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Historic, beloved, star-crossed; however you describe the DC-10, it was among the better-known jetliners in history — if not always for the best reasons.
It was something of a 70s-era icon — a long step down from the 747 or Concorde, perhaps, but a plane that pretty much everybody has heard of, and that many could recognize instantly.
That’s quite a ways from Long Beach, California, where the plane was rolled out back in 1970, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included a speech by then-governor Ronald Reagan.
Though let’s not sell his efforts short: Leighton, who lives in Redmond, Washington, actually flew all the way to Bangladesh in order to ride the plane on its repositioning run from Dhaka to Birmingham, where the rest of the estimated 1,000 enthusiasts waited.(This was back when AA used to show a camera view of the cockpit on the bulkhead mounted movie screen.) Years later, as a pilot, one of my favorite experiences was sitting in the DC-10’s cockpit jumpseat.The flight deck’s enormous aft panes offered the lucky freeloader a literal wall of glass extending from forehead level to the knee, and equally as wide.Around 400 civilian DC-10s were delivered, as well as a military tanker version, before production came to a close in 1988.After that final scheduled flight touched down in Dhaka, Biman Bangladesh sent the plane to Birmingham, England, for a series of — what to call them, exactly? The Brits are loopy about planes, and this sort of thing is quite common there — enthusiasts paying hundreds of dollars for the chance to ride aboard this or that .
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“Over 90 percent of the seats were sold out.” You heard correctly: Leighton was one of people who had come to Birmingham to spend good money for a 60-minute flight to nowhere on a tired old jetliner — most of them in middle seats.