The first Boeing 727 ever flown has been restored to its original appearance and has now joined the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, Seattle. The plane flew in from restoration at nearby Everett, WA, where it had been since retirement in 1991.
The 727 was a key model for Boeing; it helped cement its place as a first-rank jetliner builder (younger readers may be surprised that it wasn't always #1) and it also was the plane that opened up jet service to smaller airports. In a way, it made possible the true hub-and-spoke airline patterns that developed.
The plane was welcomed home with an impressive ceremony, complete with water cannon, speeches and reminiscences from United pilots and crew who remembered the plane fondly. A few still fly here and there, but rising fuel costs and not-as-efficient-as-today engines (three of them!) put an end to its career.
Here are videos of the flight to the museum, first departure, then arrival:
Ever wonder why three engines? Here's an explanation from Wikipedia:
The Boeing 727 design was a compromise among United Airlines, American Airlines, and Eastern Air Lines requirements for a jet airliner to serve smaller cities with shorter runways and fewer passengers. United Airlines wanted a four-engine aircraft for its flights to high-altitude airports, especially its hub at Stapleton International Airport at Denver, Colorado. American, which was operating the four-engine Boeing 707 and Boeing 720, wanted a twin-engine aircraft for efficiency. Eastern wanted a third engine for its overwater flights to the Caribbean, since at that time twin-engine commercial flights were limited by regulations to routes with 60-minute maximum flying time to an airport Eventually the airlines agreed on a trijet.