Tag Archives: Richards Llewellyn Loesch Jr.

9 February 1963

The prototype Boeing 727, N7001U, takes off on its first flight, 9 February 1963. (The Museum of Flight)
The prototype Boeing 727, N7001U, takes off from Renton Municipal Airport on its first flight, 9 February 1963. (The Museum of Flight)

9 February 1963: Boeing’s Chief Test Pilot, Samuel Lewis (“Lew”) Wallick, Jr., made the first flight of the prototype Boeing Model 727 jet airliner, N7001U (c/n 18293), from Renton Municipal Airport, Renton, Washington. Richards Llewellyn (“Dix”) Loesch, Jr., was the airliner’s co-pilot, and Marvin Keith (“Shuly”) Shulenberger was the flight engineer.

Lew Wallick, Dix Loesch and Shuly Shulenberger in the cockpit of the prototype Boeing 727. (Boeing via Rebecca Wallick’s “Growing Up Boeing”)

The 727 remained airborne for 2 hours, 1 minute, and landed at Paine Field, Everett, Washington.

N7001U had been rolled out at Renton on 27 November 1962. It was painted lemon yellow and copper-brown, similar to the paint scheme of the Model 367-80 prototype, eight years earlier.

The first Boeing 727 is rolled out, 27 November 1962. (Boeing/Aviation Week)

After completing the flight test and certification program, N7001U was delivered to United Air Lines, 6 October 1964. United operated N7001U for 27 years before retiring after 64,495 flight hours, and 48,060 takeoffs and landings.

In 1991, United Air Lines donated the 727 to The Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington. N7001U has been restored and is currently on display. According to the Museum, United purchased the 727 for $4,400,000, and during its service life, it generated more that $300,000,000 in revenue.

Prototype Boeing 727 airliner, N7001U, during its first flight. ( Airline Reporter/Boeing)
Prototype Boeing 727 airliner, N7001U, during its first flight. (Airline Reporter/Boeing)

N7001U is a Model 727-22, now considered to be a 727-100 series aircraft. The Boeing 727 is a swept-wing, three-engine, medium-range jet airliner intended for operations at smaller airports than could be serviced by the 707. It was operated by a flight crew of three and could carry up to 131 passengers. The airliner was 133 feet, 2 inches (40.589 meters) long with a wingspan of 108 feet (32.918 meters) and overall height of 34 feet, 3 inches (10.439 meters). Empty weight was 87,696 pounds (39.8000 kilograms) and maximum ramp weight was 170,000 pounds (77,200 kilograms).

Three-view illustration of the Boeing 727. (Boeing Images)
Boeing 727 N7001U 9 February 1963 (Airline Reporter/Boeing)
Boeing 727 N7001U 9 February 1963 (Airline Reporter/Boeing)

Power was supplied by three Pratt & Whitney JT8D-series turbofan engines rated from 14,000 to 14,500 pounds of thrust (62.275–64.499 kilonewtons), depending on the specific version. 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-1 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). Two of the engines were in nacelles at either side of the aft fuselage, and the third was mounted in the tail. Its intake was above the rear fuselage at the base of the vertical fin.

The prototype Boeing 727 airliner during its first flight. (The Museum of Aviation)
The prototype Boeing 727 airliner during its first flight. (Airline Reporter/Boeing)

he Boeing 727s were very fast airliners with a maximum speed in level flight of 549 knots (632 miles per hour/1,017 kilometers per hour). The Design Cruise Speed (VC) was 530 knots (610 miles per hour/981 kilometers per hour) at 25,000 feet (0.88 Mach). The airplane was certified with a Maximum Mach Number (MMO) of 0.92 Mach (this was later reduced to 0.90 Mach). (During flight testing, a Boeing 727 achieved 0.965 Mach in level flight.) The airliner’s service ceiling was 37,400 feet (11,400 meters) and the range was 2,600 nautical miles (2,992 statute miles/4,815 kilometers).

Boeing had expected to sell approximately 250 727s. (200 were needed for the manufacturer to cover its costs.) In production from 1962 to 1984, Boeing built 1,832 Model 727s, making it one of the most successful airliners in history.

Prototype Boeing 727 lands at Paine Field, 9 February 1963. (The Museum of Flight)
Prototype Boeing 727 lands at Paine Field, 9 February 1963. (Airline Reporter/Boeing)
The flight crew receives congratulations following the first flight of the Boeing 727. (The Museum of Flight)
The flight crew receives congratulations from Henry F. McCullough, Boeing preflight control supervisor, following the first flight of the Boeing 727. (Airline Reporter/Boeing)
Prototype Boeing 727 restoartion nears completion at Paine Field, Everett, Washington. (The Museum of Flight)
Restoration of the prototype Boeing 727 nears completion at Paine Field, Everett, Washington. (The Museum of Flight)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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31 August 1956

City of Renton, the first Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker, 55-3118, takes off for the first time. (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
City of Renton, the first Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker, 55-3118, takes off for the first time. (U.S. Air Force/Seattle Post Intelligencer)

31 August 1956: The first production Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker, 55-3118, named City of Renton, made its first flight with company test pilots Alvin Melvin (“Tex”) Johnston and Richards Llewellyn (“Dix”) Loesch, Jr., on the flight deck.

Built as an aerial refueling tanker to support the U.S. Air Force fleet of B-52 strategic bombers, an initial order for 29 tankers was soon followed by three additional orders, bringing the total to 275 airplanes by the end of Fiscal Year 1958.¹ Eventually 732 KC-135As were built by Boeing, and an additional 81 of other versions.

KC-135 City of Renton. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker 55-3118, City of Renton, just prior to touchdown. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

With the company internal designation of Model 717, the KC-135 was developed from the Model 367-80 proof-of-concept prototype, the “Dash Eighty.” The Stratotanker is very similar in appearance to the Model 707 and 720 airliners but is structurally a different aircraft. It is also shorter than the 707 and has a smaller diameter fuselage.

Boeing Aircraft Co. President Bill Allen talks to test pilots Tex Johnston and Dix Loesch after first flight of the Model-367-80 prototype. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Boeing Aircraft Co. President Bill Allen talks to test pilots Tex Johnston and Dix Loesch after first flight of the Model 367-80, prototype of the KC-135A Stratotanker. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

The Stratotanker was originally operated by a flight crew of four: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, and refueling boom operator. Upgrades over the decades have simplified operation and the crew has been reduced to two pilots and the boom operator. The tanker’s maximum transfer fuel load is 200,000 pounds (90,719 kilograms). The KC-135 can carry 83,000 pounds (37,648 kilograms) of cargo, and up to 37 passengers.It can also be configured to carry cargo or up to 32 passengers.

The KC-135A is 136 feet, 3 inches (41.529 meters) long, with a wingspan of 130 feet, 10 inches (39.878 meters) and overall height of 41 feet, 8 inches (12.700 meters). The Stratotanker’s maximum takeoff weight is 322,500 pounds (146,284 kilograms).

The KC-135A was powered by four Pratt & Whitney J57-P-59W turbojet engines. The J57 was a two-spool, axial-flow engine with a 16-stage compressor section (9 low- and 7-high-pressure stages) and a 3-stage turbine section (1 high- and 2 low-pressure stages). These engines were rated at 13,750 pounds of thrust (61.16 kilonewtons), each. The J57-P-59W was 183.5 inches (4.661 meters) long, 38.9 inches (0.988 meters) long and weighed 4,320 pounds (1,920 kilograms).

The Stratotanker fleet has been re-engined with more efficient CFM International CFM56 turbofan engines which produce 21,634 pounds of thrust (96.23 kilonewtons), each. The upgraded aircraft are designated KC-135R.

Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker 55-3118, City of Renton, escorted by the “Dash 80.” (Flight Global)

The tanker has a cruise speed of 530 miles per hour (853 kilometers per hour) at 30,000 feet (9,144 meters). The service ceiling was 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). Its range is 1,500 miles (2,414 kilometers) when carrying 150,000 pounds (68,039 kilograms) of transfer fuel, and the maximum ferry range is 11,015 miles (17,727 kilometers).

Of the 803 KC-135 aircraft built, 396 remain in service with the U.S. Air Force (as of 14 May 2018). It is estimated that the fleet is 33% through their design lifetime limits.

The first production airplane, 55-3118, was used for flight testing. It was later modified into an EC-135K Head Dancer airborne command post. Today, the first Stratotanker is on display at the front gate of McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

Boeing KC-135A-BN Stratotanker 55-3118, City of Renton, refuels B-52C-50-BO Stratofortress 54-2676. (U.S. Air Force)

¹ KC-135A-BN: 57-1418–57-1514; 57-2589–57-2609; 58-0001–58-0130; total: 275

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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