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Imagine that you are the captain of sleek and beautiful DC-8 jetliner. On this 8th day in April 1967, you and your passengers are accelerating rapidly down the runway at JFK International Airport in New York. It is time to "rotate". You ease back on the yoke, the nose of the aircraft eases effortlessly into air as it has so many times before. You climb from the runway, continuing to accelerate. Another routine flight has begun. And then suddenly, everything changes...

The number two engine explodes.

While this may well sound like a great opening scene for the Movie-of-the-Week, it was in fact a day in the life of the aircraft I am about to paint. Captain Dave Vaughter sat at the controls that day, and with his professional skills -- and those of his flight crew, he is quick to point out -- the fire was brought under control, an emergency landing initiated. None of the 99 passengers aboard the DC-8 were injured and the aircraft was repaired to fly again for many years.

The culprit? A tear-down inspection of the #2 engine revealed the number 12 stage turbine had been mistakenly installed backwards. Amazingly the aircraft had flown a number of times with this affliction before she finally gave way. As for Eastern's highly trained flight crew ... it was just another day at the office!

"Eight Out of Miami" will not feature a flaming DC-8 streaking from a runway! But it will feature this remarkable aircraft, and serve as a tribute to her crew and passengers who on that ill-fated morning back in 1967, rode a bird of fire into the sky and lived to tell about it.

And now, I am pleased to present to you the man at the controls...


Dave Vaughter

Meet Dave Vaughter, retired Eastern Airline's pilot, and the man who flew our subject aircraft on the morning she had a hiccup! I asked Dave if he could share with us a few thoughts about the DC-8, and this was his reply:

"My only relevant thoughts -- after flying the Lockheed Electra and the DC-9, both of which resembled my expectations of how an over-sized fighter would feel in flight, the DC-8 was a big, fat mama -- a lead sled. On becoming better acquainted, I came to appreciate its reliability and predictability to the point of regarding the relationship as a love affair where her secrets were being revealed only as I became experienced enough to recognize and properly enjoy her true beauty. The engine fires, losses of cabin pressure, windshield crazings, etc. only made me more appreciative of the redundancy and safety features built into the machine -- and love it all the more. (I finally arrived at the point of thinking if anything unusual happened to a DC-8, I hoped would happen to me!)"

I think the DC-8s Dave flew knew this because he told me of another engine explosion he encountered in yet a different DC-8, which also occured on takeoff, but prior to rotation, so they just taxied, somewhat quickly I would imagine, off the active and over to the airport's fire station that was located just off the runway. Not one, but TWO engine explosions. Unimaginable!

So how is it that Dave was so well prepared to handle these situations? I think this may give you a hint...

Dave was born on January 21, 1921 in New Mexico, graduating from high school in 1938. In April of 1941 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, entering flight school as a private, and was an Aviation Student by November of the same year. He graduated as S/Sgt. Pilot on July 3, 1942. Serving 2 years in New Guinea, he returned to the states in October of '44 as a Captain. He joined Eastern Airlines on April 27, 1945 as pilot #541. He retired from Eastern on January 20, 1981, the day before his birthday, as pilot #13.

Planes he has flown:
USAC trainers
Lockheed Lodestar

Planes for Eastern Airlines:
Martin 404
Lockheed Constellation & Super Connies Lockheed Electra
L-1011 Tristar
Airbus A-310
Note: No Boeing aircraft!

In addition to having flown these aircraft for Eastern Airlines, Dave was also a Check Pilot, Instructor Pilot, and Assistant Chief Pilot during his run with Eastern.

Dave was a member of the Airline Pilot's Association from 1945 - 1981, serving as a Co-pilot Representative, Chairman, ALPA National Appeal Board and ALPA National Hearing Board.

In other words, this man has just about done it all! So we tip our hats in admiration of his skills and accomplishments. And words just can't express how grateful I am to have him on board as a tech advisor for the painting of Eastern's DC-8!

Join me now as I paint Eastern's beautiful DC-8-21 / N8612.

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