It’s happy birthday to the super sexy Boeing 727, an aircraft that turned 55 years old yesterday. This short to medium haul aircraft was once the best selling aircraft in the world with 1,832 examples sold.
Once a ubiquitous sight around the world, most people of a certain age have probably flown in one. One pilot who posts as MaxQ on Airliners.net remembers it for being “solid as a rock, yet delightfully responsive – the best handling narrowbody ever made.”
Flying On A Boeing 727
I had the pleasure of flying on a Boeing 727-200Adv when I was a teenager. I flew with my Dad from Sydney to Coolangatta and back so he could attend the Magic Millions horse sales and I could visit cousins who lived in the area.
People had commented in books that the aircraft was quiet inside as the three engines are situated at the rear. On the return flight we were seated at the front of the economy class and it’s true – all you can hear is the rush of the wind past the airframe.
Super Sexy Aussie 727s
Jet travel was introduced to the Australian public in 1964 when Ansett and Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) introduced the Boeing 727 into service. The so called two airline policy in Australia at the time meant both domestic airlines had to operate the same aircraft to the same places at the same time, all in the name of “fair competition”.
That kind of policy seems quite crazy in the deregulated skies of today, doesn’t it? Since the time of the Boeing 727, Ansett has gone bankrupt and no longer exists, while TAA was merged into Qantas in the 1990s and lives on as Qantas domestic.
Ansett was the last airline to operate the 727 in Australian service. Final flights took place in April 1997, concluding 33 years of service down under.
The Curious Case Of D.B. Cooper
On 24 November 1971, a man calling himself D.B. Cooper hijacked a Northwest Airlines Boeing 727 between Portland and Seattle. On arrival, he let the passengers and two of the three cabin crew go, and received the $200,000 and the four parachutes he had asked for.
During the next flight, D.B. Cooper jumped from the aircraft and was never seen again. This remains the only time a hijacking has not been solved, though some of the money has subsequently been recovered. It is an intriguing mystery!
Boeing 727 Facts and Figures
The design of the nose and cabin width is the same as the Boeing 707. Interestingly, the Boeing 737 continued the trend so the early Boeing aircraft all looked similar to a certain extent.
Three Pratt & Whitney JT8D low bypass turbofans powered the aircraft and they were located at the rear, one either side with another buried in the tail. This gives the aircraft its distinctive look.
When it comes to range, the standard 727-200 could fly up to 3,500 kilometres while the 727-200Adv could fly as much as 4,720 kilometres. Passenger capacity was typically around 134 passengers in a two class configuration with a maximum of 189 certified to be on board.
An innovation on the aircraft was the inclusion of an auxiliary power unit or APU, a device that provides electricity while on the ground. This is now common on aircraft today, but not so back in the early 1960s.
I am really pleased I managed to get on board the Boeing 727 during the twilight of its Australian career. Apart from the fact you couldn’t hear the engine noise on board, my other abiding memory is how sunburned I was at the time!
Whether you think the aircraft is super sexy or not is a matter of personal taste, but you will agree that the aircraft looks good. Have you ever flown on a 727 yourself? I’d love to hear about it! Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image by John Proctor via Jetphotos.com
Ansett Australia image by Kym Manuel via Wikimedia Commons.
TAA image via Pinterest. Ansett 1970s livery image via Pinterest.
PSA airstairs image by Richard Silagi via Airliners.net
Eastern image via Pinterest.