52 Years Ago Today: Boeing 727 Takes Flight (1963)

by Joe Anselmo
Feb 09, 2015

Today marks the 52nd anniversary of the first flight of the Boeing 727. Powered by three Pratt & Whitney JT8D turbofan engines, the passenger jet took off from the municipal airport in Renton, Wash., and landed 2 hr., 1 min. later at Paine Field north of Seattle. Aviation Week & Space Technology, which had written extensively on the 727’s rollout three months earlier, gave only cursory coverage to the test flight: a single page of three photos in our Feb. 18, 1963 edition.
 
In a recent blog, Senior Propulsion Editor Guy Norris noted that the 727 was the first commercial Boeing program to use a dedicated aircraft for flight testing. The jetliner was also the first to be fitted with an auxiliary power unit (APU). In a brief article in the March 4, 1963 issue of Aviation Week, we reported that United Air Lines, Eastern Air Lines and Trans World Airlines -- which had collectively signed up for 90 727s – placed orders with Garrett Corp.’s AiResearch Div. for APU systems. “Installation consists of a gas turbine engine driving a 40 kva. alternator which supplies compressed air for main engine starting and cabin air conditioning on the ground,” the article said. “The auxiliary power makes the 727 independent of the need for mobile power units.”
 
The 727 was certified later that year and entered service with Eastern in Febraury, 1964. Its production ran to 1984.

Read the February 18, 1963 story: Boeing 727 Transport Makes First Flight

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