InFlight 1/200th scale IF7200915 Alaska Airlines Boeing 720-062 N720V with stand. Buy now online at Flying Tigers.
The Boeing 720 is a four-engine narrow-body short- to medium-range passenger jet airliner. Developed by Boeing in the late 1950s from the Boeing 707, the 720 has a shorter fuselage and less range. The 720 first flew in November 1959 and the model entered service with launch customer United Airlines in July 1960.
Two primary versions of the aircraft were built. The original 720 with Pratt & Whitney JT3C turbojet engines entered service in 1960, while the improved 720B with Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofans entered service in 1961. Some 720s were later converted to 720B specification.
Although only 154 were built, the Boeing 720 and 720B was profitable due to the low research and development costs of it being a slightly modified version of the 707-120. It was later replaced by the Boeing 727. Some 720s are on display.
The first aircraft was a production aircraft for United Airlines which flew on November 23, 1959. The Type Certificate for the 720 was issued on June 30, 1960. The first service of the 720 was by United Airlines on July 5, 1960 on the Los Angeles-Denver-Chicago route. American Airlines followed by putting the 720 in commercial operation on July 31 that same year. The 720 was supplanted by the Boeing 727 in the mid-1960s in its medium-range, high-performance market. The late 1960s, 720 and 720B aircraft were used by the US military to shuttle troops to the Far-East war efforts. The interior of these planes were stripped of class partitions. Some of these flights originated at Travis AFB California and flew non-stop to Japan. At least, one of the landing sites was Yokota AB, Japan before the troops traveled to their final destinations.
After disposal of 720s by the major airlines, many were acquired by second rank operators in South America and elsewhere.
In 1984, a Boeing 720 flown by remote control was intentionally crashed at Edwards AFB as a part of the FAA and NASA Controlled Impact Demonstration program. The test provided peak accelerations during a crash. The performance of fire-retardant fuel was also tested.
The first 720 (N7201U) was later renamed “The Starship” and become a private charter jet used mainly by touring rock bands. Its main user was Led Zeppelin in the 1970s. The seating capacity was reduced and a bar with a built-in electric organ were added, along with beds, a shower, a lounge area, a TV and video cassette player.
Honeywell operated the last Boeing 720 in operation in the United States, flying out of Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix. The aircraft had been modified with an extra engine nacelle mounted on the right side of the fuselage to allow testing of a turbine engine at altitude, operating on special certification allowing it to be used for experimental use. This 720B was scrapped on June 21 and 22, 2008. Honeywell replaced their aircraft with a Boeing 757.
Pratt & Whitney Canada operated the last flying 720 until 2010. Its final operational flight occurred on September 29, 2010. Pratt & Whitney Canada replaced the testbed with a Boeing 747SP. In May 2012, the former PWC 720 was flown to CFB Trenton, Ontario to be put on display at the National Air Force Museum of Canada.