It twas a rainy friday afternoon in the bay area, a steady drizzle spritzing down while we taxiied past all those lovely FedEX 727s, DC & MD-10s and 11s,and Airbi , dormant now,awaiting their wake up calls for the nights work to come. We were flight 2704, a 727 repositioning flight, blasting empty save crew from OAKland by the bay, to MEMphis by the river,for a charter to be accomplished later by another crew. Minutes later checklists complete ,we took rwy 11,advanced throttles (thrust levers), converted JetA to copious amounts of black smoke, and really offensive amounts of deep thundery,cracklely JT8D noise (music),over came weight and drag, with lift, and thrust, pointed our nose skyward, and departed.
Slicing thru all that grey,and wet,twisting and turning per the Mariner 4 SID,we soon found ourselves on top in the low 30's, pulling a long contrail, and heading east on course for Memphis. Level at Fl 350, we cruised at a fuel efficient .8 mach, the autopilot engaged, on a heading for Razorback VOR, some 2 hours and change ahead, the VOR which would be our gateway for descent and arrival .
Beneath us the undercast thinned out and disappeared,revealing the treasures hidden underneath, snow capped Rockies, and brilliant red rock deserts, the geographic beauty of the wild west, miles,and miles beneath us, the sky, that sub-stratospheric sky around and above us a brilliant blue, marked here and there,by the passing contrails of our brothers and sisters , vanishing toward the far horizon.
The turn of the earth caught up with us 1 hour out of Memphis, and the sun winked out behind us, leaving in its wake a riot of red ,orange,and gold on the retreating western sky.
Descent time, throttles to idle, we plummet from the heavens keeping our speed up per ATC, 350 kts indicated,right near the barber pole, the 727 doing her space shuttle imitation, while we prepare to return to the planet beneath us.
below 10,000 we slow and configure flaps,and leading edge devices ,angling and arching into the relative wind, we pivot onto the visual approach for rwy 36R, weighing only 115K, feather light for a 727, I ease her, coax her down ,flaps 30, 130 knots on the clock, Landing checks complete, we touch down in a welter of noise,and reverse thrust.
Taxi in, past all those FedEx freighters ,now just beginning to stir at their mother hub. Park. Shutdown. A good days work complete. God's grace.