August 19, 2022
Today in Aviation: American Airlines Introduces the Douglas DC-7
Today in Aviation

Today in Aviation: American Airlines Introduces the Douglas DC-7

MIAMI – Today in Aviation, American Airlines (AA) introduced its first Douglas DC-7 (N305AA) into transcontinental service in 1953.

The inaugural flight was operated from New York Idelwild to Los Angeles (LAX). By doing so, AA became the first airline to provide non-stop transcontinental service in both directions.

Trans World Airlines (TWA) had began nonstop eastbound services in October.

AA placed an order with Douglas for the DC-7 in December 1951. (Photo: Jon Proctor (GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html or GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html), via Wikimedia Commons)

An Airliner For American


Indeed, the DC-7 was built to meet AA’s requirements. The airline had requested that Douglas build an airliner that could compete with TWA’s Super Constellations and fly coast-to-coast in around eight hours.

The plane-maker was initially hesitant to build the airliner until AA placed an order for 25. This covered Douglas’ development costs for the aircraft. 

In AA service the DC-7 was configured initially for 65 passengers in an all first-class configuration. As more examples arrived the airline expanded its transcon offering and by the end of 1954, three non-stop flights per day were offered between New York and LAX.  

Further transcontinental routes were opened up as more DC-7s arrived including San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Detroit. (Pnoto: Jon Proctor (GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html or GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html), via Wikimedia Commons)

Specifications


The DC-7 was a development of the DC-6B and had major advances over its predecessor. This included being the fastest aircraft in service at the time, cruising at a top speed of 580 kilometers (360 miles) per hour. 

However, the introduction of the Boeing 707 and Douglas Dc-8 jet-liners put end to the DC-7. AA retired its final DC-7 in August 1962. The airline operated 34 of the original variant and 24 of the upgraded -7Bs.


Featured image: Despite being retired from passenger service, 15 of AA’s DC-7Bs were converted to freighters and remained in service until 1967. Photo: Bill Larkins, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

editor
Writer, aviation fanatic, plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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