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The Last Flight Of The First 727

The first 727 made its last flight today after a long restoration to bring it back to flying condition.. Photo by: Clemens Vasters
The first 727 made its last flight today after a long restoration to bring it back to flying condition.. Photo by: Clemens Vasters
The first 727 made its last flight today after a long restoration to bring it back to flying condition.. Photo by: Clemens Vasters

A 15-minute flight required two decades of work plus the vision and determination of one man.

Boeing’s first 727 made its last flight Wednesday. N7001U left the Museum of Flight Restoration Center up at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. – its home for the last 25 years – and made a brief return to the skies for the short flight to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in Seattle.

This fall, the 727 will move into the Aviation Pavilion, a 140,000-square-foot facility that will house about 20 restored aircraft, including the first 737 and first 747.

Rather than head to the scrapheap like so many other outdated aircraft, this plane is unique. It was Boeing’s prototype 727 and went directly into service with United Airlines.

Bob Bogash, 71, is a former Boeing engineer. Most his retirement years have been spent as the driving force to restore the first 727. He convinced the Museum of Flight that restoring the plane so it could fly to its final destination would be cheaper than dismantling it and moving it by truck.

“My wife calls (historic airplanes) my mistresses,” he said. “They have all the key characteristics of a mistress: good-looking, very demanding, and they cost a lot of money.”

In 1984, Bogash was in charge of the Museum of Flight’s aircraft acquisition team and in 1984 he approached United Airlines about donating N7001U when it went out of service.

In 2004, FedEx donated a 727 that was cannibalized for parts. The restoration cost $500,000 and the donated labor of volunteers is estimated in the millions of dollars.

This 727-22 was delivered to United Airlines and began its commercial service on Oct. 7, 1963. Its last commercial flight was on Jan. 13, 1991 when it was donated to the museum. The aircraft spent over 64,000 hours in the air, made 48,060 landings and carried an estimated three million passengers.

When Boeing stopped making the 727 in 1984, the company had produced 1,832 – the most aircraft in a series it had produced (the 737 eventually broke the record.)

The original Boeing 727

First flight: 1963

Operator: United Airlines

Dimensions: 133 feet 2 inches long, wingspan of 108 feet

Top speed: 632 miles per hour

Passengers: Capacity of about 130; the plane carried nearly 3 million passengers during 27 years in service.

Total 727s produced: 1,832 at the Renton plant from 1962 to 1984.

 

Whisperjet Meets DreamlinerToday we moved our Boeing 727 prototype at Paine Field for a little photo op with a brand new United Boeing 787. This 727 “Whisperjet” entered service with United in 1964. Next week the Dreamliner flies away to enter service with United, while our bird flies to her new home at the Museum. Today they were United together. The Museum’s 727 Project Manager, Bob Bogash, crewed the 727 during the event. #727finalflight Commemorate the final flight: www.museumofflight.org/727-appeal

Posted by The Museum of Flight on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Written by Wendell Barnhouse

Wendell Barnhouse is a veteran journalist with over 40 years of experience as a writer and an editor. For the last 30 years, he wrote about college sports but he has had an interest and curiosity about aviation since he was in grade school.