Today In Aviation History: October 28, 1957
First Production Boeing 707

first boeing 707
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First Production Boeing 707 Rolled Out

October 28, 1957

The first production Boeing 707 jet-powered commercial airliner, serial number 17586 (Line Number 1), was rolled out at the Boeing aircraft assembly plant at Renton, Washington. The Model 707 was developed from the earlier Model 367–80, the “Dash Eighty,” prototype for an air-refueling tanker which would become the KC-135 Stratotanker.

First Production Boeing 707

The Dash 80 rolling-out on May 14, 1954

17586 was a Model 707-121. The new airliner had been sold to Pan American World Airways, the launch customer, as part of an order for twenty 707s in October 1955. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) assigned N708PA as its registration mark.

N708PA made its first flight 20 December 1957 and was initially used for flight testing. Once this was completed, the new jet airliner was prepared for commercial service and delivered to Pan American at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), 30 November 1958. It was named Clipper Constitution.

first production boeing 707

The maiden flight of the first production 707 on December 20, 1957.

In February 1965, the airliner was upgraded to 707-121B standards, which replaced the original turbojet engines with quieter, more efficient Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1 turbofan engines which produced 17,000 pounds of thrust. The wing inboard leading edges were modified to the design of the Model 720 and there was a longer horizontal tail plane.

Clipper Constitution flew for Pan Am for nearly 8 years, until 17 September 1965, when it crashed into Chances Peak, a 3,002 foot (915 meters) active stratovolcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. The point impact was 242 feet (74 meters) below the summit. All aboard, a crew of 9 and 21 passengers, were killed.

The Boeing Model 707-121 was a four-engine jet transport with swept wings and tail surfaces. The leading edge of the wings were swept at a 35° angle. The airliner had a flight crew of four: pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer.

first production boeing 707

707 Brochure, 1955

The 707-121 was 145 feet, 1 inch (44.221 meters) long with a wing span of 130 feet, 10 inches (39.878 meters). The top of the vertical fin stood 42 feet, 5 inches (12.929 meters) high. The 707 pre-dated the ”wide-body” airliners, having a fuselage width of 12 feet, 4 inches (3.759 meters).

The first versions were powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 turbojet engines, producing 11,200 pounds of thrust (49,820 kilonewtons), and 13,500 pounds (60.051 kilonewtons) with water injection. This engine was a civil variant of the military J57 series. It was a two-spool axial-flow turbojet engine with a 16-stage compressor and 2 stage turbine. The JT3C-6 was 11 feet, 6.6 inches (3.520 meters) long, 3 feet, 2.9 inches (0.988 meters) in diameter, and weighed 4,235 pounds (1,921 kilograms).

The airliner’s empty weight is 122,533 pounds (55,580 kilograms). Maximum take off weight (MTOW) is 257,000 pounds (116,573 kilograms). At MTOW, the 707 required 11,000 feet (3,352.8 meters) of runway to take off.

The 707-121 had a maximum speed is 540 knots (1,000 kilometers per hour). It’s range was 2,800 nautical miles (5,185.6 kilometers).

The Boeing 707 was in production from 1958 to 1979 and 1,010 were built. Production of 707 airframes continued at Renton until the final one was completed in April 1991. As of 2011, 43 707s were still in service.


Pan Am 707 Promotional Film from 1959

An article from This Day in Aviation by Bryan R. Swopes


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8 Comments on "Today In Aviation History: October 28, 1957
First Production Boeing 707"

  1. Great aircraft, the backbone to our US Air Force and Navy E3, E6 & E8 programs.

  2. Now that was a plane

  3. This was my first aircraft maintenance engineer license

  4. PIA was the first Asian Airline to fly it in 1959. The plane was leased from Pan Am and worked till PIA’s ordered B-720Bs arrived. Thorgh it was not the first commercial jet airliner, but it did turn a new leaf in the history of commercial air travel.

  5. My Dad was one Pan Am’s first professional flight engineers chosen for the 707 program. They had dutch roll and lateral stability problems… imagine transitioning from a Constellation, Stratocruiser or DC-7 to this rocketship with no props!!

  6. My Father in Law worked for Boeing for 37 years, if it ain’t Boeing we ain’t going.

  7. I always felt a bond with this lovely aircraft, perhaps as we are both from the golden era in our aviation history and both pioneers. Well done on a gem Mr. BOEING.

  8. Another Boeing game changer for sure!

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