My DC-8 Story

The interest in DC-8 developed at an early age (before ten years old). My father was interested in airplanes, and he used to take me to watch the ‘new’ jets take off in Portland, Oregon in the early 1960s. He always loved the Douglas airliners, and this must have ‘rubbed off’ on me. I love all of the first generation jets, but the “sleekness” of the standard DC-8, and even more so with the ‘stretch’ DC-8, plus the nose air scoops appealed to me. I also grew to love the Douglas DC-9s, which was the only jetliner that operated out of the airport near my home town in Washington State.

During junior high and high school I mowed lawns to save money so I could fly down to southern California to visit my big brother & also my cousins in Las Vegas. During the early 1970s, the airlines had a great program for students under 18 years old, in which you paid 50% of the fare and flew standby. This was also known as ‘student standby,’ and this enabled me to travel, whereas I would have never been able to afford to travel at the full fare back then.

For each of these trips I studied the OAG (Official Airline Guide) and planned as many flights on the DC-8 as possible out of either Seattle or Portland, connecting in San Francisco to get to LAX, Ontario, and LAS. With these connections, I was sometimes able to fly the DC-8 on four legs of the trip. Also, to get to Seattle or Portland, I flew on West Coast/Air West/Hughes Airwest DC-9s – which was an ideal combination of jetliners for me! (Near the bottom of this page is a table of all of my DC-8 flights)

It was during high school that I began to collect airplane models, but only those who were professionally made because I didn’t have a creative bone in my body to build models from scratch – and I still don’t. First, I started
collecting Aero Minis & of course, my favorite was the Aero Mini Eastern DC-8-61 Model! Next, I started to visit the airline sales offices in Seattle and was fortunate to buy my first “Travel Agent” size model from UTA French Airlines in October 1972 – a 1/100 Scale UTA DC-8-32 plastic model made in France. In 1973, on one of my trips down to southern California, I met some other collectors who were into the large scale models (please see the acknowledgments of them below). I also got to know the people at “Marketing Aids Inc.,” which was the company which made most, if not all, of the models for Douglas / McDonnell Douglas at that time.

Once I saw a ‘Douglas Factory’ DC-8 Model I knew that this was the future of my model collecting so I sold off my complete Aero Mini collection in 1973 and, at 17 years old, began collecting these beautiful Douglas Factory Polished Aluminum Models in 1/72 & 1/50 Scales. In 1973 I established a goal of someday having a professionally
made, travel agent style model (metal preferred but not required) of each of the 44 Original Delivery Customers of the DC-8. At that time I typed up a chart showing each of those 44 airlines and the DC-8 Variants they flew.

Once I found a DC-8 model of one of those airlines I would update my chart and type up a separate page with the details about that model – such as scale, livery, who it was made by, who I acquired it from, and any other particulars I could find out about the model. How’s that for being obsessed and “anal retentive” at 17 years old!

If You Would Like To See A Few Pictures From This Early Period In My Life Please Click Here.

During college at Washington State University, I entered the ROTC program to become an Air Force pilot hopefully and later, an airline pilot. Unfortunately, this was not to be, due to my eyesight not being a perfect 20/20 which was required at that time. Thus I graduated from college with a business degree, and although I couldn’t become a pilot, I was determined to work for the airlines in some way.

Fortunately, in my last year of college, I got a lucky break, and a little head starts in the airline business by working, on weekends & during summer break, for a bit of commuter airline named Execuair and later renamed Columbia Pacific Airlines. Working for that small airline whose home base was in my home town of Richland, Washington, not only provided me with some great experience but also left me with some of the fondest memories I have of working for the airlines in general.

A few months after college graduation in 1978, I went to work for Western Airlines in Palm Springs, California. At Western, I worked almost all of the ground jobs – ramp, operations, passenger service, lost and found, etc. During my ‘tenure’ at Western, I worked in Palm Springs, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Salt Lake City. On April 1, 1987, Western was acquired by Delta Air Lines which was lucky for all of us who worked at Western because Delta had an excellent reputation with its employees.

I continued working on the ground for Delta in supervisory positions until 1994 when I took early retirement. Delta was a “First Class” airline to operate for & I hope they can survive after 9/11 forever changed the airline business. At times, I still miss working for each of these airlines and have many fond memories of working for each one of them.

During the 25 years after high school, my model collecting was minimal due to a lack of money during college and then a big desire to travel a lot while working for the airlines. Another big obstacle to collecting models during the 1970s-1990s was that it was difficult to meet other collectors and the only ways of keeping in contact back then were telephone or “snail mail.”

Unfortunately, during this time I wasn’t aware of the airline shows that were taking place all around the country where model collectors could meet and buy/sell/trade their models. During this period I added only a few Western and Delta models to my collection and I had pretty much given up on trying to find DC-8 models of the 44 Original Delivery Customers.

It wasn’t until the late 1990s, with the advent of the Internet, email and web sites devoted to model collecting, and of course eBay – all of which created so many more opportunities for model collecting – that I became reinvigorated in the hobby. It was wonderful to be excited about model collecting again, and I even envisioned finding a model of those 44 DC-8 Original Delivery Customers! As of January 1, 1997, I had 16 of the 44 which left 28 of them to see. On July 3, 2000, I finally reached that original goal from 1973 and had a DC-8 model of each of the “Original 44” in various scales (from 1/500 to 1/35 scale) and compositions (metal, plastic, wooden, etc.).

Having reached the goal from 1973 I “dared to dream bigger” and established a new goal of having a Large Scale Metal Model (1/100 scale or larger), preferably a Douglas Factory Type Metal Model, of the “Original 44.” I wasn’t
sure if it could be done because of the rarity of some of the DC-8 variants in metal, especially the -62 & -63. Of course, the other big obstacle was availability of decals, especially those from airlines that had long since ceased to exist (fortunately I had stored some original Douglas decals back in 1973, but I wasn’t sure if these were usable or not). To my good fortune and with the help of some great friends everything seemed to fall into place, and as of June 13, 2005, that dream has now come true.

Most importantly, without the following friends I could have never accomplished these goals: First, two people from the 1970s who got me started in model collecting – Tom Hollywood & Monty James. Because of Tom, I was able to establish contacts with Marketing Aids & the folks at McDonnell Douglas who were in charge of the Douglas Aircraft Model Inventory.

I got a couple of my first Douglas Factory DC-8s in trades with Tom and when I was visiting my brother in Southern California Tom & I would plane watch at LAX and the McDonnell Douglas Delivery Line. By 1972/73 there were only DC-10s on the delivery line, but it was still a big thrill for me! Monty was not only a collector of models but he also beautifully finished off models in his garage and sold them at his shop called “Meridian Aircraft Models” located near LAX. Many of the models in my collection during this early period came from Monty. Sadly, I was short-sighted and sold or traded nearly all of them away.

Both of these guys & their families were exceptionally generous to this 17-year-old “hick” from Washington & inspired me to get into model collecting!

Present day there are many people to thank: Jim Powroznik who has finished off many of my models with some very old decals & repaired some others. Don Stephens at Airborne Replicas who arranged to have quite a few of my metal models painted by hand in the Philippines when no decals were available. If Don & his company hadn’t been able to do these models for me, I would have never reached either goal because original stickers are too hard to find and having new labels made is too expensive. Roger, Carol & Betsy Jarman at Atlantic Models who finished off several rare DC-8 schemes for me plus made great resin models of many of today’s DC-8 operators.

Gary Field who helped me not only with parts for the old Douglas Metal Models but also for casting ten complete
1/50 scale DC-8 aluminum blanks (unfinished models), using original fuselages and wings that I had and thus enabling me to complete my collection of the Original Delivery Customers in Large Scale Metal. Also, Joe at J & A Brass Polishing for doing the most beautiful metal polishing I have ever seen & for turning a few “lost cause” metal blanks back into the shining beauties that they were intended to be.

Finally, I want to thank my collector friends (in alphabetical order) Al P, Anthony L, Dan W, Ferry vdG, Frank S, Ira K, John A, John J, Joon-Ho L, Lenny P, Marcel vdW, Michael L, Peter J, Ron K, Ruben B, Steve S. & Lucky B. I didn’t include your last names because I wasn’t sure if you would want this.

Finally, last but not least, thanks to my ex-partner Bob Sanford for helping me repair & restore several of my models and for putting up with this hobby in general. Bob passed away in January 2008 and Will Be Deeply Missed by All Who Knew Him.

Without all of your great business & personal friendships, I never could have never reached my dreams!

Looking forward, I plan to continue collecting DC-8 models (exceptionally rare or exotic schemes) and a few more DC-9s as well, but perhaps not as active as in the past. More importantly, I plan to continue expanding this web site to include more and more information about the Great Douglas Eight!

My Travels On The Douglas DC-8

Listed Below Are My Travels On The Douglas DC-8 (Not exactly extensive or impressive but I thoroughly enjoyed each one of them!)

DATE
AIRLINE
DC-8
TYPE
REG.
#
FLIGHT/
CLASS
FROM
TO
MILES
REMARKS
16JUL1971
UNITED
61
UNKN
295/Y
PORTLAND
SAN
FRANCISCO
550
16JUL1971
UNITED
61
UNKN
58/K
SAN
FRANCISCO
LOS
ANGELES
340
02AUG1971
UNITED
51
UNKN
598/Y
LOS
ANGELES
PORTLAND
834
16JUN1972
UNITED
51
UNKN
295/Y
PORTLAND
SAN
FRANCISCO
550
07JUN1973
UNITED
62H
N8974U
487/Y
PORTLAND
ONTARIO
836
DIVERTED
TO ONT DUE TO LAX FOG.
01JUL1973
UNITED
62H
N8974U
458/Y
LOS
ANGELES
SEATTLE
954
01APR1977
UNITED
61
N8081U
487/Y
PORTLAND
LOS
ANGELES
834
10APR1977
UNITED
61
N8070U
522/K
LOS
ANGELES
SAN
FRANCISCO
340
VERY
HARD LANDING DUE TO WINDS
10APR1977
UNITED
21
N8037U
288/Y
SAN
FRANCISCO
SEATTLE
679
A
BIG THRILL TO FLY THE -21 (NON-FANJET)
26MAR1978
UNITED
61
N8094U
331/Y
SEATTLE
OAKLAND
672
26MAR1978
UNITED
61
N8094U
331/Y
OAKLAND
SAN
FRANCISCO
12
DIDN’T
EVEN RAISE THE LANDING GEAR!
26MAR1978
UNITED
61
N8099U
2/K
SAN
FRANCISCO
LOS
ANGELES
340
30SEP1978
UNITED
61
N8088U
167/F
DENVER
PORTLAND
983
FIRST
CLASS ON THE DC-8 – CAN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS!
11DEC1978
UNITED
61
N8098U
398/F
SAN
FRANCISCO
SEATTLE
679
03DEC1979
UNITED
62H
N8968U
69/F
SAN
JOSE
HONOLULU
2415
IT
JUST GOT BETTER – DC-8 FIRST CLASS TO HAWAII!
04DEC1979
UNITED
62H
N8970U
68/Y
HONOLULU
SAN
JOSE
2415
A/C
HILO HATTIE
21JAN1987
DELTA
71
N1304L
829/F
NEWARK
ATLANTA
755
08MAR1989
DELTA
71
N1302L
264/Y
ATLANTA
ATLANTA
100
RETURNED
TO ATL DUE TO ENGINE FAILURE
08MAR1989
DELTA
71
N1303L
264/Y
ATLANTA
BALTIMORE
576
A/C
SUBSTITUTED & WE’RE OFF AGAIN
08MAR1989
DELTA
71
N1303L
937/F
BALTIMORE
ATLANTA
576
TO
BWI & BACK TO FLY THE DC-8 ONE LAST TIME BEFORE DL RETIRED
THEM!

Summary Of My DC-8 Flights

DC-8
TYPE
NUMBER
FLIGHTS
TOTAL
MILES
DC-8-21
1
679
DC-8-51
2
1384
DC-8-61
9
4750
DC-8-62H
4
6620
DC-8-71
4
2007
TOTALS
20
15440

I wish now that I had made a lot more effort to fly on the DC-8 when I had the opportunities while working for the airlines. Oh well, youth and hindsight are many times at odds with each other. So, that’s my story. I hope it was written well enough so as not to be boring.

USE OF ANY IMAGES FROM THIS WEBSITE IS PROHIBITED WITHOUT CONSENT FROM THE IMAGE AUTHOR.

 

 

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