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.
To the untrained eye, one might not know what airline owns this Boeing 737. Lucky for us airline nerds, it is easy to tell that it is either a Boeing 737 with United or Continental livery.
This incident happed a few months back in in Greenville, Mississippi after the aircraft was painted to the new United Airlines livery. It had completed being painted and was about to be flown to Houston on a ferry flight. While taxiing out to the runway, the concrete collapsed under the left main gear, causing it to fold.
Luckily there were no passengers on board and both pilots were able to escape, uninjured, out the back of the aircraft.
It appears as though United didn’t want to be associated with a broken down aircraft on the taxi-way and they covered up all the identifiable markings. This is not uncommon for airlines to do when their aircraft become severely damaged.
I tried to get a status update on the aircraft from United, but at this time they have no comment. I have been trying to track down the registration number of this aircraft, but I have not had any luck. Super brownie points to anyone who can.