Yesterday I talked about tracking down the history of N724PA and how it was used on two different airplane types. Today, I look at why the heck was Alaska Airlines flying a different Boeing 707 over the summer, for four summers in a row.
I was able to learn from Ron Suttell, Alaska Air Group director of facilities planning and administration and company historian (can that title even fit on a business card?) about Alaska and Boeing 707s. He explained that Alaska has operated four different Boeing 707s, which were all leased over the summers from 1970-1973 to provide chartered flights to Russia and provide additional capacity for passengers and cargo for regular domestic flights during the peak summer season.
The photos above (which you can click on to see a larger version) shows three of the four Boeing 707s used. Here is a little history on each of the four aircraft:
Boeing 707-321 (N724PA) leased from Pan Am sporting Donaldson Airways (a non-scheduled charter airline) dark green / gold stripes scheme and Alaska-added Eskimo on the tail blended in. Suttell says, “I remember this plane very well while working as an air freight agent in JNU. In fact, I took a couple photos myself right from the freight shed as it taxied by.” N724PA brought much needed lift of cargo backlog SEA-KTN-JNU on flight 69 about three or four times a week in the summer of 1973 and provided the same needed capacity for passenger volumes at peak season. Unlike the other three Boeing 707’s, N724PA didn’t actually fly to Russia due to the poor economy. As discussed yesterday, N724PA was given back to Donaldson Airways and given a new registration number. Pan Am, then gave N724PA to a Boeing 747-200.
Boeing 707-331 (N705PA) leased from Pan Am with Air Florida reddish-orange stripes scheme and “Alaska” in black helvetica letters on the tail and sides. The aircraft was flown during the summer of 1972 for Alaska. After being with Alaska N705PA went to Globe Air and then hit the road and traveled the world. Last record I can find of her is a photo in 1981 of her being stored in Kuala Lumpur.
Boeing 707-321 (N727PA) leased from Pan Am. Red stripe with familiar “Golden Nugget Service” logo on the tail. This was the 707 that Alaska used on the inaugural charter flights to Russia beginning on June 6, 1970. There was great fan-fare in the local Seattle media news media about the whole Russia ground-breaking flights. This Boeing 707 flew until 1980 when it crashed on landing in Bogota. Like N724PA, the registration number was used by Pan Am again and given to another Boeing 747-200.
Boeing 707-320 (N793SA) the odd one of the bunch. This aircraft was not leased from Pan Am and Alaska had no information other than it was listed as an aircraft they have previously used. I did find some information on the aircraft on AussieAirliners.org and it shows it started life with Qantas. The aircraft was leased by Pacific Western Airlines before going to Alaska during summer of 1971. The plane flew until 1979 when it was used for spare parts for KC-135, so it might be the only one of the four with part of it still currently flying. The registration number is now being used on a Southwest Boeing 737.
Alaska Airlines also operated the Boeing 720 for a number of years in regular service on their route system until about 1975. Even though the Boeing 720 looks very similar to the 707, it is not as well suited for international flights and was used for a few years until 1975 on domestic routes.
You guys were rock stars providing more information on N724PA yesterday, so if you find any more about these four aircraft, please share them in the comments!