Saturday, December 5, 2015

Flashback: 50 Years Ago, Delta Inaugurated The World’s First DC-9 Flights

By: Staff / Published December 4, 2015

Five decades ago, the very first McDonnell Douglas DC-9 entered into service with its launch customer, Delta Air Lines.

Part of Chris Sloan Collection

delta-30th7_24915Devised for frequent and short flights, and to serve small airports with short runways and basic airport infrastructure, the DC-9 became one of Douglas' best selling aircraft ever, with a long story of models derived. From the short DC-9-10 to the stretched DC-9-50, the classic DC-9 family served around the world, becoming popular among travelers and cherished by the flight crews.

RELATED: Douglas DC-9 Sales Brochures, history and Memorabilia


N3306L at the gate in Memphis. Credits: Delta Air Lines.

The World's first DC-9 service took place on November 29, 1965, three months ahead of schedule. The DC-9-14 registered N3305L (Delta Ship 205) served flight 791 from Atlanta to Kansas City via Memphis. The daily scheduled service began a week later on December 8. Eventually, Delta became one of the main DC-9 operators in the world, operating all classic DC-9 variants but one type (the DC-9-20 version was specifically built for SAS, which was its sole customer.)

Delta-DC-9-Launch-1965-133x300RELATED: Delta Douglas DC-9 Passenger Information Guide

RELATED: Delta Air Lines Sales Brochures, History and Memorabilia

Delta did not necessarily start with all of their DC-9s, however. Through the process of acquisition and mergers, the airplanes flew for regional and full services carriers alike, such as North Central, Southern, Hughes AirWest, Republic, and Northwest. During this time, Delta also purchased Western (1986) and Northeast (1973). All told, the carrier has operated 305 DC-9 aircraft since 1965, despite phasing out the airplanes by 1994 until its merger in 2008 with Northwest. Based on a 65% average load factor, Delta estimates they have flown about one billion passengers on the DC-9.

DL Fleet Guide

800px-Douglas_DC-9-31_N960N_N.Central_TOR_26.03.71l_edited-2 800px-Hughes_Airwest_DC-9-31;_N912RW;_September_1977_DAP_(4693783350) Southern_Airways_DC-9_(6146173132) 800px-Republic_Airlines_DC-9-15;_N9349,_September_1982_(5424550814)

Northwest_DC-9_(552721027)McDonnell_Douglas_DC-9-32,_Delta_Air_Lines_JP5952989Delta operated a strong DC-9 fleet, relying basically in the DC-9-30 type. Eventually, the Boeing 737-200 and 727-200 replaced the DC-9, and the last DC-9-30 was retired from Delta's fleet in 1993. However, after almost a 16 year hiatus and thanks to the merger into Northwest Airlines, the Atlanta-based carrier took 97 DC-9s. Of these, 51 were of the -30 type, 12 of the -40 variant and 34 of the -50 series. The -30 and -40 models remained in service until 2011, and the last DC-9-50 was retired from Delta Air Lines in January 2014.

RELATED: Final Delta DC-9 Flight Scheduled for January 6, 2014

N600TR_(6837245147)The official Delta farewell took place on January 6, 2014, with the last two flights numbered DL1965 (first year of DC-9 service) and DL2014 (last year of DC-9 service). Flight DL2014 flew from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Atlanta. Two DC-9's remained with Delta for several weeks to fill in for delayed Boeing 717 deliveries. On January 22, 2014, Delta operated the final DC-9 flight (DL310) with DC-9, N779NC, flying from Eglin Air Force Base in Valparaiso, Florida, to Atlanta.

RELATED: Delta Begins 717 Service Friday October 25th, Prepares for Second 717 Delivery, & Schedules Last DC-9 Flights

RELATED: It's Over: Delta Officially Retires the DC-9

RELATED: End of an Era: Delta's DC-9 Completes Final Scheduled Flight

RELATED: Delta Finally Takes Delivery of its First Boeing 717

RELATED: Delta's first 717 flight(s): Atlanta – Newark on September 19th

RELATED: Delta Inaugurates Boeing 717, Flies to Newark with Airchive Aboard

Delta_MD-90-30(N907DA)_(4629646014)The legacy of the DC-9 at Delta Air Lines continues with a vast MD-80 / MD-90 / Boeing 717 fleet which is currently serving the airline and stills growing as more MD-90s from defunct Hello Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Japan Airlines and Blue1 have joined the fleet. Also, the airline is keen to acquire all Boeing 717s available in the market (Although commercialized as a Boeing aircraft, the technical name was going to be MD-95 before the merger between McDonnell Douglas and Boeing in 1997). Just in 2012, Delta inked a deal to take 88 ex-AirTran 717s from Southwest Airlines, as the carrier didn't want to alter its all-Boeing 737 fleet, and even the Delta Flight Museum hosts a DC-9-50, (Registration N657MC) as part of its permanent collection.N991AT_(15603611143)RELATED: 2014 Visit to Delta Flight Museum

With over 200 Douglas aircraft still in service, Delta will be one of the last (if not the last) McDonnell Douglas passenger aircraft operator in the world as several of these aircraft are still low in cycles and may last in the fleet for up to two decades. Who could imagine back 50 years ago that the Diesel 9 legacy would last that much? How time flies…

DC-9 brochure - 2 DC-9 brochure - 1

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The post Flashback: 50 Years Ago, Delta Inaugurated The World's First DC-9 Flights appeared first on Airchive.

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