MotoArt’s newest addition to the PlaneTags collection is a Boeing 727-222 in United Battleship Grey livery, which flew exclusively for United Airlines. Let’s take a closer look at N7262U and find out how this 727 fit into United Airlines’ history.
The Boeing 727 is a three-engine, single-aisle airliner that was designed to meet the needs for shorter routes to smaller airports. Although the jet age had arrived by the time the 727 was developed, only big cities had airports that could accommodate the larger jets. Regional airports and undeveloped countries mostly saw piston plane traffic and lacked the systems and physical space for bigger planes.
Designed to minimize dependence on airport infrastructure, the 727 could:
United Airlines was the launch customer for the first Boeing 727, N7001U, which took its first flight on February 9, 1963. N7001U was later restored after retirement and donated to the Museum of Flight. Its last flight was on March 2, 2016.
N7262U was a Boeing 727-222 that took its first flight on April 11, 1978. Being a 727-200 series, ‘62U was a stretched version of the 100, a whole 20 feet longer while retaining the same height and wingspan.
‘62U was delivered to United Airlines on April 20, 1978. It was one of 104 total 727-200 series aircraft in the airline’s fleet between 1968 and 2001. They were used for domestic routes within the United States. In 1984, with the addition of new routes from Mississippi and Wyoming, the airline became the first to fly to all 50 states.
During the years that ‘62U flew for United, the airline and industry went through growth and changes. The 1970s was a tough time for all airlines because of the weak economy, the high cost of fuel and operations, as well as heavy government regulations.
The Airline Deregulation Act, signed on October 24, 1978, removed U.S. federal government control over fares, routes, and the market entry of new airlines which had been frozen since the 30s. It also phased out the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), which operated from 1938 to 1984, which had heavily regulated fares and interstate routes for decades.
United Airlines weathered the deregulation storm, while smaller and weaker airlines fell. Legacy carriers met competition from new airlines and it was truly a survival of the fittest scenario. United met the competition by offering competitive fares and new routes. In 1983, the airline began offering daily service between the Pacific North West (Seattle/Tacoma or Portland Oregon) and Tokyo. They became a major international player in February 1986 when they purchased 10 major Asia Pacific routes from Pan American.
In 1995, United became the first airline to fly the Boeing 777, a “fly-by-wire” aircraft that United and Boeing had developed in collaboration. They also founded the Star Alliance in 1997, along with Lufthansa, SAS, Thai International, and Air Canada.
Take a look at some of the ad campaigns United Airlines ran throughout 1984.
Over the years, United has gone through many changes in its paint schemes and branding. Take a look at just the changes that the 727 saw during its years with the airline.
Between 1978 and 1993 ‘62U was painted in the quintessential United livery, the Rainbow paint scheme with the Saul Bass Tulip logo. Previous schemes were variations of white with red and blue striping. The Rainbow scheme added an orange stripe above the red and blue. The “tulip” logo was designed by famed graphic designer Saul Bass in 1974 and was used until United and Continental airlines merged in 2010. Some planes were given a silver belly paint job or a lowered mid stripe during these years, including some 727s.
After 1993, the paint scheme was changed to a more staid, business-y livery, called “Battleship Grey”. The upper fuselage was a silvery grey, and the bottom a deep blue, separated by orange, red, and blue stripes. ‘62U was painted in this scheme throughout the rest of the 90’s to retirement in 2001.
N7262U remained under the hot desert sun in the high desert above Los Angeles, in the Victorville boneyard for nearly 20 years. During those years, portions were removed until only the cockpit and front remained. MotoArt owner Dave Hall was elated to be able to acquire it in 2021. "The Battleship Grey livery is so recognized and we've received many requests for it over the years," said Hall. "It's such an honor to be able to add this to our PlaneTags fleet."
The material was cut up on site by the MotoArt team, then taken back to Torrance, CA to turn into PlaneTags.
This series of United Airlines Boeing 727 PlaneTags will be a smaller run, with a limited edition of 3,500, in a variety of gorgeous colors and combinations. We are especially excited about this particular PlaneTag because it gives us a chance to capture a moment in aviation history and honor the Battleship Grey livery. Add one - or a complete set - to your own collection, or engrave one as a luggage tag or memento for someone you love. PlaneTags make meaningful gifts. They will join the MotoArt PlaneTags encyclopedia of aircraft on June 10, 2021. Make sure you are signed up on our mailing list and are following us on social media and be the first to know when they land.