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Saying goodbye to the 727 aircraft

June 20, 2013

Boeing-FedEx-727-intro.jpg blog

For 35 years, Boeing 727 aircraft were a reliable workhorse for the world’s largest express transportation company.  Now, the venerable 727 narrow-body freighter closes an enduring chapter in aviation history as FedEx becomes the last major carrier to retire the aircraft from service. The retirement is part of our aircraft modernization strategy. 

FedEx team member Al Hill was selected to jumpseat on the final revenue flight of a FedEx 727, on a route from Indianapolis to Memphis, and he shared some of his thoughts with us:

——-

Al Hill
Senior Aviation Maintenance Technician, Indianapolis
FedEx Express

My father was a machinist, and I was always interested in machines. I started with FedEx with full intentions to become an aircraft mechanic. Before I started in the Memphis Hub, I was in school at Memphis Area Vocational Technical School, which was located at the Memphis Airport. We would stand out there and look at those purple airplanes and dream we were going to work there some day.

When I was hired at FedEx, I began in the Memphis Hub as a handler in the East Input in 1982. I took the opportunity to move to the Fueling Department and in 1987 I was hired as an Apprentice Mechanic. I opened Hangar 11-12 and stayed in Memphis until 2001, working on the line in Memphis. In 2001 I came to Indy as a line mechanic.

Thinking back to some of the old days, the manuals used to be on microfiche. Over the years we transitioned to paper manuals and now everything is online. The aircraft technology has advanced so much that most of the time the aircraft is now able to tell us what’s wrong. For example, the 777 is an all dark cockpit. It looks to some like spacecraft technology.

People have often asked me about my “dream aircraft”, and I always say it is the 727, because of its stature. Because of it, we accomplished so much. It really put Federal Express out there. I have some emotions that I didn’t think I would see the day when we wouldn’t fly them anymore.

The are lots of special memories that I carry around about the 727. One time I was jumpseating from Raleigh Durham to Memphis. The 727-200 was flying on top of a storm. It was the most spectacular view I have ever seen in my life. We experienced “St. Elmo’s Fire”- a static electricity discharge. We were above the storm, with a clear view of the night sky above. It was an unbelievable memory.

Being asked to fly on the final 727 flight to Memphis is an incredible honor and I am very humbled to participate in this historic day. 

assembly of the first FedEx 727 at Boeing

FedEx 727

FedEx 727

FedEx 727

727 final flight

 

FedEx 727

Read more about the history of the 727 at FedEx here.

Download high-res images of the Boeing FedEx 727 in the links below. (Special thanks to Boeing for some of the images.)

Comments

    Rob Turner says:

    Thank your for your excellent service. BT

    James P. Francis says:

    Back in 1997 I jumpseted from DEN-MEMH-JAX for my sister’s wedding and the last leg in was on a 727. The a/c crew made me feel welcomed and when they found out that I’ve 400hrs.flight time in small a/c,they treted me like one of their own. They told me stories about the 727 and how it handled in the air. Upon our arrival into JAX we were treated to a light show out over the Atlantic at about 0500 local. WOW!

    Chuck Ward says:

    I was there the day N101FE was dedicated, Jan 1978. I was honored to be there today, Jun 21, 2013 as we bid her farewell. I recall wondering how we would ever be able to fill her with packages. During my tenure, I have loaded the 727, dispatched the 727, and ultimately flew the 727. It is because of the “Jurassic Jet” that I am married to my wonderful wife.
    She is a wonderful and trusted friend that will truly be missed.

    Greg Williams says:

    Starting my career in 1984 in Atlanta I have many fond memories working the outbound and inbound flights on the ramp. Without doubt when the aircraft was on the ground and arrived at the gate, all 727s then, everyone’s mood changed and the “game was on!”.

    Jeff Schwartz says:

    One of the things I think the company should do with the aircraft is repurpose the aircraft instead of simply scraping it. The aircraft would be ideal for use as a conferance room, training classroom, etc. Especially since the only addition to the aircraft would be to add flooring of some sort and be able to heat and cool it. Besides it’s a great way to preserve the aircraft for future generations. Just a thought…

    Andy Hauke says:

    My first jumpseat flight was back in 2000 on a 727-100 (MEM-CVG). Quite the experience watching and listening to everything from the back of the flight deck. And the pit was LOUD once you got going! The FO mistook the CVG runway for a carrier deck and really planted the landing. But the Old Girl just flexed her wings and shrugged it off without a care. Too bad it was just a 90 minuite flight.

    MayLyn says:

    What a inspiring story. I think this plane should be displayed for the FedEx hub to have for their history! Just an idea!

    Rakesh says:

    THANKS FOR SERVING SINCE MORE THAN 35 YEARS NOW SAYING TO GOOD BYE FOR BOEING 727………….

    Cicero Albuquerque says:

    The B-727s operated in the South Cone loop, connecting FedEx in Brazil, Argentina and Chile and we will certainly miss the “birds” and their crews.

    Alex Peniche says:

    The B727 was my favorite airplane since I was a small kid looking up, I consider myself a blessed airman who worked and jump seated on the FedEx 727 fleet since I started my career as an AMT with FedEx, and I am proud that I got to work on this beautiful and noble aircraft and I can also get to say that I worked on the last b727 ever built. I will really miss looking the 727 silhouette in the skies.

    Amanda Haskett says:

    I’ve been with FedEx for 34 years and my first flight/airplane ride ever was on a FedEx 727! This was a great experience and I had many of flights after this – mainly on the 727 and what a great benefit it was to have jumpseat for all those years!

    Kreg Thomsen says:

    Since beginning my career in 1982 I have always had a soft spot for the 727. The
    -100 was the first aircraft I was trained to do weight and balance on as a Ramp Agent. Jumpseating on the 727 quickly became a favorite activity of mine also. Another one was having the opportunity to train numerous ground handlers on the proper procedures in off and onloading cargo on the 727. My early career as a “20 something” had many highlights surrounding the 727. It had a long run and won’t be forgotten any time soon.

    michael poole says:

    n 150fe has my daughter amber;s name on it..i entered her name in 1980 shortly after she was born in the contest to have your kid’s name painted on the nose..a few months later got a letter saying she was chosen..would love to somehow get a picture of that plane…

    Trond says:

    Goodbye too the old ladies

    Trond says:

    Goodbye to old old ladies

    Jim Morrell says:

    They were great planes, once it was learned how to land them. In about 1965, I was on a 2 week business trip. leaving from LAX. An associate and I arrived in Parkersdburg WV on a Sunday night. Late that night and the following day, we learned that a 727 crashed at Cincinnatti with two of our company people aboard with the same first names as my associate and I. All died and many thought we had perished. Later I watched a 727 board in Chicago, and when I arrived at DFW,I learned that that same 727 crashed in Denver. Before I arrived home, another crashed in Japan. They later changed the 727 landing methods to maintain a level flight on approach. Those that crashed all had landed “tail down” like fighter jets, and had struck obstacles. From then on. they became Boeing’s “safest” airliners.

    Jim Davis says:

    Wow, how time flies. I was a ramp supervisor in Los Angeles for the first FAR-121 Federal Express 727 flight, 101FE. I have pictures of the plane landing at LAX. She was an old United QC aircraft. There was quite the ceremony in Memphis when she rolled in from the United San Francisco mod facility. Many a jumpseats on the 727 from LAX to MEM and back, but far better than jumpseating in the Dassault Falcons. Also had the chance to tour the Boeing facility in Seattle when the first FedEx 727-200 was being assembled, a tour I will never forget.

    Kinda brings a tear to my eye, but I suppose time moves on. A 20 year veteran with the company, started with them in 1974 in Dallas as a courier, yellow Hertz rental delivery vans, I still remember my first white and purple van, I was so proud of her. I had experience with Braniff 727 QC aircraft prior which I suspect landed me the LAX job. It was sad when the Falcon’s were retired, but this is even worse. Wish we could have a reunion and get together and just reminisce the old times.

    Theodora Hadden says:

    Hey if you guys are retireing your 727 planes, can I have one so I can convert it into my house. ‘Cause my dream is to live in an old airplane.

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