Our 50 Years of Delta Jets anniversary (Sept 18) is coming up soon. It’s also National Aviation Week starting this Monday. To celebrate, here’s the first of a series of eye-witness stories from Delta people who took part in that that amazing transition from piston-powered to jet transportation.
Jim Diffley joined Delta in 1959 as a methods analyst in Methods Department just before the jets. Before he retired as Manager of Technical Operations Employment in 1999, he also saw our first Boeing 777 arrive. He recalled:
“We were the first to introduce the DC-8 into service. I never will forget when Capt. “Pre” Ball flew the DC-8 across the back ramp. He was down around 500 feet. He got special permission to fly across the ramp. And, of course, you were probably standing out there along with me and several hundred, or a thousand, people back there, and that was a tremendous thrill. That was something I truly remembered. It’s just — it all came back when the 777 was delivered. I stood out on the ramp behind the Jet Base and watched it fly over, and it was a very similar feeling. ”
“One of my happiest days at Delta is when they got the first big jet. And that airplane flew across the field with all the employees out there yelling and hollering. . . I was so thrilled to know that we were going to be in a position to compete with the competition. ” The Delta magazine published this photo of Hill and the DC-8 with his quote: “All the pride and glory of Delta Air Lines is right there. She’s the queen of the skies.”