Here is PanAm Boeing 747-200 N724PA taken in 1990, about a year before Pan Am went out of business.

Here is PanAm Boeing 747-200 N724PA taken in 1990, about a year before Pan Am went out of business.

A while back after I blogged a photo of a Pan Am Boeing 747-200 taking off at Seattle, an ex-pilot that flew for Pan Am emailed me and thought the registration number had to be wrong. He remembered quite clearly that N724PA was not for a 747, but it belonged to a Boeing 707-300 that flew for Pan Am. This was curious for me, since when I looked up photos of aircraft belonging to N724PA there was a photo of a Boeing 707 in Alaska Airlines livery. It is common for airlines to re-use registration numbers, but I felt a story involving a Pan Am Boeing 747 and 707 used by Alaska needed to be told.

It turns out he was right. N724PA a Boeing 707-300, which Pan Am called “Clipper Mercury,” went into service on December 8, 1959 and served Pan Am well, until 1971. Mercury was leased to GE, then Donaldson International Airways until being leased to Alaska Airlines for the summer of 1972. After Alaska’s lease was up it went back to Donaldson and the registration number was changed from N724PA to G-BAEL.

When Mercury’s registration number was changed, it allowed Pan Am to “re-use” the number and register a new aircraft. When Pan Am got a Boeing 747-200 in 1984 from Sinapore Airlines, they gave her the name “Clipper Fairwind” and the registration number N724PA, which previously belonged to the Boeing 707.

I can’t find where the Boeing 747 ended up, but based photos taken in 2005, I am guessing she is no longer flying (can anyone else confirm that?).

So, that explains the confusion of the registration numbers, but left me wondering why the heck Alaska was flying a Boeing 707 for only one summer. For that answer you will have to wait until tomorrow!

Thanks Nick Y for pointing this out!

Also check out:
* Photos of Fairwind Clipper Boeing 747 through the years on

Image by Torsten Maiwald
from used with permission

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:
Lost in Time: When Alaska Airlines Flew Boeing 707s

N724PA is, according to, currently stored Sana’a, Yemen as of last December, and most recently was registered as XT-DMK with Kallat El Saker Air of Libya. Google Maps satellite photos confirm a 747 at that airfield.

That’s awesome! Thanks Peter!


Interesting how the A-Net photo library gives an informal history of ownership, just by looking at the dates the photos were reportedly taken. Soft data, at best, but sure shows an interesting history of ownership.

Singapore Airlines Late 70’s – 3/80
Pan Am 04/85 04/90
Fortunair Canada 8/1994 – 1995 (Went bankrupt before first flight)
Air Atlanta Icelandic 1995
Tower Air 6/1998 4/2000
Transjet Airways 12/2001 3/2004
Northeast Airlines 2/2005
Kallet El Saker Air 10/2009 rotting away in Yemen.

(data based solely on photo dates)

Matthew Newman

N724PA had a cameo in the 1993 film Hesrt and Souls with Robert Downey Jr. and Elizabeth Shue.

Nigel Mahood

This aircraft is still sitting in Yemen, can be seen at;‘a+International+Airport/@15.4917192,44.221952,792m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x160162f27180ea3d:0xa920bdf0b3a2ab55!8m2!3d15.479529!4d44.2166214

It’s the 747-212B in the movie ‘Heart And Souls’, right? Not the 707-321 that first bore the registration.

I know this is a longer after the original posts, but as an ex-Donaldson Airlines 707 driver, I can attest to the fact that N724PA (Boeing 707-321 powered by P&W JT4s) was used by Donaldson for crew training in Miami in March 1972 still under the guidance of a PanAm training Captain. I flew N724PA for 10 hours of circuits at Dade Collier Airfield and Miami International under the kind supervision of PanAm’s Chief Training Captain, Max Husted. What an aeroplane it was then, but the old smokey JT4 was already outdated by the JT3D-3D of the later model 707-320B and C. Happy days, sad about the 747-212B which later became N724PA but lies moribund and deserted in Sanaa.

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