Altought that this famous workhorse is still in service with many cargo airlines, it’s prototype brought America in the age of the jet transport on 15th July 1954. That day the model 367-80 was making its maiden flight from Renton Field. It was the first of 1.010 commercial B707’s (not counting the KC-135 series)
The B707 production line was finally closed at the of May 1991 with the building of a E-6A.
The prototype, nicknamed the “Dash80”, served 18 years as a flying test laboratory before it was turned over to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in May 1992. Later Boeing returned the airplane to Seattle for full restoration after it spent 18 years in the Arizona desert. The refurbished Dash 80 made a special fly-over of the five Boeing facilities on 15th July 1991, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Boeing Company.
The aircraft is now still on view at Boeing Field (Seattle).
During its early years, the airplane was the center of attraction in the aviation world, giving many airline pilots, airline executives, military and government officials their first taste of jet flying. The Dash 80 let to a revolution in air transportation. Altought it never entered commercial service itself, it gave birth to the 707 series of jets.
Commercial history was made on 26th October 1958, when Pan American World Airways inaugurated trans-atlantic jet service between New York and Paris. The first commercial 707’s, labeled the B707-120 series, had a larger cabin and other improvements compared to the prototype. These initial 707’s had range capability that was barely sufficient for the Atlantic Ocean.
Boeing quickly developed the larger B707-320 Intercontinental series, with longer fuselage, bigger wings and higher-powered engines. With these improvements, the B707 had truly an intercontinental range. Early in the 60’s the Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofan engines were fitted to provide lower fuel consumption, reduce noise and further increase range to 6.000 miles.
A part of it’s commercial production, Boeing built also a military variant (KC/C-135 tanker-transport/cargo plane), mainly for the Strategic Air Command and the Military Air Transport Service (later M.A.C.).
Additionally, the 707)120’s, plus 2 B707-32OBs, (VC137s) were delivered for transporting high government officials. These 707’s transported for more than 30 years the President of the United States, until they were replaced by two B747’s in 1990.
Today, several -320 series aircraft are still in service with pure cargo airlines. For many routes, it is still the most sufficient and economic solution for the air cargo transport business.
Unfortunately in Western Europe, chapter two noise reduction aircraft, are more and more banned, without given the the third world countries an equivalent replacement solution.