Inaugural Boeing 727 makes its final flight to Museum of Flight

Photo: KOMO News/Air 4

SEATTLE -- History made! The very first 727 ever produced by Boeing took its last flight Wednesday morning, 53 years after its very first flight. The 10 minute jaunt from Paine Field in Everett to Seattle's Boeing Field went off without a hitch.

Crowds of spectators gathered at Paine Field to see it off, and all around Boeing Field to welcome it to the Museum of Flight.

"A lot of people didn't think that was ever going to happen. A lot of people didn't think this airplane was ever going to fly again," said Bob Bogash, retired Boeing engineer and project manager for the restoration of the first 727.

It flew again, thanks to Bogash, who spearheaded its restoration for the last 25 years!

The plane first took flight on Feb. 9, 1963. Boeing continued to fly it as a test plane and then delivered to United Airlines the following year. United carried some 3 million passengers on the plane, through more than 48,000 landings and take offs before retiring it.

Bogash is the one who went to United and asked them to donate it to the museum. They did in 1991, but after it landed in Everett, the airline stripped hundreds of parts, including the engines off of it. Bogash and his team of volunteers spent the past 25 years making sure it would fly once again.

"Airplanes are living things you know. They have souls and I talk about this a lot and this airplane was just sleeping. And now she's fully awake," said Bogash.

Aviation Technical Services offered up work space and a number of its employees volunteered their time over the years, along with retired Boeing workers.

"We had a lot of fuel leaks and hydraulic leaks and this and that, and we changed out parts and we made it work," Bogash said.

A lot of the parts they needed came by way of FedEx, which donated a 727 for parts 10 years ago. Then last summer, FedEx donated three engines.

So, why go through all this work? Why not just take it apart, truck it down to the museum and reassemble it?

"Taking it apart would be very destructive it would be cut up and put back together like a tanker toy, more like a mock up instead of real airplane," said Bogash.

Actually Bogash says the hardest part of the whole project was getting the museum board to approve the restoration for a final flight. But after he got estimates on the cost of dismantling and trucking it, he proved he could fly it for less.

He said he did the same with the No. 1 737, now also at the Museum of Flight.

For Wednesday's flight, the FAA approved the Ferry Certificate, asking that the crew keep the flight at 2,500 feet and fly over the water as much as possible.

"I had hundreds of pilots apply for this believe or not and a lot of them were very well qualified," said Bogash.

In the end, Bogash chose Tim Powell, a pilot with decades of experience and someone who is current in the 727. In fact, the FAA presented Powell with a Master Pilot award upon landing the first 727, for his decades of flying incident and accident free. And Bogash was the fourth person on this crew. With a huge grin on his face, he added one last comment:

"I think one of the main things that's a little miracle here, is that this airplane sat for 25 years and we woke it up. It was still alive. Makes your neck hairs stand up. It does for me anyhow."

This historic flight really kicks off many milestones in 2016. Boeing will celebrate 100 years in July at the Museum of Flight and this 727 will remain front and center for that celebration before being moved to its new Airpark in October.

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