Our Northwest Boeing 747-200 (reg: N642NW & name: Madison) taken at Kansai International Airport in 1999 – Photo: Ken Fielding
I have a soft place in my heart for Northwest Boeing 747-200s. My first time flying in a 747, my first time flying as an unaccompanied minor, and my first time being able to ride in the nose section was all on one of those birds. Even though that was at the age of five, it was very exciting and has stayed with me.
Anytime I see a photo of one of these aircraft, I wonder if it is the one that I flew on. I have no way of knowing, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to get to know more about the life of every Northwest 747-200 that I come across.
A photo taken of Madison in Aug 2004 – Photo: saku_y | FlickrCC
Not long ago, I documented the life of a Lockheed L1011 (which I named Martin). I have fun tracking down the lives (and often the deaths) of classic airliners and I enjoyed sharing Martin’s journey with you all (and many of you seemed to get a kick out of it as well). When I came across N642NW, a Northwest 747-200, I thought her history was pretty interesting and worth sharing.
I have decided to name this classic beauty Madison for two main reasons. During my trip (explained above), I flew from Seattle to Minneapolis to visit my uncles and we spent some time in Madison, WI. I might have also had a boyhood crush at the time on Madison from the movie Splash (played by Daryl Hannah). Either way, we can say that I like the name and I like the plane, so it works!
Now, let’s take a look at Madison’s birth, how she lived, and if she is still around today.
A variant of the Queen of the Skies took a step closer towards the history books this week as Kalitta Air retired its remaining 747-200, which is one of the few remaining airworthy civilian models of the type.
N793CK, A Kalitta Air 747-200 freighter, prepares to land at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on its next-to-last flight before being placed into storage
This particular airframe was delivered to United Airlines in March 1987, having been built at Boeing’s Everett, Wash., factory. It was converted to a freighter in 2000 by Boeing while registered to Northwest Airlines, and was eventually put into storage in 2009. In 2010, it returned to service with Kalitta, and was officially retired on April 23.
Seconds before touchdown at SEA
“It’s nice to see that people still care about this stuff,” said Capt. Scott Jakl as he and his flight crew were preparing the aircraft for the flight to Kalitta’s maintenance facility in Oscoda, Mich. “This is a very big deal for us,” he said of the plane’s last flight.
Air Force One landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Being a photojournalist can mean a lot of stressful work, but it definitely has its perks — and one of the best experiences for an AvGeek photojournalist is being approved for White House press credentials and covering a presidential visit. I’ve been lucky enough to do that three times, and it never, ever, gets old.
This story is not about politics; it’s about the plane, the process of transporting a head of state, and what it’s like to cover the amazing ritual that is an Air Force One arrival/departure sequence.
Presidential travels are never a simple affair; watching the ballet of security and military ritual, one can’t help but to be impressed by the sheer magnitude of managing the task.
Air Force One arriving at King County International Airport on October 9, 2015 -Photo: Francis Zera | Airline Reporter
There are few aircraft as readily identifiable as the 747-200B/VC-25 known as Air Force One (even though there are actually two of them; more on that in a bit). The aircraft is designed to ferry the President of the United States, other elected and government officials, VIPs, and the White House press corps, anywhere in the world and in high style.
Any U.S. Air Force aircraft in which the president is flying carries the call sign Air Force One. But it’s the two VC-25s that are the flagship aircraft most of the world will immediately recognize as being the primary mode of transport for the current US president.
President Obama arriving in Seattle via Air Force One – Photo: Francis Zera | Airline Reporter
Suffice it to say that, wherever Air Force One shows up, interest (and security) are high. For the recent Seattle visit, on October 9th, local AvGeek interest was strong, and at least one of the sanctioned airport viewing areas was kept open for public viewing.
Speaking of security, there are two identical VC-25s, one with tail number 28000 and the other 29000. Whenever the president is traveling on one of them, the other is usually stationed somewhere in the region nearby as a backup. There are duplicate sets of presidential motorcade vehicles as well.
Below is a series of images from the president’s recent three-hour fundraising visit to Seattle.