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Fly West, Baby Boeing: Retirement of a 737 Classic

A Photo Essay of a Southwest 737-500 Jet’s Journey To the Boneyard

For the working class it’s inevitable. Whether you’re a white collar executive or a blue collar plumber, there will come a time when you take your last day’s walk into work.The same goes for hard working aircraft. All aircraft, whether they are a single engine Cessna 172 or a twin engine Boeing 737, will eventually take their final flight.

This is a story about the latter. A working class aircraft in itself. The classic Boeing 737-500. Southwest Airlines was the launch customer for the 737-500, taking delivery of the very first one on February 28, 1990. Designated the 737-5H4 (H4 being Boeing’s order code for Southwest) and built to directly replace the aging 737-200 fleet, the self-appointed “LUV airline” would eventually order only twenty-five of these smaller 737s due to an ever increasing demand for longer haul flights and more passenger space. Two of these 737-500s, N507SW and N501SW, would even take on the very prestigious role as Southwest’s “Shamu Two” and “Shamu Three” respectively. Along with “Shamu One”, a 737-3H4 (N334SW), these three aircraft were painted in the now iconic “Killer Whale” livery that became famous with passengers.