The former American Airlines B727-223, N874AA, at Boeing Field in Seattle, now owned by the National Airline History Museum, Kansas City, Mo.

The former American Airlines B727-223, N874AA, at Boeing Field in Seattle, now owned by the National Airline History Museum, Kansas City, Mo.

In early 2015, in preparation for the construction of its giant new Aviation Pavilion, Seattle’s Museum of Flight moved its Boeing 727 (formerly American Airlines N874AA) from the parking lot on the west side of East Marginal Way where it had been displayed along with other large aircraft. Instead of being towed to the museum’s air park with the other planes, it was towed all the way across King County International Airport (also known as Boeing Field) to a parking stall. Rumors swirled that it was headed for a new home, an unnamed museum in the Midwest.

And there it sat, and sat. And sat.

NAHM Executive Director John Roper in the cockpit of the B727 his museum recently acquired from Seattle's Museum of Flight.

NAHM Executive Director John Roper in the cockpit of the B727 his museum recently acquired from Seattle’s Museum of Flight

On March 3, the mystery was solved when John Roper, the executive director/board member of the National Airline History Museum (NAHM) in Kansas City, Mo., signed the transfer paperwork alongside Museum of Flight CEO Doug King and COO Laurie Haag, officially transferring ownership of the aircraft to the Midwestern museum.

The elderly 727 now has a dedicated Facebook page, and, as of this week, the electrical systems were in the process of being activated and checked in preparation for the aircraft being flown to its new home. Roper said that, as long as the engines are sound, his goal is to get the plane to its new home in Kansas City by May 1.

NAHM CEO John Roper secures access panels while inspecting his museum's newly-acquired B727 at Boeing Field in Seattle.

NAHM CEO John Roper secures access panels while inspecting his museum’s newly-acquired 727 at Boeing Field in Seattle

The 727 was originally purchased by American Airlines in 1978, and was placed in short-term storage in 2002. It was delivered to the Museum of Flight in February, 2003. Roper said the Museum of Flight took very good care of the aircraft and the interior is remarkably well preserved. He added that it is believed to  have been American’s last official 727 to carry revenue passengers.

The Museum of Flight kept the aircraft's interior climate-controlled, which helped to keep the vintage aircraft in good condition.

The Museum of Flight kept the aircraft’s interior climate-controlled, which helped to keep the vintage aircraft in relatively good condition

Asked why this particular aircraft was selected to add to NAHM’s collection, Roper said, “About two years ago, we decided to expand our mission to cover more of the airline industry and the aviation heritage of Kansas City and the region. This aircraft in particular, the 727, was also used by TWA at our home base of MKC up until the airlines were relocated to MCI so the model has local history there.  The aircraft served it’s entire career from birth to retirement at AA, making it rare in that respect alone.”

Restoration plans also include the cleaning of the aircraft's exterior and the refreshing of the classic American Airlines livery.

Restoration plans also include the cleaning of the aircraft’s exterior and the refreshing of the classic American Airlines livery

As a bit of background for those not familiar with the NAHM, Roper said the museum got its start in 1986 when Larry Brown and Dick McMahon decided they wanted to restore a Lockheed Constellation to airworthy condition and take it to airshows. They teamed up with Paul Pristo from Mesa Ariz., who had just acquired a Constellation in an auction. The trio succeeded in getting the aircraft out of the desert and back to Kansas City for restoration.

Roper explained that once the Constellation was in Kansas City, many TWA employees (at the time, TWA’s largest hub was at Kansas City International Airport) helped to get it back into shape. After the restoration was complete, “the great people of TWA began to bring memorabilia down to the hangar, and then acquired a Martin 404 and DC-3 for restoration to TWA livery.” As the collection expanded, a hangar was acquired in 2001 and the museum was founded.

Th 727 seen in Miami in 1998 - Photo: Aero Icarus | FlickrCC

Th 727 seen in Miami in 1998 – Photo: Aero Icarus | FlickrCC

Once the 727 is ensconced at NAHM, Roper said that, in addition to being on public display, “it will serve as a tool for a local A&P school to perform engine runs and allow students to get some experience on heavy aircraft.”

There are even bigger plans for the old jetliner. “After a couple of years we hope to get it to a condition where it can be flown to some airshows and take some STEM programs on the road.”

AirlineReporter plans to follow the restoration and ferry flight, so stay tuned.

 

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ASSOCIATE EDITOR - SEATTLE, WA Francis Zera is a Seattle-based architectural, aviation, and commercial photographer, a freelance photojournalist, and a confirmed AvGeek.

http://www.zeraphoto.com
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11 Comments
jaymagnet

Hello….What is the name of the FB page?

TY

Jeff 🙂

Hi Jeff,

Sorry about that — I just fixed the link in the story.

You can also search Facebook for N874AA to find their page.

Francis

jaymagnet

Hello Francis….

Do you plan on asking Skymarks to produce a 1/150 model of this AA B727?

They do require a six month lead time. If you are interested I can supply you with a contact.

Jeff 🙂

Joe Cullen

Hi Francis,

Thank for this story about this airplane. This used to be the 727-200 that the Museum of Flight had on display. When they knew that the 727 prototype was going to be flown to Boeing Field, this AA 727 got moved to make room for N7001U. I was genuinely worried that she would be scrapped. I am extremely happy to learn that she is going to have a new home at a really good museum! I have been to the NAHM and this is going to be great! I would love to see her in TWA livery.

Joe Cullen

Joe Cullen

Hello again,

I misread your article and thought this plane spent some time in TWA livery. I was clearly mistaken and am looking forward to seeing her at the museum in gorgeous, shiny AA colors.

Joe C.

Ahhh… 727 becoming a part of history. I was shocked to read that orders for 747 are slimming down. Looks like in near future this icon will also be a part of Museums only. Recently I took a long haul flight (i mean REALLy long haul) in Boeing 777 (AUH – SFO) – it was painful. The respect I have for 747 increased by 20x

AUH to SFO is 8134 miles. the 777 range is 6027 miles. So it was not a non-stop flight. Why would you rather fly on a 747? I have never flown on a 747 or a 777. The long flights I’ve taken were on AA and they were not on a 747.

Why so dismissive Eddie? Do a quick google search – Etihad DOES fly a 777-300ER non stop from AUH to SFO. The quoted range in the press for the 777-300ER is 7900 miles at full payload. Leave some freight behind and you’ll get the extra 200 miles.

I think my main question was why the preference of the 747 over the 777 Not having flown in either aircraft, I was wondering what could be the difference. After all, the 777 is the new gen Boeing and the 747 is ancient.** And I did google 777-300ER. Here is what I found: “The 777-300ER has a maximum cruising range of just over 9,100 miles.” And that’s with full cargo (7120 cubic feet)! So I would guess that they won’t have to “Leave some freight behind – – ” lol

I am a retired Crew Chief Mechanic from AA in NY. I was at LGA when the first 727-200 rolled in for overnight maintenance. The 727 was one of the best airliners I have ever worked on. Very reliable. Was taxi and runup qualified when I transferred to JFK. I am sure I worked on this airplane in my career. Great to see this old gal fully restored

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