Continuing with Delta’s legacy of aircraft and aviation history, MotoArt celebrates the incredible TriStar, specifically N786DL. Read more about this plane’s role in Delta’s fleet and how it was saved from scrapping.
The Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, also known as "El Ten Eleven," was a Lockheed Corporation widebody trijet airline. After the Boeing 747 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, it was the third widebody aircraft to enter commercial service. It was created at the request of American Airlines, which was looking for a new plane that could avoid the 60-minute rule. As a result, the trijet was born.
The 60 Minute Rule: Airliners with two engines can fly any route that remains within 60 minutes flying time of an airport that is adequate for landing in the event of an emergency. The 60 minute distance is calculated using the aircraft's speed with one engine inoperative in still air (no wind).
While McDonnell Douglas built the DC-10 using tried-and-true technology, Lockheed designed a technologically advanced trijet after producing the SR-71. Because the center-mounted engine did not exist at the time, Rolls-Royce designed one in order to get the L-1011 off the ground despite financial difficulties. In spite of these early problems and an overcrowded market that eventually doomed the project, the L-1011 was a remarkable plane that both passengers and pilots adored.
The TriStar was beautiful to look at, with its sleek profile and iconic tail. Within its cabin passengers were delighted by its extra wide aisles, roomy storage compartments, a below deck galley which prepared full meals which were brought up to the main cabin via elevator. It was also quieter and more comfortable to ride. Pilots also loved it for its advanced technology, especially AFCS - advanced fly-by-wire automatic flight control system. This enabled TriStar pilots to program any course or altitude changes into the system and the aircraft would fly and land without the need for human hands on the controls. Because of this autopilot capability, the FAA gave special clearance to the L-1011 to land during severe weather conditions, avoiding the need to divert to a different airport.
The L-1011-1 was first delivered to Eastern Air Lines on April 5, 1972. A total of 160 L-1011-1 TriStars were built before production ended in 1983, although the majority were completed during a four-year period from 1972 to 1975.
While Eastern was the first L-1011 customer in 1972, Delta Air Lines took delivery of its first in 1973 and would go on to be the largest TriStar customer. Eventually Delta would have 70 L-1011s in the fleet , even flying 56 of them at one time. They also became the only major airline to fly with five TriStar variants - the L-1011-1, -100, -200, -250, and -500. Along with the advanced technology, the L-1011 also boasted fuel efficiency, which was at the forefront of everyone’s minds during the oil crisis of the 1970s.
Highlights from the Delta L-1011 Brochure :
Enjoy this commercial from Delta, talking about their newest aircraft - the roomy L-1011.
Photo by Caz Caswell, used with permission.
This aircraft took to the skies for the first time in August 1975. It was first registered as N332EA and was delivered to Eastern Airlines in November 1975. Over the years Eastern counted 68 L-1011s in its fleet; 8 of these went on to join the Delta fleet eventually. In December 1991, our plane was registered as N786DL and was delivered to Delta, where it remained in service with the airline until 1999.
MotoArt owner Dave Hall and the team had seen the Delta L-1011 in the Mojave boneyard for years. “With cataloging Delta’s fleet one by one, there was no question that this L-1011 should be in our fleet,” says Hall. “Especially because Delta was the largest operator of TriStars at one time.”
Thanks to some trading with Scroggins Aviation Mockups & Effects , Hall scored the back half of the L1011 to use for PlaneTags. The cockpit was preserved intact and remains at Mojave with Scroggins Aviation. Here are some photos shared by Doug Scroggins.
The L-1011 PlaneTags are numbered in a series to 5,000 and will initially be available in red, blue, white, and a limited number of red/white and blue/white combinations. These lovely branded PlaneTags belong in your collection. They are available now at planetags.com.
Like most of our PlaneTags, these Delta TriStar PlaneTags can be engraved. Add a name, address, phone number or email address to use for a luggage tag or keychain. Have you flown on this plane? Engraving the date or occasion you flew on N78DL is also something many collectors do. Be creative in your customization.
Take a look at our other Delta branded PlaneTags. For each Delta PlaneTag that is purchased, MotoArt donates a portion of the proceeds to the Delta Care Fund. This fund was established in 2007, and operates completely on employee contributions. The goal is to help current employees, retirees, and their survivors in the event of financial hardship, catastrophic events, or assistance for continuing education at an accredited college or university.
N786DL joins other TriStars in our fleet. They are:
#EI-BTN - a former Hawaiian Airlines plane, which also was Delta’s first L-1011 revenue flight
#HZ-AB1 - once in service of the King of Jordan and the royal family, and the private charter for Prince Abdul Aziz Al Ibrahim
In case you missed these previous stories, check them out.