Monday, September 13, 2010

How many of you remember this grand old dame the Boeing 727

SAA Boeing 727

Well, in the little tsunami of adulation over the Boeing 747’s 41st birthday this year, nobody remembered that the sweet and sexy Boeing 727 turned 47 on February 9. So, size does count, after all. Too bad for the 727, then, one of the sleekest and most eye-catching airliners ever built. Those three engines clustered around the high, swept-back T-tail? Beautiful!

Sitting in front of a 727 on take-off was, I imagine, like flying on a magic carpet – sweet, quiet and fast.

The very first 727 flew on February 9, 1963. The photo shows the first take-off from the Boeing plant at Renton. Having proved the type’s worth as an airliner, the same aircraft was sold to United Airlines on October 6, 1964. She spent her whole career at United, racking-up 64 495 hours, 48 060 landings, and carried an estimated three million passengers. The airline paid $4.4 million for the aircraft, and earned about $300 million from it. Quite some return on investment.

She is now in the Museum of Flight in Seattle, sporting original United Airlines colours.

Around here, the much-lamented Nationwide Airlines was the last South African operator of passenger-configured 727s. Some linger on in freight service. If you ever get the chance to fly on one, do.