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One Old Photo and an Avgeek Mystery -SOLVED

avgeek mystery

A very young Wandering Justin meets the captain and poses for a photo. Unfortunately, those days are long gone.

UPDATE: Consider this avgeek mystery solved. See the italicized text at the end for the thrilling conclusion.

I have an aviation geek (avgeek, for short) mystery on my hands. It’s this photo.

Believe it or not, that’s me. I’m pretty sure I’m 5 years old. I’m definitely making my first visit to Phoenix from Chicago. That’s Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. And, in a throwback to the days of Catch Me if You Can when airline pilots were semi-celebrities, I’m posing on the apron with the captain.

Now, here’s the avgeek mystery: What is that plane?

For the longest time, I thought it was a TWA 707. But I no longer think so. The red stripe is perfectly rectangular, where the TWA red stripe tapered. My best guess is that it’s a Western Airlines plane.

I’m also no longer sure that it’s a 707. First off, it doesn’t appear to have a tandem landing gear. Also, there are only two windows between the two doors, where I believe the 707 had three. That made the Boeing 727 my lead suspect.

But there’s also a ridge on the wing that I haven’t seen before on a 727, so I’m uncertain.

Is there an avgeek out there who can solve this mystery for me?

On a related note, how cool would it be if people these days still recognized the skills involved in flying a commercial aircraft full of paying passengers? I see way too many people saying stuff about how “these planes practically fly themselves.”

Yeah, right. I’d love to put someone in a 737 flight simulator and see if they could even manage to figure out how to start the thing up.

Update: I posted a link to this post in the Boeing Airplanes community on Google+. The enthusiastic and knowledgeable people there soon had me convinced that this was a 727. But what about the airline? It took this photo of a Western Airlines 727 at Sky Harbor to confirm for me that the 727 in my photo was a Western Airlines plane. Thanks to Henrik for digging up that photo on airliners.net. Great work, avgeek detectives!

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3 thoughts on “One Old Photo and an Avgeek Mystery -SOLVED

  1. Henrik

    I have found two photos on Airliners.net. Seems Western Airlines used this painting and Delta Airlines later took over those aircraft with the same stripes.
    Send me your email address so that I can send the photo links!

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