Unlike the past few “Flashback Fridays” post, this one is a bit more current—like today or maybe next week.However, it still has historical value.Today we say goodbye to a trusted member of our fleet as N680AA heads off on its final flight.The timing of that is a bit uncertain because of the bad weather out west which has disrupted our Crews and our regular schedule.Here is a picture of the 737 as it waits here in Dallas to take off on its final flight.(If I am able, I will add photos of the last flight when that happens.)
My fellow geeks out there probably noticed the “AA” at the end of the aircraft’s registration.Yes, that does stand for American Airlines, and it is their suffix of choice for their aircraft registrations.So, how did a Southwest airplane, and a 737-300 at that, wind up with an American Airlines registration?Therein lies the interesting part about this last flight.This particular airplane started its career with AirCal (formerly Air California) on the West Coast back in 1986.It is a 737-3A4 (manufacturer's serial number 23505) and flew with AirCal a short time before American acquired the carrier in July 1987.For awhile it flew in a hybrid livery as shown below with the AirCal colors and “American” on the tail.Bruce H. was kind enough to give us permission to use his AIRLINERS.NET photo that was taken at Los Angeles.
American finally put the aircraft in its all-metal trademark livery and reregistered the aircraft to N680AA in 1988.The 737-300s were “’orphans” in American’s fleet of MD-80s, and Southwest acquired the aircraft in 1991.Ironically, it wound up flying many of the same routes with us as it did with AirCal.Joe Dillbeck, our Director Fleet Planning, tells me that in its faithful service to three airlines, this aircraft has accumulated 61, 726 flight cycles.Soon it will complete its 61, 727th cycle and retire to the sun of the Arizona desert.
Thanks to Bruce and Joe for the information and to N680AA for its dedicated service to our Customers.