Call us a sucker for a good Avgeek video, no matter how old or VHS looking it may be. We’ll admit it. We have a bad habit of binge watching L1011 videos. It’s almost as bad as twenty-somethings who just found out that a new season of “House of Cards” is released on Netflix.
The Delta L1011 Tristar aircraft, manufactured by Lockheed, was magnificently designed but definitely had its faults too. It was a wide body, trijet airliner, with a seating capacity of up to 400 passengers. In many ways it was an aircraft ahead of its time. It was on of the first airliners to be able to fly a CATIIIa ILS that allowed the jet to land in extremely poor weather conditions. It also had many amenities that were previously only found on the larger 747. Some aircraft had a lower deck galley with lounge facilities. Unfortunately, it was also a commercial disaster. The program was delayed which meant that the jet hit the market later than planned. Promised performance never materialized and the complexity of its systems made maintenance a challenge. Lockheed never turned a profit on the trijet. Its failure led Lockheed to exit the commercial aircraft market.
Delta’s first L1011 arrived on October 3rd of 1973. It’s first revenue flight was on November 15th of that year, with 39 passengers onboard. Join in the retirement of the last Delta L1011 Tristar. The historic flight to Victorville, California happened the following day. A specially selected group of Delta employees accompanied the aircraft to its final resting place.
This plane was (and still is) loved by scores of avgeeks everywhere. Despite the adoration, Delta’s L1011 Tristar (ship number 728) was retired as the last L1011 passenger plane on July 31st of 2001, after serving for 28 years across 40 U.S. cities and 39 International cities.
Traditionally, every airline service bids a final farewell to its retired planes, then flies them to the desert southwest for final storage and breakup. The L1011 fleet met the same unfortunate end.
Sighting of an active L1011 is extremely rare today. Of the 250 of this type of aircraft built between 1968 and 1984, the only active aircraft is flown by Orbital ATK.