If you grew up in the upper Midwest or Plains states, this was the symbol of getting the fuck out of Dodge – it’s the logo used by North Central Airlines, which later became Republic, and still later was purchased by Northwest, then Delta. Apparently it’s officially called Herman the Duck, but we just called it the “wounded duck” because North Central’s prop flights would occasionally lose a door or make an unscheduled landing in a cornfield.
For more than forty years, I’ve flown in the same DC-9s originally purchased by North Central, into the same airports, first to leave home, and later to visit my old home from my new. I was less than 10 when I first rode in one; my daughter took her first flight as an infant. Now, as Patrick Smith reports, both the DC-9, and the larger DC-10, have flown their last flights. The DC-10 went out with a bang (bad metaphor for that plane), with special flights scheduled for aviation buffs. The DC-9 went out with a whimper on a Delta flight between Minneapolis (of course) and Atlanta, which seems fitting, since there’s really no romance in traveling on the routes served by North Central’s DC-9s. Only people who wanted to get the fuck out of Bismarck, Aberdeen, Rapid City, Sioux Falls or one of the dozens of other little burgs that were served by the wounded duck and its successors would appreciate the passing of the first jet on which most of us ever flew.