Losses and Aviation Safety

L-1011 TriStar pilot recalls when he and his crew were fired with no notice in the middle of a transatlantic flight

The L-1011 TriStar.

The Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, also known as the L-1011 (pronounced “El-ten-eleven”) and TriStar, is an American medium-to-long-range, wide-body trijet airliner built by the Lockheed Corporation. It was the third wide-body airliner to enter commercial operations, after the Boeing 747 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. The airliner has a seating capacity of up to 400 passengers and a range of over 4,000 nautical miles (7,410 km).

Pilots loved the L-1011. Flight crews appreciated its extra-wide aisles and overhead bins. Passengers loved riding in it, thanks to a unique engine configuration that reduced sound in the cabin.

One TriStar pilot and his entire crew were fired with no notice in the middle of a transatlantic flight.

‘A pilot is usually fired either before or after a flight, even if there is a third pilot on board (for rest breaks) to fill the seat,’ Corey Hawke, L-1011 TriStar pilot says on Quora.

‘Anyway, I was on a red eye [In commercial aviation, a red-eye flight is a flight scheduled to depart at night and arrive the next morning. The term “red-eye” derives from the symptom of having red eyes, which can be caused by fatigue.] from Ankara to NYC via Athens. The flight was run by a small company that only ran two Lockheed L-1011 TriStars back and forth on the same run between Athens and NYC.

‘On the way over the plane had been slam packed and was literally half full of young students screaming and yelling. It was like Animal House only in the air and with no Belushi. To this day it still ranks as one of the most miserable airline flights I have even been on… I felt sorry for the clean-up crew.’

L-1011 TriStar crew fired

Corey continues;

‘On the way back to the States a few months later, half the aircraft was empty. I thought I had lucked out. I abandoned my window seat shortly after takeoff (a rare event) and moved to the center where I put up all the arm rests on an empty row and slept in near bed-like comfort across the lot of them. Steerage bliss!

‘About 6 hours into the flight, the captain got on the box and announced to all of the passengers that the parent company of the charter company had declared bankruptcy (In this case it was apparently not just a financial bankruptcy or the pilots would not have decided if we would continue to NYC or fly back to Athens. The “airline” literally was just two aircraft). There was a long pause while we all collectively thought, “Oh chit!” The captain got back on the box a minute or two later and stated that since we were just barely more than halfway to NY, we would not be heading back to Athens and that the flight would continue to NYC.

‘The passengers all collectively clapped at the news. Understandably, the service from the crew for the remainder of the flight was mediocre. But the flight attendants were handing out free booze (and I presume consuming some as well).’

Corey concludes;

‘So, in this case, the aircraft’s entire crew was fired with no notice in the middle of a transatlantic flight…’

Photo credit: NASA/Tony Landis

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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