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Author Topic: TWA's 747SP
Subsonic Transport
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Last night I was reading a story about a 747sp that had a catastrophic upset and almost crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The story told of the SP's performance.

Reading this story of the SP got me thinking of TWA's SP. I have a picture of TWA's 747SP but I have no idea where it operated and when. What routes was it assigned to and how long in service did it operate?


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hashslinger
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I think I remember working it to Bahrain or Bombay, in the middle of the night, but could be dead wrong.
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Retav8r
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I flew the SP during the short time that TWA had them (I believe there were only two or three in the fleet)and found it to be a great aircraft. It was also unique in that, aside from the increased performance and range, it also had a straight staircase going to the upper deck as opposed to the circular one on the rest of the 747s. I'd have to go through my logbook but, if I remember, it would show up anywhere on the system. I know I flew it on both transcoms and other routes overseas and I don't specifically remember it being assigned to just one route segment although it did work well on the Athens and Cairo flights.
"Capt'n Easy"

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ss278
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TWA had three of them. They were originally purchased in anticipation of acquiring nonstop routes from JFK to Bahrain, Riyadh and other Middle-Eastern cites. These routes were never flown, however.

Consequently the aircraft were, as the previous poster indicated, flown all around the system where 747's flew. I was only on one a couple of times, both times LHR-JFK.

TWA didn't keep them around for very long once they knew they weren't going to get the Middle-East authority. Two were sold to American to fly their original DFW-NRT service and the third became a private aircraft. I believe it was refurbished and is currently operated by Emirates as part of the Royal Family's private fleet.

The two aircraft operated by American were flown DFW-NRT until the MD-11's came along and were then put on the Atlantic routes, finishing their days where they began, flying JFK-LHR for American. I don't know where they went after American sold them. If I have time, I'll check through Bill Harms' records.


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XHNLEIC
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Aloha!
My husband remembers it flying from BOS-FCO and it was called "The Boston Express". TWA probably did not have it more than a couple of years. Then AA leased a couple of them and flew from DFW-NRT.
We have a photo of it on our web page. Once you access it scroll to the bottom and there it is!
www.surfsidehawaii.com/archivephotos.htm
Hope it works!

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ss278
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OK, here you go.

TWA registry: N57203, delivered in 1980 (as were all three)then became 602AA, then sold to Dubai Air Services and is currently operated for the Royal Family.

TWA registry N58201, operated by TWA then sold to Dubai Air Services and is currently operated for the Royal Family

TWA registry N57202,operated by TWA, sold to American as 601AA, then sold to Shannon Aviation who leased it to Kazakhstan Air. Returned for non-payment of lease, then broken up at Luxembourg a few years ago.

Looking through my own passenger log book, both times I was on the TWA-SP, it happened to be "Boston Express".

[ 01-05-2003: Message edited by: ss278 ]


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L1011Ret
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I remember flying one from SFO to BOS and we took it to FL420. Only other trip was BOS-FCO. It was a great performer and had tremendous range. It also had a bed on the upper deck and there was an escape slide from a door upstairs. The slide was very long and I wondered if you would hit 80 knots at the bottom.
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Kirkpatrick
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My logbook shows 29 flights on the SP beginning in Oct of 1980 from ATH to JFK and ending with BRU-AMS-JFK on March 1, 1986, my last trip before losing my job in the strike.

Flight segments included:

JFK-ATH
JFK-FCO
BOS-FCO
JFK-MAD
IAD-CDG
JFK-AMS-BRU

I know it flew on domestic as well. When I was recalled from the strike in Aug of '88 it was gone, so my best guess is they left us sometime in 1987.

MK


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Retav8r
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All 747s had what was termed a "crew service door" on the upper deck; no attached raft, just a slide. The bed on the upper deck of the SP was located within a small room located at the back of the first class section and was for use by crew only. Deadheading crews, along with some working crew members, caught some 'sleep time' there when the pax loads were light and the opportunity for 'sleeping' presented itself!
We routinely flew a 'block' altitude of 41,000 to 43,000 feet. The max operating altitude was just above 45,000 feet.

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Jeff Isenberg
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quote:
Originally posted by Kirkpatrick:

I know it flew on domestic as well. When I was recalled from the strike in Aug of '88 it was gone, so my best guess is they left us sometime in 1987.

MK


I don't think I ever flew it domestically but, of course, I remember fondly all of the transcons I flew on TWA 747's. Those days sure seem like ancient history ....

Jeff I.


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Subsonic Transport
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Thanks for all the responses. These birds were long gone before I hooked up with TWE Metro in Buffalo in the winter of 89/90. I didn't get to JFK until late that summer.

The picture I have hanging in my hallway is N58201 in tow. I never noticed it before but the tow bar was really long! I'm guessing here but maybe 15 feet? She must have had a hell of a climb rate with a light load.


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Life_Platinum
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I had been on the TWA SP31s a number of times, too. I too remember the straight stairs to the upper deck, where there were 5 rows of seats rather than the 4 rows that were on other 747s at that time. There was an extended period of time when TWA took one of these birds out of service in about 1982, and then when another left the fleet, they brought back the one that was out of service for a few years.

I flew the SPs on the transcon runs; however, one time I remember seeing two of them in Boston-one was about to leave for Europe, and the second was just pulling up to the gate on the inbound. I memtioned to the agent who had worked in Boston for his whole career about the oddity, and he responded by saying that within the past year, there was an occasion when all 3 were in Boston. One departing for Europe, one had just arrived from Europe, and the third was boarding for the transcon BOS-LAX run. I remember seeing one of the TWA-AA SPs being refurbished in Hong Kong when AA purchased them and was preparing to use them for the JFK-LHR route.

What always troubled me about these birds was the TWA fleet numbers they were assigned. This made me think that there might have been something different between the initial ship (58201), and the other 2 (57202 & 57203). TWA assigned their 747s fleet numbers of 5 digits that began with 17 ie 17119 was a 100 model and 17301 was a 200 model. But here, these ships were given 58000 and 57000 numbers, a characteristic that only existed for the SPs. For the L-10 series, the ship numbers were 11000 series, 21000 series and 31000 series, and each series represented different range/navigation systems. Some of the early 727 100s also had different series numbers which represented different fleet characteristics ( ie. 7800 series,5800 series, or 3800 series) such as pure passenger plane, a freighter, or a QC aircraft)


Such reasoning lead me to believe there was something different between the 1st and the other SPs. Perhaps some of you might remember if this was indeed so.


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MIKE SIBBALD
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Flew the SP a time or two to CAI. Impressive machine going straight to F420 right after T.O. Was flying the C5 in AFRES at the time and F290 was initial tops after grossed-out takeoff.Guess which one I liked best. Remember the story about Tilley initially turning down the SP? He thought it would be a better buy after Boeing stretched it.
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PITbeast
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57203 is still flying with the Dubai Air Wing. It has been re-registered as A6-SMM. As of 10/31/ it had 46911 air frame hours.

58201 is, also, still flying with the Dubai Air Wing. It has been re-registered as A6-SMR and has 23953 air frame hours as of 10/31/02.

57202 has been withdrwn from service effective 2/22/02. It was last registered as P4-AFE and had 35840 air frame hours.

[ 01-06-2003: Message edited by: PITbeast ]


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IanW
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TWA operated the 747SP JFK-LHR for a short period.I have a picture of N57202 departing LHR in Dec. 1983
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Kirkpatrick
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quote:
Originally posted by Life_Platinum:

What always troubled me about these birds was the TWA fleet numbers they were assigned.

To expand on what has already been posted, TWA numbered the 747 with 5 digit numbers beginning with "17." The first 19 aircraft were 17101 through 17119 (flight 800's aircraft). When the SP's came on board in 1980 they were numbered 17201 through 17203 (remember, the tail number or N number and the company number were usually similar but not always the same). When the -200's came later on they were given 17301 and up.

On another issue, I was under the impression that the SP was bought when TWA and PA were vying for the Peking route. We didn't want to be turned down for lack of appropriate aircraft. Although we didn't get Peking, the aircraft was useful on a number of other routes we had.

From the cabin point of view, it was a dream. 224 economy seats, much more manageable than the big 747. It was the first aircraft where we delivered the trays from carts in the aisle, which sped things up once the bugs were worked out of the system.

MK


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L1011Ret
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The autopilot was considerably different from standard models. Especially the CAT III system with three channels. As I remember it I am reminded that it had yellow and green lights with some kind of voting power for two channels should one go bad. It was to my mind a bit of a Rube Goldberg arrangement and I did not trust it like the CAT III A autopilot in the L-1011 which was a jewel.
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Life_Platinum
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Kirkpatrick: Thanks for pointing out my mistake on the numbering of these A/C. I'd been confused all these years, and should have known better, but I never thought about it.

I too remembered reading that TWA ordered the SPs in preperation for obtaining route authority into China, but when the routes were awarded, were left holding the bag, in this case the 3 SPs.


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Ron
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quote:
It was to my mind a bit of a Rube Goldberg arrangement and I did not trust it like the CAT III A autopilot in the L-1011 which was a jewel.

Don't you mean CAT IIIB? I flew several appoaches down to 100 meters visibility in Europe and 300 feet at Seattle

Ron

[ 01-10-2003: Message edited by: Ron ]


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Bewildered
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I remember servicing the a/c in JFK.
I got to handle the inaugural. Unusual ac.
It didn't last long. I think the first ac was sold to a Saudi Prince.

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louburns
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I flew the SP quite a bit. One of the first routes that it was put on was the BOS to FCO service, and also BOS-CDG. It subsequently went on to fly pretty much everything, and finally was used pretty much what it was designed for when it operated JFK-CAI. Returning from CAI I logged my longest nonstop that I can recall, at 13:05.
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louburns
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I flew the SP quite a bit. One of the first routes that it was put on was the BOS to FCO service, and also BOS-CDG. It subsequently went on to fly pretty much everything, and finally was used pretty much what it was designed for when it operated JFK-CAI. Returning from CAI I logged my longest nonstop that I can recall, at 13:05.
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L1011Ret
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I stand corrected. CAT III B is correct.
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Drifter
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I once flew the 747SP LAX-IAD. I remember it specifically because I was seated in FC, in that single seat in the middle, and felt so conspicuous.
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XHNLEIC
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quote:
Originally posted by Drifter:
I once flew the 747SP LAX-IAD. I remember it specifically because I was seated in FC, in that single seat in the middle, and felt so conspicuous.

Aloha Drifter!
That single seat 4-5 was not just on the SP's as I assigned it many of times to our customers on Flt 2
HNL-STL (some not too happy as I recall sitting on "The Throne"). We had 747-100's and some 200's if I recall.


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Glasspilot
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quote:
Originally posted by Drifter:
I was seated in FC, in that single seat in the middle, and felt so conspicuous.

Also known as the "Captain Kirk" chair!


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Les Banks
les banks
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I can bring at least one of the A/C up to date for you. First read ss278 reply above. The third A/C is the one that went to Kaskistan. From there it had an interesting run as a luxury {78 passenger, 3B/R beauty, that was owned by an Englishman, and worked out of WPB, Fl.I was introduced to it by Bill Reid and Victor Collin, ex TWA to ride as an F/E and IRO. For three years we bounced all over the world with such luminaries as U-2, The Stones, numerous Govt Dignitaries, but mostly for the Princess of Brunai. [3rd wife of the brother of the Sultan]. When the operator began to go broke, it was put under special arrangement to Air Atlantic, Iceland to keep up with FAA and JAA requirements with mostly Icelandic crews, save for the few of us who were grandfathered in. Some if the more interesting flights were nonstop Gatwick-Falkland Is. and Brunai-WPB. Look those up. Eventually it went back to Kaz, then I lost touch, about 1998. Served with some great ex TWA people, including F/A's, The A/C at that time had only 15000 hours and 500 cycles. The best duty of my life, even though it was private. Art Danley may be the last to fly it, check with him, Regards Les Banks
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Subsonic Transport
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When I took TW01 and 02 out and back from HNL, I really wanted to sit up front in those single seats. Being that I worked for TWE, Inc I didn't have enough seniority to get the seat. I did manage to get the upper deck and that was okay too.

I had heard that from the front seat you really get a good forward view, which is why I wanted the seat. I can only imagine what it must be like with a cross wind on final!


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PITbeast
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Les:
The a/c you are talking about, N57202 or P4-AFE (it's last registration #) was permanently withdrawn from service on 2/25/2002. It ended it's career with 35840 hours.

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Les Banks
les banks
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Thats the one. Do you know why it was withdrawn, As I recall it was in good shape when we stopped flying it. It had its quirks, but an awfull lot of $$ was spent on it.
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PITbeast
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Sorry, Les,
My source contains basic information (model, line number, registration, engines, etc.) about the a/c and milestone dates (delivery, parked, etc.) but not the reasons behind the events.

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Drifter
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quote:
Originally posted by XHNLEIC:

Aloha Drifter!
That single seat 4-5 was not just on the SP's as I assigned it many of times to our customers on Flt 2
HNL-STL (some not too happy as I recall sitting on "The Throne"). We had 747-100's and some 200's if I recall.


Yeah, I recalled after posting that the regular 747's had that single seat. The SP just feels more conspicuous because the section is smaller.

It seems like another lifetime since the 747 went away from the fleet. And now I NEVER see those planes, being in STL where there are none operated by any airline.


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donuway
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quote:
Originally posted by Drifter:


It seems like another lifetime since the 747 went away from the fleet. And now I NEVER see those planes, being in STL where there are none operated by any airline.


Guess you missed George W. coming in yesterday?,,, Or did he go to Scott, I never paid attention?

It used to be kinda cool seeing one of those glide over the St. Louis skiyline every so often.

When the planes departed to the East, and I was outside at work around noon, I would often catch #1 banking off to the west. On a day like today, I would stare for a second, and think that at least a couple hundred people will be lucky enough to experince warmth for a few days

Don


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