Browsing Tag: Boeing 707

Come fly with Lufthansa! 1955 & today - Photo: Robert Schadt & Lufthansa

Come fly with Lufthansa! – Photo: Robert Schadt & Lufthansa

Roughly sixty years ago, on June 7, 1955, Lufthansa commenced long-haul service with a flight from Hamburg, Germany to New York City. To celebrate the anniversary, Lufthansa recreated a series of classic photos from throughout the years.

Safety first! Demonstrating life jackets, 1956 & today - Photo: Robert Schadt & Lufthansa

Safety first! Demonstrating life jackets – Photo: Robert Schadt & Lufthansa

How much has changed over the intervening six decades? Here are some fun facts, according to the airline:

  • What began as two long-haul flights a week from Germany to New York, taking 20 hours for the trip (including a stop in Dusseldorf and a refueling stop in Ireland), has evolved and expanded over the years into the present 104 Lufthansa long-haul flights to 77 destinations worldwide, per day.
  • With its four Super Constellations, Lufthansa carried 74,040 passengers in its first year of long-haul operations, with 18,420 of them crossing the North Atlantic. Today, Lufthansa’s long-haul fleet consists of more than 130 state-of-the-art aircraft, which carry over 15 million passengers per year – more than two-and-a-half million of them to and from the U.S.
  • At the equivalent of approximately three month’s salary, the price of a transatlantic Economy Class ticket, back then, kept the experience of flying with Lufthansa exclusive, only possible for a small and affluent circle of people. Today, a round-trip Economy Class ticket for a flight with Lufthansa to the eastern United States can cost as little as one-third of a monthly salary.

Check out some additional historical photos, brought more up-to-date…

A TWA Boeing 707 freighter on Runway 25-Right at LAX. Notice that engines 1 and 2 are in reverse and that the spoiler fully deployed - Photo: Jon Proctor

A TWA Boeing 707 freighter on Runway 25R at LAX – Photo: Jon Proctor

Here’s a little background about a wonderful encounter I had with racing legend Andy Granatelli in the late 1970’s.  At that time, I flew for Trans World Airlines on their Boeing 707 and 727 aircraft.

In April and May of 1978, my regular assignment (trips for the month) was to fly a 707 freighter from Los Angeles to Indianapolis. Typically, we would launch very late in the evening around midnight, and arrive in Indy at around 6:00 am local time. A day-and-a-half later, we’d fly a return flight to Los Angeles at 6 pm. That gave us a 36-hour layover in Indy.  On our first trip of the month, I got to the airport quite early, as I had been on vacation the previous month and had lots of accumulated paperwork to attend to. At about nine in the evening, I bummed a ride with a TWA mechanic from the hangar to the TWA cargo facility on the other side of the airport – probably the most harrowing part of my three-day trip.

As we arrived at the air freight terminal, I noticed two large box vans – both painted with the legendary STP logo. The TWA mechanic and I walked over to the vans and looked inside… one was filled with tires, crated engines, tool boxes, and other motor racing equipment.  The second van had two Indy 500 race cars inside!

Outside the Boeing 737 Factory in Renton, WA. Photo by Chris Sloan /

Outside the Boeing 737 Factory in Renton, WA. Photo by Chris Sloan /

This story was written by Chris Sloan and originally was published on This is the first of a multi-part series looking at the Boeing 737 factory in Renton.

On the evening of March 18, 2013 Boeing’s Renton Plant rolled out its first Boeing 737, a 737-800 bound for Panamanian Airline COPA, at the astounding new production rate of 38 aircraft per month. Boeing had only reached 35 airplanes per month, its previous historic high commercial production rate in January 2012. 2 days later on March 20, 2013, Boeing delivered the 7500th 737, the 7,229nd example built at Renton (more on this later). By Spring 2014, the rate is expected to leap to 42 aircraft per month.

In 2015, Renton will begin production of the new 737 MAX that is due to enter commercial service in 2017, 50 years after the 737 first entered service in 1967! The Boeing 737 is the best-selling and longest continuously produced commercial airliner of all time with over 10,500 deliveries and orders. As of April, 2013 between the new Max (1,234) and current the Next-Generation (4,395), the 737 backlog stands at 3,136 aircraft. With the increased production rates, the current order book will take 6 ½ years alone to clear. Boeing’s current market outlook estimates 23,000 new narrow body airliner orders in the 737 / A320 families category over the next 20 years. Three draw dropping data-points stand out:

  • 40% of the world’s jetliner fleet has been manufactured at Renton.
  • Renton has produced an astonishing total of over 15,000 aircraft making it one of the most prolific aircraft factories, and the most prolific jetliner factory in history.
  • With approximately 5,600 737s in service, 25% of the world’s large jet fleet (non RJ) are Boeing 737s.

This video is technically not a TWA commercial, but it does star one of their Boeing 707s. This is a classic milk commercial way before the whole “Got Milk” craze became popular. Two flight attendants banter about how they are trying to lose weight, but keep up their energy on long flights and milk is the perfect way to do that. “You know gals, like us, who have to keep our weight down and vitality up should always drink milk.”

Something like that…

Boeing Dash 80 barrel roll above Seattle Seafair, August, 1955. Photo from Boeing.

Boeing Dash 80 barrel roll above Seattle Seafair, August, 1955. Photo from Boeing. Click for larger.

If you haven’t seen the video of the first Boeing 707 (called the Dash 80 at the time) completing a barrel rolled by legend Tex Johnston, you might not fully appreciate this photo to the fullest. From Boeing’s Flickr page:

“In August, 1955, Boeing test pilot Tex Johnston performed a now legendary barrel roll of the Model 367-80 as part of that year’s Seafair festival on Lake Washington. This photo was taken by co-pilot Jim Gannett.

Known as the Dash 80, this airplane was the prototype for the 707 commercial plane and KC-135 military refueling jet.

The 707 helped move commercial aviation into the jet age and was the first to carry the now iconic “7 series” Boeing model designation.

The Dash 80 today is displayed at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington, D.C.”

This is the first Boeing 367-80 (Dash 80) was the prototype for what became the KC-135 and the Boeing 707. Photo by Boeing.

This is the first Boeing 367-80 (Dash 80) was the prototype for what became the KC-135 and the Boeing 707. Photo by Boeing.

The punch-line is that Boeing did not know that Tex was going to do the barrel roll. The idea was to show the public and potential airline customers that the 707 was safe. From a previous interview with Boeing Historian Michael Lombardi, he explained, “Then you have Tex Johnson who did the barrel roll, doing his part to get people feeling that jets were safe’¦ that was the whole idea. Before that the British had come out with the Comet and it had a few problems. Because of the comets problems, coming apart at altitude, the public view of jets was that they were just not safe.”

Seattle’s Seafair is going on once again this weekend and the Boeing 747-8 is scheduled to fly on Sunday, August 7th at 3:50pm over the crowds, much like the Boeing 707 did 56 years ago. Currently, it has not known if it will be the 747-8 Freighter or the 747-8 Intercontinental, but I am hoping for the glowing orange 747-8I. Just don’t expect any barrel rolls!