The newest PlaneTags are made from a Boeing 727 that has lived as a passenger jet, presidential transport, tour plane, hockey team charter and even flew into Y2K by one of the most celebrated aviators in history - Clay Lacy. For the pilot who has everything, for the aviator in your life, give the perfect pilot gift .
Photo courtesy of Skychick Ramona Cox
When the 727 rolled through the hangar doors at the Boeing Renton, WA plant on November 27, 1962, it was certainly a show stopper with its aerodynamic wings and T shaped tail. It was the only Boeing plane ever made with three engines and it was designed to fly to smaller airports with shorter runways, at the request of clients United Airlines and Eastern Air Lines. It was noisy and could be stubborn, according to many pilots, but also dependable.
Its maiden flight was taken February 9 1963, and after rigorous testing, it was handed over to Eastern Airlines a year later. Originally, Boeing was to build 250 727s, but they proved to be popular that 1,832 were produced over 22 years. The last, a 727-200F, was delivered to FedEx in September 1984. Because of its reliability and versatility, it was a successful, best selling plane.
The story of this particular 727 is an interesting one. Though it is impossible to say how many important or noteworthy things that happened aboard it, just following its journey has given us a few exciting stories to tell.
When people think of Northwest Airlines, also known for a time as Northwest Orient, there are plenty of interesting things to come to mind. For one, it may bring to mind another Northwest 727, hijacked in 1971 by a man called D.B. Cooper. Cooper hijacked the 727, collected a ransom, and made a daring escape from an airstair that deployed from the aft lower fuselage. Neither he, nor the money, were ever found. As part of the Northwest Orient fleet, N475US was also hijacked. On Monday 1 July 1968, on a flight from Chicago-O’Hare International Airport to Miami International Airport, hijackers demanded to be taken to Havana-José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Cuba. The plane was not damaged and there were no fatalities or injuries.
August 1978, Used by permission: Malcolm Nason
After leaving Northwest in 1977, it became TP-02 of the Mexican Air Force, and part of the Presidential Air Transport Unit. TP-02 stands for Transporte Presidencial 2 (Presidential Transport 2). While the Mexican Air Force, or Fuerza Aérea Mexicana (FAM), now uses a Boeing 787-8 as TP-01, planes such as the 757, 737 and our 727 were used in the past as both TP-01 and TP-02. In addition to transporting the Mexican President, it is used for internal security, natural disasters, public works, and is a part of the Mexican Army.
Now known as N299LA, it was then acquired by Los Angeles Kings (NHL) owner Bruce McNall for use as a team charter jet in March 1990. Purportedly McNall had been allowing star players, like Wayne Gretzky, fly home from games in his private jet while other plays rode commercial planes back. McNall then purchased the 727 from the Mexican government and outfitted it with state-of-the-art entertainment and luxury. By December 1992, the Kings were enjoying a first-place standing in the Smythe Division but the plane was up for sale. It was billed as ″the ultimate Los Angeles Kings collectible″ and was offered on the last page of Upper Deck Authenticated’s Christmas catalog. For $5 million, it stacked two-across first-class seating for 70, two six-rack CD players, 20 TV monitors connected to two VCRs, a massage table, and the signatures of the Los Angeles Kings themselves.
U2, an Irish rock band with fans all over the globe, is known for their energetic, multi city tours in addition to their music. The hardworking band set out on a 113 show tour in 2001, with 50 shows in North America, 33 in Europe, then returning for another 30 shows in North America. For travel in North America, Clay Lacy Aviation provided this 727, configured with 40 seats for the band, their management and crew. The tail was painted with the heart in a suitcase logo for the Elevation tour, and U2 painted on the fuselage.
Clay Lacy is a world renowned pilot. He began flying at 12; by 19 he joined United Airlines with 1,500 flight hours under his belt. Later with the California Air National Guard, he flew F-86 Sabre jets. That was only the beginning.
He launched the first executive jet charter business in the Western United States, with a single Learjet. When he flew that first Learjet into Van Nuys Airport, he brought a new era of corporate air travel to the neighboring entertainment industry and Hollywood. Clay Lacy Aviation is now recognized as the most experienced operator of private jets in the world.
Additionally, Lacy is an air race champion, with 32 world speed records. He is a celebrated aerial photographer. He has flown in over 300 types of aircraft, logged more than 50,000 flight hours, and accumulated more hours flying turbine aircraft than any other pilot ever.
It was a fun trip! - Ramona Cox, passenger on the Midway New Year Flight, and pilot
To celebrate the new millennium like none other, Lacy gathered a group of 40 - friends, journalists and other aviation enthusiasts - and took them up in this 727. The group left Van Nuys Airport, near Los Angeles, California and stopped in Hawaii on their way to Midway Island in the Pacific. From there, they departed at 11:30pm and flew to the closest point where they could cross the International Date Line, making them the first to bring in the year 2000. The group then passed through five date changes within an hour before landing, then celebrating on Midway Island the following evening, making the group also the last to leave the 20th century.
Map provided by Ramona Cox
Ramona Cox, also known as Skychick , MotoArt’s West Coast salesperson and pilot, was aboard this flight. She shared these exclusive photos and memories.
These are some of the who’s who in aviation. Clay Lacy, Joe Clark, Paulson of Gulfstream, Bill Lear of Lear Jet, Bob Hoover and a host of other aviation notables.
There is Joe Clark standing next to Clay and they were talking about winglets…the extensions you see on most all jets today and Joe and Clay came up with the idea. They were drawing ideas on the bar napkins!
Clay and some of the other pilots on board.
Shot inside the cabin during the historic flight. Left, Ms. Paulsen of Gulfstream, next Lois Lacy, Next Ramona Cox (Skychick), next Brenda Lear of Lear Jet.
When MotoArt owner Dave Hall found out that the plane was available, he didn’t waste a second. “I knew I wanted our first PlaneTags of the new decade to be made from it. I loved the audacity of Clay Lacy filling a 727 with 40 friends and rushing off to Midway to meet 2000 head on,” said Hall. “Y2K be damned!”
The more Hall and his team researched the plane, the more interesting it became. “When you think it can’t possibly be more interesting than a plane that flew both to meet 2000 and to leave 1999 behind, you find out something else,” says Hall.
Sometimes called the old trisaurus, the 727 is fondly remembered by pilots who have flown it. Although not the easiest plane to fly, sometimes referred to as stubborn or temperamental, lacking modern computer systems, deafening, it has also been called reliable, trustworthy, forgiving and solid. If you are looking for the perfect gift for a pilot, or gift ideas for an engineer, these Boeing 727 PlaneTags will be appreciated. They are numbered to 5000 so grab one for your collection, or as a great gift, today.
In addition to the 727 PlaneTags, MotoArt is offering stunning Fuselage Windows in single and double panes. Each window has been hand sanded and polished at the MotoArt Studio in Torrance, CA. They are a great way to bring a touch of aviation decor to your home or office. They are only available in a very limited edition so grab these unique airplane window mirrors while you can.