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The Spirit of Kitty Hawk Moves to Its New Home

blusk
Aviator C

While it hasn’t been a secret, we really haven’t publicized our exciting preservation/museum project yet.  However, you certainly will know something is different if you pass the corner of Lemmon Avenue and Mockingbird Lane starting today here at Love Field.  A big shiny Southwest 737 is half-inside and half-outside the Frontiers of Flight Museum.  (Don’t worry, it’s planned that way.)  That’s a very special airplane, it is N300SW, The Spirit of Kitty Hawk, and it is the first of the modern 737s worldwide to enter scheduled service. 

In fact, those first flights were such a big deal that we had Bob Hope host a big gala the night before it entered service.  For the inaugural flight on December 17, 1984, our Flight Attendants wore tuxes, and General Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier, was onboard.  The 737-300 was introduced to the world as it took to the air at the exact same time the Wright Brothers had first taken flight on the same day in 1903.

Because this is such an important airframe for Southwest, Boeing, and the airline industry, we thought it should be preserved, and I have been working on the Team to preserve N300SW.  The Team has become a large one, with volunteers from inside and outside Southwest, and along with some very generous donors, they are making our dreams into reality.  We are still compiling a list of the donors and the volunteers.

The Spirit of Kitty Hawk is part of the "Southwest Airlines:  The Heart of our History exhibit."  The airplane will have its own exhibit area with 40 feet of displays and a small video theater.  In addition, we will have around 3,500 square feet of display space on the main floor of the museum that will include interactive video kiosks with a wide mix of our Employees to tell our story; a replica ticket counter from 1972, alongside the current version; part of a jetbridge; a large theater; and the Southwest Family tree depicting the airlines that make up our history, along with artifacts from those carriers—plus much more, including original art and items from Colleen’s and Herb’s personal collections.  We hope the exhibit will open in June for our 40th Anniversary.

To move the airplane into position for display, our Mechanics had to overcome some physical obstacles.  We had curbs and used heavy gauge steel plate to cross those items.

When it came down to actually positioning the airplane inside the building, our Mechanics used specially made push bars with two jet tugs to inch the airplane into position.  The nose was steered by hand.  Display engines will be added in the next week or so, to complete the look.

The end of the journey that began on December 17, 1984

10 Comments
Drew_Ferraro
Explorer C
I remember my first flight on that bird. It was November, and I flew her up to HOU from HRL. Wasn't N301SW also named The Spirit of Kitty Hawk as well?
Barry_Evans
Explorer C
Fantastic location for a fantastic aircraft legacy.
Scott_Beamer
Explorer C
All this for the 1st 737-300? I'd think your very first plane, ever would be more interesting. I'm very much into commercial aviation as a hobby, but this just doesn't excite me...
user47
New Arrival
There are three Spirits of Kitty Hawk in the WN fleet. N300, 301 and 302SW. I believe the other two are still in service but will be pulled soon-ish. There is also a B-2 stealth bomber named the Spirit of Kitty Hawk which is located at Whiteman AFB, MO.
Matt1
Explorer C
So how many hours and cycles and engine change outs? How many sets of tires changed over the servicelife? Would a repaint to delivery paint scheme and original instrument panel to enhance it's "museum value"? Luv where this could go.
blusk
Aviator C
Matt, that would be interesting, and we will try to get the answer for the story we are telling at the musuem. The airplane is wearing a brand new coat of paint, and we have three aircraft (in honor of our three original cities) in our active fleet that retain a version of the original livery. JL, N301SW and N302SW have already been retired and N301SW was scrapped. Scott, our very first airplane, N20SW only served with us for a little more than a year before we had to sell it to the original Frontier. Its sale led to the creation of the ten-minute turn. N20SW, along with its two sisters N21SW and N22SW went to the scrap pile a long time ago. While it would have been great to have saved one of them, none of them had the importance to the worldwide airline industry that N300SW has.
jamescameron1
Explorer C
Hope you guys kept a 200 series as well! Its how you got your start!
justin_cox
Explorer C
Would love to see a 737-200 in orignal colors, and while I am dreaming how about a 727 in southwest colors!!
Andrew_Gaddis
Explorer C
I was privileged to fly on this aircraft in 2008 from Boise to Reno and then San Jose. When I went to the gate, I could not believe how great this plane looked. I had just been repainted and the cabin was spotless. I knew that it was the oldest plane in the fleet, but I it looked like the newest, despite being a 737 300. I have always enjoyed flying on the original 737 300s made in the 1980s, equipped with Boeing's "Advanced Technologies Interior" introduced on the 757. My mother flew for Western Airlines during the time when it was being acquired by Delta Airlines. Being it was the late 1980s, she said that planes like N300SW were the newest of Delta's fleet. Over the next few years, I expect that South West will retire the rest of the vintage 1980s 737 300s, in favor of buying more fuel efficient 737 Next Generation variants. I am a freshman at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business, and believe that this is a very smart move, considering the price of fuel these days, and the costs of maintaining an aging aircraft. I have grown up flying on planes like this, a will miss doing so in the future. I am pleased that South West donated N300SW to the Frontiers of Flight Museum, so it can be preserved for future generations to enjoy. I look forward to flying on South West's new 737 800s with Boeing's new "Sky Interior". If they had to pick a plane to replace N300SW that is the best choice.
Andrew_Gaddis
Explorer C
I was privileged to fly on this aircraft in August of 2008 from Boise, to Reno, and then to San Jose. When I went to the gate, I could not believe how great this plane looked. It had just been repainted and the cabin was spotless. I knew that it was the oldest plane in South West’s the fleet, but I it looked like the newest, despite being a 737 300. I have always enjoyed flying on the original 737 300s made in the 1980s, equipped with Boeing's "Advanced Technologies Interior", introduced on the 757. My mother flew for Western Airlines during the time when it was being acquired by Delta Airlines. Being it was the late 1980s, she said that planes like N300SW were the newest of Delta's fleet. Over the next few years, I expect that South West will retire the rest of their vintage 1980s 737 300s, in favor of buying more fuel efficient 737 Next Generation variants. I am a freshman at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business in California, and believe that this is a very smart move, considering the price of fuel these days, and the costs of maintaining an aging aircraft. I have grown up flying on planes like N300SW, and will miss doing so in the future. I am pleased that South West donated N300SW to the Frontiers of Flight Museum, so it can be preserved for future generations to enjoy. I look forward to flying on South West's new 737 800s with Boeing's "Sky Interior". If they had to pick a plane to replace N300SW that is the best choice.