‘Skyjacked’ still flies high

Screenshot from the main title of the 1972 movie Skyjacked shows a Boeing 707-373C airliner gracefully banking to the right above a cloud bank.
A Boeing 707-373C receives screen credit in the “Skyjacked” main title.

I watched “Skyjacked” last night for the first time since I saw the film in 1972 — and it holds up amazingly well. The aerial cinematography almost puts it in the same league as “Strategic Air Command.” Indeed, the Boeing 707 pretty much is the film’s co-star, its soaring shape ideally suited to the wide Panavision aspect ratio.

“Skyjacked” shuns effects shots, except for a few rear-projection setups. As a result, its overall feel is much more realistic than even the original “Airport,” which suffered from comedically obvious aircraft miniatures made painfully apparent in 70mm Todd-AO.

National Guard F-100s in Russian paintjobs fill in for MiGs.

Retekess TR629: Worthwhile despite flaws

The Retekess TR629 tunes the AM band.

There’s much to like about the value-priced Retekess TR629, a new radio from the consumer-responsive folks at Retevis. I use my set from a 54th-floor apartment in a Chicago high-rise that’s essentially a Faraday cage and I’m still able to pull in a lot of stations.

REVIEW OF TR629 FEATURES

• The TR629 does a good job on MW (AM broadcast). During the day, I can tune numerous local stations. After dark, a solid selection of stations from the Midwest, Southwest, and East Coast emerge from the ether. (See attached video of daytime AM reception.)

• FM is especially enjoyable. Near a window, I can receive over 40 stations. Farther inside my apartment, I can pick up nearly all major local stations.

• Depending on time of day and whether you’ve attached an external antenna, the radio can perform well on shortwave. Coverage is from 2.3 MHz to 21.19 MHz.

• One of my favorite features is that the TR629 records off-air and plays prerecorded material. The recording feature isn’t even available on major manufacturers’ flagship radios, so Retevis’ decision to include it on a budget-friendly portable is a significant plus.

• The set has a solid feel — especially when working the tuning and volume knobs.

• There’s a large, easy-to-read digital display.

• Radio operates for a long time on 3 D cells.

• Battery-free operation uses a simple cord plugged into radio and then AC outlet. No wall wart.

• Although the TR629’s automatic tuning system (ATS) is of limited use because it is permanently set to scan at 9 kHz, manual tuning and saving of stations is easily and quickly mastered.

• Those interested in MW DXing will appreciate that the TR629 manually tunes in 1 kHz steps.

• The radio’s temperature display is more useful than I expected. It’s also a great way to drag me kicking and screaming into the metric system — you can’t switch it to Fahrenheit.

OPERATIONAL NOTES

A buzzing periodically can be heard in AM mode — roughly about every 15 seconds. I returned the TR629 because of this and the replacement suffers from the same issue. When DXing, it’s easy to ignore this artifact due to background noise, but the buzz can make prolonged listening of MW/AM a challenge. In his excellent review of the TR629, Todderbert identifies the radio’s temperature-display circuit as the culprit.

The radio accepts both a micro SD card or USB flash drive. On my radio, both options also record a low-pitched, rythmic pulsing sound behind the audio. This artifact is much less noticeable in USB recordings. If you have a choice, use the USB for recording.

I LIKE RETEVIS’ CUSTOMER ATTITUDE

• Company representatives were quick to respond to my question about ATS and indicated later editions of the TR629 will incorporate a 10 kHz scanning capability. Other customers have reported that Retekess will remove the buzz-inducing temperature display, as well.

• They are courteous, caring, helpful — and genuinely want my business. I wish more companies were like this.

(This review appeared in slightly different form on Amazon.)

Panasonic RF-596 is almost perfect

My favorite radio is this Panasonic RF-596 manufactured back in 1978. It tunes like a champ, has wonderful sound, and the illuminated dial and LED tuning light make every monitoring session a visually dramatic experience. Its dial is slightly off and should be recalibrated, but I don’t want to risk surgery on this otherwise perfect little beauty.

What treasured yestertech do you own?

Tuning around on the FM band in my kitchen on the 54th floor of a Chicago highrise.