Monday, December 14, 2009

Joe Koskovich Has Flown West

Joe Koskovich, Boeing Stratocruiser captain, on Feb. 7, 2009 at the
Fujiyama Trayx & Oshibori Towels book launch at the NWA History Centre.

He flew 38 years and accrued over 30,000 hours. Joe Koskovich, veteran Northwest Airlines captain, died in Shakopee, MN on Saturday, December 12, 2009 at the age of 89. Funeral arrangements are pending.
I was delighted that Joe attended my book launch at the NWA History Centre last February. He flew the last inbound flight of the Boeing Stratocruiser from New York to MSP in September, 1960. As you may imagine, Joe was full of wonderful stories. And the first thing anybody says about Joe is what a nice guy he was.
My favorite Joe Koskovich story is the one he told about "Wing Walker Nancy." In Joe's own words:
"It was the late 1950s, a DC-6B to New York from the old Minneapolis terminal. It was a night trip. I suppose about 9 o"clock. We had a new stewardess on board, I think it was her first trip. There were three on board and I don't know why the other two didn't override her. Anyway, we went to fire up the engines and I started three and four. They used to backfire sometimes, they'd belch flame out the exhaust. Occasionally you'd get what's called a stack fire, too much fuel in the exhaust system. It would burn off and there'd be a big flame coming out the back.
Well, this stewardess thought the airplane was on fire. I had three and four going and I'm looking down at the guy on the ground and as I started number two he gave me the chop sign. About this time one of the other stewardesses comes up and says, 'We've got a problem.' I told my co-pilot to see what's going on. He says, 'Look out the window.' I turned around and there's three or four people standing out on the wing with their shoes off. If they'd fallen off it would have been eight feet at least. She'd opened the left side emergency door and sent them out there. She thought the airplane was on fire.
She came up front to apologize when we were aloft. I guess she thought she was going to get chewed out. I smiled and said 'What were you trying to do, tip over my airplane?'"

(See more Joe Koskovich stories in the chapter "Joe Koskovich Remembers" in Voices From The Sky, Little-Known and Long-Forgotten Stories about Northwest Airlines Earlier Years by Bob Johnson. Available at the NWA History Centre.)


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