We close each of our monthly newsletters with a list of 5 random aviation tidbits. You can sign up for our newsletter here.

This month we’re looking at 5 airliners we wish could come back:

  1. The Concorde: It was shaped like a needle. It had four afterburning jet engines. It had a delta wing. It went Mach 2.2 and you could buy a ticket to fly to London on it. The Concorde is one of the most legendary aircraft every to fly. No one that ever saw it in the air will ever forget it. Economics and a tragic accident brought the Concorde’s service to end in 2003 but not before one landed at PVD in 1988 as a charter flight. You can still see Concordes on display at museums around the world but nothing will ever be like seeing this airplane in the air.

2.  The Boeing 307 Stratoliner: This early Boeing is almost too perfect to be real. In 1935, Boeing took their B-17, then in development, and installed a new wider fuselage, pressurized it and christened it the Stratoliner. The onset of WWII brought the production to a halt after only 10 were built but the airplane has come to symbolize a romantic era of flight, rich in design and style. One 307 Stratoliner is on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy facility.

3.   Lockheed Constellation: Elegant. Fast. Sleek. The “Connie” is a superlative of an airplane. First flown in 1943, it flew higher, faster and farther than any other airliner of its day.  The iconic triple tail enabled the airplane, which sat incredibly tall, to fit into existing hangars of the day. Rendered obsolete with the arrival of jet powered competitors, the Connies phased out in the early 1950’s. Luckily there are still two flying though none currently in the United States.

4.   De Havilland Comet: The Comet was the world’s first jet airliner and as such it straddles the line between antique and modern. The tail section hails back to the piston era with the lazy sweep of the vertical and horizontal stabilizers while the nose would look “like a jet” to most onlookers. The defining characteristic of the airplane are the engines. Unlike modern design where engines are slung under the wings or on the rear fuselage, the Comet’s engines are IN the wing. While aesthetically beautiful, this made maintenance a nightmare for crews and the airplane was phased out of service after a relatively short time. 

5.   Boeing 727: The 727 used to be a familiar face at PVD until only a few years ago. Used by FedEx, UPS and DHL (when it had a PVD base) early morning Horizon students were treated to the 727s arrival and departure which was nothing short of awe inspiring. On final approach with the gear out and flaps extended, the 727 looked mean…in a good way. Departures were loud and rumbly despite the fact that the engines were retrofitted with hush kits to cut down on the noise. They were exciting to see and from what we’ve heard “handled like a fighter jet.” It was a sad day when the last 727 left PVD though many of the airframes flown by FedEx were donated to school programs to educate the next generation of pilots and maintainers.