Tag Archives: First Flight

25 February 1965

The first Douglas DC-9, N9DC, ready for takeoff at Long Beach Airport, 25 February 1965. (Douglas Aircraft Company)
The first Douglas DC-9, N9DC, ready for takeoff at Long Beach Airport, 25 February 1965. (Douglas Aircraft Company)

25 February 1965: At 11:26 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, the first Douglas DC-9 twin-engine airliner, serial number 45695, with Federal Aviation Administration registration mark N9DC, took off from Long Beach Airport (LGB), on the coast of Southern California, on its first flight. In the cockpit were Chief Engineering Test Pilot George R. Jansen, DC-9 Program Test Pilot Paul H. Patten, and Flight Test Engineer Duncan Walker.

The duration of the first flight was 2 hours, 13 minutes. N9DC landed at Edwards Air Force Base (EDW) where the test program would continue.

Douglas DC-9 N9DC (Douglas Aircraft Corporation)
Douglas DC-9 N9DC (Douglas Aircraft Corporation)

The Douglas DC-9 is a short-to-medium range twin-engine airliner, operated by a flight crew of two pilots. It was designed to carry up to 109 passengers. The initial production model is retroactively identified as the DC-9-10. This variant is 104 feet, 4¾ inches (31.820 meters) long with a wingspan of 89 feet, 5 inches (27.254 meters) and overall height of 27 feet, 6 inches (8.382 meters). The airliner has an empty weight of 49,020 pounds (22,235 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 90,700 pounds (41,141 kilograms).

Douglas DC-9 N9DC photographed by Jon proctor at Los Angeles International Airport, 6 March 1965. (Wikipedia)
Douglas DC-9 N9DC was photographed by Jon Proctor at Los Angeles International Airport, 6 March 1965. (Wikipedia)

The DC-9-10 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-5 turbofan engines, producing 12,250 pounds of thrust (54.49 kilonewtons), each. The JT8D was a two-spool engine with a 2-stage fan section, 13-stage compressor (6 low- and 7 high-pressure stages), nine combustion chambers and a 4-stage turbine (1 high- and 3 low-pressure stages). The JT8D-5 was 3 feet, 6.5 inches (1.080 meters) in diameter, 10 feet, 3.5 inches (3.137 meters) long, and weighed 3,096 pounds (1,404 kilograms).

The airliner had a cruise speed of 490 knots (564 miles per hour, 907 kilometers per hour) at 25,000 feet (7,620 meters). It has a range of 1,590 nautical miles (1,830 miles, 2,945 kilometers).

Miss Carol Koberlein christens Delta's first Douglas DC-9, N3304L, Delta Prince, with water from 20 rivers in the airline's area of operations. (Delta Digest)
Miss Carol Marie Koberlein christens Delta’s first Douglas DC-9, N3304L, Delta Prince. Miss Koberlein served with Delta Air Lines until she retired, 31 May 2000. (Delta Digest)

Delta Airlines was the lead customer for the Douglas DC-9. Delta’s first DC-9, serial number 45699, F.A.A. registration N3304L, was delivered in a ceremony at the Douglas plant at Long Beach Airport, 7 October 1965. Using a bottle containing water from twenty rivers in Delta’s area of operations, Stewardess Carol Marie Koberlein christened the airplane Delta Prince. Later that day it was flown to Atlanta by Delta’s legendary Captain Thomas Prioleau Ball, the airline’s Director of Flight Operations. The duration of the flight was 4 hours, 19 minutes.

The first DC-9, s/n 45695, was leased to Trans Texas Airways in 1966, registered N1301T. (Ed Coates Collection)
The first DC-9, s/n 45695, was leased to Trans Texas Airways in 1966, registered N1301T. (Ed Coates Collection)

After the flight test and certification program was over, 45695 was leased to Trans Texas Airways and re-registered N1301T. It served with Trans Texas from 1966 to 1982, when the airline merged with Continental Airlines. It retained the same N-number but was named City of Denver.

In 1983 49695 was sold to Sunworld International Airlines, a Las Vegas, Nevada charter company. After five years it was sold to another charter airline, Emerald Airlines of Dallas, Texas. In 1990, Emerald sold the DC-9 to Canafrica Transportes Aereos, based in Madrid, Spain. While operating for that company, 45695 was registered EC-622 and EC-FCQ. Returning to the United States in 1991, it was briefly owned by Viscount Air Service, Tucson, Arizona, registered N914LF.

DC-9 45695 in service with Canafrica Aeros, registered EC-FCQ, circa 1991. (Unattributed)
DC-9 45695 in service with Canafrica Transportes Aereos, registered EC-FCQ, circa 1991. (Unattributed)

Now 25 years old, ownership of the first DC-9 returned to the McDonnell Douglas Corporation. It was placed in storage at North Texas Regional Airport (GYI), Sherman, Texas, in 1992 and was used as a source for parts.

The Douglas DC-9 was produced in five civil variants, the DC-9-10 through DC-9-50. 41 were produced for the U.S. military, designated C-9A, C-9B and VC-9C. Production closed in 1982 after 976 aircraft had been built.

Miss Carol Marie Koberlein, with Delta Air Lines’ first Douglas DC-9, N3304L (Ship 204), October 1965. (Atlanta Journal-Consitution)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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23 February 1951

Dassault Mystere 01, F-FWUU
Dassault Mystère MD.452, F-WFUU. (Dassault Aviation)
Constantin Wladimir Rozanoff. (Dassault)
Konstantin Wladimir Rozanoff. (Dassault Aviation)

23 February 1951: At Istres, France, Société des Avions Marcel Dassault chief test pilot Konstantin Wladimir (“Kostia”) Rozanoff made the first flight of the Mystère MD.452 prototype, F-WFUU, c/n 01. This was a development of the Dassault Ouragan MD.450 with the wings’ leading edge swept from 14° to 30°. It was powered by a Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine. Rozanoff believed, though it was not confirmed, that he had broken the Sound Barrier.

A series of prototypes were built before the fighter bomber was put into production as the Mystère IIC. 171 were built between 1954 and 1957.

Kostia Romanoff with the first prototype Dassault Mystere. (Dassault)
Kostia Rozanoff with the first prototype Dassault Mystère, F-WFUU, c/n 01. (Dassault Aviation)

The Mystère IIC was a single seat, single engine turbojet-powered fighter bomber produced for the Armée de l’Air. It was 38 feet 6 inches (11.735 meters) long with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9 inches (13.030 meters) and overall height of 14 feet (4.267 meters). The fighter had an empty weight of 11,495 pounds (5,214 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 16,480 pounds (7,475 kilograms). The powerplant was a SNECMA ATAR 101D-1 turbojet which produced 6,610 pounds of thrust (29.403 kilonewtons).

The maximum speed of the Mystère IIC was 660 miles per hour (1,062 kilometers per hour). Its range was 550 miles (885 kilometers) and the service ceiling was 50,000 feet (15,240 meters).

Dassault Mystère MD.452, F-WFUU. (Dassault Aviation)
Dassault Mystère MD.452, F-WFUU. (Dassault Aviation)

The MD.452 was armed with two Direction des Études et Fabrications d’Armement (DEFA) 30mm revolver cannon with 150 rounds of ammunition per gun, and up to 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms) of bombs.

The prototype Dassault Mystère, F-WFUU, crashed at Istres 3 March 1953 when a wing tip fuel tank broke away and struck the airplane’s tail, killing test pilot Charles Monier.

Kostia Romanoff was killed 3 April 1954 while demonstrating a Mystère IVB.

Constantin Wladimir Rozanoff, Chief Pilot, Dassault Aviation, with a Mystère IV. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)
Konstantin Wladimir Rozanoff, Chief Pilot, Dassault Aviation, with a Mystère IV. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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23 February 1934

The prototype Lockheed Model 10 Electra, NX233Y, during flight testing over Southern California, 1934. (Lockheed Martin)

23 February 1934: Test pilot Marshall Headle, Chief Pilot in Charge of Flight Operations for Lockheed Aircraft Company, took the prototype Lockheed Model 10 Electra, serial number 1001, registered NX233Y, for its first flight at United Airport, Burbank, California (which soon became United Air Terminal, then Lockheed Air Terminal and is now the Hollywood-Burbank Airport, BUR).

The Lockheed Model 10 Electra was designed as a 10-passenger commercial transport and was a contemporary of the Boeing Model 247. This was Lockheed’s first all-metal airplane. The Electra had two engines, a low wing and retractable landing gear. An engineering team led by Hall L. Hibbard worked on the airplane.

A young engineer, Clarence L. (“Kelly”) Johnson, an assistant aerodynamicist at the University of Michigan, performed the wind tunnel tests on scale models of the proposed design and recommended changes to the configuration, such as the use of two vertical fins mounted at the outboard ends of the horizontal stabilizer. This became a design feature of Lockheed airplanes into the 1950s and included the Model 14 Super Electra/Hudson, Model 18 Lodestar/PV-1 Ventura, the P-38 Lightning fighter and the L-1649 Starliner, which was produced until 1958. Johnson would become the leader of Lockheed’s legendary  “Skunk Works.”

Clarence L. "KellY" Johnson conducted wind tunnel testing of the Model 10 at the University of Michigan.
Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson conducted wind tunnel testing of the Model 10 at the University of Michigan.

The prototype Electra was was used for certification testing. During a full-load test at Mines Field (now, LAX, Los Angeles International Airport) the Electra’s landing gear malfunctioned. Babe Headle flew the airplane back to Burbank and made a one-wheel landing. The prototype was slightly damaged but quickly repaired.

The prototype Lockheed Model 10 Electra, NC233Y, after delivery to Northwest Airways, St. Paul, Minnesota. Note the forward slant of the cockpit windshield. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)
The prototype Lockheed Model 10 Electra, NC233Y, after delivery to Northwest Airways, St. Paul, Minnesota. Note the forward slant of the cockpit windshield. (San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive)

After testing was competed the prototype Electra was delivered to Northwest Airways, Inc., at St. Paul, Minnesota, 31 December 1934. The experimental registration was changed to a standard registration, NC233Y, and it was assigned the Northwest fleet number 60.

Lockheed Model 10 Electra NC233Y at St. Paul, Minnesota, 1934. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)
Lockheed Model 10 Electra NC233Y at St. Paul, Minnesota, 1934. (San Diego Air and Space Museum)

Like the Boeing 247, the Electra was originally produced with a forward-slanting windshield to prevent instrument light reflection during night flights. This resulted in ground lighting reflections, though, and was changed to a standard, rearward slant with the fifth production airplane. NC233Y was modified by Northwestern’s maintenance staff.

Lockheed built 147 Model 10s in various configurations. The first production variant was the Model 10A. It was 38 feet, 7 inches (11.760 meters) long with a wingspan of 55 feet (16.764 meters), and height of 10 feet, 1 inch (3.073 meters). The wings had a total area of 458.3 square feet (42.6square meters). Their angle of incidence was 0°, and there were 5° 34′ dihedral.

The airplane had an empty weight of 5,455 pounds (2,474 kilograms) and a gross weight of 9,000 pounds (4,082 kilograms).

The Model 10A was powered by two air-cooled, supercharged, 986.749-cubic-inch-displacement (16.170 liters) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr. SB  9-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6:1. They were rated at 400 horsepower at 2,200 r.p.m at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), and 450 horsepower at 2,300 r.p.m. for takeoff, using 87-octane gasoline. The SB engines were direct-drive and turned two-bladed Smith variable-pitch propellers. The Wasp Jr. SB was 3 feet, 6.59 inches (1.056 meters) long, 3 feet, 11.75 inches (1.162 meters) in diameter, and weighed 645 pounds (293 kilograms). The engines were covered by NACA cowlings.

The airplane had a cruise speed of 190 miles per hour (306 kilometers per hour) at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) and maximum speed of 215 miles per hour (346 kilometers per hour) at 8,000 feet (2,438 meters). The service ceiling was 20,000 feet ( meters) and the range at cruise speed was 750 miles (1,207 kilometers).

The prototype Lockheed Model 10 Electra, NC233Y, after cockpit windshield modifications by Northwestern Airways, Inc. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)
The prototype Lockheed Model 10 Electra, NC233Y, after cockpit windshield modifications by Northwestern Airways, Inc. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)

Newsreel footage of the Lockheed Model 10 prototype’s first flight, by cinematographer Alfred Dillimtash Black for Fox Movietone News, is in the collection of the Moving Image Research Collections, University of South Carolina, University Libraries, and can be viewed at:

http://mirc.sc.edu/islandora/object/usc%3A9629

Paul Mantz, Amelia Earhart and Lockheed's chief pilot, Marshall E. Headle, with Earhart's Model 10E Electra Speical. (Courtesy of neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)
Paul Mantz, Amelia Earhart and Lockheed’s chief pilot, Marshall Headle, with Earhart’s Model 10E Electra Special. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)

The Electra was “the Lisbon plane” in the  classic 1942 motion picture, “Casablanca,” which starred Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains.

Probably the best-known Lockheed Electra is the Model 10E Special, NR16020, which was built for Amelia Earhart for her around-the-world flight attempt in 1937. She took delivery of the airplane on her 39th birthday, 24 July 1936.

Amelia Earhart with her Lockheed Electra 10E, NR16020, at Burbank, 1937.
Amelia Earhart with her Lockheed Electra 10E, NR16020, at Burbank, 1937.

The prototype Lockheed Model 10 later carried U.S. registrations NC2332, NC17380, and Canadian registration CF-BRG. It was placed in service with the Royal Canadian Air Force with the serial number 7652. One of 15 Lockheed Electras in RCAF service during World War II, it was destroyed by fire at RCAF Station Mountain View, Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada, 14 October 1941.

Marshall Headle, as a junior at MAC, 1911 (Index)

Marshall Headle was born 21 March 1893 at Winthrop, Massachussetts, United States of America, He was the third child of Edwin Charles Headle, a clergyman, and Clarendo Yeomans Headle. He attended Winthrop High School before going on to the Massachussetts Agricultural College at Bolton. He graduated in 1912 with a Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) in Floriculture.

Headle enlisted in the United States Army in 1917, and attended aviation ground school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). His flight training took place at Tours, France. He held the rank of First Lieutenant, Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force, United States Army. Lieutenant Headle served as a flight instructor at Tours and at the 2nd Aviation Instruction Center.

1st Lt. Marshall Headle, Air Service, United States Army.

From 1919 to 1922, Headle was attached to the United States Embassy in Paris, France. He then returned to the United States.

Marshall Headle enlisted as a private in the United States Marine Corps, 25 October 1924. He served with the Marines in China as an airplane crew chief and aviator. He was promoted to gunnery sergeant (Gy.Sgt.). He returned to the United States in 1928, and resigned from the Marine Corps to become a civilian pilot.

In 1929, Headle married Dorothea Evelyn Breeder.  They had two children, Marshall Ronald Headle, born in 1932, and Michele Ann Headle. (Mrs. Headle died in Honolulu, Hawaii, 25 May 2010, at the age of 99 years.)

Lockheed test pilot Marshall Headle with a Lockheed Air Express, circa 1930. (San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives AL77A-032)

Headle joined Lockheed in 1929, as chief pilot, flight operations. On 30 October 1929, Headle made the first flight of the all-metal Detroit-Lockheed DL-2 Sirius.

In 1930, Headle attempted to set a world altitude record with a 500 kilogram (1,102 pounds) payload, flying a Lockheed Vega. He used a pressurized tank of oxygen with a flexible tube.

Marshall Headle demonstrates his high-altitude breathing apparatus, standing with his Lockheed Vega. (International Newsreel/Shamokin News-Dispatch)
Marshall (“Babe”) Headle. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)

In 1931, he took the Model 9 Orion, NX960Y, on its first flight.

In 1933, became the company’s chief test pilot, succeeding Wiley Post. He also traveled world-wide demonstrating Lockheed’s airplanes.

Headle also made the first flight of Gerard Vultee’s Vultee V-1A single-engine airliner, 19 February 1933.

On 29 July 1937, he made the first flight of the Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra. The Model 14 fuselage was stretched, resulting in the Model 18 Lodestar. Headle, with Louis Upshaw, took the prototype, NX17385, for its first flight, 21 September 1939. The Lodestar would be developed into the Lockheed Ventura bomber.

On 16 September 1940, Headle made the first flight of the Lockheed YP-38 service test prototype. Headle was featured in magazine and billboard advertisements for Camel cigarettes in 1941.

In 1941, he was injured in an altitude chamber accident and was no longer able to fly.

Prototype Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar, NX17385. (Lockheed Martin)

Marshall Headle died 14 May 1945 at the age of 52 years. He was buried at the Valhalla Memorial Cemetery, Burbank, California.

Lockheed test pilot Marshall Headle with a YP-38 prototype at Burbank, California, circa 1940. (Lockheed Martin)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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22 February 1925

Captain Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, OM, CBE, AFC, RDI, FRAeS (27 July 1882–21 May 1965)
Captain Geoffrey de Havilland, O.B.E., in the cockpit of an airplane, circa 1925. (Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

22 February 1925: At the de Havilland Aircraft Company airfield at Stag Lane, Edgeware, London, Geoffrey de Havilland, O.B.E., took his new DH.60 Moth, c/n 168 (later registered G-EBKT), for its first flight.

The DH.60 was a light-weight, two-place, single-engine, single-bay biplane. The fuselage was constructed of plywood and the wings and tail surfaces were covered with fabric. The Moth was 23 feet, 5½ inches (7.150 meters) long with a wingspan of 29 feet, 0 inches (8.839 meters) and overall height of 8 feet, 9½ inches (2.680 meters). The airplane was designed so that the wings could be folded parallel to the fuselage, giving it an approximate width of 9 feet (2.7 meters).

The wings had a chord of 4 feet, 3 inches and the lower wing was staggered slightly behind the upper. Their total area was 229.0 square feet (21.3 square meters). The vertical gap between the wings was 4 feet, 10 inches (1.473 meters) and lower wing was staggered 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) behind the upper. Both wings had 3.5° angle of incidence and 3.5° dihedral. There was no sweep.

The DH.60 had an empty weight of 764 pounds (346.6 kilograms) and its gross weight was 1,650 pounds (748 kilograms).

An A.D.C. Cirrus aircraft engine at the Science Museum, London. (Nimbus227)

The Moth was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated 4.503 liter (274.771-cubic-inch-displacement A.D.C. Aircraft Ltd., Cirrus inline 4-cylinder overhead valve engine with two valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 5.4:1. The direct-drive engine produced 60 horsepower at 1,800 r.p.m., and 65 horsepower at 2,000 r.p.m. The Cirrus was 0.983 meters (3.225 feet) long, 0.908 meters (2.979 feet) high and 0.450 meters (1.476 feet) wide. It weighed 260 pounds (118 kilograms). The A.D.C. Cirrus was designed by Major Frank Bernard Halford, who later designed the de Havilland Gipsy engine, as well as the Goblin and Ghost turbojet engines.

De Havilland built 8 pre-production and 31 production DH.60 Moths. 595 DH.60s of all variants were produced at Stag Lane.

The prototype de Havilland Aircraft Company DH.60 Moth, G-EBKT.
The prototype de Havilland Aircraft Company DH.60 Moth, G-EBKT. (Unattributed)

On 29 May 1925, Alan Cobham flew the prototype from Croydon to Zurich and back in 14 hours, 49 minutes. Cobham also flew the Moth in The Kings Cup Air Race, though weather forced him to land short of the finish. It placed second in a follow-up race.

The G-EBKT was used as a demonstrator for de Havilland for a brief time before being sold to Sophie C. Elliot Lynn, 26 March 1926. She flew the Moth in the Paris Concours d’Avions Economiques in August 1926. (Mrs. Elliott Lynn later became Mary, Lady Heath.)

Sophie Elliott Lynn with her pale blue de Havilland DH.60 Moth, G-EBKT. (Unattributed)
Sophie Catherine Elliot Lynn with her pale blue de Havilland DH.60 Moth, G-EBKT. (A Fleeting Peace)

In 1927, G-EBKT was sold to the London Aeroplane Club. It crashed at Dennis Lane, Stanmore, Middlesex, 21 August 1927, injuring the pilot and a passenger:

On Sunday afternoon, Pilot Officer Stanley Pritchard-Barrett, flying on D.H. “Moth” G-EBKT with his wife as passenger, crashed in the grounds of the residence of Major Sir Maurice FitzGerald,Bt. He was severely injured about his head, and his wife, who was a passenger, had a leg broken. The machine fell from a height of about 90 ft.

The London Aeroplane Club “Moth” is apparently a complete write-off.

Flight

G-EBKT’s registration was cancelled 20 January 1928.

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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19 February 1982

The prototype Boeing 757-200, N7587A, in flight. (Boeing)
The prototype Boeing 757-200, N757A, in flight. (Boeing)

19 February 1982: At Renton Municipal Airport, Boeing test pilots John H. Armstrong and Samuel Lewis (“Lew”) Wallick, Jr., made the first flight of the prototype Model 757 airliner, FAA registration N757A, serial number 22212. A problem with the number 2 engine (mounted on the right wing) required an air restart during the flight. The prototype landed at Paine Field, Everett, Washington, after 2 hours, 31 minutes.

Initially considered as an improved Boeing 727, the company determined that it was more economical to design an entirely new airplane. Along with the Model 767, which was developed concurrently, it was the first airliner produced with a “glass cockpit,” in which data is displayed on electronic screens rather than mechanical instruments.

The Boeing 757-200 is a twin-engine, medium-sized airliner intended for short or medium length routes. It is operated by two pilots and can carry up to 239 passengers.

The 757-200 is 155 feet, 3 inches (47.320 meters) long, with a wingspan of 124 feet, 10 inches (38.049 meters) and overall height of 44 feet, 6 inches (13.564 meters). The airliner has an empty weight of 127,520 pounds (57,842 kilograms) and a maximum takeoff weight of 255,000 pounds (115,666 kilograms).

The prototype was powered by two Rolls-Royce RB.211-535C turbofan engines. This is a three-spool engine using a single-stage fan, 12-stage compressor (6 intermediate- and 6 high-pressure stages), an annular combustor section, and a 5-stage turbine (1 high-, 1 intermediate- and 3 low-pressure stages). The RB.211-535C is rated at 37,400 pounds of thrust (166.36 kilonewtons). It is 9 feet, 10.5 inches (3.010 meters) long with a maximum diameter of 6 feet, 1.2 inches (1.859 meters) and weighs 7,294 pounds (3,594 kilograms).

Production aircraft were available with either Rolls-Royce RB.211-535E or Pratt & Whitney PW2037 engines, with thrust as high as 43,734 pounds (194.54 kilonewtons) per engine.

The Boeing 757 has a cruise speed of 0.8 Mach (530 miles per hour, or 853 kilometers per hour) at 35,000 feet (10,668 meters). The service ceiling is 42,000 feet (12,802 meters). Its maximum range is 4,718 nautical miles (7,593 kilometers).

The Model 757 was produced from 1981 to 2004 in both passenger and freighter variants, or a combination. 1,050 Boeing 757s were built.

The first 757, N757A, remains in service with Boeing. The airplane has been radically modified as an electronics test bed.

Boeing 757-200 N757A Flying Test bed, with Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. (Lockheed Martin)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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