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What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 9:03 am

For those who are old enough to remember - what was it like as a passenger or a crew member aboard a 707? How was inflight service by the airline which operated it? How comfortable and how loud was it compared to today's jet a/c like the 767 and the 747-400?

I would be glad to hear what your experiences were like!
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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 11:28 am

I was on a TWA 707 in 1981. I was six years old but I remember it very well. I believe the overhead racks were just that.......overhead racks. No doors, no place for luggage, nothing. Just racks. They may have had a cage thing to pull down but that's it. I don't believe they had service carts on board either. I remember the FA's just bringing everyone trays individually and constantly walking up and down aisles with drinks. The interiors were the same interiors you see on some older YWA planes today. Some seats blue, some red, some grey. I don't recall it being louder than usual but I am sure it was. I was upset because I wanted to fly on one of the "new" L1011's.
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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 12:27 pm

I flew on some of the older 707s- BOAC 436s which had Rolls Royce Conway engines. I remember they made quite a bit of noise on takeoff, sort of like a deep crackling rumble. I also flew on 707s of Air France, Wardair Canada, British Midland. The seating was very similar to older 727s. I remember some of the newer 707s had closed in overhead racks and more modern interiors. Chris

RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 1:25 pm

I used to be an "airline brat" on TWA many years ago and flew countless times on their 707's which I loved. The amount of noise varied with the model:

-131 (the "Water Wagons") were the noisiest, with old JT3C turbojets, and lumbered along the runway during takeoff so that you wondered if they would ever leave the ground!

-331 (Intercontinental) were also noisy with their JT4A turbojets but an improvement over the former. Also, takeoff performance was better...more power.

-131B was a "hot rod" with its relatively low weights and more powerful JT3D turbofans.

-331B (Intercontinental) also had the JT3D engines (but I think a bit more powerful model...JT3D-7 vs. JT3D-3B?).

I loved TW's interiors which, at one time, were very colorful with bright orange, red, yellow and plum foral patterns...quite attractive. And the center seats were split halfway up the back so, if vacant, the seat back could fold down to form a very useful table. Seat pitch was also generous as I recall and the seats themselves always seemed comfortable to me.

Cannot remember, though, if any of TW's 707's had the new "widebody" interiors with enclosed overhead storage bins and indirect lighting (anyone know for sure?).

Service was excellent...those were the days!


Forgot To Mention:

Thu Apr 06, 2000 1:38 pm

For a brief period, there were even Coach Lounges (!!!) on TW's 707's. They were a small section in between First Class and Coach with a grouping of armchairs, tables and lamps as I recall - quite novel for the time. TW's 747's also offered the Coach Lounges.

My stepfather even showed me an intra-company memo from TW around that same time that detailed plans to install aquariums on board the 747's (I think 707's as well) but I was never sure if the memo was real or someone's idea of a joke. I mean, really...can you imagine fish tanks on board?
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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 4:15 pm

I flew on a Singapore Airlines 707, dunno which model.
It was 1978 and we flew from Melbourne to Syndey (to pick up more pax) taxied for ever there, then onto Singapore over Central Australia. The flight was very rough due to thermal activity over the outback (which isnt unusual here) and was as noisy as sitting down the back of a 727 (very noisy). Seating was 3 abreast on each side, service was fine from memory. I remember the flight was so rough that on our 3 day stay over in SNG when ever I got in an elevator I could feel the turbulence again (something to do with spatial disorientation I was later told). The interior was of the same appearance as the 747 100's we later used to complete our journey to Europe , which were much quieter naturally.

But I must say that I have always thought the DC10-10 was quieter than the 747's unless that was because I flew on a 727 (rear seats only a couple hours B4)

The DC10 flight was heaps of fun as it was a very long flight and there were only about 80 pax, so we lifted the arm rests on the centre row of seats and took a row each to sleep on, plus we got spoilt by the crew (Lufthansa) Plus we were able to walk around heaps and chat with different passengers and crew.
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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 4:18 pm

I flew on 2 MEA 707s and a MEA 720B in early 1995.
It all were former American Airlines aircraft. They had nice 'wide-body'interiors with closed overhead bins. Especially the 1960-vintage 720B must therefore have been refurbished sometimes in the 70s.
The seats were colorful (typically psychedelic 70s), a mix of orange, red and purple seats.
The IST-BEY sector was about 90 minutes, we got nice hot meals on these. I also got a visit to the cockpit of the 720, and had a nice chat with the pilots about this old jet (probably the oldest then still flying on pax-trips). BEY-LCA only took 35 minutes, we only got a small can of orange-juice before take-off; the crew was more busy with selling tax-free junk while inflight.
It amazed me there wasn't as much noise as I expected. Of course you'd hear the characteristic whine of the JT3Ds, especially on take off, but also on approach (were the pilot increased and decreased "gaz"all the time, I believe that's typical for 707-approaches) but in-flight, the noise wasn't that must different from a 2nd generation jet (732, 722 or so).
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 4:42 pm

I flew Monarch's 720's in the late 70's. It was one of the first large jets I had ever flew on, up until then it had all been 1-11's and 737's.

I can still recall the return flight from Genoa-Luton, sitting at the very rear of a nearly half empty aircraft, with a clear view of the Alps and the Europe all the way home.

The noise and apparent power from this plane was very impressive. I also seem to remember that the wings flexed a lot!
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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 5:21 pm

unfortunately i only flew the 707 once. It was a 707-3XX from MS Egyptair from Damascus to Cairo back in 1992.
The plane was very old and the interiors were museum like, but it was my most exciting flight ever, i even postponed my vacation for four days to be able to fly the 707! take off was spectacular and very noisy which i liked very much also the old style of take off, engines on max then brakerelease, the climb angle was very low. in the WC i even dismanteld some of the interioirs (well wait a minute i fixed it back afterward!) and the cables were so old unbelievable!
i was so damn excited while everyone else was complaining about the aging bird! the engines were covered with Oil which made some pax very scary!
all in all, it was a flight to remember.

now iam dying to fly the 707 once more before they are finally gone


RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 7:17 pm

In June & Sept 1973, I flew on an Olympic Airways 707-320C on the JFK to Athens route. It was a pleasant ride and the service was very good, I think they over fed us. The flight is like flying on either a 727 or 737 for a long period of time (8hrs), was kind of uncomfortable after awhile.
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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 9:49 pm

I was also a TWA brat and nonrevved on 707's several times. My father worked a/c maintenance in CVG and I spent several summers going with him to work "holding the flashlight" under the mighty 707. I used to be amazed by the size of the chord of the wing. Even though the plane is similar in dimension to the 727, you really cannot appreciate its size until you stand underneath one. When you entered the cabin, it was similar to the 727 except that it had two forward lavs. A carry-on luggage rack sat aft of the entry door where the lounge used to be. There were no overhead bins on any of TWA's 707's that I saw up until 1983. Some planes had sidewall murals that showed famous landmarks (Big Ben, STL Arch,etc.). The large oval light fixtures on the ceiling were exclusive to the 707 and the cove lights above the windows had small stars on them. Large reel movie projectors were installed in the ceiling. Window shades had "Boeing 707" written in stratoface type on the handles. If you looked in the cockpit, you could see a navigator table across from the flight engineer, an access hatch that went down into the electrical compartment and forward cargo, and a place overhead where you could navigate by sextant. I remember the 707 as being very powerful on take-off (a lot like the MD-11) but very shallow on climb out. I used to love seeing all those green blocker doors come out of the fan reversers on landing (hoping they didn't stick). There are some very good interior shots on this website of the TWA 707. They brought back a lot of memories for me. When I am in TUS, I usually look through the fence at Davis-Monthan or Southwest Alloys to see some the planes I "worked" on. Even as scrap, they are still wonderful aircraft.
This plane is built to withstand anything... except a bad pilot.

RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 10:11 pm


Thanks for the very detailed account of the TW 707's. What a flood of memories it has brought back to me! I remembered the large, oval light fixtures on the ceiling but had forgotten about the sidewall murals, cove lights with the small stars, and the "Boeing 707" stratoface type on the window shade handles.

As an aside, I was speaking with a good friend who worked with me in DL Res. (CVG) and now is a DL F/A (works CVG-FRA trips) about the "StarStream" livery of TWA (including the "double pumpkin" on the tail). He and I believe that it was among the most distinctive and beautiful paint ever to grace a commercial airliner.

Now I must go and search this web site for some photos of the TW 707's (hopefully I'll find the interior shots you mentioned plus some exterior ones).

Thanks again,

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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Thu Apr 06, 2000 10:27 pm

I happy to say I've had the pleasure to fly on a 707. The first time was on TWA in the early 1981 (Chicago-Las Vegas, San Francisco-Pittsburgh). I remember that the center seats in coach folded down and there was a choice of 3 (yes, 3) entrees for lunch. The next time was on an silver (ex AA) American Trans Air 707 charter to Las Vegas (tight seating, no meals). However, my most memorable flight on a first generation jet was on a United DC-8 in 1976. There were no overhead bins and the AC duct and reading light were located in the seat units as opposed to the overhead rack. Also, there were curtains instead of window shades! And on takeoff, the pilot first applied full power with the brakes on before starting the roll. I guess those early turbofans were underpowered compared to today's.

SuperG's Memories Of The DC-8

Thu Apr 06, 2000 10:37 pm


I remember well the DC-8-51's that DL flew while I still worked for them and I loved the seat-mounted air vents and reading lights plus the red curtains over their windows.

Takeoff was great and you're right about the early turbofans being underpowered compared to today's. All you had to do to confirm that fact was to fly on a DC-8-71 or -73 with the CFM56's in place. What a rush!
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RE: SuperG's Memories Of The DC-8

Thu Apr 06, 2000 11:16 pm


I'm glad to see that someone else remembers that. I've flown DC-8s several times (mostly United), but never,
unfortunately, on a -70 series. At least those great old jets can still be seen in cargo service.
I seem to recall that at one time Delta flew some all-coach DC-8s in a low-cost Florida service experiment. Do you remember that? Thanks.
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Fri Apr 07, 2000 1:55 am

I flew a 707 back in 1975 from Joberg to New York when I was young but I remember the flight well. It was long! We had one stop for fuel at Ilha Du Sal Cabo Verde. The plane interior looked just like SAA's 727's of the era and they share the same cross-section so seating was very similar (3x3) also. I remember the popping of the engines on take off but inflight the noise was not too bad as I remember. Did I mention the flight was long! My younger sister got cabin fever and was about to drive the crew insane. We got to go to the cockpit and look at all the lights and guages, there must have been a million switches and lights and knobs. We also enjoyed the view out the front of scattered light and wildfires while flying over Angola, my last view of my birthplace.

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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Fri Apr 07, 2000 2:47 am

I've always loved the 707 - it is probably the most graceful of the older four-holers. I remember flying on them waaaay back...AA 707s, Western the '70s. They were noisy planes, for sure, but quieter than, say, the IL86. I can't remember much about the interiors, only that my parents always had trouble keeping squirrely me in my seat when I was a kid.  

When I went to college at Baylor in Waco, TX, there was a 707 that did touch and gos from a repair facility based in Waco. The plane flew low over the city, so low I could see the control surfaces from underneath. I loved the drone of those old turbofans - truly a unique sound no other aircraft ever made.
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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Fri Apr 07, 2000 5:14 am

I had the pleasure of first riding on a 707 for BOAC in 1961. That was form IDL to LHR. I flew several times on PA 707s to Europe and back and a 720B from SAO to IAH in 1970. I also flew on an EAL 720 between MIA and SJU. None of these planes had bins in them but I still think of those planes as better than the new generation jumbos that ply the sky today.
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RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Fri Apr 07, 2000 6:29 am

I have flown on a Boeing 707 once in my life. I flew on that aircraft from Rhodos (Greece) to Brussels with TEA, a Belgian charter airline, back in 1985. As you can imagine, it was an all economy class layout in the cabin. I had a window seat just in front of the wing, which offered me a spectacular view of the two engines under the wing. It was quite loud on take off, but quiet enough during cruise...not any louder than a younger airliner. I had the chance to see the cockpit during the flight! The passenger cabin of the 707 is identical to that of her younger sister, the 727. I like the 707.
Remember this: the 707 is a masterpiece in aviation history. It may not be the very first jet airliner invented, but it certainly was the first one invented in America (first one in the world was the DH Comet). Until the 747 arrived, the 707 was the aircraft that major airlines have operated the most on long haul flights.

Ben Soriano
Brussels Belgium
Ben Soriano

RE: What Was It Like On A Boeing 707?

Fri Apr 07, 2000 11:05 am


Sorry, but I don't recall DL's all-Coach DC-8's. That must have been before my time there which was early 1978 until late 1982. Do you recall when they tried that experiment?


The drone (or whine as I call it) of those JT3D turbofans is, indeed, unmistakable. I can pick it up a mile away. What memories!!!

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