Boeing 767 The Spirit of Delta
"This airplane and most of all, the spirit of Project 767, reflect that which makes Delta unique. The Delta people.” David C. Garrett, Jr., Delta president & CEO, 1982
In Spring 1982, the airline industry was troubled by a weak economy, high fuel prices and deregulation. After 35 consecutively profitable years, Delta posted a net loss. As a way of expressing their appreciation for company support during this trying time, Delta employees spearheaded “Project 767” to raise money to pay for Delta’s first Boeing 767. Led by three flight attendants, the project was an inspiring effort to raise $30 million through the combined donations of employees, retirees and friends.
On December 15, 1982, over 7,000 employees, friends and the international media gathered at Delta’s Technical Operations Center, to present the airline with its first Boeing 767, Ship 102, christened “The Spirit of Delta.” Directly after the dedication ceremony, Spirit left Atlanta on its inaugural service flight to Tampa, Florida.
Spirit flew as an ambassador of Delta pride and culture for over 23 years. Painted in special liveries to celebrate 1996 Atlanta Olympics and Delta's 75th Anniversary in 2004. Retired on February 12, 2006, after flying 70,697 hours and 34,389 trip cycles.
Repainted in its original 1982 Delta livery, Spirit took off on a two-week cross-country, 12-stop Farewell Tour. Delta employees, friends and charities shared in Spirit's final flying days from February 21-March 6, 2006. See Tour Photo Album.
Home to the Museum
Journeyed home on May 7, 2006, from Delta’s Technical Operations Center, off airport property, across two roads and to the Delta Museum. After a brief ceremony, 23 museum volunteers escorted the tug that pulled Spirit into Historic Hangar 2.
Opened six month later as exhibit sharing story of Project 767 and Delta’s Jet Age since 1959. Date was December 15, 2006—the 24th anniversary of its Delta service. This unique exhibit received Leadership in History Award from American Association for State and Local History in 2008.
YouTube: Follow Ship 102 from 1982 dedication to museum exhibit in 2006.
Reader’s Digest: November 1983 article tells story of Project 767.
Flickr: Photos of transformation into award-winning exhibit, May-Dec. 2006
Flickr: Photos of exhibit opening, December 2006