The Boeing 727’s first flight – Photo: Boeing
The last flight of the first Boeing 727 is going to happen soon. This is no longer a dream, but a reality. The first 727 has been in the process of being restored for many years and this is a beyond-exciting moment! It likely will fly the first week of March, traveling the short distance from Paine Field (in Everett, north of Seattle) to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field (in Seattle’s south side).
The first Boeing 727 being worked on and prepped for final flight
We recently had the opportunity to chat with the man who will be Captain for the final flight, Tim Powell. He is a great guy, an amazing pilot, and an AvGeek. We wanted to learn more about why he was chosen, what excites him about the flight, how he likes still flying the 727, and if he has any concerns about the upcoming flight.
The first Boeing 727 sitting at Paine Field
Back in August, we connected with some of the fine folks that have been working to prepare the first Boeing 727 for its last flight. At the time, they were painting the plane and it looked damn good. Although a new coat of paint will make the plane look slick, it doesn’t exactly get it airborne. What does? Engines, of course.
Classic first class seats in the first Boeing 727
I heard that they took possession of a few Pratt & Whittney JT8D engines and I wanted to get an update on how things were going and also take a tour of the interior.
When the aircraft was donated to the Museum of Flight, it was almost fully restored to how it looked (inside and out), when it first flew for United Airlines. So, I headed to the Museum of Flight Restoration Center at Paine Field and see how things were progressing.
Roll-out of E1 (N7001U) from Boeing Renton Plant, 27 Nov 1962 – Photo: Bob Bogash
More than 27 years after it was gifted to the Museum of Flight, the first Boeing 727 is still being restored at the museum’s Restoration Center at Paine Field in preparation for its last flight down to Boeing Field.
This plane first rolled out of the factory on November 27, 1962, and took its first flight (from Renton Field to Paine Field) on February 9, 1963. It was then used for a year as a Boeing test flight aircraft before being delivered to United Airlines on October 6, 1964.
With United, it flew 64,495 hours, with 48,060 take-offs and landings. After being repainted to its original livery, N7001U flew, in January 1991, from Boeing Field to Paine Field, where it has been sitting ever since.
This is N7006U, but N7001U sported this same livery in 1964 – Photo: The Boeing Company
Restoration work has stopped and started more than once over the years. Some restoration work started in 1997, but was hampered by the lack of 727 parts. (United had removed any usable components to support their other 727s still in service at the time). Sadly, the plane was left open for several years after it was delivered, and many parts “disappeared” during that time, as well.
A new restoration effort started in May of 2004, after the donation of N124FE (aka Marcella) from FedEx. That plane had the majority of the components needed, but additional parts were taken from three other 727s as well.
The 737-800, ready to be pulled
Earlier this week, I was invited by Alaska Airlines to watch the Alaska Plane Pull for Strong Against Cancer at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The two competing teams were led by Russell Wilson, quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks and Alaska’s ’œChief Football Officer,’ and actor and comedian Joel McHale, who grew up on Mercer Island (right outside of Seattle) and is known for his role in the series ’œCommunity’ and as host of E!’s ’œThe Soup.”
Each celebrity captain had 18 team members, comprised of employees from Alaska’s maintenance and engineering departments, as well as members of the community who were the lucky winners of Alaska’s Facebook contest.
Who could pull a 92,000-pound 737-800 25 feet in the least amount of time? I was there to find out!
NL93012, the Collings Foundation B-17G dubbed “nine-o-nine” taxiing at Boeing Field – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
This weekend only (June 26th-28th) if you want to see some warbirds, head down to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, put down a few bucks, and enjoy!
What, exactly, does the Collings Foundation offer? A little bit of what you see above, and then more of what you see below…
NX224J, known as Witchcraft, is the only flying B-24J out there – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Their most famous aircraft is the only remaining Boeing B-24J “Witchcraft.” You can fly in it for $450; that’s cheaper than a B-29 Superfortress! They also have the only fully dual-control TP-51C Mustang (dubbed “Betty Jane” in their employ). Though the rates to fly on that are a bit more expensive, and best acquired by contacting the Foundation directly.
On top of that, they are bringing their Boeing B-17G “Nine-O-Nine”, and a B-25 “Tondelayo.” You can fly on the B-25 for the reasonable price of $400. If you don’t feel like flying, you can still make a small donation to have a look around any of their visiting aircraft.