23 October 1958

American Airlines’ first Boeing 707-123 airliner, N7501A, is rolled out. (Boeing)

23 October 1958: American Airlines accepted delivery of its first jet airliner, Boeing 707-123 N7501A (serial number 17628, line number 7). The new airplane had made its first flight on 5 October. Christened Flagship Michigan, American Airlines advertised its new 707 as the “Astrojet.”

On 29 October 1958, the new 707 flew from Los Angeles to New York with 39 passengers, all officials of the airline or the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA). The flight departed at 6:58 a.m., Pacific Standard Time (13:58 UTC), and arrived at Idlewild Airport at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. (18:30 UTC).

American Airlines’ first regularly-scheduled commercial passenger flight with the 707 took place 25 January 1959, also from Los Angeles to Idlewild. The duration of the flight was 4 hours, 3 minutes.¹

The Boeing 707 was developed from the earlier Model 367–80, the “Dash Eighty.” It is a four-engine jet transport with swept wings and tail surfaces. The leading edge of the wings are swept at a 35° angle. The airliner had a flight crew of four: pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer. The airliner could carry a maximum of 189 passengers.

The 707-123 was 145 feet, 1 inch (44.221 meters) long with a wing span of 130 feet, 10 inches (39.878 meters). The top of the vertical fin stood 42 feet, 5 inches (12.929 meters) high. The 707 pre-dated the ”wide-body” airliners, having a fuselage width of 12 feet, 4 inches (3.759 meters). The airliner’s empty weight is 122,533 pounds (55,580 kilograms). Maximum take off weight is 257,000 pounds (116,573 kilograms).

Boeing 707-123 N7501A, American Airlines Astrojet, Flagship Michigan, at Seattle. (American Airlines)

The first versions were powered by four Pratt & Whitney Turbo Wasp JT3C-6 turbojet engines, producing 11,200 pounds of thrust (49,820 kilonewtons), and 13,500 pounds (60.051 kilonewtons) with water injection. This engine was a civil variant of the military J57 series. It was a two-spool axial-flow turbojet engine with a 16-stage compressor and 2 stage turbine. The JT3C-6 was 11 feet, 6.6 inches (3.520 meters) long, 3 feet, 2.9 inches (0.988 meters) in diameter, and weighed 4,235 pounds (1,921 kilograms).

At MTOW, the 707 required 11,000 feet (3,353 meters) of runway to take off.

The 707-123 had a maximum speed of 540 knots (1,000 kilometers per hour). It’s range was 2,800 nautical miles (5,186 kilometers).

In 1961, N7501A was upgraded to the 707-123B standard. This included a change from the turbojet engines to quieter, more powerful and efficient Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1. The JT3D-1 was a dual-spool axial-flow turbofan engine, with a 2-stage fan section, 13-stage compressor (6 low- and 7 high-pressure stages), 8 combustion chambers and a 4-stage turbine (1 high- and 3 low-pressure stages). This engine was rated at 14,500 pounds of static thrust (64.499 kilonewtons) at Sea Level, and 17,000 pounds (75.620 kilonewtons), with water injection, for takeoff (2½ minute limit). Almost half of the engine’s thrust was produced by the fans. Maximum engine speed was 6,800 r.p.m. (N1) and 10,200 r.p.m. (N2). It was 11 feet, 4.64 inches (3.471 meters) long, 4 feet, 5.00 inches (1.346 meters) wide and 4 feet, 10.00 inches (1.422 meters) high. It weighed 4,165 pounds (1,889 kilograms). The JT3C could be converted to the JT3D configuration during overhaul.

The 707-123B wings were modified to incorporate changes introduced with the Boeing 720, and a longer tailplane installed.

N7501A was sold to Tigerair, Inc., 12 April 1978. It was then sold to Cyprus Airways in March 1979, and reregistered 5B-DAM. When landing at Bahrain International Airport, 19 August 1979, the airliner’s nose wheel collapsed and it was damaged beyond economical repair.

Boeing 707-123B 5B-DAM (s/n 17628) at Bahrain International Airport after sustaining damage when its nose wheel collapsed on landing, 19 August 1979. (Steve Fitzgerald/Wikimedia Commons)

The Boeing 707 was in production from 1958 to 1979. 1,010 were built. Production of 707 airframes continued at Renton until the final one was completed in April 1991.

¹ Please see “This Day in Aviation” for 25 January 1959 at: https://www.thisdayinaviation.com/2023/01/25/

© 2023, Bryan R. Swopes

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7 thoughts on “23 October 1958

  1. These were not Astrojets until they were re-engined with turbofans. While still short-tailed “water wagons” they were known as 707 Jet Flagships.

  2. A sad end:

    “The four engine airplane landed hard on runway 30 at Bahrain-Muharraq Airport. It bounced then landed on its nose gear first. Upon touchdown, the nose gear collapsed and the airplane slid on its nose for few hundred meters then veered to the right and came to rest. All 81 occupants escaped uninjured while the aircraft was damaged beyond repair. It appears the aircraft was unstable during the last segment.”
    Captain TT on type: 93 (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives/”B3A”)

  3. 11,000 foot take-off roll! I wonder how long it took former Navy pilots who were used to cat-shots to get used to such long take-off rolls. Must have seemed like an eternity to them!

  4. AA’s 1st scheduled 707 flight was 1/25/59. The Electra was introduced 2 days earlier. So what gives.

    1. American Airlines’ first passenger flight with a Boeing 707 took place on 29 October 1958, carrying 39 airline and Civil Aeronautics Administration officials from Los Angeles to New York, in 4 hours, 32 minutes. The first U.S. airline to operate a turbojet-powered aircraft was National Airlines, when it began operating Boeing 707s leased from Pan Am on 10 December 1958. AA’s first regularly scheduled commercial passenger flight was on 25 January 1959. The turboprop-powered Lockheed L-188 Electra first flew 6 December 1957. Eastern Air Lines first flew the Electra on a regularly-scheduled commercial passenger flight, Flight 602 from Miami to New York and on to Montreal, 12 January 1959. So, what is your question?

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