On May 9, 2012, a Boeing 720 took flight from Saint-Hubert in Quebec to Ontario. Although the flight may have been short, it was incredibly monumental. This flight would be documented as the the final flight for this type of plane. After landing, the notable aircraft was inducted to the National Air Force Museum of Canada where it can be commemorated for years to come. Pratt & Whitney Canada made the induction possible with a large loan. Since the 1980s, Pratt & Whitney has used the Boeing 720 as a flying engine testbed.
The Boeing 720’s first flight began at Renton, Washington on November 23, 1959. Prior to the final flight in 2012, all other 720s had perished, but this particular 720 was a relatively young plane that belonged to a family of Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofan-powered 720B variants. These planes were used in the late 1990s and early 2000s as testbeds for many different avionics companies.
Boeing 720s were typically operated by American Airlines, but later they became a staple at Middle East Airlines. The 720’s features made it a great testbed plane. Pratt & Whitney Canada one owned four 720s. Two of the planes were used as testbeds and the others for parts.
The 720 had been created as a sequel of the 707 and typically used as a high performance plane. A few large modifications helped the 720 increase flying speed, which was impressive for the time. After a few other modifications and changes in name, the plane was officially dubbed the 720 by William ‘Pat’ Patterson, who was the President of United Airlines.
Boeing produced a number of 720s before the style was eventually replaced by the 727. Although its life was somewhat short lived, Boeing does consider the 720 a very successful design. The plane was extremely popular and dominated in the market. In fact, a whopping 75 percent of those who were owners of a 720 went on to purchase a 727.
Although the Boeing 720 had a relatively short life span, it was known as a trademark in the aviation industry. Although the model is no longer used in flight, many will remember its history and impact for years to come.