N557AN, an MD-82 spotted on the ramp at MCI in 2013.
Love them or hate them, American’s MD-80s are on the way out. This should not come as a shock as we’ve known for years the day was eventually coming. But late last month American Airlines announced details for the MadDog’s final day of operations. Mark your calendars, folks. September 4 is the day the “Super 80s” carry passengers off into the sunset one last time.
When I mention the upcoming retirement to friends, the majority of responses are positive. It seems the general consensus is that these DC-9 descendants have overstayed their welcome in the AvGeek and frequent flyer worlds. While few folks seem willing to admit they will miss the MD-80s, I fully expect it will only be a matter of time. For decades the MadDogs were ubiquitous. Airports just won’t be the same without them.
No matter how we feel, these retirement dates tend to sneak up on us. The official final flight on September 4 is sold out, but there remain many options to get out for a goodbye flight, including many options on the final day of operation…
The last United Boeing 747 sitting at SFO – registration N118UA
It is okay to get emotional over an airplane. That is what I kept telling myself anyhow as I experienced United’s final 747 flight recently. I was sad that this was going to be a huge milestone for the retirement of Boeing 747 passenger service. I was also happy and excited to be a part of this historic event. Turns out I was going to be able to experience a few firsts and quite a few lasts on my journey. This was to be my first time flying on a United 747 and this was also going to be my first time flying backwards.
Party at the gate
Pilot signing flight paperwork
Retro ticket holder, retro flight attendants
At one point I was asked something along the lines of, “There is one other U.S. airline (Delta) that is still flying the aircraft, not to mention British Airways and others. Why is this such a big deal?” At first, I almost felt insulted, but then I realized that from a non-AvGeek perspective, why make a big deal about this plane, with this airline?
First off, I think it is like visiting a really good friend or family member you don’t get to see very often and it is hard to say goodbye. You start out saying “well, I guess I better get going,” and three hours later you aren’t quite out the door yet and still sharing stories of good times before finally parting ways. This was the first goodbye stage between me and the 747.
The first Boeing 727 lifting off from Paine Field – Photo: Chuck Lyford and Jim Larsen
As many of you know, on March 2, 2016, the first Boeing 727 made its final flight successfully down to the Museum of Flight at Boeing field. It was much more than just a final flight or really even the plane. The 727 has become an icon of not just aviation history, but personal history as well. Seeing the aircraft, even for non-AvGeeks, is a time warp to the past.
Water cannon salute at Paine Field – Photo: Chuck Lyford and Jim Larsen
I have enjoyed covering the first 727 for quite a few years. Although getting access to see the inside of the aircraft has been amazing, my favorite part have been the personal stories that have been shared. I have been grateful that so many of you have taken the time to share your memories of the aircraft (the first and other 727s) in emails and comments on AirlineReporter. From those of you remembering it as your first flight as a kid to others who spent years behind the yolk. It seems that nothing can bring a group of AvGeeks together better than the iconic tri-holer.