After six years of development, Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin) delivered the first L-1011 TriStar to its launch customer, Eastern Air Lines (EA), in April 1972.
The Miami-based airline took delivery of 68 L1011s between 1972 and 1980, including N332EA (MSN 193A-1123) in 1975. It served the airline for 16 years until EA’s demise in 1991.
After Eastern’s collapse, Delta Air Lines (DL) took delivery of 10 of its L1011s, including N332EA, now re-registered as N786DL, with fleet number 786.
The Atlanta-based carrier boasted the world’s largest TriStar fleet, operating a total of 70 aircraft between 1973 and 2011, with 56 in service at the same time.
But, as fuel prices rose and operational costs mounted as the fleet aged, airlines began to phase out the TriStar. With only 250 built, the beautiful wide-body, with its characteristic large, curved nose, low-set wings, and graceful swept tail, began to fade away from the skies.
Most of DL’s TriStars ended up in Victorville (VCV), California, the majority of these being parted out and scrapped. The airline preserved the fuselage of the first L-1011 prototype, which is now part of the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta.
Luckily, it was not the only fuselage preserved for posterity.
Scroggins Aviation Mockup & Effects, a movie mockup company, purchased Ship 786 in March 2010. The company is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada with its storage at the Mojave Air & Space Port (MHV), California.
Doug Scroggins, the owner of Scroggins Aviation, decided to save just the upper fuselage section of Ship 786, which, being nearly 65ft long and just over 18ft wide, still has an almost complete cockpit and passenger cabin. The entire First Class cabin, with its galley, and the forward Economy section are preserved.
Airways had the chance to take a look at this time capsule, which still has the original Eastern paneling with hints of teal throughout the cabin, including the forward lavatory. The seats wear Delta’s signature fabric, and the cockpit has nearly everything preserved from the aircraft’s last flight to VCV in June 1999.
On the co-Pilot’s right-hand panel, the last flight date—“6/99 Bone Yard”, written in black marker—is still visible. The distinctive Delta Widget can be seen, along with the logo, beneath the white paint that was used to cover them.
The good news is that this TriStar fuselage is now for sale or available for trade. Scroggins Aviation is actively looking for a home for it.