beach….then the last leg was HNL – ANC…I remember the champagne flowing and when the engines started hearing them spool up was amazing and it was a true powerhouse……i so miss them

  21. VC745D says:

    Many DC10 trips–an early one was National MSY-LAX; there were three classes, including “K”, which I was in. No cabin separation; the difference was lack of food. Mainly I remember being almost the only one in the entire YK cabin—sitting in the middle rear of the nearly empty plane was a memorable experience. Flying is not only now much more crowded–the lack of widebodies on even transcons is a real loss of comfort.

  22. LT_DT says:

    My first trans-Atlantic flight, which I don’t remember since I was under the age of 2, was on a Martinair DC-10. I think that was my only DC-10 flight ever. During the rest of the DC-10 era, all of my trans-Atlantic crossings were on 747s or L1011s, and I’ve never flown on domestically.

  23. MikeGun says:

    I flew the DC-10 many times, but one round trip ORD-LAX-ORD on Continental was especially memorable with the pub in coach. I spent most of the flight playing “pong” in the pub from ORD to LAX.

  24. Muskoka1 says:

    My first DC-10 flight was (believe it or not) CLE-ORD on NW. This was in the days of pre-deregulation, when UA and NW served the market. The Y price was $47 OW.

    My most memorable trip was when I was working for AA, and flew D2 (Space available) LGW-DFW, Thanksgiving 1986, in the middle seat of the 2-5-2 configuration. In the smoking section, watching the movie way up at the front of the cabin through a cloud of carcinogens. It took a couple of days to get de-fumigated from that trip. As much as I hate flying coach now, nothing is as bad as flying in the smoking section.

  25. matt707 says:

    I was a teenager in Queens who spent my weekends at JFK. About 1974: a National Airlines open house celebration at the Sundome…a 747 and DC 10 were open to the public! It was an exciting event for a 14 year old kid with his eyes in the sky!

  26. Shindig says:

    In ’79 or ’80 I often flew from EWR to the Midwest. A business colleague and I were returning early one evening from ORD, the equipment being a UA DC-10. When we got to the departure gate I noticed that our aircraft had the cowling on the center engine removed and mechanics working on it. I figured that wasn’t good as this was soon after several of the “incidents”. We left hours late and found on arrival that our limo to take us back to our cars at our company’s north NJ office was no where to be found. We got an airport hotel for the night. Next day on the morning news we discovered that all the DC-10s had been grounded that night as per the FAA. Ours might have been the last one to land before that edict.

  27. Row ZZ-99 says:

    I’d rather sit in a 10 with a bad jug than bounce around in a 318 that seems to be always falling apart regardless the carrier. I still talk to some of the Non Revs that took 232 that came in to SUX..they all got on 10s for years.

  28. Larry Dingman says:

    As a TWA Purser, I was partial to the L1011. If I remember correctly the DC10 had triple redundant hydraulic systems (unflyable without hydraulics). The problem: all three were routed next to one another. Not ideal. The American ORD crash resulted from the departing engine disabling all hydraulics and the leading edge slats retracted on the left side. With UA in Iowa, when the #2 engine exploded, it took out all hydraulics. The L1011 had four redundant systems…two down the left; two down the right. Good thinking (our mechanics used to say, “Look to Lockheed for leadership; Boeing for airplanes). During the DC10 grounding, our passengers would ask if the L1011 was a DC10. We say no, completely different. They’d accuse us of lying. One of my flying partners quipped, “OK, you’re right. it’s a DC1011.”

  29. Gary says:

    I’ll always remember my BCAL flight LAXLGW in seat letter “E”, which was the middle seat in the middle section of five.
    Seriously – besides the BAC-111, the DC10 was the workhorse at BR. Well done, Douglas!

  30. A says:

    My last flight on a DC10 was in 2001, just a couple days after flights reopened post 9/11. It was (I believe) a Ryan International charter from MSP-LAS. That flight then continued on to Hawaii, and given how crammed in the seats were in charter configuration I was happy to stay in Vegas. It must’ve been an old Lufthansa aircraft as it still had German language signs in the cabin. I remember my friend commenting on the size saying, “my truck could fit it here – sideways. This plane is huge.”

    In the 90′s I flew an NWA 10 out to SEA once. Also have fond memories of the Continental 10′s parked at IAH in the 80′s with the meatball on that massive tail fin with jet stuck in it. I was pretty young but I believe I flew a CO DC10 DEN-IAH on a repositioning flight. My parents still talk about how empty the plane was and I was allowed to run in circles from aisle to galley to aisle and back.

    I must say though, Douglas may have built good planes but in the three holers the L1011 was far superior in every way. Every aviation person I know at least has said as much. Still is nice to see the FedEx tri-jet still in the air over town even if the passenger variety is long gone.

  31. Gantt says:

    National DC10 LAS-IAH-MSY Late 70s
    British Caledonian DC10 ATL-LGW Early 80s
    Being in ATL, we were always L1011 folks with DL and EA so cannot remember ever flying on one other than those two times.

  32. Anthony says:

    I will always remember returning home to SJC on an AA DC-10 from DFW in the late 80s and parking at the interim gates (trailers) at the north end of Terminal C and deplaning via air stairs. The image of such a big airplane at such a small airport was just awesome.

  33. Ben C says:

    In the 80s and early 90s, AA flew the DC10 into Austin Mueller. Unless you were familiar with AUS, approaches from the north were awesome. The runway was only 7000 or 8000 feet and the threshhold was inches from Interstate 35. The DC-10 needed every inch of runway and looked to the uninitiated as if the plane would land on the interstate. My first DC-10 was a morning AUS-DFW and had the added bonus of a cancelled DL flight…so packed and the F/As still did a beverage service for a 45 min leg.

  34. stan says:

    i think my last DC-10 flight was on NWA DTW-AMS in late 1999.

    i only recently started being a geek about logging my flights, but i know i had many trips in the 90s on NWA DC-10s

  35. Daniel Clapp says:

    I think it was the Continental DC10s that collected a bunch of eastbound red eyes in Denver and then made the cross country to Newark. They took out one section of seats and made a bar/lounge area. They had snacks, drinks and conversation. If you wanted to sleep the 3-6-3 seating in back made ideal beds when the arms were flipped up.

  36. Ahhh, the DC-10 memories. I always referred to it as a death ship. The most amazing thing was how, after every DC-10 incident, a month or so later there would be a small article that would tell that if it had been a Boeing airplane, especially the 747, the accident would probably have been prevented.

    The first incident, on a Turkish freighter, I believe, occurred when a cargo door opened by accident and the resulting decompression crushed the control lines in the floor. Boeing has a second set of controls that run above the ceiling as a backup to protect against this disaster.

    The second, big one, was the crash at ORD on an American Airlines ‘10. It happened because the maintenance crew was using the wrong method to remove the engines, which cracked the pylon mount. When the engine came off at takeoff, it ripped the control lines, the flaps became loose on that side and the airplane rolled over and crashed. Later we learned that Boeing airplanes had an asymmetric flap arrester that would have stopped that from happening. This flight also ended the use of nose cameras to show passengers the landing and take off (you can still find on foreign carriers, especially in Japan) because attorneys argued that watching the rollover increased the pain and suffering. All of these were r

    Next we have the Sioux City crash of a United ‘10. An engine exploded in flight and cut a hydraulic line and the pilots lost most of the control and the airplane tumbled on landing (a miracle of sorts that so few people died). Of course Boeing has valves in the hydraulic lines that sense a pressure imbalance and effetely protect against the loss in fluid and leave some control left, in this case to get back on the ground in time.

    There were more examples.

    The DC-10 was lighter and less expensive to buy and operate than the Boeing 747. But some of that weight came at a big expense of a different sort. Most of the problems were fixed, and Fedex is really happy with the airplane which is why Boeing, when they bought Douglas, ended the ’10 (now an MD-11) saying it was a good product for freight, not people

  37. Yo says:

    Great plane, lets see, CO LAX-EWR, NW PHX-HNL (wetlease) HA (LAX-HNL/OGG), Sure there are more, if I could only remember. Only did one flight on the MD-11, LAX-ZHR, after getting bumped on AF to CDG/PRG, we pushed back and right into the hangar for 2 hours of maint…got to ZHR so late I just slept there (after taking a shower).

    My nephew flew on one of World’s MD11′s, they had an engine shutdown..no fun.

  38. bobsmith says:

    I was on a Jet Airways flight (737) from Kathmandu to New Delhi in January of 2012 and we were taxiing towards the runway at Kathmandu. I believe it is a single runway airport and we waited for the incoming aircraft to arrive and luckily I had a window seat. The plane arriving was a Biman Bangladesh Airlines DC-10. I was definitely surprised to see an operating DC-10 passenger jet and the plane definitely look like it was a throwback (livery, exterior appearance). It was pretty cool to see. I checked Wikipedia and found that Biman Bangladesh were one of the last, if not the last, operating carrier to use the DC-10. Other than that, I remember flying on DC-10s from O’Hare to Brussels on Sabena in the late 80s and a few domestic routes in the 80s/90s (United and American).

  39. CF says:

    Now you guys are getting me all nostalgic. Some of the DC-10 flights I remember in addition to what I said in the original post…

    Back in 1986 or 1987, there was a crazy discount deal through some local bank partnering with American. My family bought a trip to DC and another one to Hawai’i. On the DC trip, we were supposed to be on a DC-10 to Chicago, but we sat there mechanical for a long time. We were next to one of the doors and I heard a mechanic say “well, it’s probably good enough.” Scared the heck out of me. The flight canceled and I ended up on my first 767 flight nonstop to Dulles.

    On the Hawai’i trip, it was an eventful one. We pushed back from the gate at LAX and they realized they had a “spinner,” someone standing in the aisle without a seat. The gate had already been occupied by the time they figured this out so they ended up bringing out one of those catering trucks, brought it up to the door, and took a volunteer back to the terminal. Seems like they wouldn’t be able to do that today.

    When we arrived in Honolulu, I noticed that the airplane said it continued to Maui. The agent we booked with told us American didn’t fly there. My dad talked to the gate agent and they agreed to just put us back on board. (That was a shame because it would have been my only F28 flight on Mid Pacific otherwise.) On the way back, we took a Mid Pacific YS-11 to Honolulu. Then in Honolulu they called us up and said our seats had been given away. We spent the flight sitting in the smoking section. Awful.

    Other than American, I’ve flown United, Western, Delta (after the Western acquistion), World, Leisure Air (operating for SunTrips) and Hawaiian DC-10s to Hawai’i. My last one was on July 11, 2001 on N140AA operating Hawaiian’s morning LAX to Maui flight.

  40. David says:

    First trip to Europe in 1981 on Western Airlines from DEN to LGW. And of course the frequent rides on United to Hawaii in First Class. Big, open, a place to toss a fresh salad and mix mai tais.

  41. Bigjetbuyer says:

    The first time I saw a DC-10 was early summer 1971, McDonnell Douglas was doing high altitude take-off proving flights at COS using an aircraft in AA livery. I was 15 and in love. In mid-August, 1971 my brother was returning home on leave from Ft. Ord, CA and flying on military stand-by, he got the last seat on a UA flight SFO-DEN. It was the inaugural revenue flight of the DC-10. There was a band and the mayor of Denver at the gate on the B concourse at the old Stapleton airport to greet the flight. I was both jealous and thrilled to be part of aviation history. My first flight was July 1972, also UA, SFO-DEN.

    In the early 1990’s I went to work for CO out-sourcing heavy maintenance. One of the fleets selected for out-sourcing was the DC-10 fleet. I was doing a site inspection at ST Aerospace in Mobile, AL in November 1993 and the original Orbis DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital was nearing completion and they were gracious enough to give me a tour. It was a wonderful aircraft.

    Perhaps my favorite flying experience was May 1996; I took my 14 and 16 year old nieces to Paris for their first time. We flew back ORY-IAH on a CO DC-10-30 and all three of us were upgraded to BusinessFirst, the girls were thrilled.

    I later went to work for UA in the United Services group and was part of the aircraft sales team. We sold most of the DC-10-10’s to FedEx. Ironically, my last flight was as a non-rev on a UA DC-10-30, SFO-DEN in December 1997 (I got upgraded to First class.) I later saw that aircraft at Aeronavali in Venice, Italy where UA was converting the DC-10-30’s to freighters for their own use. (They were removing the lower deck galley at the time.) The last time I saw that aircraft was 2007 and it was in storage in Goodyear, AZ.

    Lots of great memories of a great airplane.

  42. CJ Taylor says:

    I flew the DC-10 once and the L-10 once. Dr Jordan got it right when he said the DC-10 lacked the smoothness and robustness of the L-10. What a ride that was…

  43. Dave says:

    United LAX-SEA,LAX-DEN several times in the 70′s Always a nice trip. World Airways charter McGuire to Mildenhall. in 78. Very comfortable, but I always did like the look of the L1011 better. Only got to fly one once from LAX to PIT on TWA. Very smooth even crossing the edge of the mountains where there was enough turbulence that the F/A’s were told to buckle in.

  44. drybean says:

    I went out of my way to avoid the DC-10. My favorite aircraft of that era was the L1011 and of course the 747…Now I try just as hard to avoid MD80s…

  45. AAlumnus says:

    My first DC-10 trip was National Airlines IAH-MSY-TPA when I was 12 yrs old. While working for AA 1989-2001, I had the opportunity to fly them numerous times, and my favorite ride was always in FC on the DC-10-10 with the 34/256 config. I’ll never forget landing at LGA (form DFW) in the early 90s, late at night, in a horrendous thunderstorm. I still can’t believe we landed safely that night.

  46. Peter G says:

    I remember a great book. ” The Rise and Fall of the DC10″ … Some still around, but, very expensive now.
    I did a number of flights on THAI Airlines MD11 from Bangkok to Australia. Once, they couldn’t get the plane to start in Bangkok, and we were all off loaded.

    One time, coming into Melbourne, Australia , the pilot ” floated ” the plane in and touched down rather late on the short cross runway. Full reverse thrust, and I looked out the window as we stopped in the turn around area. Those engines were just shaking from the full reverse thrust. :-)

    THAI eventually got rid of their MD11′s and replaced them with Airbus A340-600. They didn’t last long, and soon we were flying in Boeing B777-200ER… Great plane..

  47. CATWONC says:

    My dad worked at McDonnell Douglas/DAC in Long Beach as a scheduler for the DC-10. I only remember one time flying one and that was from LAX to BOS. The toilets broke so we had to wait 4 hrs for them to be repaired. I recall adults standing in the galley getting free drinks as we waited – alas I had just graduated from high school so I couldn’t enjoy that part of the wait.

  48. Maarten says:

    All the three engine planes seem to be nearing the end of their passenger life cycle days. KLM is retiring its last flying MD11 in October of this year. There is a crowd movement going on to get KLM to do something special for that. I have flown both the DC10, the Lockheed TriStar and MD11 and have liked them all.

    Those TriStars flew Atlanta – Tokyo for a while and I remember they were so full of (cooled) kerosine (so as to pack more in their tanks) they would literally pull up just about at the end of the ATL or NRT runways, and those are pretty long to begin with…

  49. Nelson says:

    Not particularly great memories from DC-10
    The one I remember most was a flight on Continental Airlines in 1990 from HNL-SYD and I was stuck in the smoking section for 10 hrs b/c some very large person was sitting next to me on the aisle and I chose to move to another row where I could have better access to the aisle. And I may have done a few transcon flights– but that’s about it. I won’t miss it at all– same way I won’t miss MD-80s or DC -9s.

  50. PF says:

    CO IAHDEN, coach, with the pub. Hot meals in each direction. I think the back was 2 4 2 or 2 5 2, CO had excellent service all the way around (res, ground, inflight) -they were my favorite airline at the time.
    WA into JFK, coach.
    WA ACALAX, first class, the flight attendant had a bottle of salad dressing on the cart – looked tacky with the rest of the deluxe service.
    UA BOSDEN, first class, a friend and I had the entire cabin. Hot tea was served from a china tea pot with the UA logo on it.
    AA DFWSJU, first class, a long flight, but pleasant.

  51. Jack P says:

    My most memorable DC 10 riide was from Hilo to LAX. The plane was at the gate; but here was 20 minutes before scheduled departure so I was on the phone and some United employee asked me if I was going to LA and I said yes — so he says “The Captain would like to take off early”.
    So I ambled down the open- top ramp and as I passed the cockpit– The Captain opened the window and said “Hurry Up” I ended up getting a fee drink!!! The Friendly Skies!!

    The worst was Northwest from Honlulu to LAX. Plane was late and they served old overcooked potroast with boild cabbage.

  52. I Miss EA says:

    KLM operates daily flights 671/672 between Amsterdam and Montreal with an MD11. Not exactly a DC10 but I think it is a variant ? Any thoughts ?

  53. The Dude says:

    I have mixed feelings about the DC-10. The Turkish Airlines disaster at Emmonsville due to the door blowout was a bad start for the plane. I did fly on the Western Airlines DC-10 “spaceliner” in the mid seventies which seemed very nice and still had that new plane smell. But then the tragic American 191 crash put the plane on ice for me. I’d get on, but always with the thought that this could be the last ride. By comparison, the graceful and lovely L-1011 still remains my favorite from the glory days. So comfortable, so quiet, with seats that reclined way back. But in the end, I’ll take the 707, baby… 07 forever!!!

  54. Bill K says:

    ? what about Omni Air out of OKC, think still plowing the sky!

  55. npq99 says:

    My last flight on a DC10 was mostly good, then terrible. It was the return leg of a Northwest flight from Detroit to Gatwick. I remember hitting the British coast in lovely early morning sunshine, and the lovely English countryside being hit by those early Autumn rays. I was looking forward to a great end to a terrific trip to see my brother in Ann Arbor.

    But Gatwick, in its little bit of Sussex, was shrouded in fog, and after a couple of circles we were told we didn’t have the equipment to land. We circled some more, watching tiny little A320s enter the incredibly localised bit of fog above Gatwick far below us without any problem.

    After an hour or more of fruitless circling we headed north to Stansted, thanks to the fuel gauges going down. We landed, and parked next to the runway. Another two and a half hours passed, and the air crew hid away behind curtains, declining and ignoring all requests for water or information. No one was allowed off – they said they couldn’t separate passengers from luggage, although I cornered one member of the crew who admitted that NW couldn’t afford the charges of disembarking at Stansted, and that’s why nobody was allowed the option.

    Another hour passed, and eventually they allowed disembarkation, an hour north of London rather than an hour south. Horrible.

    My conclusion was that US airlines are a mess compared to the big European ones (I’ve since grown to hate KLM, Air France, and especially Iberia – Alitalia is nowhere near the list), and in the five percent of cases when it really matters, the extra bells and whistles of a 777 will always beat a DC10. They make me nostalgic, but like flying a Dakota in Tanzania a year or two ago, they’re a one off and not a regular option!

  56. Daren S says:

    My first journey on a DC 10 was on a BA (but former BCal) from LGW to ATL. Flying in the first incarnation of BA’s Club class I was sitting right next to those engines that provided so much thrust. I used to love the sound of those whirring engines when descending and circling, with the feel of the surge of power. It was a great plane, despite the rather unfortunate early history, though I suspect that there will be much greater nostalgia for the 747 when those finally retire in about 10 years or so.

  57. Dan says:

    How ’bout that Ford Tri-Motor, eh? Wicker seats rule!

  58. Sanjeev M says:

    IAD-AMS-DEL, BOM-AMS-IAD all on Northwest DC-10′s around 2000. You could tell the plane was old, but maintained fine. Was a very light load and everyone could spread out on the seats and sleep.

  59. Old Westerner says:

    Could not beat the Western DC-10 for my money. Had 8 across seating in coach, “Volcano” punch bowl service, free champagne and the “half-way” contest to Hawaii. Flying was fun then and I sure do miss that! Also memorable was AA transcon on a DC-10 when they served hand carved chateaubriand from a cart in F/C!

  60. Rafi Syed says:

    My uncle was a captain with Biman and would upgrade us on our twice a year flights between Kuwait City and Dhaka (and bring back Scotch from London for my dad). My sister and I got to see the cockpit once during flight (in the 80′s), and I remember my dad always sat in the aft section so he could smoke.

  61. Spearkat says:

    When the DC10s first started flying Continental (The Proud Bird with the Golden Tail) was in heavy competition on the Chicago to Denver/LA/SF routes. The center section of the cabin was a bar/lounge. To increase business the flights would feature Baseball Players/Magicians/Playboy Bunnies on board to mingle with the passengers. Seems like I remember the $99 RT ticket price. One day, with a Bunny sitting in the seat next to me, as we were roaring down the runway, the one engine went KA-BOOOOM (didn’t explode). The pilot ground the plane to a halt at the end of the runway and informed us we were not going to be going anywhere that day (really??). I think I still have the scars from the nail marks made by the Bunny on my arm.

  62. David T says:

    My memory is on what was probably one of the shortest DC-10 routes ever, DFW to Austin on American, a flight of an hour or less. I took that flight one spring evening, which is likely to be thunderstorm time in Texas, and it remains as one of the most turbulent flights I have ever been on. Because of the short duration of the flight, the pilot couldn’t get high enough to fly above the turbulence, and that huge plane jumped around the entire trip. I remember watching a pregnant flight attendant facing me in the jump seat–she was NOT enjoying herself!

  63. DFT says:

    My DC-10 memory is from what must have been one of the shortest routes they ever flew, from DFW to Austin, on American, a flight of about 45 minutes. I took one of those flights one evening in the spring, which is often thunderstorm time in Texas. I still remember that flight as being one of the roughest I’ve ever taken–because of the short duration of the flight, the pilot could never get above the storms, and that huge plane rocked around the entire flight. I remember watching a pregnant flight attendant across from me in her jumpseat–she was NOT enjoying herself!

  64. Jeff Mills says:

    I always liked the DC 10.Most of my trips were on United’s.Also flew on a lot of TWA’s L1011′s

  65. Paul G says:

    The last DC-10 flight I was on, I upgraded to first class from LAX to DEN with United. Flight was good and the company in first class was cool….Little Richard was across the aisle from me.

  66. Stewart Smith says:

    Continental Airlines used to fly DC10′s from LAX to Sydney and Melbourne, but had to stop in HNL due to limited range, and do Customs & Immigration there at ungodly times in the middle of the night, in the middle of the flight. The CO flights were heavily discounted due to that awful stop, with the result that Economy class was always about 100% full of down-market travellers, with hordes of crying children. Flights from hell, but as a young person with limited money, I’d put up with it for 30 hours to save up to $500 per seat. The last time however cured me of that when one of the limited number of toilets overflowed into the cabin and made a stench. A few months later, CO quit the route. Poor reputation, no equipment available to do the Pacific non-stop, and poor yield despite high load factors.

  67. Mike says:

    My first experience was back in 1979..first flight EVER and its was on a United DC-10 SEA-ORD. A a 16 year old, I was in awe..(but the connecting flight was a United DC-8 ORD-BOS and the number 4 engine caught fire as we were landing in BOS…NOT fun)…after I joined the Army in 1983 there were many trips on DC-10s on NW and UA..mostly domestic but a couple from FRA-DTW (NW) or CPH-SEA (SAS). Worst one was a AMC flight BWI-FRA (Rhein Main AB Germany) on a World Airways cramped DC-10. Flew on one DL MD-11 but I would rather take any Boeing airplane (biased opinion..I am originally from Seattle and had family who worked for Boeing!) Thanks

  68. Mark says:

    I seem to recall flying on a Northwest DC-10 on a military charter at back in the 1990s. It was a more comfortable flight than I expected (I was an L-1011 bigot, and was pleasantly surprised). Unfortunately, the DC-10 flights I remember best were military charters about ten years ago on Omni Air International. On one, the plane was full, and it was miserable to be in a 10-abreast charter arrangement. The cabin crews of Omni were awesome. I later flew a World Airways MD-11 military charter, an ex-DL bird that still had the DL seating (9-abreast). It was more comfortable, but the World crews were not as good as the Omni crews.

  69. Frank says:

    LAX-HNL-BIK-DPS-HNK-LAX Garuda Indonesia – 1992. Had to refuel & replace a fuel pump in HNL on the outbound. 4 hour delay in a transit lounge from hell. Biak Airport was fascinating though. The terminal had a thatched roof – and they hired a local dance troupe to put on a cultural performance for us while we refueled.

    This was the days when smoking was still allowed on international flights. We lit up after take off from LAX.The flight attendants told us technically it wasn’t an international flight until we left HNL and to put out the smokes. The Indonesian passengers ignored the instructions so I did too. There were two men in the row ahead of me smoking clove cigarettes non-stop all the way to Bali. The only thing I could do was keep a Marlboro lit and my glass full of gin and tonic until I passed out. I think it was 10 abreast but I don’t recall. :-) The plane was pretty beat up but I didn’t care. I was going to Bali! The elapsed time LAX-DPS – 24 hours.

    Later on that trip we flew a brand new MD-11 from DPS to CGK. Beautiful aircraft. I was a travel agent in those days and had a client who taught engineering at UCLA. He refused to fly the DC-10 saying it was poorly engineered.

    The flight back was not memorable in anyway. Barely remember it – maybe it was the G&T!

  70. Flew the Diesel 10 many times from LAX, SFO, DFW, HNL. Mostly AA. All series 10. Never did fly international on AA series 30 planes. Not much remarkable about the flights as they were uneventful and seldom delayed. All flights felt safe and secure. More unusual was spending many afternoons near LGB photographing arrivals and departures. Many were new production from Douglas Aircraft. Interesting to watch production as it changed from mostly series 10 U.S.A. airlines to mostly foreign carriers and all series 30. Later saw the KC-10 and MD-11. Last MD-11 Saudia and Lufthansa. The DC-10 and MD-11 made it to my camera as did many MD 80′s. I do not think there was any scheduled passenger DC-10 to LGB. One of the most unusual sights was watching a not yet finished DC-10 being pulled across Lakewood Blvd from the paint shop to another part of the factory.

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