Final flight for first Boeing 727

The first Boeing 727-100, sold to United Airlines (N7001U) made its first flight in 25 years March 2, 2016, from Paine Field in Everett (WA) to Boeing Field in Seattle. The 12 minute flight was also the airplane’s last. The aircraft, which flew for United for 27 years and carried three million passengers, will be permanently displayed at the Museum of Flight. This is painted in the original delivery colors for United. Note that then there were no outlines of the doors and emergency exits; this FAA requirement came years later.

Shutting down the engines on the first Boeing 727-100, N7001U, on its final flight delivering from Paine Field in Everett to Boeing Field in Seattle. The Museum of Flight will permanently display this airplane, flown by United Airlines for 27 years, after 25 years parked at Paine and a long restoration. The engines are the first generation jet engines, in this case the Pratt & Whitney JT8D. Despite the “mufflers” on the back end of the engines, this “Stage 2” noise compliant engines are exceedingly noisy by today’s standards.

Watching the airplane on final approach to Boeing Field, tell-tale black exhaust smoke from the engines was easily seen against the gray Seattle sky.

The 727 was an enormous success for Boeing. More than 1,800 were sold, a record for jets at the time. The late Robert J. Serling, perhaps the top aviation writer of his day, noted that the 727-100 proved to be 10% better on economics than Boeing predicted when it first sold the airplane to the airlines. There are still 727 freighters flying today, 53 years after it was first introduced into service.


20 Comments on “Final flight for first Boeing 727

  1. …and still one of the most beautifully designed planes, with the distinctive tail

    • Which they copied from the DH-121 Trident.

      It seems strange now but in those days there was much more sharing of design details, Douglas was very interested in the Caravelle and made noises about building it under license, their was some cooperation with Boeing and the DH 121.
      Funny that they went ahead on their own with the DC9- and 727 !

      For once Boeing optimised its plane for a short runway and an heavier engine and had an advantage.

  2. I remember the EA “open-house” at their hanger at ATL to introduce the public to the Boeing 727 in a sparkling “Golden Falcon” paint scheme. There were tours through the aircraft and all kinds of promotional literature. Most importantly, there was an Electra and a DC-7B side by side inside the hanger looking very dated in comparison to that 727!
    In the fall of 1963 there were no other aircraft that looked so cool and flew like that!

    • “telltale black exhaust smoke was clearly visible”

      I forgot to mention that if those engines had been the “original” versions they would have been even louder and tons of black smoke would have been “pouring” out as I believe you wanted the thrust at about 80% on short final with full flaps. It was comical how short a time it took for the reverse thrust to blacken the tails on the rear-engined jets of that era.

      • “Soot is only 1% of fuel and it is difficult to fix.”
        ( tech mag article ~1970 afair )
        Still remember watching takeoffs at HAM from a school mates parents “Schrebergarten” at the airport perimeter.
        Looked like climb rate was a lot less than these days.
        And you could see the soot trail being swirled and sinking to the ground.

  3. I predict a movie in the future will have a scene where either a hero or villain hot wires one of the planes at the museum, and flies it away – a la “Men in Black.” It would bring some life to the static display.

  4. I remember when Eastern airlines flew the 727-200 into Tweed-New Haven airport back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. At first the runway was 4700 feet long and later extended to its present 5600 feet. I was able to walk along a closed street that ran under the approach to runway 2 and about a few hundred feet from the threshold, what a sight and sound to experience!
    It was exciting to watch at times when the plane made a crosswind landing angling until it was a few feet off the runway.
    The 727 had a long layover and sometimes the captain would let the area kids walk onto the plane and area residents on a Sunday afternoon would park their cars and line the adjacent streets to watch the Eastern 727 do a downwind approach to runway 20 to land and later take off. Due to the short runway, only 60 seats were sold on outbound flights to DCA.
    No TSA, no body scanners, no armed guards, no blocked off boarding areas or constant announcements about watching your bags. Much simpler times

    • In the mid ’60’s I traveled from Chicago to Boston to college on a 727, and brought my 22 rifle with me on the plane, stowing it in the coat locker in front without incident. This was before the first hijacking by “DB Cooper”.

    • Ah yes. The 727’s were real performers if need be. I used to enjoy those rare days in Tampa when a strong and constant west wind demanded the use of the old, and short, cross-wind runway 10/28 at TPA. I used to park in a remnant of the old TPA airport parking lot, along Boy Scout Rd. and observe the take-offs. Sometimes you would see something that was just ridiculous. Observing 727’s take-off was fantastic. Observing NW’s 720Bs was awesome. Observing a (Sixty-series) stretched-8 was just plain sick! Coolist I ever saw was a Wardair 747 loaded with Canadians blast off on 28. It’s a miracle it didn’t blow cars off of the access road! Short runways are a lot of entertainment!

      As for lack of security back in the day—-I can really tell you some stories! Growing up around ATL the airport was my playground. I was pretty extroverted and befriended a lot of airline employees. I knew where all the access doors were to just about everything fun to do. I can recall going out a gate door and wandering across an active ramp over to EA’s hanger. Waving at my mechanic friends and going up the stairs of an aircraft in the hanger. I would raid the galley for a stray “Co-Cola” and stand at the cockpit threshold and dream. That’s a whole ‘nother story!

    • Wow. Thanks Keesje. I don’t think of myself as old until I start telling a story of a trip I took on a DL DC-3 from ATL . OMG ! When dinasaurs roamed the earth!

  5. I flew on a United 722 from Cleveland to Boston in January 1968 (I had gone to look at Oberlin College) and remember the Captain announcing that our ground speed (due to winter winds) was over 700 mph. Also, if you were sitting forward you could barely hear the engines even on takeoff run; you just quietly accelerated.

  6. I also remember taking a US Air shuttle 727 and when at the gate, the flight attendant made the announcement that those in the rear of the plane could use the rear air stairs. I just had to exit the plane by the rear as I knew it would be my last chance to do so. Can’t remember if it was at LGA or DCA.

  7. One member smacked us all, opinionating dutch flying boat interiors, firsthand, pre WW2.. :p Where’s Hillinga?

  8. Could you guys help me? I flew in the fall of 1953 from New York to Chicago with a four engined propeller plane. I have no idea of the airline or aircraft type. I was a little boy and my father told me that “this is big plane, it has four engines.” There was a picture from inside the plane where I looked at the reading lights and other equipment in the ceiling. Unfortunately I cannot find the picture anymore so I could use it to try to identify the plane type! Have you guys got any idea which airlines and what four engined plane types were in use in the fall 1953 between New York and Chicago?
    I would very much appreciate any hints you other seniors gould give!

    • @swallow: Likely a DC-4, DC-6 or Lockheed Constellation. Depending on what time of year, it might have been a DC-7, which entered service that year.

      American and United flew the DC6, TWA the Connie, Capital the DC4 and Connie (I don’t think they had yet started with the Viscount, but not sure). American was the first with the DC7.

  9. Beautiful aircraft. I didn’t realize there was a gold stripe up the rudder too. Very nice livery, although the Boeing livery it rolled out with would have been excellent as well.

    • I agree, it is beautiful. IMO that paint scheme looked good on any UA aircraft that wore it.

  10. Our manager let us loose to watch the last FedEx 727 into Anchorage go into Merril Field (general aviation field, 4000 ft Runway with a av tech college its been donated to)

    Amazing to watch him put that thing into that small a field, not just flat either, sits on a 50 ft bluff. Crew was really good. Made it with room to spare but they hit the thrust reverser and brakes REALLY hard. Dicey as they had to let frost get off runway and the conditions were strich by FAA as you have to have an exemption to bring in anything over 12 or 15,000 lbs (well over in the 727 case!)

    So, tales of a 727. Great solid aircraft, I loved flying it, no one could land them though.

    Coming into Anchorage at one day the pilot made a smooth as silk landing. Plane full of Alaskan and the cabin broke into spontaneous applause, they knew how rare that was. A good landing was a 2 bouncer.

    Coming up from Seattle one day we had a huge tail wind, into the many hundred of MPH (forget how much but we were breaking our arrival time)

    Captain needed to stay in his flight block, as it was a beautiful day in South Eastern Alaska, we did S turns over it. I lived there as a kid, never had seen it form above (always off the coast and usually socked in or down low and usually socked in).

    We cut inland of Latuya bay (big slide and tidal wave back in the 50s I think it was). You could see the ring around the bay (closed bay, Fjord type but a tiny entrance, more like a volcanic caldera

    And I got to see it all because I had screwed up my flight days and missed my schedule by a day and was standby hopping up from SFO.

    great aircraft, solid, but you sure didn’t get good landings.

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