The MD-80 series of airliners, often referred to lovingly by their nickname "Mad Dog," are disappearing from our skies at an alarming rate. No major carrier in the U.S. flies them today, with American retiring the type in 2019. Surplus MD-80s are now scattered around the globe in small groups, some still carrying humans and others hauling cargo, but it's safe to say that the type is deep into the twilight of its career. One famous airline that is based in Alaska, Everts Air Cargo, known for its eclectic fleet, which includes antique piston-engined airliner types, and that flies into some very tight and rough wilderness locales, operates the MD-80s in cargo-carrying configurations. In fact, they were the first to receive a cargo-converted Mad Dog. One of these aircraft, N963CE, popped up very far from its home recently and put on one hell of a show when it went on its merry way.
The video comes to us from the appropriately named YouTuber CameronMD80. The video was shot at Nassau International Airport in the Bahamas last week. It was there that the seemingly out-of-place aircraft was found and filmed. Here is the aviation videographer's description of his rare catch:
I would have never expected this visit and I definitely would have never expected their takeoffs to go down the way they did. It's been a while since I've seen an MD80 locally. The last time I got to enjoy them was in November 2019 when Delta sent theirs for the last time. A private MD came a few months later but that doesn't really count in my eyes as it happened at night while I was home; although that is the last time that I can recall that an MD came to Nassau.
Fast forward to these past few days. We got two unexpected visits from an "airline" that seems quite far from home with a crew that was very antsy to show off what an empty Maddog can do. If this is the last time I see an MD80 locally, I definitely can't complain.
While catching this rare Alsaksan Mad Dog in the Bahamas would be awesome enough for most plane spotters, it's what the crew did when they took off that really made the encounter very special. Instead of executing a normal climb, this Mad Dog crew went for something more akin to an F-15 max performance "Viking climb" or at the very least, a "tactical departure," as used by U.S. military airlifters operating in very hostile territory.
The MD-80 is seen rotating quickly, then keeping its nose down and sucking the gear up, and barreling down the runway before entering into a steep zoom climb at the end of the runway. It is an awesome sight to behold for those of us that miss seeing—and hearing—the Mad Dog in action.
The aircraft has been making runs between Opa Locka Executive in Florida and Nassau, including on September 2nd, 3rd, and 8th, according to online flight tracking data. Why it is supporting this route remains unclear, but it is a very short hop, just over half an hour. So if the jet is empty it would need very little fuel to get back to its temporary base in Florida. As such, you have the unique circumstances to push the Mad Dog to its very max, as we see in the video above.
Like many of you reading this, I grew up flying on MD-80s—Alaska Air Mad Dogs in particular. Yet in all the MD-80 departures I have witnessed, I have never seen anything like this!
Great work to CameronMD80 for capturing the moment and sharing it. Make sure to check out his YouTube channel here and his Instagram here, he has some great stuff on there from a unique and beautiful locale.
Contact the editor: Tyler@thedrive.com