Few planes have had as tremendous an impact on the history of aviation as the original Boeing 707. In the late 1950s and early ‘60s, the 707 quickly became the standard for commercial passenger air travel. Over the next few decades, the Boeing 707 dominated the skies as the first choice of many commercial airlines.
The 707’s success as a passenger airliner led to the development of derivative military aircraft suited to different functions. These repurposed military 707s have kept the plane in the skies in the modern age. The Boeing 737, among others, has replaced the 707 as the standard for commercial travel. But the US Air Force still operates a fleet of 707s today, reflecting the exceptional standard of this pioneering aircraft.
707 Boeing History
The 707 was originally designed for medium- to long-range flights. While other jets had been used in commercial flights before the 707, mechanical issues were a common problem. With the 707, Boeing made air travel more attainable and kicked off the “Jet Age.”
Boeing capitalized on recent developments in military aircraft and a shortage of viable commercial airliners in designing the 707. The range, passenger capacity, and high speeds of the 707 were unmatched in the middle of the century. In 1959, a modified 707 became President Dwight Eisenhower’s Air Force One.
Eventually, the 707 revolutionized commercial air travel to such an extent that it turned itself obsolete for that purpose. As more passengers took to the sky, larger cabins than the 707 offered were needed. Further innovations in flight speed and fuel capacity also made the 707 less viable for commercial airlines. The final commercial flight of a Boeing 707 occurred in 2013.
While the 707 is no longer used for commercial flights, many 707s and their variants remain operational in specific applications. Several national Air Force branches continue to fly 707s for transportation, refueling, and reconnaissance.
707 Plane Derivatives
It should be no surprise that a plane as successful as the 707 was utilized by militaries worldwide, and several variations of the 707 were made and suited to different purposes. The KC-135, for instance, is one of the US Air Force’s longest-tenured aircraft. This refueling plane has been in use since the 1950s. The KC-135 is in the process of being phased out by the more modern Boeing KC-46 Pegasus in the US Air Force. However, other 707 plane variants will remain in operation for many years to come.
The Boeing E-3 Sentry is one such 707 derivative still in use. The United States, France, and NATO use the E-3 Sentry for aerial surveillance. As an Airborne Warning and Control System, the Sentry E-3 is suited for many purposes. It is used for airborne weather surveillance, communication, and command.
Other 707 variants include the Boeing C-137 Stratoliner, which was used for VIP transportation. Two versions of this aircraft served as Air Force One for several U.S. Presidents in the late 20th century. From 1959 to 1962, the VC-137A was the Presidential plane of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. This aircraft was replaced by the VC-137C in late 1962. The VC-137C would remain in place as Air Force One until 1990. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Regan, and George H.W. Bush flew in the VC-137C during their terms. The 707 was retired as Air Force One in 1990 and replaced by the Boeing 747, which is still used today.
While the 707 is no longer used for Presidential transportation, it has a long history of VIP transportation. Since its earliest days, the 707 has been trusted to carry many of the world’s highest-ranking officials.
Keeping 707 derivatives operational requires access to OEM parts and in-depth knowledge of the aircraft itself. AllClear is proud to be a global leader in the maintenance and sustainment of this venerable jet. AllClear is partnered with leading original equipment manufacturers, giving us access to all essential equipment for Boeing 707 derivative maintenance and repair operations. But at AllClear, we are more than just a warehouse for OEM parts.
Our engineers offer unmatched experience and familiarity with all 707 derivatives and their many operations. Customers working with AllClear receive 707 military aircraft. Contact us to learn more about our 707 derivative sustainment solutions.