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Photos: World's First 727 Makes Final Flight After 25-Year Restoration
By Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY | Mar. 02, 2016

The first Boeing 727 ever built completed its final flight Wednesday morning, taking off after 25 years of restoration work on a flight from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., to its new home at Seattle's Museum of Flight.

The flight went off without a hitch, soaring gracefully under mostly cloudy skies for the quick fifteen-minute flight before arriving at Boeing Field in Seattle to a water cannon salute and hundreds of spectators.

Among them were dozens of current and former United Airlines captains, co-pilots, flight engineers and cabin crew who had at some point flown aboard the iconic airplane. The airplane flew for the Chicago-based carrier for 27 years.

"It brought back a lot of good memories [seeing it fly], I had some great times on this airplane," said United Airlines Capt. Molly Flanagan as she stopped to talk underneath the tri-engined tail of the jet. Flanagan flew the 727 both as a flight engineer and co-pilot, including in December 1984 on the very same jet retired today in Seattle.

The aircraft, known by its registration N7001U, made its first flight 53 years ago as the very first Boeing 727 off the line. Built to serve as a commuter jet for smaller cities, the aircraft and its 1,831 successors flew for airlines around the globe and helped cement Boeing's then-nascent position as an elite aircraft maker. The last 727 rolled off the assembly line in 1984, and has been largely retired from passenger service across the world for over a decade.

N7001U spent its entire career flying for United Airlines, where it racked up 64,495 flight hours, made 48,060 landings, and flew an estimated three million passengers until it retired in 1991, according to information provided by the Museum of Flight.

The airplane was subsequently donated by United to the Museum of Flight in 1991. It has since gone under a massive, 25-year long restoration process in order to get the airplane airworthy again.

The airplane will be open to the public for a brief period this coming weekend, says the Museum. It will then sit outside until the fall when it will be moved into a new indoor pavilion under construction.

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