World Air Blogs

The “3 Holer” Boeing 727

March 3, 2016 after a 25-year effort restoring the historic first Boeing 727-100 flew to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field for permanent exhibition for generations to see. The flight took about 15 minutes.

Joseph Schiffel B-727-100

The B-727-100 made the flight and is seen here landing at Boeing Field, where it will be displayed at the Museum of Flight.
Photo: Joseph Schiffel

The Boeing 727 had a lot of nicknames. I chose to use my favorite (3 holer) and here are some other ones.
“Tri-jet”, “Trisaurus”, “Triple crome-plated stovepipe”, “Ear Blaster” and “Jurassic Jet”, The Jurassic is a geologic period and system that extends from 201.3± 0.6 Ma to 145± 4 Ma; from the end of the Triassic to the beginning of the Cretaceous. Why a modern aircraft got a nickname like that is a bit of a mystery? Maybe somebody out there can give us an explanation. Thanks.

Pratt & Whitney designed the JT8D turbofan engine specifically for the 727, the first time in commercial aviation that a jet engine was “tailor-made” for an airplane. First airplane to use the “jet mixing” principle for quieter operation. Because the engine had the lowest jet exit velocity of any engine when it was introduced, it also had the lowest noise level from the tailpipe.

Boeing 727 Prototype

Boeing 727 Prototype in United Airlines Colors. Getting ready for its last flight.
Photo: Museum of Flight

This unique jet has not been airborne since it was donated to the Museum by United Air Lines in 1991, and has been under restoration ever since by volunteer crews at the Museum’s Restoration Center and Reserve Collection at Paine Field, Everett, WA.

Removal of Stabilizer

Removal of Stabilizer
Photo: Museum of Flight

B-727 and B-247

Boeing 727 Prototype at the Museum of Flight restoration centre joined by the Boeing 247.
Photo: Flyvertosset

That reminds me about a B-727 flight I did in the 1980’s from Charlotte NC to Columbia SC, with United Airlines. I was coming in from Chicago and during the stopover the pilots invited me to fly jump seat during the short flight. We flew at 7-9000ft which according to the Pilots was the most economical way for the short flight.

I have flown the Sterling Airways B-727-200ADV that was ordered with extra tanks to make it a long range aircraft and once flew it from Calgary AB Canada to Copenhagen Denmark non-stop. All the other flights had a short stopover for re-fueling at either Sondrestrom Greenland ot Keflavik Iceland. I think the reason was an increase to 180 seats.

On February 3, 1972, Boeing announced another gross weight increase to 208,000 pounds (94,348 kg), together with the purchase of three of the “heavyweights” by Sterling Airways of Denmark. The 727’s highest gross weight was eventually raised to 210,000 pounds (95,300 kg).

In 1973, an Sterling Airways 727-200ADV flew nonstop from Toronto, Canada, to Copenhagen, Denmark, a distance of 3,975 statute miles.

Sterling Airways Boeing 727-200ADV

Sterling Airways Boeing 727-200ADV
Photo: Sterling

I have flown the B-727 many times in many airline liveries and have great admiration for the “3 holer” that will stay with me forever.

Cargojet Airways, Boeing 727-200F

Cargojet Airways, Boeing 727-200F Hamilton, ON. Photo: Flyvertosset

One of the most famous incidents involving a B-727 was the hijacking of Northwest Airlines B-727-200.

One afternoon a day before Thanksgiving in 1971, a guy calling himself Dan Cooper (the media mistakenly called him D.B. Cooper) boarded Northwest Airlines flight #305 in Portland bound for Seattle. He was wearing a dark suit and a black tie and was described as a business-executive type. While in the air, he opened his brief case showing a bomb to the flight attendant and hijacked the plane. The plane landed in Seattle where he demanded 200K in cash, four parachutes and food for the crew before releasing all the passengers. With only three pilots and one flight attendant left on board, they took off from Seattle with the marked bills heading south while it was dark and lightly raining. In the 45 minutes after takeoff, Cooper sent the flight attendant to the cockpit while donning the parachute, tied the bank bag full of twenty dollar bills to himself, lowered the rear stairs and somewhere north of Portland jumped into the night. When the plane landed with the stairs down, they found the two remaining parachutes and on the seat Cooper had been sitting in, a black tie.

NorthWest Airlines Boeing 727-200

This Northwest Airlines is a so-called “Advanced” Boeing 727-200ADV . The Advanced model had a max take off gross weight of some 209,500 lbs versus the 172,000 lbs of a “regular” 727-200, new thrust reversers, automatic braking, spoilers and noise reducing nacelles.
Photo: Mark Abbott

The B-727 was also involved in other hijacking incidents such as Lufthansa Flight 615 that was seized by sympathizers of Black September during the Beirut-Ankara part of a multi-stopover flight from Damascus to Frankfurt, the West German authorities complied with the demand of having the prisoners released. They were handed over at Zagreb Airport, and the hijacked aircraft was flown to Tripoli, where all hostages were released. The liberated Munich attackers were granted asylum by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

I know there are many great stories about the B-727 out there. Share them with us.

Credit: Flyvertosset, Museum of Flight, Citizen Sleuths. Photos are acknowledged on photo caption.


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