Transportation

Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop airliner
Lockheed L-188 Electra

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There are 5 comments for this item.

Posted by freddo30 at 11:24 am (PDT) on Wed April 20, 2016   
What was really cool was the classic Lockheed Constellations.
Posted by John Jensen at 8:36 pm (PDT) on Tue September 16, 2014   
Yea. Eastern ran a shuttle out of LaGuardia I believe, and it went to ether Washington, DC or Boston.  As I recall the flight attendants would actually roll a cash register down the aisle and you could pay for it right then.  I think the fare was $29.
Posted by Duff at 1:39 am (PDT) on Tue September 1, 2009   
Yes, PSA is in the Companies gallery.

I met up with an old friend in Florida this weekend. He told me that another friend of his, an airline pilot, has a saying about good flights and great flights: A great flight is one after which they can re-use the plane, and a good flight is one you can walk away from after landing. He didn't want to talk about bad flights.

BTW, the recent book "How We Decide", by Jonah Lehrer, has some great stuff about pilots and how they're sometimes called upon to make split-second life-or-death decisions and solve unforeseen problems on the fly (so to speak).
Posted by Max at 7:10 pm (PDT) on Thu August 27, 2009   
I'm pretty sure that was Eastern Airlines. Those were the days! Greyhound does it with buses but I can't imagine any airline that could afford to be so extravagant nowadays, even if they were to trot out bits of aviation history to accommodate very high traffic.

The Lockheed L-188 Electra was a new idea in aviation. It was the first plane completely designed by engineers. There is an old Myrna Loy/Clark Gable/Spencer Tracy movie called "Test Pilot" which shows the old way of designing a plane: build it good and then send a pilot up in it to see how hard it can fly before he destroyed it.

Some pilots who looked at the Electra for the first time asked, "where are the wings?" Compared to most planes, it appears to have a short wingspan.

Not too long after the plane went into service, there was a series of unexplained crashes. The investigations determined that the planes broke up in mid-air but it took a while to find the cause. There is a type of stress called "whirl mode" that the engineers did not test for. When the engines were turning at a particular RPM and plane was flying through choppy air of a particular frequency that was a harmonic of the engine speed, the stress was exponentially increased. (Maybe this is a lousy explanation. I'm not an engineer. I read this stuff in a book years ago.) The stress caused the wings to snap off.

Lockheed took the planes and retrofitted them to withstand the stress but some passengers refused to fly in them.

Interestingly, PSA never lost a single Electra. When the investigators discovered that the chief pilot at PSA had set a lower "never exceed" RPM setting than Lockheed's specs, they got a clue as to what was causing the planes to break up. PSA was still using the Electra in Lake Tahoe service well into the 70's; I think they used them right up to the unfortunate day when they were bought by USAir.

When the Vice President of PSA arrived at a meeting of airline executives to discuss the problem, one of the men at the meeting wanted to know what she was doing there. A woman airline executive was very rare in those days.

PSA(Pacific Southwest Airlines)--that's a good one to add to stuff that is not around any more.
Posted by Duff at 4:56 am (PDT) on Wed August 26, 2009   
Eastern Airlines, I think it was, ran a frequent shuttle between New York City and Washington, D.C., advertising that if the plane filled up, they'd just roll out another, and so on. Well -- I'd say it was in 1973 or so -- I needed to fly that route to attend a conference in Washington. The flight was packed, and I must have been on the third plane or something, because they ran out of jets and used one of these Electras. It was the most horrible flight I've ever taken, not because of turbulence, but from the droning NOISE of those turboprop engines.

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