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The charmed life of Boeing 727 Line Number One...

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[Note: Today, in the library, I came across the repaint of a B727-200 in the (original) 727-100 prototype color. The prototype was painted lemon yellow and copper-brown, similar to the paint scheme of the Model 367-80 prototype (for the 707), eight years earlier. In this post, I wished to share a few pictures of the "actual" B727-100 prototype (N7001U) ...so, here we go...with bits of (optional) reading notes, below...]

Airplanes (somewhat) like human lives, go through the up and downs of fortune and misfortune...and eventually end their useful span of contributions...to their airlines, owners, and customers. As I'd indicated in my post on the B757 freighters, many such airliners, long after being deemed unsuitable for pax transportation, still, continue to serve faithfully with their new operators in the role of cargo transporters...likely far away from their original home...sometimes across the globe...and far away from the owners who had originally taken delivery of the plane from the factory, in (so to speak) mint condition...e.g. see the wonderful post and images, here, this week about the Boeing Renton Factory...where the 737 Max is now being bult...Anyway, after the years of useful service, and finally relegated to one of the many "storage" areas, some of the largest such sites, in U.S., being located in the deserts of west coast...these a/c and their most precious components are scrapped and salvaged for reuse.... both in other aircraft and in miscellaneous other (non-aviation) recycling operations...

Restoration of an aircraft, for posterity, even if the a/c is of historical significance, is no easy matter...logistically speaking...in spite of the best of intentions from its owners, airlines, former crew members, and of course, its (diehard) aviation enthusiasts. More often than not, some of the most remarkable airplanes and airliners, that had played a significant role in the advancement of aviation, are lost once those a/c are discarded and scrapped... (of course, many lucky ones do go on to be preserved for static display or even rejuvenated for actual flights...) ...Here is the story of a most remarkable plane...the Boeing 727-100 Prototype, the very first of the total 1832 727s built. This prototype Model 727 trijet airliner, Reg. N7001U, Line Number One, had made first flight, on 9 February 1963 from the Renton Municipal Airport (adjacent to the Boeing Renton Factory). The test flight had lasted for only 2 hours, 1 minute, and had landed at Paine Field, Everett, Washington. This prototype 727 was then delivered, on 6 October 1964, to United Air Lines, who operated it for next 27 years before retiring after 64,495 flight hours, 48,060 takeoffs and landings, having flown an estimated three million passengers in it. UAL had purchased the 727 for $4,400,000, and during its service life, it generated more than $300,000,000 in revenue (a ~70 times return on investment). Most significantly, and atypically, the special a/c stayed with its original owner, UAL, for its entire life, and is now preserved as an exhibit in the prestigious Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington.

The preservation process of this plane was most fortunate, too, and no less remarkable...Imagine this...it sat (un-used) waiting patiently for 25 long years (while restoration was in-progress), from 1991 to 2016, for its final flight from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., to its new home at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. The specially (FAA) approved final flight, on 2 March 2016, lasted merely ~15 minutes, being a short one between Paine Field (KPAE) and Boeing Field (KBFI). The flight went off without a hitch, as it soared gracefully under the cloudy skies, for one last time, to be received at Boeing Field in Seattle to a water cannon salute and hundreds of aviation enthusiasts. The aircraft, known by its registration N7001U, was the number one built, and since then its 1,831 younger siblings have flown for airlines around the globe, till the last 727 rolled off the assembly line in 1984. Look, below, at its rudimentary cockpit and avionics (devoid of advanced FMS/MCDU etc.), which has gradually evolved to what it's today in the most modern Boeing jetliners...

So, find a sample collection of pictures, here, of this unique 727-100 in the colors of both the original prototype and United Airlines. Please also note that the first two images, below, belong to a 727-200 (not 727-100) but in the (same) prototype color, a sighting of which, today, triggered me for this post.

[The Boeing plane that immediately succeeded 727 was the 757-200. A concept of 727 (aka 727-400) with extended fuselage and two high bypass turbofan engines under the wings (but retaining the T tail) was proposed in 1977. However, after only a few months, the concept was developed into a design (7N7) which eventually became the Boeing 757-200, and the T-tail was dropped in favor of the conventional tail.]

Thanks for your interest...!




















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Great set 👍🏽

cheers 😉

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That United Livery bring back memories ...more than a "few" yrs back FedEx was operating a Cargo version as a back-up aircraft around The Holiday's

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Lot's of member's of the 727 fan club including DB Cooper . 🤩😉

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pmplayer, Alaska, Patrick, johnb:

Thanks for the comments...!!


9 hours ago, johnbow72 said:

Lot's of member's of the 727 fan club including DB Cooper . 🤩😉

johnb: Yes, the legend of D.B. Cooper...🙂...

Here is an image of a 727-100 in the Northwest Orient livery same as the one Mr. Cooper had boarded from Portland (OR), on that eventful day, November 24th, 1971, with the flight headed for Seattle (WA). Please note the exact same registration (N467US) in the image below, (the repainter must be a fan of Mr. Cooper, too), ...as that of the 727 actually involved in the incident.

The aft (built-in) airstairs (thanks to CS animation) is shown extended, here, which was the exit opened and used by D.B. Cooper, in-flight, 20 minutes into the 2nd leg of the flight...somewhere between Seattle and Reno...It was just past 8pm, and the night was typical, weather-wise, for the region,...cold and wet....with thick clouds at 5,000 feet...It was also pouring rain in the lowlands and snowing heavily in the Cascade mountains when he decided to jump....wearing only a business suit and loafers...50 years ago today...rest is history or mystery...as one might think...

Anyway, to prevent such (daring) airborne escapes, in future, a device called the Cooper vane was retrofitted to all B727s. Once in flight, the vane is forced flat, by air pressure, against the fuselage of the aircraft...blocking any opening of the exit...and the vane would then automatically pop back out, later, for landing...



On 3/14/2022 at 4:51 PM, Phantom88 said:

...more than a "few" yrs back FedEx was operating a Cargo version as a back-up aircraft around The Holiday's...

Patrick: FedEx was indeed one of the last to retire the type and was a major operator of both the 727-100F/-200F variants...Below, is a FedEx 727-100F.... 


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