Interview With the Captain of the First 727’s Last Flight

The Boeing 727’s first flight – Photo: Boeing

The last flight of the first Boeing 727 is going to happen soon. This is no longer a dream, but a reality. The first 727 has been in the process of being restored for many years and this is a beyond-exciting moment! It likely will fly the first week of March, traveling the short distance from Paine Field (in Everett, north of Seattle) to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field (in Seattle’s south side). 

The first Boeing 727 being worked on and prepped for final flight

We recently had the opportunity to chat with the man who will be Captain for the final flight, Tim Powell.  He is a great guy, an amazing pilot,  and an AvGeek. We wanted to learn more about why he was chosen, what excites him about the flight, how he likes still flying the 727, and if he has any concerns about the upcoming flight.

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I love the fact that so much love is out there for the first Boeing 727’s last flight. It will surely be a historic event. If you haven’t been keeping up with the aircraft, here are some things to take a look at (plus lots of sweet photos):

  1. Current status and tons of great information from Bob Bogash

  2. Video: Taxi test of the first 727 at Paine Field

  3. Rare photos: The anniversary of the 727’s first flight

  4. An AvGeek in the left seat — flying the Boeing 727

  5. Photo tour of the first 727 cabin — looks almost new

  6. Background: The first Boeing 727 prepares for its last flight

Now, here is our interview with Captain Powell about the 727 and his upcoming flight:

Captain Powell doing a few circuits & bumps in the Tigermoth on a visit to Duxford – Photo: Tim Powell

David Parker Brown (DPB): When did you know you wanted to be a pilot? Tim Powell (TP): As long as I can remember.

DPB: What kind of plane did you first want to fly? TP: Fighters… of course!

DPB: What kind of planes have you flown over the years? Which has been your favorite? TP: J-3 Cub to the Boeing 777. 46 years of flying all the Boeings (except the 747). I still have a soft spot for the 707, as it was my first. #gallery-21 { margin: auto; } #gallery-21 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-21 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-21 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

DPB: How did you feel when you found out you would become a 727 pilot? TP: Very excited — as I had been a 727 second officer (flight engineer) at Western Airlines for eight years (flying sideways). I was very glad to be back in the pilot’s seat.

DPB: How does it feel being one of the few pilots still actively flying the 727? TP: Very, very fortunate — not many are left.

The Boeing 727-100 that Captain Powell flies regularly – Photo: Heads Up Photography | FlickrCC

DPB: What is your favorite part of the 727? TP: The hand flying characteristics of the airplane! Nice not to be just managing a Flight Management System (FMS) or autopilot.

DPB: How were you chosen to fly on the final flight for the first 727? TP: I volunteered my time, as I have over 10,000 hours in the 727 and currently fly a 727-100 (1967 vintage, that is now a private jet). Recency of experience is important and there aren’t many of us left. #gallery-22 { margin: auto; } #gallery-22 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-22 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-22 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

DPB: Were you hesitant at all, flying a plane that has been grounded for so long? TP: No. Bob Bogash, TC Howard, and crew have done a thorough job of waking her up!

DPB: Who will the other flight crew be? Have you flown with them before? TP: Captain Mike Scott (right seat) who is very experienced and current 727 pilot. The flight engineer will be Ralph Pascale, who has 30 years experience. We fly together on a regular basis on the 727.

A short flight, 26 miles direct, from Paine Field to Boeing Field – Image:

DPB: Will there be anyone else on the flight? TP: I have asked to carry a safety pilot (who will be Bob Bogash) in the cockpit jump-seat for an extra pair of eyes — as we will be operating VFR (Visual Flight Rules) since some navigation radios are not current for IFR flight. We will also be at a fairly low altitude (2,500 feet) between Paine Field (KPAE) and Boeing Field (KBFI).

DPB: How will the final flight be different than your standard 727 flights? TP: It will be very short — maybe 15 minutes. The landing gear will not be retracted, the flaps will be fixed at 15° (normally they are at 30°), a slightly higher nose up attitude on landing (due to the flaps), and maybe flying with a photo plane close by.

727 Renton flightline in 1966 – Photo: Boeing

DPB: How does it feel knowing you will be the last person ever to captain the first 727? TP: It is always a little bittersweet. I have done other similar last flights. After parking the plane, we always tell ’em, “you did a good job.”

Lew taken with N7001U the day before first flight – Photo: Boeing

DPB: What are you going to wear for the flight? TP: I generally wear my A-2 flight jacket when working. I believe I will wear that with a white shirt and tie to honor Lew Wallick (the pilot who flew the 727 for the first time) as he appeared just before the plane’s first flight.

DPB: Will there be a Tex Johnston barrel roll or a wing wag? TP: Nope — I just want to do a good, safe delivery! Maybe some air-to-air photography as well.

DPB: How much longer do you think you will be flying the 727? TP: As long as they let me!

Stay tuned on AirlineReporter to get updates on the final flight and enjoy our continued coverage of the event! As always, please share your thoughts and memories of this amazing aircraft in the comments.

#FinalFlight #LastFlight #Boeing727 #MuseumofFlight #VPBAP


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