#FlashbackFriday - A Look At the Boeing 707

Jet Age Jewel

The de Havilland Comet was the world's first commercial jet. It had its first flight in 1949, and the aircraft's launch customer, BOAC, flew the jet on May 2, 1952. But after three of the type broke up in the air due to metal fatigue, it put a pall on jet aircraft production.

But in 1952, Boeing's board of director committed $16 million to start building the Dash 80, its first jet, which was seen as a huge gamble after what happened with the Comet. That prototype led to the commercial 707 and the military KC-135 tanker. 

In only two years, the 707 would help change the way the world traveled, where air travel eclipsed rail and sea. Boeing custom designed 707 variants for different customers, including special long-range models for Qantas Airways and larger engines for Braniff’s high-altitude South American routes. The financial risk paid off, and the 707 outpaced the competing aircraft, the Douglas DC-8 in sales.

Although the 707s were intended as medium-range transports, they...MORE were soon flying across the Atlantic Ocean and across the continent. Boeing delivered 856 Model 707s in all versions between 1957 and 1994; of these, 725, delivered between 1957 and 1978, were for commercial use. I created the Pinterest board Boeing 707. Below are eight favorite pictures from the board.

 

  • 01 of 08
    ••• The Boeing Dash 80, a prototype of the Boeing 707, at its rollout. Photo courtesy of Boeing

    The predecessor to the Boeing 707, the famous 367-80, rolled out at Renton on May 15, 1954. It was the only one built, and is narrower than a 707. On May 26, 1972 Boeing donated it to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. For the next 18 years, the Dash 80 was stored at an aircraft boneyard in Arizona before being retrieved by Boeing in 1990 for restoration. Its final flight was to Washington-Dulles International Airport on August 27, 2003. It is now on display in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.

  • 02 of 08
    ••• Photo courtesy of the Braniff Flying Colors Collection

    A Braniff International Boeing 720-027 N7076 undergoing final pre-delivery touches at Boeing's Renton plant, February 1961. The first jet was The first 707-227 was delivered to Braniff on December 3, 1959. The airline, which began flying in June 1928, ended operations abruptly on May 12, 1982, after 54 years of service.

  • 03 of 08

    This vintage poster was created to advertise the Israeli flag carrier's Boeing 707 service. The airline started flying the aircraft type, leased from Brazilian flag carrier Varig, on January 5, 1961. It was used to fly the airline's first regularly scheduled nonstop jet service across the Atlantic. 

     

  • 04 of 08

     It was only natural that America's international flag carrier would order 707s, when President Juan Trippe ordered 23 of the type, along with 25 Douglas DC-8s, in 1955. The jet was twice as fast as the turboprops still being used by competitors including TWA. By 1964, Pan Am was flying more than 200 flights across the Atlantic Ocean a week. The carrier was also flying from San Francisco to Tokyo and Hong Kong.

     

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    East Midland-based BMA bought an ex-Pan Am Boeing 707-321 in 1971. The airline, formed in 1938, operated flights within Europe and from Europe to the Middle East, Africa, North America and Central Asia from its base at London Heathrow Airport. It was bought by British Airways for its lucrative Heathrow slots in October 2012. 

  • 06 of 08
    ••• Photo courtesy of James Vaughn/Flickr

    The New York-based carrier, formed in 1925, started operating the Boeing 707-120/-320 in 1960. It had 56 -131s, three-124s, 65 -331s and two -373s in its fleet. Before deregulation, the airline was one of two (Pan Am being the other) allowed to fly international routes out of the United States. It was acquired by American Airlines in December 2001.

  • 07 of 08

    The Miami-based carrier ordered 15 Boeing 707s in 1961. After realizing that the aircraft type was too big for shorter routes, the carrier used the jet for the Eastern Air Shuttle until it brought the Boeing 727 into the fleet   

  • 08 of 08
    ••• Photo courtesy of PJ de Jong

    This is a Kuwait Airways Boeing 707 in the cargo configuration. The carrier bought three of the type in 1967. By July 1980, the airline had eight Boeing 707-320Cs in its fleet. They were replaced starting in 1980 after the carrier ordered the Airbus A310-200. The Middle East-based carrier, formed in 1954, flies to North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and India.