Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Once Upon A Jetstar

“Once Upon A Jetstar” © by Gary V. Plomp

Personal Memories of Lockheed's Four-engine Bizjet

In the late 1960s and early 70s Continental Telephone had a sizable aviation department with many turbine-powered aircraft. The flagship was a Lockheed dash 8 "Jetstar" four-engined jet (four JT-12s), based at Meadows Field, Bakersfield, California . It often flew between its headquarters there and Watsonville Municipal Airport (WVI).

It was quite a sight--and, I must add, sound--to watch that turbojet-powered Jetstar land and takeoff on Watsonville’s 4,500-foot runway. Often its veteran pilot would deploy the thrust reversers just before touchdown.

I recall one cold and overcast morning when the Jetstar roared through Chittenten Pass between Hollister and Watsonville, ducking beneath the scud at, I'd estimate, 300 feet AGL. I personally witnessed this.
The Jetstar’s ADF was, I suspect, homed in on the KOMY unpublished radio fix to runway 19. That was our unofficial instrument approach at Watsonville way back then.

Later, the pilot told me that the Jetstar had once been on a trip to Europe from the East Coast when they ran into unexpected headwinds on the flight over the pond and fuel became a problem. The long-range jet had become a shorter-range jet and near the coast one of the four engines flamed out. On final approach another engine quit and on rollout the other two died. Whewww.........talk about pucker factor. Needless to say, the airplane was towed to the corporate ramp and I am sure the crew seats needed cleaning.

That’s how I remember it.

Bio: Gary V. Plomp is an aviation artist and historian living in the Bay Area.

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