Yesterday I talked about tracking down the history of N724PA and how it was used on two different airplane types. Today, I look at why the heck was Alaska Airlines flying a different Boeing 707 over the summer, for four summers in a row.

I was able to learn from Ron Suttell, Alaska Air Group director of facilities planning and administration and company historian (can that title even fit on a business card?) about Alaska and Boeing 707s. He explained that Alaska has operated four different Boeing 707s, which were all leased over the summers from 1970-1973 to provide chartered flights to Russia and provide additional capacity for passengers and cargo for regular domestic flights during the peak summer season.

The photos above (which you can click on to see a larger version) shows three of the four Boeing 707s used. Here is a little  history on each of the four aircraft:

Boeing 707-321 (N724PA) leased from Pan Am sporting Donaldson Airways (a non-scheduled charter airline) dark green / gold stripes scheme and Alaska-added Eskimo on the tail blended in.  Suttell says, “I remember this plane very well while working as an air freight agent in JNU.  In fact, I took a couple photos myself right from the freight shed as it taxied by.” N724PA brought much needed lift of cargo backlog SEA-KTN-JNU on flight 69 about three or four times a week in the summer of 1973 and provided the same needed capacity for passenger volumes at peak season. Unlike the other three Boeing 707’s, N724PA didn’t actually fly to Russia due to the poor economy. As discussed yesterday, N724PA was given back to Donaldson Airways and given a new registration number. Pan Am, then gave N724PA to a Boeing 747-200.

Boeing 707-331 (N705PA) leased from Pan Am with Air Florida reddish-orange stripes scheme and “Alaska” in black helvetica letters on the tail and sides. The aircraft was flown during the summer of 1972 for Alaska. After being with Alaska N705PA went to Globe Air and then hit the road and traveled the world. Last record I can find of her is a photo in 1981 of her being stored in Kuala Lumpur.

Boeing 707-321 (N727PA) leased from Pan Am.  Red stripe with familiar “Golden Nugget Service” logo on the tail.  This was the 707 that Alaska used on the inaugural charter flights to Russia beginning on June 6, 1970.  There was great fan-fare in the local Seattle media news media about the whole Russia ground-breaking flights.   This Boeing 707 flew until 1980 when it crashed on landing in Bogota. Like N724PA, the registration number was used by Pan Am again and given to another Boeing 747-200.

Boeing 707-320 (N793SA) the odd one of the bunch. This aircraft was not leased from Pan Am and Alaska had no information other than it was listed as an aircraft they have previously used. I did find some information on the aircraft on AussieAirliners.org and it shows it started life with Qantas. The aircraft was leased by Pacific Western Airlines before going to Alaska during summer of 1971. The plane flew until 1979 when it was used for spare parts for KC-135, so it might be the only one of the four with part of it still currently flying. The registration number is now being used on a Southwest Boeing 737.

Alaska Airlines also operated the Boeing 720 for a number of years in regular service on their route system until about 1975. Even though the Boeing 720 looks very similar to the 707, it is not as well suited for international flights and was used for a few years until 1975 on domestic routes.

You guys were rock stars providing more information on N724PA yesterday, so if you find any more about these four aircraft, please share them in the comments!

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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6 Comments

Best I can find on N705PA is that after being impounded in Malaysia, it never left that country. I couldn’t really decipher the information I found beyond the confirmation of not having flown again.

“seized by Malaysian Gvmt 23.8.80, prsvd Kelana Jaya Park, Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia, to 93 private work-place Port Klang, nr road to Kuala Selangor in three parts,s late 97/ confirmed brup early 80s” according to a spreadsheet I found.

I did a little more research on N793SA. It was originally a 707-138 S/N 17700, L/N 059, delivered to Qantas in Aug 1959 as VH-EBE “City of Perth”. The -138 was custom designed and built per Qantas request. It was 10 feet shorter than the -120 (1.5 ft shorter even than the -720 and only 13 were built). It was modified to -138B by Boeing in Nov 1961 with the installation of JT3D engines. This airplane was sold to International Aerodyne in May and leased immediately to Standard Airways and re-registered N793SA. In July 1969 the airplane was leased to Pacific Western as CF-TWW. PWA subleased it to Alaska Airlines in May 1971 for charter flights to Russia. The inauguration flight to Khabarovsk was diverted to Tokyo when the destination airport was closed due to weather. The summer lease ended in Sept 1971 and the aircraft subsequently served with Bahamas World Airlines, Aeroamerica, Egyptair and TAG Aviation. It was sold to Boeing Military Division and used for the KC-135 upgrade program. In Apr 1992, National Aircraft of PHX bought the hull for scrap metal after all usable parts were removed.

As for the B720’s operated by Alaska Airlines, they were N301AS, N302AS, N303AS and N304AS
N301AS, S/N 18376, L/N 279. It was a -062. First delivered to Pacific Northern Airlines in Mar 1962. It became part of Western Airlines after merge in 1967. It was purchased by Alaska in April 1973 until June 1975 when it was traded for the B727

N302AS, S/N 18377, L/N 285. It was also a -062. All other history details are the same as sister ship N301AS

N303AS, S/N 18042, L/N 182. It was a -048. First delivered to Aer Lingus as EL-ALB in Jan 1961. It went to Braniff and Pacific Northern as N7081. Alaska bought it in April 1973 and re-register it as N303AS. AS sold it in June, 1975 and leased beck immediately until Nov the same year. N303AS was last leased to Aeroamerica and ended service in July 1976. RIP after scrapped for metal.

N304AS, S/N 18049, L/N 186. It was a -022. First delivered to United Airlines as N7217U in Feb 1961. Sols to Alaska Airlines in March 1974 and re-registered N304AS. Traded in for B727 in Nov 1975. After Alaska Airlines, this aircraft went through service with numerous airlines and finally with Hispaniola as HI-401. Scrapped in Puerto Plata.

Hope this shines a little more light on Alaska’s B707/720 services.

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Patrick Jephson

Re N724PA: just saw a glimpse of a movie “Heart and Souls” with a scene shot in a hangar where this 747 was undergoing maintenance. Looked in good condition too. Film was made in 1993. Patrick J.

JIM O'BRIEN

Was looking at some old flight logs I had the other day and saw that N727PA was a -321 that I rode from NAS-JFK in 1971 had been with Alaska just the year before. Got me to looking for some pictures and found this site. Great information on these aircraft (and all the other stuff).

Even rode an AS 720 (302) up to ANC on my first trip to Alaska in 1974..that was one long takeoff in SEA!

Really enjoy your site, keep up the great work.

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