Tag Archives: B727

539 Boeing 747 First Flight

We mark the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the Boeing 747 with a member of that flight test team, now a docent at The Museum of Flight in Seattle. Also, the NTSB Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, the last commercial flight of the Boeing 727, Airbnb may be doing something with air travel, SFO’s new outdoor observation deck, two Virgin Galactic pilots earn astronaut wings, and the Collier Trophy nominees list is released.

Boeing 747 ceremony.

Boeing 747 ceremony, courtesy The Museum of Flight.


Sean Mobley, Docent Services Specialist with The Museum of Flight joins us. Sean also hosts the Museum’s Flight Deck Podcast. In addition, Docent Thomas Gray brings us recollections of the Boeing 747 flight test program and the first flight, fifty years ago.

From 1968 to 1985, Thomas was a member of the Boeing 747 first flight test team. That airplane, the “City of Everett,” resides at The Museum of Flight. Thomas was also the lead instrumentation engineer when RA001 was later used as the flying test bed for the 757/767 engines.

Thomas graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering in 1961. He served in the New Mexico Air National Guard as a Radio Technician for one year where he provided maintenance service on F-100 fighter aircraft radio equipment. After that, he joined the Washington Air National Guard until 1967 as a Radio Technician, providing maintenance service on the mobile teletype and cryptographic equipment.

Thomas was hired by Boeing as the Systems Test Engineer on the Dyna-Soar program. From there he moved over to the Flight Test organization as an Instrumentation Engineer for 24 years. Thomas worked on the 737, 747, 757, 767, the Boeing Hydrofoil Test Craft, and John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One 26000. He also served as the test engineer on the Space Shuttle Carrier aircraft during Space Shuttle Landing tests at Edwards AFB, California. Thomas then worked as a Commercial Sales Support Engineer for three years and worked seven years as a Customer Service Engineer until retiring in 1995.

Boeing 747.

Courtesy The Museum of Flight.

Boeing 747 First Flight

The first flight took place on February 9, 1969 and we learn that the three initial flights were around Paine Field with a pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, and F-86 escort. It wasn’t until the fourth flight that the full crew was aboard and the plane was allowed to fly over populated areas.

Thomas helps us understand the mood at Boeing leading up to the B747 first flight, as well as his role as part of the first flight test team. He explains the 747 test Instrumentation, the telemetry system, and the ballast system that moved water between barrels to change the airplane’s center of gravity.

The first flight Boeing 747 is on display at The Museum of Flight in the test configuration. An excellent 3D tour of the plane is available from the Museum. See Aviation Pavilion Virtual Tour for that aircraft tour and others in the collection.

Boeing 747 test aircraft virtual tour. Courtesy The Museum of Flight.

Boeing 747 test aircraft virtual tour. Courtesy The Museum of Flight.

Videos of interest:

To learn more about upcoming activities, visit The Museum of Flight Calendar of Events. Be sure to look at Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission. This is an exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. This traveling exhibit comes to the Museum April 13th through September 2nd, 2019.

Aviation News

NTSB 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements

The National Transportation Safety Board (the NTSB) has issued its 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. The NTSB would like the FAA to close the gap in safety requirements between commercial airlines and those operating under Part 135. The NTSB argues that all flights should be safe, no matter the purpose of the flight or the type of aircraft. Most Part 135 organizations don’t have a safety management system (SMS), flight data monitoring (FDM), or a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) avoidance training program.

Boeing’s famous trijet 727 makes last commercial flight

In mid-January, 2019, a 38-year-old Boeing 727-200 owned by Iran Aseman Airlines became the last 727 on a commercial passenger flight. See the Boeing history page for more on the 727.

Airbnb Hires Aviation Industry Veteran to Lead New Transportation Division

Home-sharing service Airbnb has hired long-time aviation industry veteran Fred Reid to be the company’s global head of transportation. His task is “building partnerships and services that make travel seamless while delivering the kind of people-to-people hospitality Airbnb is known for around the world.” CEO Brian Chesky says, “I’m not interested in building our own airline or creating just another place on the Internet where you can buy a plane ticket, but there is a tremendous opportunity to improve the transportation experience for everyone.”

SFO unveils dramatic outdoor observation deck

A $55 million upgrade at San Francisco International Airport’s International Terminal includes a new, 3,000 square foot roofless observation deck on the Terminal G side. Since the outdoor lounge is behind security, only passengers using Terminal 3 (United) and the International G-side will have access to it. The deck offers a 180+ degree view of the ramp and runways on the north side of the airport.

San Francisco International Airport’s observation deck. Credit: Chris McGinnis | Tim Jue

San Francisco International Airport’s observation deck. Credit: Chris McGinnis | Tim Jue

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Pilots Awarded FAA Astronaut Wings

The two Virgin Galactic test pilots who flew the SpaceShipTwo “VSS Unity” into space on December 13, 2018, were recognized in a ceremony at the Department of Transportation in Washington, DC. Mark “Forger” Stucky and Frederick “CJ” Sturckow were awarded Commercial Astronaut Wings by the FAA on February 7.

Credit: FAA/Virgin Galactic via collectSPACE.com.

Credit: FAA/Virgin Galactic via collectSPACE.com.

Collier Nominees Released

The National Aeronautic Association announced that eleven aviation and space achievements will compete for the 2018 Robert J. Collier Trophy:

The Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet on April 4, 2019, in Arlington, Virginia, and the recipient will be announced publicly the following day. The formal presentation of the Collier Trophy will take place on June 13, 2019, at a location to be determined.


Red Bull Air Race app

Evening With Enshrinees Dick and Burt Rutan February 22, 2019

#PaxEx Podcast

Two podcast episodes recommended by Max Trescott:

Chicken Wings Comics

Eat at the Airport

Call for Nominations for the 2019 Aerospace Media Awards


Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

AirplaneGeeks 302 – Ace Abbott is the Rogue Aviator

Air Atlanta 727

We talk with Ace Abbott about flying the F-4 Phantom, Learjet, and B727. Also, tracking airliners, the Gulfstream IV crash, pilots in the back being called to duty. We talk about the Ford Tri-motor, FAA pressure for commercial UAS operations, aviation in the Middle East, and news from down under.

Guest Ace Abbott Morris entered the U.S. Air Force after graduating from college and became an F-4 Phantom pilot based in the Far East.  After the Air Force, Ace became a Learjet corporate and charter pilot, and during the last 22 years of his career, he flew Boeing 727s, accumulating 11,000 hours in the captain’s chair with several different airlines.

Ace blogs at The Rogue Aviator, tweets at @aceabbott, and hosts book presentations with aviation organizations throughout the country. His second book, Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue – Aviation’s Insidious Killer, looks at the implications of pilot fatigue.

We talk about flying the 727, with occasional #2 engine compressor stalls and the #3 engine coming off the plane from blue ice strikes. Also, flying the F-4 Phantom in Korea, and the future of remotely piloted aircraft, probably first with cargo airplanes.

On the high performance Learjet, Ace encountered a variety of celebrity passengers, as well as in the 727.  He comments on what airline pilots say about flying these days, and the contributions made by ALPA for pilots and for aviation safety.

The week’s aviation news

Airlines want tracking technology to prevent another MH370

Like most all of us, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) doesn’t want to see a repeat of MH370. So IATA has created a taskforce that includes airlines, pilots, flight safety organizations, and flight tracking and navigation service providers. This tracking task force (not a data streaming task force) should report their recommendations in September, 2014.

NTSB: Plane never took off from ground, black box data shows

We get an update on the Gulfstream G-4 accident, and learn that the plane was traveling at 165 knots on the runway, and the black boxes point to brake pressure and thrust reversers before the crash.

Local USAF pilot helps in airline emergency

Any pilot in the back of the plane has daydreamed about what they would do if the assistance of another pilot was needed. Capt. Mark Gongol (who normally flies a B-1B Lancer) had the opportunity to actually live out that scenario on a commercial B737 flight.

The Aircraft of the Week

Tri-Motor at MDQ 2

Jamie Dodson tells us about the Tri-motor.

The Australia Desk

Grant’s sulking because Max forgot his name last week and it takes all Steve’s producer skills (and a few beers) to get him back into the groove. Once that’s achieved, it’s on with the show.

CASA acknowledges that the new Wellcamp airport near Toowoomba is likely to have airspace issues once it’s up and running.

Meanwhile, Sydney’s second airport at Badgerys Creek will take up to a year just to get through discussions and negotiations.

The recently released Aviation Safety Regulation Review is recommending some major changes in CASA’s approach to industry

Find more from Grant and Steve at the Plane Crazy Down Under podcast, and follow the show on Twitter at @pcdu. Steve’s at @stevevisscher and Grant at @falcon124.

Rob Mark’s Aviation Minute

At the risk of droning on, Rob has something to say about industry pressure on the FAA to allow commercial use of unmanned aerial systems.

Across the Pond

Qatar Airways

Pieter Johnson continues his discussion with Oussama Salah this week, focussing on the Middle East and recent developments including Apartment Suites on aircraft through to the new Doha Hub.

Find Pieter on Twitter as @Nascothornet, on Facebook at XTPMedia, and at the Aviation Xtended podcast.


Listen to the NBAA Flight Plan podcast from the National Business Aviation Association.

Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at www.brotherloverocks.com.