Today, we learned that Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States and that pleases me because he will bring some decency to the Presidential office that has been missing through the Trump years. It will be a rough go for the next several weeks until the installation but we will deal with it.
Today, we faced the closure of Tegel Airport in Berlin, Germany. Having spent a lifetime as a pilot, I have seen many airports but not one of them was better designed for passengers. The architecture of Tegel enabled cars to come inside the Hexagonal building. The design had agents at each gate to check the passenger in and the passenger walked about 50 yards to the boarding door, No long corridors full of stores selling whatever, no separate security portal, a real pleasure for the passengers.
Pan Am was one of four carriers that were allowed to fly into Berlin when it was a divided city after WWII. We flew Boeing 727s and later Boeing 737s in and out of Tegel. We flew to Hamburg, Munich, Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Stuttgart for the Internal German Service, IGS and we picked up passengers in Frankfurt and London and we flew them on our aircraft to the Scandinavian countries and to all the Iron Curtain countries. We also flew to Athens,Greece and to Zurich, Switzerland and we did Charters to Italy, the Canary Islands, Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia and others I don’t remember now.
There were about 250 PanAm pilots based in Berlin. About a third of them lived in Berlin, as I did, but the others commuted back and forth to the States. The pilots that flew these routes often, in the three corridors that were agreed to during the war, would come back to Berlin at 10,000 feet, the maximum altitude the Air Force had agreed on during WWII. Then. in Berlin, we were cleared for an approach to Tegel. So, we determined which runway we were going to and how many miles we would have to fly, we would consider the wind and the local altimeter settings. Then, the pilot would decide where to pull back the thrust levers to idle, he would stay at altitude to slow down to 250 knots airspeed and then start a decent to the ILS altitude of about 2000 feet. At that altitude, he would level the aircraft and loose enough airspeed to get to his final cruising speed of 180 knots and would put out his flaps. He would hold that speed until he reached the decent beam of the ILS system and then would start desending. At seven hundred feet, he would put down the landing gear and slow to his landing speed, around 140 knots and THEN HE WOULD MOVE THE THROTTLES FOR THE FIRST TIME since he went to idle, at the top of decent.