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Best of Flashback Fridays: A Photo Smorgasbord for Avgeeks...

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The original title of this Flashback Fridays post was ‘A Photo Smorgasbord for Avgeeks and Other Interested Parties,’ and since I am squarely in both camps, selecting this installment to share again seemed a natural choice.  While Brian’s focus in this post about aircraft Southwest leased from other carriers (the “hardware,” as he puts it), my own fascination with this topic developed as a result of having been a Braniff Flight Attendant during the crazy route growth that was part of the deregulation era.  It was always a guessing game to know which Boeing 747 configuration was going to show up on my Honolulu, London, or Frankfort flights (I know, “tough gig”!).  Would it be N601BN (affectionately known to us as “Fat Albert”) and my personal favorite?  The leased Lufthansa with galley ovens configured only in Celsius?  Maybe the leased Canadian Pacific Air Lines “7-4” with the most unusually configured first class cabin—it had a very large wood-paneled storage compartment that not only held tons of service items (glassware, linens, etc.), but also served as a buffet area that ran down the center of the cabin with the large, two-seat rows of first class seats flanking it on either side.  Of course, something we never shared with Customers was the fact that, due to the compartment’s unusual shape, we had nicknamed it “the coffin.”  You can probably imagine, based on its tail number (N666AA), what we called the American Airlines 747 that Braniff leased.  But, enough of “interior twists,” let’s get to Brian’s September 12, 2012 fascinating post on the livery the Southwest leased aircraft wore when they first became a part of our fleet. Throughout the history of Southwest Airlines, most of our aircraft have come to us directly from the Boeing factory, but there have been times when “previously owned” aircraft have worn Southwest Airlines colors.  This has happened either during periods of rapid expansion when we acquired additional aircraft through leases or through the acquisition of another carrier like we did with Morris Air and are currently doing with AirTran.  It's been awhile since I "geeked out," and as a Flashback Fridays change of pace, I am concentrating on “hardware” this week to show what some of those leased and merger aircraft looked like before they joined Southwest.  These “before” photographs were taken by our Maintenance & Engineering folks as part of their inspections to determine these airplanes' suitability for our needs.  As we will see, some of these airplanes have a long (and, to an avgeek, an exotic) list of previous users. FB1 Let’s order this brief review based on each airplane’s registration (sometimes called “N” number) that was worn in Southwest service.  Our first example is N662SW, shown at the end of its time with US Air as N227US.  This aircraft, serial number 23255, is a 737-3Q8, and it began life with the Las Vegas-based Sunworld Airlines on lease from ILFC (a major aircraft leasing company) as N841L.  After two years, it went to Piedmont as N399P.  When US Air acquired Piedmont in 1989, it received the registration shown in the photo. FB2 Our next example wears N664WN with Southwest, and it really has an exotic history.  Built as a 737-3Y0, serial number 23495, it alternated between Europe and Canada during the first three years of its life.  The Boeing customer code of "Y0" was assigned to the Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA) leasing company in Ireland.  Beginning service as G-DHSW with the British charter airline, Monarch, it would fly Brits to the Mediterranean in the winter, and it served Canadians during the summer on a sublease to Pacific Western and then its successor, Canadian Airlines, as C-FPWD.  In the summer of 1989, a sublease took it to Central America instead of Canada for Guatemala’s Aviateca (with its British registration).  In 1990, another sublease placed it for a short period with Euroberlin.  When the Monarch lease expired in 1994, this airplane served for a few months as EC-FVT with the Spanish charter airline, Futura, as shown above, before coming to Southwest. FB3 N665WN is a sister ship to the previous example.  Also a 737-3Y0, this aircraft (serial number 23497) led an almost identical early life to N664WN.  It carried the British registration of G-MONF while with Monarch and on sublease to some other European airlines, and it operated as C-FPWE while on sublease in Canada.  The only difference is that N665WN spent three years with Euroberlin (as G-MONF), in whose livery it is shown above, on lease after its Monarch lease expired. The man with the camera around his neck at the top of the stairs may be one of our Maintenance & Engineering Employees. The photo above and the two below were taken on August 17, 2004 in the evening. FB4 We have two interior views of N665WN with the basic Monarch/Euroberlin interior.  This is a view looking aft from the front of the main cabin.  The curtain looks as though it is movable. FB5 Next is a view of the aft galley and lavatories.  This aircraft has two aft lavs (Southwest -300s have one aft lav), but the galley sits farther forward to compensate for the extra lav. FB6 N673AA has met its fate at the scrapyard.  This aircraft, a 737-3A4 (serial number 23251), was delivered new to Air Cal as N307AC in 1984.  When that former intrastate carrier merged with American in 1987, the aircraft assumed a transition livery before receiving American’s bare-metal livery and the registration, N673AA.  Southwest acquired the aircraft on lease in 1992, and somewhat surprisingly, continued to use the “AA” registration until the lease expired.FB7 Like N662SW, N685SW is also a 737-3Q8 (serial number 23401), which indicates it was built for the giant leasing firm, ILFC. ("Y8" is Boeing's customer code for ILFC.) Air Belgium was the first operator and used the registration OO-ILF.  After a couple of years, the aircraft moved across the English Channel as G-BOWR to serve with Orion Airways, Britannia Airways, and Dan-Air London.  When British Airways acquired Dan-Air, they applied their titles to the basic Dan-Air livery above.  The aircraft came back home to its country of birth to serve with Southwest as N662SW.FB8 We close with this interior shot of N699SW, and like many of the other examples we have looked at, this airplane also had a varied early career.  Built as a 737-3Y0 (serial number 23826) for GPA, it began its career in South America with the Brazilian airline, VASP.  It also served time in Europe with Air Europa.  In 1993, it went to Morris Air, while wearing the Irish registration EI-CHE.  In the merger with Southwest, it was reregistered as N699SW.  This view of the Morris Air interior looking forward toward the cockpit shows that the aircraft lacked a wind screen separating the cabin from the forward entry way.  This aircraft was been returned to the leasing company. All of these aircraft received the standard Southwest livery and interiors, and given that most of these previous operators have ceased to exist, it is virtually impossible to recreate these shots today.  These unremarked photos from Maintenance & Engineering not only document the pre-Southwest history of these aircraft, they document a period when small charter operators sprang up all across the world.  I know this installment might have been too “geeky” for some of you, and I hope you will return next week for some unique publicity photos. Not too “geeky” for me—I loved seeing the paint jobs (and the interiors) of our leased aircraft again! 
1 Comment
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Really interesting article, thanks for sharing with us. Speaking of interesting aircraft. Do you know the story behind N697SW? I'm sure most people aren't even aware but this aircraft was involved in a very remarkable event. If you trace this aircraft's history back you will find this particular 737-300, then registered N75356 flew for TACA Airlines of El Salvador. The airline accepted delivery of the aircraft on May 10, 1988. Just a few weeks later on May 24th the aircraft operating TACA Flight 110 from Belize City to New Orleans ran into severe weather over the Gulf of Mexico and suffered a dual engine flame out. The pilots were unable to get the engines restarted and the aircraft was not within gliding distance of an airfield due to the weather conditions. The flight crew prepared to ditch the aircraft in a canal outside of New Orleans when at the last minute they spotted a grass levee along the bank of the canal. What happened next was one of the most remarkable feats of airmanship in the history of commercial aviation. The captain successfully executed a perfect deadstick landing bringing the unpowered aircraft down on the rain soaked, muddy grass levee, where it rolled to a stop undamaged. The aircraft after an engine change was subsequently flown off the levee to New Orleans Int'l Airport and returned to service a month later. Captain Carlos Dardano is the original Sully Sullenberger and the remarkable N697SW flies on thanks to his exceptional piloting skills.