A classic TWA livery on an American Airlines Boeing 737 – Photo: American Airlines
It seems this was quite the week for a few airlines to show off some very cool retro liveries. We have American showing off their TWA scheme, PIA shows off a classic look, and Qantas has their Retro Roo II livery. They say things come in threes; it looks like airlines really came through on this one.
It is always great when airlines put out retro liveries, but it can be a bit odd (and cool) to see these liveries on different aircraft types that never previously saw those schemes. We take a closer look at these new (old) designs, and the aircraft they are on.
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.
Wings of pride arrives home at the downtown KC Airport
This morning, I had the honor of welcoming an iconic piece of aviation history back home to Kansas City, MO. I watched the event unfold while standing on the roof of what was once an early Trans World Airlines (TWA) stronghold.
Looking into the sky, I could see a tiny red speck on the horizon that slowly grew into a beautiful red/white MD-83 (reg: N948TW). It was something unique, and certainly not common at the Charles B. Wheeler downtown airport (MKC).
Wings of Pride N948TW
Soon one of the most iconic (albeit nearly forgotten) planes to grace the Trans World fleet landed and taxied to within a few yards of TWA’s first headquarters in Kansas City, and former office of Howard Hughes himself.
The TWA Wings of Pride, after 27 years of service across the world, had finally reclaimed its greatest livery and arrived back to the birthplace of its former airline, courtesy of TriStar History and Preservation and their patrons.
Front part of Lufthansa’s special retro livery on the Boeing 747-8I – Photo: Lufthansa
Lufthansa was the first airline to fly the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental and now has 16 of the type in service. Over the history of the airline and the 747 program, Lufthansa has been a very good customer. They have operated the 747-100, 200, & 400 (with a good portion of those 747-400s still flying).
The airline, as a whole, has been around since 1926 (in some form or another), during which time they have been through a number of liveries. What better way for an airline to receive their latest aircraft than to paint it in an retro livery?
The Qantas’ retro livery on their new Boeing 737
I always love being invited to celebrate a new delivery for an airline, but I wasn’t sure how Qantas might make a 737 delivery special. There have been over 8,000 of the aircraft type delivered and Qantas is already operating 74 737s.
Of course, the big deal about this 737-800 (VH-XZP) is that it is in a retro livery. A livery that flew on the airline from 1974-1981. That is a good start.
John Travolta showed up and celebrated with Qantas
However, because of all the mindful AvGeeks out there, photos of the new livery have been on the internet for a week. How was Qantas going to make this celebration really stand out?
They were able to use this opportunity to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the kangaroo being used as their logo and this month is also their 94th birthday. All great things, but I think overall there were two things that really made this event work: a shiny disco ball and John Travolta.