When Cate & McGlone of Hollywood produced the film “JET MAINLINER Flight 803” for United Airlines in 1960, the subject of the film, the Douglas DC-8-21 airliner, had been in production for only a few months. Many of United’s initial batch of DC-8s were DC-8-11s which were upgraded to DC-8-12s and subsequently brought up to the DC-8-21 specifications over the next few years. United eventually became the largest DC-8 operator. The film, uploaded to Youtube by PeriscopeFilm, stars the United Airlines DC-8-21 Jet Mainliner.
DC-8-21s were powered by Pratt & Whitney JT4A-3 axial-flow turbojet engines producing 15,800 pounds of thrust each without water injection. United began flying them in 1960 after beginning operation of DC-8-11s in 1959. A natural competitor with its contemporary, the Boeing 707, the Douglas DC-8 was produced in smaller numbers (556 airframes as opposed to 865 707s) but was a popular alternative to Boeing’s comparable airliner. DC-8s were upgraded (primarily engines) and produced in more variants (added fuselage extensions) than the 707.
The film highlights just about every aspect of United’s DC-8 operations at the time. From food service to airframe production; flight planning to DC-8 interior amenities; flight deck simulators to historical equipment used by United. The film also features some outstanding air-to-air photography of the United DC-8-21 in flight. The two aircraft featured in the film, N8004U (SN45281) and N8005U (SN45282), were both delivered to United in late 1959. United operated DC-8s between 1959 and 1992, eventually replacing them primarily with Boeing 757-200s.