What is better than a classic Boeing 747-100? One that carries a frek’n space shuttle. This is an epic video, but at the same time it is sad. This documents N905NA’s final flight as a Shuttle Carrier from LAX to Dryden Flight Research Facility completed on September 24, 2012. The second Shuttle Carrier (N911NA) was retired on February 8, 2012.
NASA will continue to use N905NA to research reducing turbulence produced by larger aircraft.
From NASA’s website about the video: For the first time ever, NASA’s two highly modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft briefly flew in formation over the Edwards Air Force Base test range Aug. 2. Both aircraft were scheduled to be in the air on the same day, NASA 911 (foreground) on a flight crew proficiency flight, NASA 905 (rear) on a functional check flight following maintenance operations. Since both aircraft were scheduled to be in the air at the same time, SCA pilot Jeff Moultrie of Johnson Space Center’s Aircraft Operations Directorate took the opportunity to have both SCA’s fly in formation for about 20 minutes while NASA photographer Carla Thomas captured still and video imagery from a NASA Dryden F/A-18.
There are only two specially modified Boeing 747-100s that were used to transport the Space Shuttle from their landing location back to the Kennedy Space Center. The first 747-100 (N905NA) was originally built for American Airlines and acquired in 1974. The aircraft wore American’s livery (minus titles) until it was repainted in 1983 with a NASA livery. In 1988, NASA purchased a second 747-100, this time an SR model, from Japan Airlines (JAL – N911NA). The second started operations with NASA in 1991.
So what will happen to the 747s now? Most likely they are going to be retired or end up as a show piece in a museum. Zach Rosenberg, with Flight Global, pointed out via email that, “Boeing recently borrowed one to fly their Phantom Ray from St. Louis to Edwards AFB.” However, Rosenberg does not feel that NASA has enough projects to keep either of the aircraft.
If you know anyone looking for a Boeing 747-100 with low hours and a unique look, I am guessing NASA might have a deal for you.
The 747-100 didn’t stay in service with TWA for long. It was sold to the Iran Air Force in March 1975 (reg#: 5-280) and has been in service with the Iran Air Force (reg changed to 5-8101)and Iran Air (reg#: EP-NHV) until 1985. After that, she has flown only for the Iranian Air Force.
This aircraft is special, since not only was it the first of 30 Boeing 747’s operated by TWA, it is also the oldest flying Boeing 747 flying today. This amazing aircraft has been flying for about 41.5 years.
The Iran Air Force has quite the Boeing 747-100 collection. They also have aircraft numbers 8 and 9 (both with similar histories to aircraft #5) with a total of seven actively flying Boeing 747-100’s.
Now, I am not a big history buff, but the idea that Iran was able to get quite a few almost-new Boeing 747-100’s only five years after they were delivered seems like there might be more to the story. Anyone have some thoughts?
Click the registration numbers above for additional photographs. This is the newest photo of the 747 I can find, taken in December 2010. Thanks to MK for pointing this airplane out to me.
Pan Am Boeing 747-100 Clipper "Maid of the Seas" N739PA
Reader David C. sent me this photo of a Pan Am Boeing 747-100. He is in the process of digitizing his photo collection and came across this beautiful aircraft taken in August of 1984 in Rome. This is not just any Boeing 747-100, but Clipper “Maid of the Seas,” registration number N739PA. This aircraft was operating as flight 103 on December 21, 1988 from London to New York when a bomb went off killing all 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 people on the ground. Due to crashing in Lockerbie, Scottland the incident has been referred to as the Lockerbie Bombing. The Clipper Maid of the Seas was only the 15th Boeing 747 built.
David C. wanted to share this photo as a dedication to all those that lost their lives that day.