The Little Guy That Started The Regional Market

What were you doing in 1965?  If you are like me, you weren’t even a thought in your mother’s mind let alone alive yet.

What were you doing in 1982?  I was annoying my parents and teachers in grade school and too young to really recall any significant events in the world other than nap time and potty time.

Why are these dates significant?   They mark the time when Douglas Aircraft first flew the DC-9 on February 25, 1965 and when the last DC-9 delivery occurred in October 1982.  While the airframe continued to be produced under the McDonnell Douglas (MD-80/-90) and eventually Boeing (717) nameplates until 2006, the DC-9 is the jet that created stiff competition as the jet-age was maturing in the short to medium range category.  The Boeing 737 didn’t fly until 1967.

HJG DC-9 TWA Livery

DC9-10 turning to course for KBOI

For those of us whom missed the inaugural flight, there is still a chance to experience this aircraft.  Thanks to Historic Jetliners Group (HJG), the DC-9 is alive and well in the virtual world from Microsoft.  While not a newly released model, I decided to give it a fresh new spot in my virtual hangar after seeing it added at HJG’s recent spring update.  Available are all five DC-9 series: -10, -20, -30, -40, -50.

So, I loaded up FS2004 (it will work in FSX, more or less) and plotted a flight plan from Denver, CO (KDEN) to Boise, ID (KBOI).  With lots and lots of liveries available, I am partial to TWA for reasons I can’t explain.  For some reason the red an white livery is classic, clean and nicely retro by today’s standards.

Taxiing from the gate to the runway at Denver always take awhile.  Colorado has a lot of open spaces and it takes time to go the distance.  They apparently decided to carry this experience to its airport… I guess gas was cheap back then too.  This gave me the perfect opportunity to test the ground handling.  Overall, it is good in the turns, but you have to watch the speed.  However, it takes time to spool up the engines and get this guy moving.  The trick is to apply quite a bit of thrust and when you start rolling throttle back before you start rocketing down the taxiway.   While this doesn’t surprise me, it does take some getting used to, especially since I am used to smaller piston aircraft.

Cruising over the Rockies toward Boise

Cruising over the Rockies toward Boise

Taking off from Denver is always fun.  You get to see the open space surrounding the airport.  Depending on orientation, you might get a glimpse of downtown Denver and even the Rocky Mountains. With that, the 563 nautical mile trip to Boise begins!

Cruising west means flying into the wind. Flying into the wind means slower actual speed.  Slower actual speed means longer flying time.  What more could you ask for to give this exterior model a quick once over?  While not an FSX model, no shortcuts were introduced on this model.  The detail wings, animated landing gear, air stairs, and t-design tail have more than enough detail to keep us entertained on our trip across the mountains.

HJG Cantu DC-9 TWA FS2004

S-Curves on approach to Boise.

Beginning descent in Boise gave me an opportunity to see the littlest DC-9-10 handles.  For some reason, Microsoft ATC decided to have us approach the airport in a series of S-curves about 65 nautical miles out.  I can understand this if I was too fast or too high, but we weren’t.  Anyhow, I can tell you that the DC-9 handles well, responsive, forgiving and doesn’t lose altitude too quickly when banking hard.   Keep in mind that an F-16 it is not!   So plan ahead and operate this aircraft with controlled, planned efforts and it will treat you like a Playboy bunny would.  😉

HJG Cantu DC-9 FS2004

Touching down a little hard at Boise.

Final approach was really a great time.  With the responsive handling, great weather and high visibility, landing at Boise was a breeze.  But, do you remember that sluggish throttle response I mentioned during taxiing?  Well, it can be a problem on final approach.  In fact, I nearly stalled the aircraft twice as I reduced throttle a little too much to reduce speed, but added some to compensate but it didn’t spool up in time, so I had to really gun it.  I think that with time and a few touch n goes that I will get the feel of the throttles.

HJG DC-9 FS2004 Cantu Boise

Parked at the gate at Boise

Touching down a little hard, I was quite sad to see this flight conclude.  My time in this classic short-range jetliner that set the first standard for regional jets came to a close.  What more could a flight simulator enthusiast ask for? A great exterior model, great fde even with sluggish spooling engines, and more liveries than just about any other model I’ve seen developed for flight simulator (don’t quote me on this).    So what are you waiting for, head over to HJG’s site and grab your favorite livery and take this little guy for a spin!

I am pretty sure you will remember 2010 as the year you flew the DC-9 in flight simulator!

Hosted by: Historic Jetliners Group
Model File: DC-9-10 (
Livery: TWA 1977 N1054T by Nicholas Botamer (

Update 4may10 – I mistakenly noted Erick Cantu/Vistaliners as the model author, but this is incorrect.  Credit belongs with Historic Jetliners Group and Nick Botamer (forum thread).