August 16, 2022
Today in Aviation: Pan Am Retires the Boeing 707
Today in Aviation

Today in Aviation: Pan Am Retires the Boeing 707

MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Pan American World Airways (PA) retired its last Boeing 707 from regular passenger service in 1981.

Pan Am had been the launch customer for the 707 in 1955, after placing an order for 20. The aircraft would usher in the jet age and become synonymous with the airline.

The first to be delivered was a 707-121 N707PA ‘Clipper America,’ which joined the fleet on August 15, 1958. It entered service between New York (JFK) and Paris on October 26, 1958.

Its introduction allowed Pan Am to become the world’s first airline to operate daily transatlantic jet services, beating rival BOAC.

Pan Am became the largest operator of the 707, flying 137 examples in total. Photo: Pan Am


Pan Am would operate both the -100 and the larger -300 models, the latter introduced in 1959. Its extended range meant that PA could offer non-stop transatlantic flights and services from the US West Coast to the far East.

It also operated several Boeing 720s. However, the airline did not source these directly from the manufacturer. Instead, PA acquired three second-hand examples from American Airlines (AA) and six from Lufthansa (LH). The type was deployed on the airline’s services in the Caribbean and Central America before retirement in 1974.

Pan Am also utilized the 707 for its cargo operations. The -300C was introduced in May 1963 and the airline would go on to operate nine of the type, capable of carrying 38 tonnes of cargo.

720B N788PA was one of six sourced from Lufthansa. It is pictured in Miami in 1971. (Photo: Jon Proctor (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons)


Despite its retirement, PA reintroduced the 707 for a commemorative flight to mark the 25th anniversary of its first transatlantic crossing on October 26, 1983.

Many of PA’s ex-707s went on to find work with other operators worldwide. THY Turkish Airlines utilized many of the -121s, while the -321s went on to fly with British Midland (BD), Nigeria Airways (WT), and Iran Air (IR).

Featured image: Put back into service and detailed to 1958 livery (including naming “Clipper America”) for 25-year commemoration flight of first U.S. trans-Atlantic jet flight (New York-Paris). Photo: Michel Gilliand (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

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

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