The former American Airlines B727-223, N874AA, at Boeing Field in Seattle, now owned by the National Airline History Museum, Kansas City, Mo.
In early 2015, in preparation for the construction of its giant new Aviation Pavilion, Seattle’s Museum of Flight moved its Boeing 727 (formerly American Airlines N874AA) from the parking lot on the west side of East Marginal Way where it had been displayed along with other large aircraft. Instead of being towed to the museum’s air park with the other planes, it was towed all the way across King County International Airport (also known as Boeing Field) to a parking stall. Rumors swirled that it was headed for a new home, an unnamed museum in the Midwest.
And there it sat, and sat. And sat.
NAHM Executive Director John Roper in the cockpit of the B727 his museum recently acquired from Seattle’s Museum of Flight
On March 3, the mystery was solved when John Roper, the executive director/board member of the National Airline History Museum (NAHM) in Kansas City, Mo., signed the transfer paperwork alongside Museum of Flight CEO Doug King and COO Laurie Haag, officially transferring ownership of the aircraft to the Midwestern museum.
The elderly 727 now has a dedicated Facebook page, and, as of this week, the electrical systems were in the process of being activated and checked in preparation for the aircraft being flown to its new home. Roper said that, as long as the engines are sound, his goal is to get the plane to its new home in Kansas City by May 1.
The Star of America, seen at the Kansas City Downtown Airport preparing for engine runs – Photo: JL Johnson
This is the story of a Connie that no one wanted, a plane that was abandoned and mothballed numerous times throughout its history. While it has had a generally-tragic existence, with just a few bright spots sprinkled in, this is an adventure that continues to unfold. In fact, in 2014, this plane will begin a new chapter as it again returns to the skies.
In 1958, this Lockheed Constellation rolled off the assembly line in Burbank, California – destined straight for storage. It was the beginning of the jet age and suddenly airlines had little interest in these sleek, evolutionary, once record-setting birds. Indeed, even those like this 1049H model, which were built with the intent of easy conversion between freighter and passenger configurations, were a hard sell. The variant was canceled after just over 50 were built, this example being third from last. Prior to completion, the order for this plane was canceled, just the beginning of a tough existence for this elegant flying machine.
In September of 1959 after over a year in storage, it was converted to freighter, sold to Slick Airways, and assigned registration number N6937C (which it has carried ever since). For eleven years the plane ran freight with various carriers before being stored and later abandoned in Miami, FL. In June of 1971, it was seized by the airport for non-payment of fees. After being auctioned off it spent the next four years doing odd jobs, hauling military parts and even horses. Its last commercial use was as a sprayer in Mesa, Arizona, where it was equipped with chemical tanks and large spray booms.