Saying goodbye to the 727 aircraft
For 35 years, Boeing 727 aircraft were a reliable workhorse for the world’s largest express transportation company. Now, the venerable 727 narrow-body freighter closes an enduring chapter in aviation history as FedEx becomes the last major carrier to retire the aircraft from service. The retirement is part of our aircraft modernization strategy.
FedEx team member Al Hill was selected to jumpseat on the final revenue flight of a FedEx 727, on a route from Indianapolis to Memphis, and he shared some of his thoughts with us:
Senior Aviation Maintenance Technician, Indianapolis
My father was a machinist, and I was always interested in machines. I started with FedEx with full intentions to become an aircraft mechanic. Before I started in the Memphis Hub, I was in school at Memphis Area Vocational Technical School, which was located at the Memphis Airport. We would stand out there and look at those purple airplanes and dream we were going to work there some day.
When I was hired at FedEx, I began in the Memphis Hub as a handler in the East Input in 1982. I took the opportunity to move to the Fueling Department and in 1987 I was hired as an Apprentice Mechanic. I opened Hangar 11-12 and stayed in Memphis until 2001, working on the line in Memphis. In 2001 I came to Indy as a line mechanic.
Thinking back to some of the old days, the manuals used to be on microfiche. Over the years we transitioned to paper manuals and now everything is online. The aircraft technology has advanced so much that most of the time the aircraft is now able to tell us what’s wrong. For example, the 777 is an all dark cockpit. It looks to some like spacecraft technology.
People have often asked me about my "dream aircraft", and I always say it is the 727, because of its stature. Because of it, we accomplished so much. It really put Federal Express out there. I have some emotions that I didn’t think I would see the day when we wouldn’t fly them anymore.
The are lots of special memories that I carry around about the 727. One time I was jumpseating from Raleigh Durham to Memphis. The 727-200 was flying on top of a storm. It was the most spectacular view I have ever seen in my life. We experienced “St. Elmo’s Fire”- a static electricity discharge. We were above the storm, with a clear view of the night sky above. It was an unbelievable memory.
Being asked to fly on the final 727 flight to Memphis is an incredible honor and I am very humbled to participate in this historic day.
Download high-res images of the Boeing FedEx 727 in the links below. (Special thanks to Boeing for some of the images.)