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DC-10 Rollout and maiden flight

I happened to be visiting Los Angeles office at the time of the launch of the DC-10 at Long Beach, in 1970.

McDonnell Douglas DC-10 on the ramp at Long Beach Airport

At 10:00am the DC10-10 was rolled out of the hanger for all to see and then proceeded to taxi into position and take-off - smoke free, majestically and quietly into the air.

I emphasis smoke free and quietly because these remarkable features were so noticeable compared with the supporting jet fighter aircraft, that delivered ear-splitting noise and left trailing smoke during it’s take-off just a minute or two before the DC10 followed it.

There were 20,000 workers and most probably at least that many (including us three) outside the perimeter fence to witness the event – a great roar of approval and clapping accompanied the take-off.

It was a remarkable occasion and a vivid memory that has stayed with me ever since.

I was almost as impressed with the office worker’s car. To the left Jack O’Dell (a kiwi), the office manager at Air New Zealand’s LA office under Alec Gilmore. Me and Ralph Boles, an account clerk and the magnificent car’s owner.

Air New Zealand was the launch customer for the DC10-30 and took delivery of the first of eight DC10-30 aircraft, ZK-NZL on 11 January 1973. The last Air New Zealand DC-10 was retired from service when it was replaced by the 747-200 in 1982. Here is a video history of each of these aircraft, compiled in 2015 by Gary Sommerville, an ex-DC10 Flight Engineer.


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