Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

By Tom Lymburn
Minnesota Flyer 

Mystery Airplane: November 2015


Tom Lymburn

Douglas DC-8-73

The Concorde was not the first airliner to exceed Mach 1.0. That honor goes to a Douglas DC-8-40 with Rolls Royce Conway engines that broke the sound barrier in a shallow dive on 21 August 1961.

First flown at Long Beach on 30 May 1958 by A. G. Heimerdinger, the DC-8 was designed to replace the piston powered DC-6 and DC-7 and compete with Boeing's 707. Somewhat late to the market and without the benefit of military versions like Boeing's KC-135, only 556 DC-8's were built, compared to 856 Boeing 707's and 820 military KC-135 versions. Delivery to United Airlines began in June 1959 with Delta following in July. Delta made the first revenue flight, New York to Atlanta, in September 1959. Developed with more powerful engines and fuselage stretches, the DC-8 was produced in models capable of carrying anywhere from 105 to 269 passengers or up to 117,000 pounds of cargo. NASA has operated N817NA as an "Airborne Science Aircraft'' from its Edwards facility for many years.

I photographed Minerve's N4805J at MSP on 22 July 1984. Delivered as a DC-8-63 with Pratt & Whitney JTD engines on 9 May 1969 to Venezolana Internacional as YV-C-VIB, it came to Minerve in May 1984 after an engine change to more powerful CFM56 turbofans and conversion to a DC-8-73 freighter. It changed carriers a number of time before landing with Emery Worldwide Airlines in 1998. It was put into storage at Roswell, NM in 2003, its registration cancelled on 21 February 2006, and scrapped.

This month's winner, Timothy Aanerud of Maple Grove not only identified it as a DC-8-73, but nailed the exact aircraft by serial number! Others who knew the Douglas were Joe Connell, Ed Wells, Dave Smith, and Barb Myers. I had a great time announcing the 8th Annual Tribute to Beck in Battle Lake on 30 October. It's a super event benefiting the Battle Lake Area Community Fund. Kudos to Pat, Brad, Jane, Bill, and all the fine people of Battle Lake.

It's fall. Blue skies and cool winds.


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