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Delta Douglas DC-7B Ship 717

"America's Fastest and Finest Airliner"

Ship 717 is the only surviving Delta DC-7 and highlights the spectacular closing act of the airline's propeller era.

Delta Service

Ship 717, N4887C, delivered on November 27, 1957, was the sixth DC-7B to become part of Delta's fleet. One of 21 DC-7/7Bs, Ship 717 would have flown routes southbound between Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta and Miami; northbound, from Miami and Atlanta and Chicago; and from Chicago to Houston and St. Louis.

DC-7 service also  included San Juan and Caracas from New Orleans; and to Washington, DC and New York from Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. By 1958, Delta's DC-7 and DC-7B fleet served 18 major cities and accounted for 53% of all Delta seat miles flown.
Transcontinental service to California began in 1961. 

DC-7Bs were the last piston driven aircraft Delta purchased for passenger service. Douglas DC-8 jet service began in 1959 and the last of the DC-7 fleet was retired by 1968.

DC-7B Features

DC-7Bs offered a longer range and higher load capacity than the original DC-7, but were similar in luxury accommodations for passengers. Ship 717 featured a Sky Room with facing seats in the front of the aircraft and a Sky Lounge with a circular bench seat at the rear of the plane. DC-7Bs interiors also featured tan, turquoise and aqua fabric and leather accented in gold and silver. Eventually all DC-7s were converted to the same interior design scheme.

Soon after Ship 717's arrival at Delta, industry leading Royal Service was introduced. The focus on customer comfort included additional flight attendants, gourmet meals, champagne and Muzak tape recordings while boarding.

Travel Clubs & Fire Fighting

After retiring from Delta, Ship 717 spent several years as a conveyance for private travel clubs. In the mid 1970s, a tanker service purchased the aircraft and for the next three decades Ship 717 was contracted by the U.S. Forest Service to fight fires in the American west.  

Final Flight

In early 2019, the Delta Flight Museum reached an agreement to transfer ownership of Ship 717 from International Air Response (IAR). Part of the agreement stipulated that IAR would fly the aircraft from Coolidge, Arizona to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. Grounded for over a decade, it took countless hours over the next nine months to get Ship 717 ready for its last flights on November 16 & 17, 2019. More information about the final journey can be found here

 

More Information

Delta News Hub:Story and video of Ship 717's last flight

The Points Guys: Story about a visit to Ship 717 in Coolidge, Arizona

Flickr: Detailed images of Ship 717 when it returned to Atlanta in 2019

 

Delta DC-7 Ship 717


 Model: Douglas DC-7B
Registration No.: N4887C
Serial No.: 45351             
Manufactured Date: November 6, 1957
Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Company of Santa Monica, California
Wingspan: 117 ft., 6 in.
Length: 108 ft., 11 in. 
Height: 28 ft., 7 in.
Range: 5,165 statute miles
Cruise Speed: 359 mph
Occupants:

69 passengers all first class arrangement

90 passengers all coach arrangement

Maximum Weight: 126,000 lbs.
Engines: 4 Wright R-3350 - 30W 
Thrust: 3,250 hp 
Propeller: 4-bladed Hamilton-Standard Hydromatic 34E60-345, 14 ft 0 in (4.27 m) diameter constant-speed fully-feathering reversible propellers
Fuel Capacity: 4,512 gallons
Materials: Aluminum frame and “skin”; fabric-covered ailerons, rudder and elevators
Price when New: $1,184,490