Tag Archives: Boeing 707

19 May 1963

Cockpit of Boeing VC-137C 62-6000, SAM 26000, at the national Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force)
Cockpit of Boeing VC-137C 62-6000, SAM 26000, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force)

19 May 1963: During a non-stop flight from Andrews Air Force Base, outside Washington, D.C., to Moscow, Russia, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a Boeing VC-137C, 62-6000, under the command of Colonel James B. Swindal, United States Air Force, set 15 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records for Speed Over a Recognized Course.¹ Colonel Swindal flew the airplane, commonly known as Air Force One, 5,004 miles (8,053.2 kilometers) in 8 hours, 39 minutes, 2 seconds, averaging 490.96 miles per hour (790.12 kilometers per hour). On the return flight, 15 additional records were set.

The fastest segment of the flight was from to Boston, Massachussetts to Oslo, Norway at an average speed of 952.62 kilometers per hour (591.93 miles per hour).

The New York Times reported:

MOSCOW — President Kennedy’s Air Force jet today set a nonstop speed record between Washington and Moscow and shattered 14 other air records. The $8 million Boeing 707, carrying a ten-man party headed by Atomic Energy Commission chairman Glenn T. Seaborg, touched down eight hours 38 minutes and 42 seconds after takeoff — the fastest flight ever made between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Interred was a Soviet myth that the U.S. lacked a plane able to make a 5,000-mile run nonstop. The black-nosed blue and white jet, piloted by Col. James B. Swindal, 46, of Falls Church, Virginia, made it with fuel for more than two hours of flight remaining, proving that any delays in reaching a commercial agreement are political, not technical.

The New York Times, 19 May 1963

The Washington Post reported that, “. . . On board were a Soviet navigator and a Soviet radio operator, the usual requirements for all international flights over Soviet territory. The two men, both speaking English, flew to Washington to make the flight.”

The Washington Post, 20 May 1963

At the end of its final flight, 20 May 1998, SAM 26000 touches down at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where it was placed in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air force. (U.S. Air Force)
At the end of its final flight, 20 May 1998, SAM 26000 touches down at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where it was placed in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)

The Boeing VC-137C was the first of two specially-configured Boeing 707-353B airliners used by the President of the United States, or other senior administration officials. The distinctive white, blue and natural metal livery was created by the famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy.

When the president is aboard, the airplane is designated “Air Force One”. At other times, it uses the Special Air Mission designation, SAM 26000. The airplane entered service in 1962, replacing the three earlier commercial Boeing 707-153 airliners, which were designated VC-137A Stratoliner, USAF serial numbers 58-6970–58-6972.

SAM 26000 was itself replaced by SAM 27000 in 1972, though it remained available as a back-up aircraft. It was retired to the National Museum of the United States Air Force on 20 May 1998. The distinctive white, blue and natural metal livery was created by the famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy.

James Barney Swindal was born 18 August 1917 in West Blocton, Alabama. He enlisted in the Army in 1942, shortly after the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, bringing the United States into the World War. Trained as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces, he flew transports in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater of operations. After the War, he participated in the Berlin Airlift.

Swindal became President Kennedy’s personal pilot in 1960. He flew JFK to Berlin for his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, 26 June 1963, and later flew President Kennedy’s casket from Dallas Texas to Washington, D.C.  He retired from the Air Force in 1971. When SAM 26000 arrived at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, he sat in its cockpit for a last time. Colonel Swindal died at Cape Canaveral, Florida, 25 April 2006.

Colonel James B. Swindal, United States Air Force is congrtulated on his promotion by President John F. Kennedy. (Presidential Library)
Colonel James B. Swindal, United States Air Force, is congratulated on his promotion by President John F. Kennedy, 19 March 1962. (Robert Knudsen. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston JFKWHP-1962-03-19-C)

¹ FAI Record File Number 16472

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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19 May 1959

BOAC Boeing 707-436 Intercontinental G-APFJ, sister ship to G-APFB, at Sydney, Australia, 1970. (John M. Wheatley)

19 May 1959: The first Boeing 707-436 Intercontinental, FAA registration N31241, made a 1 hour, 11 minute first flight from Renton to Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington.  The -436 was a stretched version of the original 707-120, but with Rolls-Royce Conway 508 bypass turbojet engines (now called turbofans) in place of the standard Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 turbojet engines. The fuselage and wings were lengthened allowing an increased load and greater fuel capacity. It could carry 189 passengers and had a range 1,600 miles further than the -120. Transoceanic flights without an intermediate fuel stop were possible.  This airplane was the first of 15 which had been ordered by British Overseas Airways Corporation in 1956. It was re-registered G-APFB and delivered to BOAC  9 May 1960.

Initially, British aviation authorities refused to certify the -436 because of low-speed handling concerns. Boeing increased the height of the vertical fin 40 inches and added a ventral fin. These modifications became standard on all future 707s and were retro-fitted to those already manufactured.

G-APFB served BOAC until 1974, and then with other airlines. It was sold to Boeing Commercial Airplane Company in 1976. The forward fuselage and cabin was shipped to Renton for use in Boeing’s E-3A Sentry program. The remainder of the airliner was scrapped in 1978.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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28 October 1957

The first production Boeing 707 is rolled out of the final assembly plant at Renton, Washington, 28 October 1957. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
The first production Boeing 707 is rolled out of the final assembly plant at Renton, Washington, 28 October 1957. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

28 October 1957: The first production Boeing 707 jet-powered commercial airliner, serial number 17586 (Line Number 1), was rolled out at the Boeing aircraft assembly plant at Renton, Washington. The Model 707 was developed from the earlier Model 367–80, the “Dash Eighty,” prototype for an air-refueling tanker which would become the KC-135 Stratotanker.

17586 was a Model 707-121. The new airliner had been sold to Pan American World Airways, the launch customer, as part of an order for twenty 707s in October 1955. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) assigned N708PA as its registration mark.

N708PA made its first flight 20 December 1957 and was initially used for flight testing. Once this was completed, the new jet airliner was prepared for commercial service and delivered to Pan American at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), 30 November 1958. It was named Clipper Constitution.

In February 1965, the airliner was upgraded to 707-121B standards, which replaced the original turbojet engines with quieter, more efficient Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1 turbofan engines which produced 17,000 pounds of thrust. The wing inboard leading edges were modified to the design of the Model 720 and there was a longer horizontal tail plane.

Clipper Constitution flew for Pan Am for nearly 8 years, until 17 September 1965, when it crashed into Chances Peak, a 3,002 foot (915 meters) active stratovolcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. The point impact was 242 feet (74 meters) below the summit. All aboard, a crew of 9 and 21 passengers, were killed.

Boeing 707-121 N708PA, with both Boeing and Pan American corporate markings. (Unattributed)
Boeing 707-121 N708PA, with both Boeing and Pan American corporate markings. (Unattributed)

The Boeing Model 707-121 was a four-engine jet transport with swept wings and tail surfaces. The leading edge of the wings were swept at a 35° angle. The airliner had a flight crew of four: pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer.

The 707-121 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 first versions were powered by four Pratt & Whitney 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).

The airliner’s empty weight is 122,533 pounds (55,580 kilograms). Maximum take off weight is 257,000 pounds (116,573 kilograms). At MTOW, the 707 required 11,000 feet (3,352.8 meters) of runway to take off.

The 707-121 had a maximum speed is 540 knots (1,000 kilometers per hour). It’s range was 2,800 nautical miles (5,185.6 kilometers).

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. As of 2011, 43 707s were still in service.

Boeing 707 landing at SeaTac. (Unattributed)
Boeing 707-121 N708PA retracts its landing gear after takeoff at SeaTac. (Unattributed)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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